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Japan Private Expedition
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10 days

from $10,192 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($6,995 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 city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, and easy hikes.

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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
  • Pick out fresh tuna and wasabi and learn to roll sushi like a master chef at Tokyo’s Tsukiji—the world’s largest fish market.
  • Bike around old Kyoto, home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and learn about Zen Buddhism while taking part in an exclusive Japanese tea ceremony.
  • Take in the soaring summit of Mount Fuji on a private tour of Fuji Hakone-Izu National Park, and then stroll the modern sculpture gardens at the Hakone Open Air Museum.
  • Eat your way through Osaka on a guided gastronomy tour, tasting regional specialties such as takoyaki, or octopus snack, and okonomiyaki—savory pancakes.
Itinerary

Japan delights in contrasts—flashing neon lights and serene bamboo forests, ornate temples and bustling fish markets, the frenetic energy of modern Tokyo and the traditional charms of ancient Kyoto. Navigate old and new Japan with a private guide, discovering how the country’s layered history defines its fascinating culture. Get a glimpse into the beguiling world of geishas in old Tokyo, stay at a ryokan in Hakone, and dig into the bold food scene of Osaka.

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo, Japan

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Land in Tokyo and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the capital. Meet your guide at the hotel for a brief orientation, then explore the city on your own this evening.

Day 2: Tokyo

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After breakfast, join your guide for a private tour of old Tokyo, with its traditional houses and narrow shopping lanes. Explore Asakusa, the oldest Geisha district in the city, and pass through the iconic gate of the seventh-century Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Peruse the food stalls, artisan shops, and teahouses of the Yanaka neighborhood; and learn about Fumio Asakura, known as the father of modern Japanese sculpture, at his former workshop—now a museum. This afternoon, explore Tokyo at your leisure. For an additional cost, wield a samurai sword during a private lesson with the Japanese fight performer who choreographed Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Day 3: Nikko

Join your guide on a private excursion to Nikko National Park in the sacred hills north of Tokyo. Begin at the Tosho-gu shrine complex, a World Heritage site built as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the long-ruling Tokugawa shogunate. Explore lavishly decorated Shinto and Buddhist buildings nestled in an old-growth forest; and then drive through stunning Oku-Nikko, an area rich in waterfalls, lakes, and hot springs. Stop at Lake Yu and soak up the majesty of the fan-shaped Yutaki Falls as it crashes onto volcanic rock.

Day 4: Tokyo/Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

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Rise early for a visit to Tsukiji market. Pick out some fresh tuna and wasabi, then head to the onsite cooking classroom to learn how to roll and prepare sushi. Sample your creations for lunch, and then transfer to Fuji Hakone-Izu National Park—a sprawling natural wonderland of hot springs, lakes, volcanic islands, and soaring peaks. Tonight, stay in a Japanese inn, or ryokan, and enjoy a multi-course kaiseki dinner featuring seasonal ingredients.

Day 5: Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

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Set out on a private tour of Hakone, an important security checkpoint in securing Edo—now Tokyo—during the feudal era. Learn about the active volcano that once towered where hot springs and steam vents now gurgle; and, on clear days, enjoy stunning views of Mount Fuji. Ride a cable car up Mount Komagatake, a lava dome created by an eruption some 20,000 years ago, and then continue on to Togendai. Cruise Lake Ashinoko on a replica pirate ship, and visit the Hakone Open Air Museum and its sculpture garden.

Day 6: Kyoto

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Hop on a bullet train for the ride to Kyoto, which served as Japan’s imperial capital for more than a thousand years. All together, 17 of the city’s temples and shrines have been designated World Heritage sites. Settle into your hotel, and then join a private guide at Heian Jingu, a Shinto shrine. Later, visit the home of a local tea master and don a traditional kimono to participate in an exclusive Japanese tea ceremony, learning about the beverage’s connection to Zen Buddhism as you sip green tea.

Day 7: Kyoto

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Today you’ll discover Kyoto by bicycle. Ride to the Nishi Honganji Temple and take in its elaborately carved, cypress-thatched gate. Cycle to the ornamental Nijo Castle, a World Heritage site known for its opulent Momoyama architecture and “chirping” nightingale floors. Continue to the Shogun retirement villa turned Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji, famously called the Golden Pavilion. After lunch, venture farther north to the Zen rock garden of Ryoan-ji and the otherworldly bamboo groves of Arashiyama. Cap off your tour at the landmark Togetsukyo Bridge, a wooden span in the shadow of Arashiyama Mountain.

Day 8: Nara

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Join a private guide on a daylong exploration of nearby Nara, which reigned as Japan’s capital in the eighth century. Stroll the enchanting Isui-en Garden; then walk to Todai-ji Temple, once the head Buddhist temple in Japan. Step into the Todai-ji temple and peer up at the 50-foot-tall bronze Buddha inside. Pass through Nara Park, inhabited by herds of freely roaming deer, on your way to discover the bronze and stone lanterns at Kasuga Taisha, a celebrated Shinto shrine. Before returning to Kyoto, get a feel for bygone Japan among the shops, traditional inns, and cafés of the historic merchant district of Naramachi.

Day 9: Osaka

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Transfer to Osaka, one of Japan’s culinary capitals. Visit the tiered Osaka castle, and then eat your way down Dontonbori Street on a guided gastronomy tour. Taste regional specialties such as takoyaki (octopus snack) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and marvel at the colorful neon signs and creative storefront displays. Stroll stone-paved Hozenji Alley, lined with traditional shops and restaurants, before returning to your hotel in the evening.

Day 10: Osaka/Depart

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light; travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, navigating uneven or slippery terrain, and climbing stairs without handrails. Excursions include city walking tours, drives on winding roads, and easy hikes. The included bike tour on Day 7 may be changed to a private car tour for an additional cost.

Accommodations
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character.

Expedition Team
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Sep 20-Nov 30, 2019
  • 2 People $16,749 AUD ($11,495 USD)
  • 4 People $13,835 AUD ($9,495 USD)
  • 6 People $10,921 AUD ($7,495 USD)

  • date Dec 1-31, 2019
  • 2 People $16,021 AUD ($10,995 USD)
  • 4 People $13,107 AUD ($8,995 USD)
  • 6 People $10,192 AUD ($6,995 USD)

  • date Jan 1-Mar 19, 2020
  • 2 People $16,749 AUD ($11,495 USD)
  • 4 People $13,107 AUD ($8,995 USD)
  • 6 People $10,192 AUD ($6,995 USD)

  • date Mar 20-May 31, 2020
  • 2 People $17,478 AUD ($11,995 USD)
  • 4 People $13,835 AUD ($9,495 USD)
  • 6 People $10,921 AUD ($7,495 USD)

  • date Jun 1-30, 2020
  • 2 People $16,749 AUD ($11,495 USD)
  • 4 People $13,107 AUD ($8,995 USD)
  • 6 People $10,192 AUD ($6,995 USD)

  • date Jul 1-Dec 31, 2020
  • 2 People $17,478 AUD ($11,995 USD)
  • 4 People $13,835 AUD ($9,495 USD)
  • 6 People $10,921 AUD ($7,495 USD)

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. 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

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
  • Gratuities