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Inside Japan
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11 days

from $14,272 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($9,795 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • This expedition was inspired by travel writer Don George’s article “Japan’s Past Perfect,” published in the January\/February 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler.
  • Stay at Benesse House, designed by acclaimed architect Tadao Ando and set within Naoshima’s island-wide art complex.
  • Spend the night at a traditional Mount Koya monastery, and rise with the resident monks for a morning prayer ceremony.
  • Immerse yourself in Shikoku’s timeless Iya Valley, dotted with thatched cottages, shrines, and vine bridges.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.

Itinerary

Discover Japan’s intriguing contrasts on a journey inspired by National Geographic Traveler’s January/February 2012 article "Japan’s Past Perfect." Explore Kyoto’s iconic temples and ascend to the sacred pilgrimage site of Mount Koya. Step back in time in the age-old villages of Shikoku, then encounter cutting-edge architecture on Naoshima and the bustle of a revitalized Hiroshima.

Day 1: Osaka, Japan/Kyoto

Arrive in Osaka at any time. Transfer to Kyoto and check in to our hotel.

Day 2: Kyoto

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Kyoto served as an imperial capital for more than a thousand years, and many of the wooden temples and gardens from that era have been collectively designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Stroll the elegant Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji and iconic Kinkakuji, or “temple of the golden pavilion.” This afternoon, experience the tranquil gardens at Hosen-In Temple and Sanzen-In Temple. At tonight’s welcome dinner, meet a former geisha to learn about the geisha lifestyle and enjoy a short performance.

Day 3: Kyoto

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Wander through Arashiyama’s atmospheric bamboo grove. Continue to Nijo Castle, built in 1603 and designated a national treasure. Explore the castle’s Ninomaru Palace, known for its beautiful wall paintings and its “nightingale” floors, designed to squeak when stepped upon to warn of intruders. This afternoon, visit an artisanal ceramics workshop.

Day 4: Mount Koya

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Travel to Mount Koya, headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Meet a temple priest and wander through the evocative Okuno-in cemetery, where the tombs of more than 200,000 samurai warriors and other dignitaries fill a grove of age-old cedar trees. Venture into Kongobuji, the chief temple of the Mount Koya monastery, and see work by artists of the Kano school of painting. Settle into our simple lodgings and enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian dinner.

Day 5: Mount Koya/Iya Valley

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After attending an optional morning prayer ceremony, descend to the shores of the Inland Sea and ferry across to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s main islands. In Tokushima, see costumes and floats from the city’s 400-year-old dance festival at the Awa Odori Kaikan museum. Our home for the next two nights in the Iya Valley is a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, where inviting, on-site hot spring baths offer a chance to relax and rejuvenate.

Day 6: Iya Valley

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Travel along the steep slopes of the Iya ravine to a 300-year-old thatched farmhouse, home to the Chiiori Trust, a unique project that seeks to preserve age-old rural traditions in the valley. Continue to the Okuiya Niju Kazurabashi, twin suspension bridges made of intertwined vines, and hear the legends of their creation. Witness timeless scenes of village life in Ochiai, a community of traditional dwellings, some of which date from the Edo period (circa 1600-1870).

Day 7: Shikoku/Naoshima

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Travel north to Zentsuji, revered as the birthplace of the Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi and as one of the important stops along Shikoku’s 750-mile and 88-temple pilgrimage route. In Takamatsu, stroll through the tranquil gardens of 17th-century Ritsurin Park. A ferry then brings us to the small island of Naoshima, which has recently emerged as a mecca of contemporary art and architecture. Get a new perspective on nature through inventive art installations at the Benesse House Museum this afternoon and stay in the adjacent hotel, designed by acclaimed architect Tadao Ando.

Day 8: Naoshima

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Wander past the works of Claude Monet and James Turrell at the innovative Chichu Art Museum, built underground but designed to capture natural light and shadow. Also visit homes that are part of the Art House Project, which has transformed some of the island’s older structures into imaginative works of art.

Day 9: Naoshima/Hiroshima

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Ferry back to Honshu and take the high-speed train to Hiroshima. Pay a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum, which documents the atomic explosion that ravaged the city. Go on an optional guided visit to Shukkei-en garden or explore this thriving modern metropolis—a testament to Japanese resilience—on your own.

