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Japan

The Cultural Highlights of Japan

Program No. 19725RJ
Take the adventure of a lifetime as you dive deep into the ancient culture of Japan, discovering iconic monuments, ancient traditions and world-renowned cuisine.
Length
16 days
Rating (4.75)
Activity Level
Starts at
7,999
Flights start at
1,350

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
Activity Level: Keep the Pace (7)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 14 - Mar 29, 2023
Starting at
7,999
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Apr 4 - Apr 19, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Apr 11 - Apr 26, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, it may be possible to see some cherry blossom at higher altitudes.

May 16 - May 31, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Sep 19 - Oct 4, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Oct 10 - Oct 25, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Oct 31 - Nov 15, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the fall leaves in some locations.

Activity Level: Keep the Pace (7)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 14 - Mar 29, 2023
Starting at
8,749
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Apr 4 - Apr 19, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Apr 11 - Apr 26, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, it may be possible to see some cherry blossom at higher altitudes.

May 16 - May 31, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Sep 19 - Oct 4, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Oct 10 - Oct 25, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Oct 31 - Nov 15, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Itinerary Note

Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the fall leaves in some locations.

Activity Level: On Your Feet (2)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 21 - Apr 5, 2023
Starting at
7,999
Itinerary Note

On Your Feet - Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. However, the pace of this departure has been relaxed and follows this itinerary: Arrival Tokyo, 3 nights; coach to Matsumoto, 2 nights; coach to Takayama, 2 nights; coach to Kanazawa, 2 nights; coach to Kyoto, 5 nights; departure. It has been designed to avoid staying in hotels with futons or restaurants that require sitting on the floor. Where possible coaches is used rather than navigating public transportation. Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. Walking and standing for up to two miles, three hours per day. Some longer walks are optional. Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Sep 26 - Oct 11, 2023
Starting at
8,099
Itinerary Note

On Your Feet - Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. However, the pace of this departure has been relaxed and follows this itinerary: Arrival Tokyo, 3 nights; coach to Matsumoto, 2 nights; coach to Takayama, 2 nights; coach to Kanazawa, 2 nights; coach to Kyoto, 5 nights; departure. It has been designed to avoid staying in hotels with futons or restaurants that require sitting on the floor. Where possible coaches is used rather than navigating public transportation. Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. Walking and standing for up to two miles, three hours per day. Some longer walks are optional.

Activity Level: On Your Feet (2)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 21 - Apr 5, 2023
Starting at
8,749
Itinerary Note

On Your Feet - Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. However, the pace of this departure has been relaxed and follows this itinerary: Arrival Tokyo, 3 nights; coach to Matsumoto, 2 nights; coach to Takayama, 2 nights; coach to Kanazawa, 2 nights; coach to Kyoto, 5 nights; departure. It has been designed to avoid staying in hotels with futons or restaurants that require sitting on the floor. Where possible coaches is used rather than navigating public transportation. Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. Walking and standing for up to two miles, three hours per day. Some longer walks are optional. Weather depending, this date is optimal for viewing the cherry blossom in some locations.

Sep 26 - Oct 11, 2023
Starting at
8,849
Itinerary Note

On Your Feet - Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. However, the pace of this departure has been relaxed and follows this itinerary: Arrival Tokyo, 3 nights; coach to Matsumoto, 2 nights; coach to Takayama, 2 nights; coach to Kanazawa, 2 nights; coach to Kyoto, 5 nights; departure. It has been designed to avoid staying in hotels with futons or restaurants that require sitting on the floor. Where possible coaches is used rather than navigating public transportation. Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. Walking and standing for up to two miles, three hours per day. Some longer walks are optional.

