Enjoy a cultural immersion into the land of Emperor’s, Buddha’s, temples and shrines memorializing Shogun’s through the centuries. Steeped in history, yet cosmopolitan, Tokyo and Kyoto offer a vibrant look into the country’s past. Experience transportation from ‘ancient’ to modern with a rickshaw ride and journeys on the famed bullet train. Witness the effects of history and restoration during a visit to Hiroshima and see Osaka’s famous landmark castle.
Day 1 Depart the USA
Depart the USA on your overnight flight to Tokyo, Japan, a place where centuries of history meet a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
Day 2 Tokyo, Japan
Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a Mayflower Cruises & Tours representative and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure until the included dinner this evening. Meal: D
Day 3 Tokyo
Begin your immersion into the Asian culture with an included guided tour. Visit the city’s most famous shrine, Meiji Jingu, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The tranquil forest is entered via the massive torii gate and is an oasis amidst the sights and sounds of the surrounding city. Enroute to Asakusa, see the Tokyo Tower and pass through the entertainment district of Roppongi. Asakusa is Tokyo’s old town, the city’s oldest Geisha district, and home to Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji. Visit the temple and stroll through its surrounding streets to see the traditional shops. Return to the hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure. Meal: B
Day 4 Nikko
Today’s excursion includes scenic wonders with a visit to Lake Chuzenji in the mountains above the town of Nikko, and the Kegon Waterfall. The elevator takes you to the observation platform at the base of the 328-foot high waterfall from where you’ll have an amazing view. After free time for lunch on your own, continue to the Tosho-gu shrine complex. Built as a mausoleum for the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, this lavish complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With over a dozen Shinto and Buddhist buildings, the architecture, elaborate decorations and surrounding nature make this a remarkable site. Following a full day of history and beauty, return to the hotel in Tokyo. Meal: B
Day 5 Tokyo to Kyoto
Today’s adventure begins with a journey on the famed bullet train to Kyoto. Upon arrival, your guide leads you on a walking tour through the Higashiyama district. Admire the picture-perfect streets, whose gently sloped stone stairways are lined with tea houses and artisan shops. Visit the Buddhist Temple of Kiyomizu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto, where you’ll be in awe of this architectural masterpiece. The 42-foot high balcony offers an impressive view of Kyoto. After checking in to the hotel, the afternoon is at leisure before the included dinner. Meals: B, D
Day 6 Nara and Kyoto
As former capital of Japan, Nara is home to many ancient temples and shrines. After arriving by coach, stroll through Nara Park where you’ll encounter free-roaming deer who may pose for a photo. At the Todaiji Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the most famous resident - the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, housed in the Great Buddha Hall. While in the park, visit the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, adorned with more than 3,000 lanterns, and discover its beauty and serenity. This afternoon, become acquainted with the local art of calligraphy as you attend a class and create your own masterpiece. Meal: B
Day 7 Kyoto
Start the day with a visit to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. Built as a retirement villa for the Shogun, today it is one of Kyoto’s most famous Buddhist temples. Excitement awaits as you experience Kyoto like a local…on a rickshaw ride! Starting at the landmark Togetsukyo Bridge, your driver pulls the rickshaw through the Arashiyama district. Weave in and out of local neighborhoods, getting an up close look at traditional Japanese houses. Pass by Nonomiya Shrine, the setting of The Tale of Genji, a book referred to as the world’s first novel. This afternoon, visit Kodai-ji, one of the city’s most famous Zen Buddhist temples. Mayflower Cruises & Tours has received special permission to enter this 400-year old temple to attend a tea ceremony. Stroll around the beautiful Zen garden, then meet the tea master who explains about Japanese tea and the relationship between the ceremony and Zen Buddhism. Partake in the ceremony as you join the teacher in making tea. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. Meal: B
Day 8 Kyoto to Hiroshima
Before departing Kyoto, visit one of the most unusual Shinto shrines in Japan – Fushimi Inari. Composed of thousands of vermilion torii gates following trails inside the forests of Mt. Inari, the shrine was also featured in Memoirs of a Geisha. Feel the mystical atmosphere created by the colors of the torii and those of surrounding nature. This afternoon, travel by bullet train to Hiroshima for an included dinner and two-night stay. Meals: B, D
Day 9 Hiroshima and Miyajima
Witness history with a visit to Peace Memorial Park and Museum. The A-Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings to remain standing after the nuclear attack and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, commemorating the tragic day and remaining a link to the city’s past. This afternoon, board a ship which traverses the World Heritage Sea Route along the Honkawa and Motoyasu Rivers to Hiroshima Bay. Enjoy the landscape of the city before crossing to Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan, on the beautiful Seto Inland Sea. Visit the Itsukushima Shrine, a Shinto shrine best known for its ‘floating’ torii gate. See Daisho-in, the most visited Buddhist temple on the island, and be sure to follow tradition and spin the sutras leading up to the main hall. Return to Hiroshima by ferry for an evening at leisure. Meal: B
Day 10 Hiroshima to Osaka
Your final adventure on a bullet train takes you to Osaka, where you’ll enjoy a city tour upon arrival. At the Umeda Sky Building, ascend to the 558-foot high observation deck via glass-enclosed escalator for a stunning panoramic view of the city below. Continue on to Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, whose tower miraculously survived the war. Visit Dontonbori – the famous shopping area – before arriving at your hotel. A farewell dinner is included this evening. Meals: B, D
Day 11 Osaka / USA
It’s time to say ‘Sayonara’ as you depart for the airport with a newfound understanding of the people, history and traditions of Japan. Meal: B
Arrival at your home city may be on day twelve depending on flight schedule.