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A journey to the Land of the Rising Sun

  • 09/09/2019 - 09/21/2019
  • 13 Days
  • Starting price $6,195


From the vibrant contemporary architecture in Tokyo, to renowned temples and the captivating culture of Kyoto, experience the Land of the Rising Sun in all its wonder. Visits include the majestic Mt. Fuji; a traditional ryokan in Hakone to experience minimalist Japanese design; a bullet train ride to the historic Takayama; the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-Go with traditional thatched-roof homes; Kanazawa - one of the best preserved cities of the Edo period; and finally, Kyoto, Japan’s Imperial Capital for a millennium and now the country’s cultural and artistic capital.

Max guests - 24

Architectural highlights

  • Marvel at the incredible Nomura Family Residence.
  • Take in Takayama, and see a 16th-century castle, a beautifully preserved Old Town, and historic buildings dating to the Edo period of 1600 to 1868.
  • Enjoy Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising traditional thatched-roof homes.
  • Discover the Asakusa Kannon Temple, which contains a golden image of the Buddhist Kannon.
  • Explore the famed Meiji Jingu Shrine.
  • Visit the Todai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples.

More highlights

  • See Kyoto National Museum, which comprises three exhibition halls displaying ancient Asian art, sutras (texts), and scrolls.
  • Awe at Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home to one of the most photographed sights in Japan: Mt. Fuji.
  • Enjoy the gallery of one of Japan’s preeminent calligraphers, Koshun Masunaga, and learn about this ancient art and browse the collection.


  • Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo
  • Aura Tachibana (ryokan)
  • Hida Hotel Plaza
  • Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
  • Hotel Granvia


Also included

  • An experienced Tour Director, in addition to the Architectural Adventures Educational Expert.
  • Entrance fees for all included visits
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Rail transportation as described
  • Gratuities for local guides, bus drivers, porters, airport, hotel and restaurant staff
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person


What to expect

  • Appropriate for people in good health with overall good mobility
  • Traveler should be comfortable participating in a full day of sightseeing
  • Activities range from light to moderate intensity at an easy pace, but with lengthy walks, sometimes on uneven terrain, and climbing on stairs.



  • Land only price: $6,195 per person, based on double occupancy
  • Air inclusive price: $7,157 per person, based on double occupancy from Los Angeles or San Francisco. ($6,795 air & land inclusive plus $362 airline taxes and fees). Air inclusive pricing form other US departure cities available upon request.
  • $1,295 single supplement
  • A deposit of $500 per person, payable by credit card or check is required to reserve a space
  • Deposits are applied to payment of the total price and the final payment is due by June 6, 2019


Not included

Airfare and air departure taxes and fees if purchasing a land-only package; passport/visa fees not specified; meals not specified in the itinerary; food and beverages not part of the included meals; personal items and expenses; gratuities to tour director, gratuities other than specified; travel and trip cancellation insurance; airline baggage fees and excess baggage fees; pre or post-tour extension; optional sightseeing; communication charges; other items not specifically mentioned in the itinerary or as included.

Prices, itinerary, accommodations and experts subject to change.


Architectural Adventures tours are managed by professional tour operators retained as independent contractors by The American Institute of Architects. To read Architectural Adventures full Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer visit To read the tour-specific terms and conditions from our tour operator Odysseys Unlimited visit


Photography credits: Itinerary image - Tokyo Station at Night ©Taichiro Ueki.



Begin your journey

Depart your gateway city for Tokyo, Japan.

Arrive in Tokyo

After arriving in Tokyo, Japan, transfer to the hotel and meet with the tour director. Today is at leisure.

Accommodations: Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo

Temples of Tokyo and Ginza District

The half-day excursion in Ancient Tokyo includes a visit to the famed Meiji Jingu Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens dedicated to late 19th-century Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine was built in traditional Shinto style with low wooden buildings surrounded by square courtyards. Visit the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga and learn about this ancient art of artistic writing. The tour ends in Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district, where there is the option to explore the department stores, boutiques, and galleries or return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Tokyo’s Imperial Palace

Visit the Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts, and home of the Imperial Family. Called Kokyo, the huge complex dates to the 15th century, when territorial disputes required massive fortifications and complex societal norms demanded elaborate palaces to reflect the high positions of the feudal lords. When completed, the Imperial Palace was the largest district in the world. Discover the East Gardens, part of the innermost circle of defense of the historic Edo Castle that once stood here. See the Asakusa Kannon Temple, which contains a golden image of the Buddhist Kannon, goddess of mercy. Guests can make their way to the front of the temple to bathe in smoke from the incense cauldron; it is said that the smoke brings good health. There will be time to explore the Nakamise Shopping arcade outside the temple, filled with stalls selling local dishes, and popular souvenirs. Visit the Tokyo National Museum, housing an extensive collection of art and antiquities from Japan and other Asian countries. This afternoon is at leisure for independent exploration.