At a Glance

Gain unique insight into the fascinating culture of Japan on this journey that explores the country’s national identity from samurai traditions to ultramodern cities. Experience energetic Tokyo, iconic Kyoto, the soaring Japanese Alps and more. Appreciate Japan’s engaging, friendly people and savor its cuisine, a delight for the eyes and the stomach.
Activity Level
Varies by date
Participants must handle their own luggage at all times. Walking and standing for up to three miles, four hours per day. Some longer walks are optional.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Explore Tokyo’s remaining links to historic Edo, seat of power of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
  • Learn about traditional Japanese arts including the intricacies of the tea ceremony, which you learn with a Tea Master in Kyoto.
  • Experience the delights of Japan’s culinary traditions from the freshest sushi obtainable through temple vegetarian cuisine to popular izakaya restaurants.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Kazui Yabe (Tokyo Kabuki)
Native-born Japanese Kazui Yabe graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, then spent four months at Southern Illinois University in Illinois to hone her English skills before returning to Japan. Kazui is passionate about the distinctly Japanese theater of kabuki, known for the stylization of its drama and the elaborate makeup worn by its performers. She is friend with many of the actors and provides an insider’s look at life behind the scenes.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Kazui Yabe (Tokyo Kabuki)
Kazui Yabe (Tokyo Kabuki) View biography
Native-born Japanese Kazui Yabe graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, then spent four months at Southern Illinois University in Illinois to hone her English skills before returning to Japan. Kazui is passionate about the distinctly Japanese theater of kabuki, known for the stylization of its drama and the elaborate makeup worn by its performers. She is friend with many of the actors and provides an insider’s look at life behind the scenes.
Profile Image of Michael Drzmisek Sozui (Tea Master)
Michael Drzmisek Sozui (Tea Master) View biography
Michael was born in Switzerland and first came in contact with Japanese culture came through the martial arts Aikido and Iaido. He originally started to study Japanese calligraphy and later chanoyu to complement martial arts studies but became increasingly interested in tea over the years. After more than twenty years of experience, Michael sees chanoyu as a way of communication between people and ideas. The focus of his tea studies is not only to be a tea master, but to become a true tea person.
Profile Image of Junko Kawamura (Kyoto Noh)
Junko Kawamura (Kyoto Noh) View biography
Junko Kawamura is the director of the Association for Spreading Noh Gaku and a professor at the Ikenobo Bunka University. Junko moved to Kyoto on her marriage to the late Nobushige Kawamura; the lead actor of the Kanze school of Noh drama. She has been involved with the management of the Kawamura Noh Theatre and of the Ladies’ Association for the Appreciation of Noh. As a passionate denizen of Kyoto, Junko has taken an important role in promoting traditional culture in the city.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Bending Adversity, Japan and the Art of Survival
by David Pilling
Financial Times Asia editor Pilling captures the dynamism and diversity of Japan after the 2011 tsunami. He interviews, among many, novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, industrialists, bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octogenarians.
The Inland Sea
by Donald Richie
Richie's masterpiece, more than a travel account, is a beautiful reflection on all things Japanese by one of its most acute observers.
Kyoto, A Cultural History
by John Dougill
A rich portrait and guide to the gardens, monasteries, art, history and culture of Kyoto, once Japan's capital, founded 1,200-years ago.
Super Sushi Ramen Express
by Michael Booth
Using keen insight and sarcastic wit, Booth describes the cuisine and culture of Japan as he recaps the nearly three months-long foodie road trip he and his family took through the island nation. A fun journey, sure to both entertain and inform.
Culture Smart! Japan
by Paul Norbury
A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture, this is a helpful travel tool for visitors to Japan.
Thousand Cranes
by Yasunari Kawabata, Edward G. Seidensticker (Translator)
This novella by the great Kawabata may be Japan's best-known literary work, a story of love, grief and redemption. Kawabata's prose is as economical as the tea ceremony itself and very beautiful.
Eyewitness Guide Japan
by Eyewitness Guides
