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Day 2 Konichiwa Tokyo
Meet your Tour Director and check into hotel
Day 3 Tokyo Landmarks
Tokyo Guided Sightseeing Tour -- Jangling neon and tranquil temples, radical fashion choices and quietly practiced traditions. Japan's sprawling, chaotic capital combines cutting-edge technology with an age-old culture, generating a directed energy and graceful drive unique to Tokyo. See what some of the buzz is about with a local licensed guide. Start with a whiff of the miraculous at the Senso Temple, where sacred incense smoke is said to have curative powers, before moving onto the Imperial Palace. The complex houses the emperor and his family and is therefore closed to the public, but much of the surrounding gardens and museums provide a glimpse into the imperial history of Japan (as well as some of its pop history -- in the martial arts hall in the palace's park, a 1966 concert brought in The Beatles). Built to commemorate Emperor Meiji and his empress, the Meiji Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country. Yearly festivals bring various groups to its iris garden and Treasure House, including the "Seven-Five-Three Festival," in which young children arrive dressed in mini kimonos.
Tempura dinner -- Batter up. Tempura tempts with lightly battered and deep-fried fish, meat, and vegetables. Originally brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries, this method of cooking is now thoroughly Japanese.
Day 4 Hakone
Hakone Excursion -- Step into the misty beauty of a traditional Japanese watercolor. Peaceful lakes, stunning gardens, and magnificent views of Mount Fuji make Hakone one of the prettiest destinations for city-weary Tokyoites. Watch how far you travel, though -- Hakone was once the feudal checkpoint for visitors to the capital, with all guns required to stay outside the borders and all women required to stay in.
Day 5 Tokyo--Kyoto
Travel to Kyoto via Shinkansen Bullet Train -- Jump on the fastest train in the world and zip to Kyoto. The Shinkansen "bullet" train, inaugurated in 1964 and continually improved ever since, can travel up to 200 miles per hour. The newest versions use aviation technology to decrease wind resistance and noise, ensuring a safe, comfortable -- and fast! -- ride.
Nara Excursion -- Nara can be an eye-opening experience. The enormous 50-foot bronze Buddha statue in Todai-ji was dedicated in AD 752 by having a priest symbolically "open his eyes" by scrambling up and painting them in (the original paintbrush remains at the temple); strings dangling off the brush allowed the dignitaries on the ground to hang on and participate in the action. The sense of "more is better" continues at Kasuga Shrine, where a thousand intricate bronze lanterns hang prettily off the building. Don't bother the wild deer roaming the adjacent Nara Park -- once considered messengers of the gods, they are still a nationally protected treasure.
Day 6 Kyoto
Kyoto Guided Sightseeing Tour -- With over 2,000 Buddhist temples and shrines still intact, Kyoto shines as one of the best preserved Imperial cities in Japan. Visit the famous Zen Buddhist Temple Kinkakuji, or Golden Temple, that gets its name from the pure leaf gold that covers the top two floors. Next, head to Inari, the main shrine of the god of business, and see the thousands of red torii, or Japanese gates, that snake their way up the hill to the inner shrine. The Sanjusangendo Temple offers visitors an unusual and unbelievable sight. Its main hall is filled with 1,000 life-size statues of soldiers of the Thousand Armed Kannon which stand to protect the main deity of the temple.
Day 7 Osaka Landmarks
Travel to Osaka
Osaka Guided Sightseeing Tour -- Osaka's 16th-century castle dominates the city, both economically (it's the single most visited sight in Japan) and architecturally. Extensively renovated in 1997, the castle maintains the city's historic past even as space-age buildings like the Kaiyukan Aquarium move Osaka into the future. The building stretches out its wings like a resting butterfly, and its tanks display fish and other marine life from a large variety of environments. A large central tank captures the life of the Pacific, from whale sharks to manta rays to spider crabs. Come up for air at the Umeda Sky Building, where you'll climb 550 feet to the Floating Garden Observatory for a bird's eye view of Osaka.
Okonomiyaki dinner -- Make your very own Japanese meal! Fry your crispy and savory cabbage pancake; top it with mayonnaise, Okonomiyaki sauce, which is like Worcestershire sauce, and meat, shrimp or octopus. Then sprinkle it with fish flakes and aornori, or dried seaweed, to make this the most interesting pancake you’ll ever eat.
Day 8 End Tour
Our travel protection plan covers you for the following events:
■ A traveler’s injury, sickness, or death of an immediate family member
■ Theft of passport or visas
■ Flight cancellations due to strike or bad weather
■ Loss of luggage and personal effects
■ Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption due to covered reasons such as a covered sickness, injury or death
■ Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption due to Terrorist Acts, as defined