Chasing the Cherry Blossoms
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Chasing the Cherry Blossoms Go Learn poster


March 20-April 01, 2020
Double Occupancy: $5950 per person
Single Occupancy: $6500 per person
Airfare is not included.

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Daily Itinerary

Friday, March 20

Welcome to Japan! You will fly in to Fukuoka International Airport (FUK) and arrive early in the evening at the Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu for a light dinner with the group. Enjoy a relaxing evening at the hotel before the exciting adventures of tomorrow.

Hotel: Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu
Meals: D


Saturday, March 21

japanese parkFrom the end of March to the beginning of May cherry trees bloom all over Japan. We will start the day in Fukuoka where we will visit several parks and historical sites to practice hanami, the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the fleeting beauty of flowers. We will start at Dazaifu Tenmangu, a shrine built over the grave of Michizane Sugawara, a scholar, statesman, and poet now revered as agod of literature or calligraphy. In the afternoon, after a delicious lunch, we will visit Nishi Park and experience more hanami. Finally, we will head back to the hotel to end the day with a welcome party!

Hotel: Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu
Meals: B, L, D


Sunday, March 22

karatzuA short train ride will take us to Karatsu Castle, situated on a small hill above Karatsu Bay. Beautiful azalea, cherry and wisteria blossoms surround the castle. We will have the chance to learn more about this castle built in 1602 with a tour of area and experience more hanami. After lunch we will take a tour of the pottery town Karatsu to learn the process of how Karatsu ware is made and maybe even purchase some of this stunning pottery to take home! You’ll have a free evening in Fukuoka to explore the city.

Hotel: Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu
Meals: B, L


Monday, March 23

Japanese TempleWe depart Fukuoka for the historic pottery town of Onta. Onta houses an ancient styled pottery making system - water-powered wooden hulling mortars (like huge hammers) are found around the town beating traditional yellow clay, which is eventually used to make the ceramics. After a tour of the town and some lunch, we will head to our final destination of the day, the mountain town of Kuju. In Kuju we will visit a microbrewery to sample some local beer and take in the rich landscapes of the area. We will end the day with a lovely dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: Resonate Club Kuju
Meals: B, L, D


Tuesday, March 24

Woman at shopToday we’ll get a chance to see the sights in the quaint resort town of Yufuin. Yufuin is famous for its views of Mount Yufu on the skyline and the beautiful Lake Kinrinko. The lake is surrounded by walking paths and small shops and cafés as well as a shrine. After lunch, the group will drive to Beppu. Beppu Jigoku Onsen hot springs (also known as the eight “hells”) aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill hot springs, as their temperatures are too high for anyone to soak in safely. Here you can try a footbath or a relaxing soak in a hot spring bath at the hotel. The day will end at a local restaurant for a traditional fugu dinner, the famous local cuisine.

Hotel: Nishitetsu Resort Inn Beppu
Meals: B, D


Wednesday, March 25

Japanese IslandWe will start the morning with a bus ride to Saganoseki port where we will ride a ferry across the Seto Inland Sea to Shikoku Island. The boat will dock, and we will be on our way to Matsuyama Castle! This castle is one of Japan’s twelve original castles that survived the post-feudal era. There are over 200 cherry blossom trees on the property, making it a stunning sight. We will end the day in Imabari with a tour of the striking hotel garden designed by Zen Priest Shunmyo Masuno.

Hotel: Imabari Kokusai Hotel
Meals: B, L


Thursday, March 26

Mt. Shiude is where we will start the day. We’ll have a view unlike any other, with the picturesque Seto Inland Sea in sight and cherry blossoms surrounding us. If our timing is good, hanami today will be an unforgettable experience, and the breathtaking mountain views will top it all off. After a wonderful morning outdoors, we travel to Awaji Island to see a traditional bunraku puppet show at the Awaji Ningyoza Theatre, famous for its spectacular sets and mesmerizing productions. After the show we will learn more about this traditional art form and its origins.

Hotel: The Westin Awaji Island Hotel
Meals: B, L


Friday, March 27

Japanese rock gardenOur charter bus will take us from Awaji Island to northern Kyoto to visit the expansive Buddhist temple complex of Daitokuji, . The complex has almost two dozen sub-temples and a wide variety of Zen gardens. We will visit several gardens and then enjoy a lovely lunch in one of the sub-temples. In the afternoon, we head to the Ryōanji temple, the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden and home to more beautiful cherry blossoms. We end the day at Kinkakuji temple and garden, known as the Golden Pavilion for the garden pavilion with its top two floors covered in gold leaf. This impressive structure overlooks a large pond and is the only building left of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's former retirement complex.