Accommodations: Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo
Meals: Breakfast

Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

Travel by motorcoach to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home to one of the most photographed sights in Japan, if not the world: Mt. Fuji. Embark on a leisurely boat ride on Ashi Lake. For a different perspective, take a motorcoach ride to the “fifth station” of Mount Fuji, which is the embarkation point for those climbers brave enough to attempt the summit. Leaving the park, continue on to the town of Hakone and the traditional ryokan lodgings for the night.

Please note: In addition to your one piece of checked luggage, you also will need to bring along a smaller, overnight carry-on bag with wheels for your overnight stay at the ryokan. This bag should have wheels as you will embark and disembark the train with it and take it through the stations. You will meet your original luggage upon arrival at the hotel in Takayama.

Accommodations: Aura Tachibana (ryokan)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Old town Takayama

Travel via bullet train and Wide View Hida express to the Hida Mountain town of Takayama, considered one of Japan’s most attractive settings with its 16th-century castle, a beautifully preserved Old Town, an historic buildings dating to the Edo period of 1600 to 1868. Experience a tea ceremony and learn the 12th century style of preparing tea. Enjoy and optional bento box lunch.

Accommodations: Hida Hotel Plaza
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Life in Takayama

Enjoy a full day tour of Takayama. Visit Takayama’s centuries-old Miyagawa Morning Market, where stalls selling everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers to pickles, crafts, and fish line the streets leading to the river. While here, gather fresh ingredients to take to the next activity – a hands-on cooking class. Visit the Takayama Jinya, a former government outpost, and discover its long list of past uses. Enjoy a sake (a local rice wine liquor) brewery and taste the variations of this warm national beverage and learn about the unique traditional brewing methods. Head to the Old Takayama District comprised of three narrow streets in the San-machi-suji district.

Accommodations: Hida Hotel Plaza
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

See Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village

Depart for Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of traditional thatched-roof homes. In addition to its status as a World Heritage site, the village also is a vibrant community whose residents work together to preserve the Gassho-style architectural style unique to this region: wooden houses with steep thatched roofs made to withstand heavy snow. Tour one of the residences that also presents this style of architecture, and the Ogimachi District – a cluster of 59 houses preserved to show how its inhabitants lived long ago. Depart to Kanazawa, known as the country’s best-preserved Edo-period city (along with Takayama). Visit the Higashi Chaya District and view the historical row of teahouses, beautiful lattice homes, and journey through the maze of continuous alleys.

Accommodations: Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Explore the Nomura residence in Kanazawa

Walk through the Hakukokan Gold Leaf Center, a museum that celebrates the art and craft of gold leaf technology and a collection dating to the late 16th century. Visit the renowned Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark whose origins date to 1676. Explore the Nomura Family Residence. The Nomura family successively held executive posts from generation to generation under rule of the Maeda family. The house has a coffered ceiling made completely of Japanese cypress and fusuma-e (paintings on sliding door panels). The garden inside the home has a Japanese bayberry more than 400 years old and a meandering stream surrounded by ancient rocks.

Accommodations: Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Kyoto, the Imperial Capital

Board a train for a two-hour journey south to Kyoto, Japan’s Imperial Capital for a millennium and now the country’s cultural and artistic capital. A true gem with more than 1,600 temples, hundreds of shrines, three imperial palaces, artful gardens, and well-preserved wooden architecture. Upon arrival, visit the Kinkakuji Temple or (also known as The Golden Pavilion), a Zen Buddhist temple and one of the most famous buildings in Japan. The lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion was originally constructed in the 14th century as a retirement villa and later converted to a temple. Burned to the ground by a fanatic in 1950, the temple has been entirely reconstructed following the original design including the three distinct styles of architecture – the shiden, samurai and zen - and is covered in gold leaf from Kanazawa all the way up to the upper floors. Visit Ryoan-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, and see the site’s famous rock garden. Continue on to Unrakugama Pottery, a family-owned pottery house producing fine handmade ceramics and earthenware.

Accommodations: Hotel Granvia
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Shrines of Nara

Embark on an excursion by coach to Nara, Japan’s 8th-century capital renowned for its shrines and temples. Explore the Todaiji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples. It also houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana and serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. See the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, established in 768 AD and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine’s interior is famous for its many bronze lanterns. Return to Kyoto for an evening at leisure.

Accommodations: Hotel Granvia
Meals: Breakfast

Discover Kyoto

Discover Nijo-jo Castle, the extravagant residence and fortifications of the shoguns who ruled Japan for more than 250 years. Featuring imposing stone walls and deep moats, the castle has many interior security measures as well, including hidden rooms for the shogun’s bodyguards and “nightingale floors”which purposely squeak when stepped on to alert occupants of intruders. Visit Sanjyusangendo Hall, an important Buddhist temple housing 1,000 statues of the Thousand Armed Kannon deity. Venture to the Gion district, the most famous of Kyoto’s several geisha districts with its traditional tall wooden merchants’ homes. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure with many options to choose from in this exciting city. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Hotel Granvia
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Depart Japan

Transfer to the Kansai Airport in Osaka and depart for the United States.
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