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great tour. The page remains
This tour in autumn 2002 will focus on the countryside, villages and small towns of Japan. We will look deeply into the culture and soul of Japan by visits to temples, shrines, castles, and gardens. We will walk along historic paths and through forests showing glorious autumn foliage, doing a little birding along the way. Craftsmen will demonstrate ancient techniques for making fine washi and exquisite lacquerware. We'll stay in a mix of traditional Japanese inns, hotels and spa resorts, enjoying local cuisine and customs.
October 26, Saturday Arrive in Tokyo
October 27, Sunday Tokyo
The rest of the day is free to do as you wish. On Sundays, the main street in Shinjuku
is turned into a pedestrian promenade, and all the shops are open.
October 28, Monday Tokyo-Nikko
October 29, Tuesday Nikko-Hakone National Park
October 30, Wednesday Hakone National Park
October 31, Thursday Mt. Fuji-Matsumoto Castle-Kiso Valley
Tonight we stay in two genuine Edo period traditional village minshuku (guest houses)
with an open pit fireplace in the middle of the lounge floor and sliding paper walls
between each room. (Bring earplugs.) Definitely no western food tonight. We'll have local
cuisine cooked by the owner of the inn. There are no shops in the village and no other
types of accommodation. In this village, we step back two hundred years. This is the
closest one can get to ancient Japan.
November 1, Friday Kiso Valley-Tsumago-Mino-Kyoto
Tonight we begin a five-day stay in Kyoto, the picturesque ancient capital of Japan.
Our hotel is The Miyako, an historic five-star hotel built on the forested slopes of
Higashiyama. The grounds of The Miyako include a modern landscape garden, a traditional
Japanese garden, a mushroom farm, and a forested birdwatching trail. What a contrast to
the minshuku! You may be ready for a western interlude, a bed on legs and western food.
Note: Dinners are not included in Kyoto. There are many small reasonably-priced restaurants with local cuisine and atmosphere in the area. Our guides will give suggestions and directions.
November 2, Saturday Kyoto
November 3, Sunday Kyoto
November 4, Monday Kyoto
November 5, Tuesday Kyoto-Nara-Kyoto
November 6, Wednesday Kyoto-Okayama/Kurashiki
Take the train to Himeji Town where we stroll leisurely around Himeji Castle, a striking white and grey architectural masterpiece, the most beautiful traditional stone castle in Japan. Go inside and examine the ramparts, battlements, towers, walls, hidden passageways, living spaces and armory at your own pace. Walk back to the railway station through a covered shopping arcade several blocks long. Watch the time! We have a train to catch.
Board the famous Shinkansen Bullet Train, and speed through the countryside at 250
kilometers per hour. Arrive at Okayama where we visit Korakuen, one of Japan's most studied stroll gardens.
Tonight we stay in the pretty village of Kurashiki in a hotel near the old part of the
November 7, Thursday Kurashiki-Hiroshima-Miyajima
November 8, Friday Miyajima-Tsuwano
November 9, Saturday Tsuwano-Hagi-Tsuwano
November 10, Sunday Tsuwano-Matsue
November 11, Monday Matsue-Amanohashidate
November 12, Tuesday Amanohashidate-Osaka
If you are not flying this day, your bags can be shipped directly to whatever hotel you have booked for the night. Some members will continue this day by rail to Tokyo or Narita, using their railpass, arriving about 9:00 p.m. If you wish to investigate accommodation in Narita City, write to me. If we arrive in Osaka too late for a flight from Osaka this date, be sure to book accommodation for the night. Destination Management can help with this, if you wish. Destination Management can also help with a booking in Tokyo or elsewhere for this night. B
Note: Weather or other circumstances beyond our control could require altering the above itinerary. In that unlikely event, we will do our best to substitute a similar site or event to the one missed.
The tour price includes:
(See the Booking Form for more details on what is included.)
(See the Booking Form for more details on what is not included.)
Is traveling with a tour right for you?
Before you decide to sign on to this tour, or any tour, consider carefully whether tour travel is right for you. If you find it a hassle and a distraction to have to search for accommodation, hunt for a place to eat, research a destination, plan an itinerary, arrange transportation, and other travel chores, a tour is right for you. On the other hand, if you would find adherence to a schedule planned by someone else too confining, if you prefer the flexibility of making changes on the spot, if you would find it a bore to see the same faces each morning, then you should not join a tour group. Traveling independently is more flexible to be sure, but it is considerably more difficult than tour travel. Tour group members are willing to give up some options for the assurance that they can devote their full attention to enjoying travel without the time-consuming distractions required by having to make their own day-to-day arrangements.
Are you ready for Japan?
If you have read the itinerary carefully, you will have noticed that we stay often in traditional Japanese inns. This means sleeping and sitting on the floor. We will sleep on futons on a tatami mat floor, and we will sit on the tatami at low tables for meals. Traditional Japanese inns serve traditional Japanese food. Legless chairs, with a seat cushion and back rest, are provided. If that sounds daunting, but you still want to join us, you know what to do. Begin stretching and exercising now.