Hotel: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, L, D


Saturday, March 28

Japanese TempleToday we will visit Ginkakuji, a Zen temple and garden along Kyoto's eastern mountains. A retirement villa built in 1482 was converted into the temple in 1490. On the grounds, we will find the Silver Pavilion, six other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden, and a surprising dry sand garden. After Ginkakuji, we will follow the Philosopher’s walk to the next temple and garden we will visit, Honen-in. This scenic location has a moss-covered gate that leads us to two sand mounds that are said to purify guests. The temple is also has a beautiful pond and moss-covered garden with a grotto. In a city of 1,600 temples we just can’t get enough! Our next stop is Kiyomizu Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its wooden stage that allows visitors to see the beautiful cherry blossoms and Kyoto in the distance. The rest of the day is yours to explore!

Hotel: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, D


Sunday, March 29

Mt FujiAfter a short trip on a bullet train to Shizuoka, the first stop of the day is the Mount Fuji World Heritage Center, a museum in Fujinomiya designed by architect Shigeru Ban and dedicated to the mountain. Resulting from the designation of Mt. Fuji as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the museum opened in 2017 and provides visitors with aviewing observation deck boasting views of Fujisan and exhibitions related to the history, culture, and seismology of the volcano. To end the day, will make time for hanami in Ryugenbuchi, with views of Mt Fuji and cherry blossoms all around.

Hotel: Fujikyu Highland hotel
Meals: B, L, D


Monday, March 30

Inokashira ParkThe perfect way to continue our tour is with more hanami, which is why we are headed to Inokashira Park in western Tokyo. We will spend our time enjoying the cherry blossoms and exploring the park. The grounds are full of attractions, including a beautiful pond where you can rent a boat, walking paths, a temple on the water, cafes, and a zoo. After lunch we will head to our hotel in Tokyo for a free evening on your own.


Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel


Tuesday, March 31

TempleOn our last day, we will venture to Ueno, one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, for some morning hanami. Ueno Park is known for its ornate shrines, a 17th-century Benzaiten temple, and a lovely pond. For lunch we will go to Asakusa, a popular shopping area full of delicious local treats, and following our meal, we will visit the Buddhist temple Sensoji that dates from the 7th century. After visiting the temple, we will take a boat ride to Hama Rikyu Gardens, a traditional Japanese garden at the edge of Tokyo Bay, surrounded by views of skyscrapers. To celebrate our tour, we will return to the hotel for a sayonara party at Zipangu restaurant, designed by Super Potato!

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, L, D


Wednesday, April 1

Our journey ends after breakfast this morning. Make your way to the Narita International Airport or to your next destination. We'll get together in about a month for a tour reunion!



Wednesday, April 1

TempleToday is yours to explore Tokyo. Visit museums, eat delicious food and enjoy the parks! Tokyo has endless possibilities for you to explore.

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B


Thursday, April 2

TempleToday we explore the “High City,” and first stop is Tokyo's City Hall - more commonly known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This is the perfect place to take in the city as it offers a viewing platform with two panoramic observatories. For lunch, we will visit Omotesando, where the streets are known as an “architectural showcase” featuring a number high-end fashion stores designed by well-known architects. We then will move on to the Meiji Shrine, which is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who ushered in the era of industrialization. The shrine is located in the middle of the forest surrounded by beautiful wildlife. To end our day, we will visit a garden designed by Shunmyo Masuno and enjoy dinner in the Shibuya district.

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, L, D



Friday, April 3

CherryThis morning we will start our day back at Ueno Park. We will take time to fully enjoy the wide variety of art and culture museums and continue to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms. In the early afternoon, we will visit the Ginza area. Today's Ginza district was formerly the site of a silver coin mint (Ginza means "silver mint" in Japanese) which eventually evolved into an upscale shopping district following an earthquake in 1923. Mid-afternoon we will head to Roppongi, a bustling art district full of fashion boutiques and art exhibits. You will have the evening free to enjoy Tokyo.

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, L



Saturday, April 4

TowerThis morning we will take the train to Nikko, a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for the lavishly decorated Nikko Toshogu shrine and the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. We will spend the day exploring the park and several shrines and temples. After a beautiful day outdoors, we will take the train back to the hotel and enjoy one last dinner together.

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B, L, D



Sunday, April 5

TempleWe will enjoy one last breakfast together before you depart from Narita International Airport (NRT).

Hotel: Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel
Meals: B