Day 10: Miyajima/Hiroshima

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Set off by ferry for a full-day excursion on Itsukushima Island, popularly called Miyajima. Venture into the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, a World Heritage site built over the water, where a vermillion torii (wooden gateway) appears to float at high tide. Participate in a traditional tea ceremony, then take advantage of free time to go on a hike, visit temples, and stroll through the picturesque town. Back in Hiroshima this evening, gather for a farewell dinner.

Day 11: Hiroshima/Osaka

Transfer to the airport in Osaka for your flight home.

EXTENSIONS

Day 1: Hiroshima/Tokyo

Travel to Tokyo via the high-speed train from Hiroshima. Upon arrival, get acquainted with the city’s celebrated landmarks, including the Imperial Palace, and delve into its cultural heritage at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The museum brings to life Tokyo’s 400-year history, with exhibits illustrating subjects ranging from Kabuki theater and traditional arts to politics and architecture. Settle into our hotel late this afternoon, and enjoy an evening at leisure.

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Day 2: Tokyo

Explore the Nezu Museum, which features over 7,000 works of calligraphy, painting, sculpture, and ceramics. Visit the museum’s collections and traditional gardens dotted with waterfalls, ponds, and teahouses. Then jump forward in time with a guided tour of the cutting-edge architecture of Tokyo’s Aoyama district. After lunch, try your hand at the art of shodo, a form of Japanese calligraphy, during an interactive class. Later, walk through Tokyo’s fashion-forward Harajuku neighborhood where unorthodox, creative style reigns supreme.

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Day 3: Tokyo

Begin the day at the sprawling Tsukiji fish market, one of the world’s largest. Browse the stalls where over 2,000 tons of seafood is sold daily, and take in the lively bustle. Continue to Kappabashi-dori, also known as “Kitchen Town.” The shops here supply the city’s restaurants with many interesting items, including the plastic display food (sampuru, derived from the English word “sample”). Visit the Akihibara neighborhood, famous for electronics and neon signs, and a center for fans of anime and manga animation. Explore Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods, and the Senso-ji temple, built in the seventh century and now a sizeable complex of shrines, temples, and a pagoda. This evening enjoy a festive farewell dinner.

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Day 4: Tokyo/U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents\/descents.

Accommodations
Throughout the trip, we stay in high-end hotels with many amenities. We spend 1 night in a typical temple inn with shared bathrooms and 2 nights in a traditional ryokan. Both have simple rooms with futons set atop tatami mats on the floor and rice-paper sliding doors; the temple inn has shared bathrooms.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Mar 12-22, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $14,272 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $17,179 AUD Per Person

EXTENSIONS

Post-trip Extension: 22 Mar 2020 - 25 Mar 2020

Double Occupancy from $14,272 AUD per person

Single Occupancy from $17,179 AUD per person

  • date Apr 9-19, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $14,272 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $17,179 AUD Per Person

EXTENSIONS

Post-trip Extension: 19 May 2020 - 22 May 2020

Double Occupancy from $14,272 AUD per person

Single Occupancy from $17,179 AUD per person

  • date Sep 17-27, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $14,272 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $17,179 AUD Per Person

EXTENSIONS

Post-trip Extension: 27 Sep 2020 - 30 Sep 2020

Double Occupancy from $14,272 AUD per person

Single Occupancy from $17,179 AUD per person

  • date Oct 1-11, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $14,272 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $17,179 AUD Per Person

EXTENSIONS

Post-trip Extension: 11 Oct 2020 - 14 Oct 2020

Double Occupancy from $14,272 AUD per person

Single Occupancy from $17,179 AUD per person

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities

What's Not Included

  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
Don George
Author Editor
"

Travel writer Don George is an editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, as well as host of the National Geographic Live series of conversations with notable authors. In four decades as a travel writer and editor, Don has visited more than 90 countries on five continents. He has traveled throughout—and written extensively about—Europe and Asia. He has also lived in France, Greece, and Japan, working as a translator in Paris, a teacher in Athens, and a television talk show host in Tokyo. Don is the author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, and has received dozens of writing awards, including the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year Award.

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  • Mar 12-22, 2020
David Silverberg
Geographer Geologist Conservationist
"

David Scott Silverberg is a geographer working on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and digital photo-video storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travelers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. David has worked in more than 100 countries, manages the Environmental Learning Institute, and teaches at several international universities.

"
  • Apr 9-19, 2020
  • Sep 17-27, 2020