You will have noticed also that we will be riding a great variety of transportation, including trains, buses, subways, ropeways, boats, a switch back railway, as well as private charter coaches. It will be very important that you reduce the weight of your bags as much as possible since you will have to manage them personally on some days, and sometimes on unpaved roads and cobblestone roads and footpaths.We may have some help occasionally at hotels and inns with baggage, but don't count on it. Bags sometimes will be transported for us between trains and hotels, but not always. Be sure to bring an overnight bag or small backpack since on some occasions, our larger bags will be transported ahead, and we will not see them for a day or two. For the most part, you will personally carry only a shoulder bag or backpack on the trains.
Note that we often walk when a specific attraction is best enjoyed on foot rather than in a bus. We also take walks occasionally in the countryside. These are not death march hikes. We will walk at a steady, pleasant pace, and more often we will simply stroll. You should be in reasonably good health and in condition to keep up with the group.
It should also be noted that all the places where we stay feature western-style toilets.
Land Only AU$7,280. (approx. US$3,750 at this writing)
Single supplement: AU$1,472. However, no single supplement is assessed if the single person expresses a willingness to share, and we can pair the single person with a suitable roommate. Note that whether or not the single supplement is paid, a single room is customarily not available in traditional inns. Write to me for more information.
NOTE for American members: Deposits and final payments will be received and posted in Australian dollars and converted to U.S. dollars on the day of posting. The U.S. dollar is quite strong against the Australian dollar at the moment. Watch the exchange rate. You may want to pay in full early to take advantage of the current favorable rate. Here's a good web site to check the exchange rate.
Full coverage travel insurance is required. Destination Management has long experience in sending tours to Japan and has concluded that travel insurance is essential to protect the traveler there. You may purchase from any provider you wish. Ask questions so you will know precisely what coverages are included. You will need to indicate the insurance company and policy number on your application.
Note: American travel insurance companies that cover pre-existing conditions usually require that the insurance be taken out within 7-14 days of making your initial trip deposit. The point is irrelevant in this case since you will have to take out the insurance before submitting your application and deposit. Nevertheless, for your own information, ask the insurance company for their definition of a pre-existing condition. It varies.
Take care that your passport will be valid six months beyond the ending date of the tour. Visas for Japan are not required of citizens of the United States, Canada or Australia. You will need to show your roundtrip air ticket to the immigration agent on arrival in Japan.
All arrangements are handled by Destination Management, an Australian company that has gained considerable following for its tours to Japan that focus on the countryside and villages. Ken Osetroff, the owner of Destination Management, will personally lead our tour. He has been taking tours to Japan since 1983. Working with Ken as interpreter and guide will be Mayumi Gray who was born and grew up in Japan and is now a citizen of Australia. Mayumi has a long associaton with the Japanese travel industry and has an intimate knowledge of the Japanese way of life, culture, food, history and talent for presenting the awesome wonders of her homeland.
In addition to Ken and Mayumi and local guides, the tour group will be organized and escorted by Harlan Hague, Ph.D., writer and retired history professor. For information on my background and experience in organizing and escorting tours, please see my home page.
If you have questions, please write to me. If, after contacting me, you wish to contact Destination Management directly, address your email to Ken Osetroff. Remember that he is located in Australia. Check Australian and U.S. clock times at this web site. In Australia, call Ken toll free at 1300 307 317.
READY TO SIGN ON?If you are ready to sign on, read the Destination Management Booking Form. All references to costs are in Australian dollars. Click on "I Agree" at the bottom of the page, and you will go to the application form. Print the form, fill it out, and mail it to the address shown on the form. If you would rather submit your application by fax, the number from the U.S. is 011 61 7 3359 1263. Thirdly, you can scan the completed application, and attach it to an email addressed to Destination Management.
The deposit required at the time of submitting the application is AU$400. The final payment is due sixty days before departure. The deposit and final payment may be made by credit card--VISA or MasterCard only--or by electronic transfer of funds from your bank account to the agency account of Destination Management at this address:
If you plan to pay by credit card, add the credit card information to your application, or send it by email or fax to Destination Management. If you do not use VISA or MasterCard, I will be happy to earn the frequent flyer miles by charging your payments to my credit card, and you can pay me by personal cheque.
Australian applicants can also make both deposit and final payments by personal cheque.
Upon receipt of your application and deposit, Destination Management will send a packet of materials directly to Australian applicants, and I will send materials to all other applicants. The packet will include maps, pictures and general information about Japan. I will also give you a proper welcome to the group.
Upon receipt of your final payment, we will send a detailed itinerary, trip notes, and a final hotel list, along with addresses, phone and fax numbers and email addresses of hotels. We don't expect any hotels to be changed, but infrequently circumstances beyond Destination Mangement's control force changes. If that happens, similar accommodation will be substituted.
Write to me if you have any questions about the application and payment procedure.