Deluxe Kosher Tours 2020, Winter Vacations in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Kanzaiji Onsen, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kobe
March 15th – March 25th 2020
This eye-opening journey introduces you to the astonishing natural wonders, arts, monuments and vibrant cities of Japan.
Japan is one of the world’s most enigmatic and diverse countries, a land filled with buzzing cosmopolitan centres, extraordinary ancient ruins, magnificent art and boundless fun. Join us on an astonishing adventure along Japan’s “Golden Route” – a circuit specially designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to Japan’s historic, artistic and cultural centres. Whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, the memories and experiences gathered from this trip will stay with you forever.
Our voyage through Tokyo, Kanzaiji Onsen, Hiroshima, and Kobe will be rich in information and humour, whilst our excursions provide an unforgettable, unique portrait of a country that continues to influence the world as a cultural superpower. The 100% kosher tour and careful selection of distinguished hotels permits you to travel comfortably and confidently. Our expert personal tour guide will be available at all times for any questions or requests.
Japan welcomes you – discover it with Deluxe Kosher Tours.
Day 1, Sunday March 15, Tokyo
We depart on our overnight flight to the capital city Tokyo. Enjoy kosher meals and in-flight entertainment during your journey, or read some of our suggested books about Japan (see below).
Day 2, Monday March 16, Tokyo
Meet and greet, Orientation,
Upon arrival in Narita International Airport we are welcomed to Japan by our carefully-selected personal Deluxe Kosher Tours tour director, who will bring us to our deluxe hotel, the Sheraton Miyako, and offer an introduction to Japan and Tokyo. The world’s most populous metropolis, this cosmopolitan city is as steeped in its cultural heritage as it is anticipating its future as host of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and green spaces to enjoy. The remainder of the day can be leisurely spent resting and relaxing in the hotel, or taking a walk around the local neighbourhood to immerse in some of the sights and sounds.
Day 3, Tuesday March 17, Tokyo – Kanzaiji Onsen
Mt. Fuji, Gotemba Peace Park, Hakone Tour, Togendai Gondola, Ōwakudani Hot Springs, Shinkansen bullet train, Kanzaiji Onsen
The iconic Mt. Fuji is undeniably Japan’s most famous natural landmark, and today we bring you there to understand why it is so revered. This perfectly shaped active volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain by numerous religions, and is the favourite subject of artists, poets, authors and the everyday people of Japan. We arrive at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, where many visitors enter the Yoshida Trail leading to the mountain. However, we continue to Gotemba Peace Park where we can relish in the wonderful views of Mt. Fuji peeking through the cherry trees and Buddhist stupas of the town.
From Gotemba we transfer to the town of Hakone, a town that displays the best of rural Japan. We bring you on a guided tour of the traditional onsen (hot springs) and ryokan (inns), pointing out the Hakone-jinja thrusting out of the lake with Mt. Fuji presenting an impressive backdrop. We then go on a leisurely gondola ride to Ōwakudani, from which we can gain a terrific view of the scenery below. Ōwakudani is situated within an active volcanic landscape, with numerous sulphurous vents and natural hot springs dotted around the area. The local inhabitants have made the most of this terrestrial activity, operating a number of bath houses and creating the local speciality – black Kuro-tamago eggs hard boiled in the hot springs.
When we descend back to Hakone we transfer to Odawara, where we catch the world-famous Shinkansen bullet train ride – capable of reaching top speeds of 240–320 km/h (150–200 m/h) – to Kanzaiji Onsen where we stay at the Onsen Ryokan hot spring hotel. Here you can soak in the therapeutic waters of the spa baths before enjoying a delicious dinner.
Day 4, Wednesday March 18, Kanzaiji Onsen – Tokyo
Toyota Kaikan Museum
After breakfast we depart for the town of Toyota, the location of the headquarters of the Toyota Motor Corporation. Here we visit the Toyota Kaikan Museum, where we can receive a guided tour of the company’s latest models and technologies. Even if you are not a car-fanatic, you will not be able to help but marvel at the inner workings of this plant.
We return to Tokyo via Kofu, where we invite you for a leisurely walk through the beautiful Shosenkyo Park. This is the perfect place to discover the visual splendours of Japan’s nature, with lovely scenic waterfalls and colourful wooded paths. We visit the nearby Shosenkyo Museum of Art, the world’s first shadowgraph museum, and then the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art. Our guide then walks us through Takeda Shrine, where we can admire the golden koi carp swimming in the ponds. After visiting the nearby Gaizenkoji Temple we finish our tour at Kofu Castle, abandoned since 1877. In the evening we return to Tokyo, where you can explore the local neighbourhood and get a taste of Tokyo’s vibrant nightlife.
Day 5, Thursday March 19, Tokyo
Asakusa Kannon Temple, Nakamise Market, Ueno Park, Edo Tokyo Museum, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Bay, Odaiba
Today we introduce you to the history, culture and art of the ancient capital. Formerly named Edo, Tokyo has been heavily redeveloped following major earthquakes in 1923 and the Second World War. Today it is a vibrant, futuristic metropolis of over 12 million people. Our first destination is the Asakusa Kannon Temple complex, an active Buddhist temple containing the largest paper lantern in Japan. Here we provide an informative lesson on the various religions practiced in Japan, including Buddhism and shamanistic Shinto. Our next stop is the Nakamise Market, a wonderful stretch of shops in a street very reminiscent of old Edo. We continue to the famous Ueno Park, where you can delight in the fragrance of over 1,000 cherry trees. This park contains many interesting museums and the Ueno Zoo. We visit the Edo Tokyo Museum, notable for its innovative architecture, where we learn more about the Edo-period origins of the city by walking through life-size replicas of bridges, theatres and towns from the past.
In the afternoon we proceed to the Imperial Palace, which is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan (currently His Imperial Majesty Akihito). This was the former site of Edo Castle, the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. We make our way to the world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower, Tokyo Tower, which is 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower of Paris. The observation deck at the top offers astounding panoramic views of the city. Upon descending we cross the iconic Rainbow Bridge, best viewed on our return journey when its charming multi-colored lights turn on. We travel to the artificial islands of Odaiba. This popular shopping and entertainment district displays some of the most revolutionary architecture in the city, including the Fuji TV Building. We return to the hotel via the illuminated Rainbow Bridge to relax before dinner.
Day 6, Friday March 20, Tokyo
Nikko National Park, Toshogu, Tokugawa Ieyasu Shrine and Mausoleum, Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls
After breakfast we set off on our excursion to the Nikko National Park north of Tokyo. This beautiful mountainous landscape contains many amazing examples of Japanese shrines and temples, and is loveliest at this time of year when the gorgeous spring colours emerge from the wooded slopes. There are many sites to explore here, but we begin in the town of Nikko with Toshogu, an exquisite decorated shrine and the mausoleum of the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that unified Japan in the 17th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu, We ascend the mountains above Nikko to Lake Chuzenji, located at the foot of Nikko’s sacred volcano, Mount Nantai. We view the astonishing Kegon Falls before returning to Tokyo for the evening meal at the Chabad House.
Day 7, Shabbat March 21, Tokyo
Shabbat services, Seudat Shabbat
After the Shabbat services and lunch with the local community, you are welcome to spend the rest of the day freely. We recommend returning to Ueno Park to check out some of the other excellent museums, or take a relaxing stroll through the astonishingly beautiful Rikugien Gardens.
Day 8, Sunday March 22, Tokyo – Kyoto – Hiroshima
Kiyomizu Temple, Green Tea Ceremony, Miyajima Island
We wake up very early for our transfer to Kyoto via Shinkansen bullet train, the former imperial capital of Japan until the 19th century. This city miraculously survived the horrors of the Second World War, spared for its cultural and historical value. Known as the ‘City of Ten Thousand Shrines’, the numerous heritage sites provide ample material with which to learn about Japanese architectural traditions. Few cities in Japan contain so many beautiful gardens, temples and shrines, making it one of the most popular cities to live in the country. We visit the Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple that is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. From the famous balcony jutting thirteen meters above the maple and cherry trees below one can admire the charming landscape stretching in to the distance. Afterwards we are invited to a traditional Japanese chaji (tea ceremony), where we learn about the careful ritual that is performed over preparing a single cup of tea.
We then take the Shinkansen to the town of Hiroshima, famous for its tragic history. Hiroshima has recovered enormously from its terrible past, when in 1945 it became the world’s first target of an atomic bomb. Today the city is lively and attractive, its citizens are welcoming and friendly, and one can view reconstructed monuments of Hiroshima’s historical heritage, such as Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden.
Day 9, Monday March 23, Hiroshima – Kobe
Hiroshima Tour, Peace Museum and Memorial, Himeji Castle, Ohel Shlomo Synagogue
In the morning we transfer by ferry to the island of Miyajima, southeast of Hiroshima. Miyajima Island is a famously harmonious area, where mountainous slopes and the shores of Hiroshima Bay meet at an astounding tori shrine emerging from the waters. The entire island is considered to be of outstanding cultural significance, and is one of the three most beautiful locations in all of Japan. Here our expert guide explains the romantic history of the island as we wander through some of its most famous shrines, before returning to Hiroshima. We bring you on a guided tour of the city, where we learn about its strategic military importance in the early-20th century, and what exactly took place on the 6th August 1945. We visit the Peace Memorial Museum, containing moving and sobering exhibitions set within a stunning building that survived the atomic blast – testament to the strength of Hirsohima.
That afternoon we board the Shinkansen bullet train to Himeji, a small city dwarfed by the enormous 16th century Himeji-jō Castle, easily the most magnificent castle in all of Japan. The castle is considered to be a national treasure of Japan, and has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site for being the finest surviving example of ancient Japanese castle architecture. We receive a guided tour of the castle before continuing to Kobe, a bustling and cosmopolitan port city filled with pleasant neighbourhoods to wander through. After checking in to the Crowne Plaza Hotel we dine in the Ohel Shlomo Synagogue before retiring for the evening.
Day 10, Tuesday March 24, Kobe
Kobe City Tour, Sake brewery, Chinatown, Sannomiya Shopping Arcade, Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake Memorial Park
Kobe opened its port to Western trade in 1868, and today many foreign residences from the period remain in the city’s Kitano area. In 2008, Kobe was chosen as “UNESCO City of Design” for its buildings influenced by the city’s unique creative and open-minded culture. We bring you on a guided exploration of the city, visiting a traditional sake brewery in Nada town before wandering through Nankinmachi – Kobe’s own Chinatown developed by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after the port was opened to foreign trade. We visit the Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake Memorial Park where we can learn about the enormours earthquake that shook the region in 1995. You have the evening free to explore the city, and can take the opportunity to buy gifts for home at the Sannomiya Shopping Arcade. In the evening we reunite for our final meal together.
Day 11 Wednesday March 25, Kobe
After breakfast we transfer to Kobe Airport for our return flights home.