Dazzling illustrations, architectural cutaways and color photographs, along with useful local maps, give this guide to Japan's many attractions a distinct edge.
Japan's Cuisines
by Eric C. Rath
This illustrated overview charts the transformation of Japanese cuisine over the ages, revealing the influences of private and public institutions, exploring the rise of tea and showing how lunch became a gourmet meal.
Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook
by Yoshi Abe
A handy palm-sized guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
A Year in Japan
by Kate T. Williamson
Williamson records her extended stay in Kyoto, its architecture, gardens, culture and traditions in 350 watercolor illustrations.
In Praise of Shadows
by Junichiro Tanizaki
This extended essay by the great Japanese novelist, first published in 1933, offers tremendous insight into traditional Japanese art, architecture and design.
Memoirs of a Geisha, A Novel
by Arthur Golden
The runaway best-selling novel about a geisha in the celebrated Gion district of Kyoto. A major feat of literary impersonation, the novel is rich in period detail and ceremony.
Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed
by Beatrice Bodart-Bailey
A good account of what it was like to travel in the Tokugawa period.
The Samurai
by Shusaku Endo
This historical novel by one of Japan's best-known modern writers is set in the world of the 17th-century Samurai. A Roman Catholic, Endo explored Christianity and morals in his many novels and stories.
The Little Book of Japan
by Charlotte Anderson, Gorazd Vilhar
Veteran Japanophiles Vilhar and Anderson produced this illuminating collection of 44 essays on Japanese life and culture, which, even in the 21st century remains elusive and poorly understood.
Walking the Kiso Road: A Modern-Day Exploration of Old Japan
by William Scott Wilson
William Scott Wilson travels along the ancient Kiso Road, historically used by samurai and warlords and relatively unchanged today. As he makes his way, Wilson engagingly ruminates on Japanese history, culture and folklore.
The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura
A graceful, witty meditation on Japanese aesthetics and culture as reflected through the tea ceremony. A celebrity and cultural ambassador, Okakura was a curator at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Japan Adventure Map
by National Geographic Society
Printed on waterproof and tear-resistant paper, this double-sided map shows all the islands of Japan at a scale of 1:1,300,000.
A Traveller's History of Japan
by Richard Tames
A lively and concise narrative history of Japan and its transformation from Shinto, Shogun and Samurai traditions to 20th-century powerhouse.
Seeing Kyoto
by Juliet Winters Carpenter, Sen Soshitsu (Introduction)
In this oversized visual celebration of Kyoto and neighboring Nara, long-time resident Carpenter presents the cobblestone streets, temples, gardens, history and traditions of the ancient capital.
Hiroshima
by John Hersey
This classic book, first published in 1946, has been hailed as the greatest piece of journalism in the 20th century. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hersey puts a human face on the Hiroshima tragedy through interviews with survivors.
Learning to Bow, Inside the Heart of Japan
by Bruce Feiler
As surprising, helpful and informative as it is funny, this is an insightful account of travels and teaching in Japan. Feiler presents anecdotes on the rituals, personality traits and cultural peccadilloes of the Japanese.
The Old Capital
by Yasunari Kawabata, J. Martin Holman (Translator)
Kawabata captures perfectly the tension between tradition and new ways in postwar Japan in this lyrical novel set in Kyoto.
Tokyo, A Biography
by Stephen Mansfield
In his 500-year history of Tokyo, Mansfield presents the Japanese capital as an "indestructible organism" that has survived bombs, earthquakes and radiation and continues to thrive. An easy introduction to a fascinating city.
Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye
by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
When her American father passes away, Mockett seeks consolation in her mother’s home country of Japan. She visits a radiation zone, a Buddhist school, temples and festivals in an effort to understand the Japanese way of grieving, to bury her dead and find healing.
The Dog Shogun
by Beatrice Bodart-Bailey
Arguably one of the most notorious figures in Japanese history, Tsunayoshi (1646 to 1709) was viewed as a tyrant with eccentric policies, including the Laws of Compassion, which made maltreatment of dogs an illegal offense, punishable by death. Bodart-Bailey delves deep into the shogun’s life, offering an engaging and brilliantly researched biography of the fifth Tokygawa shogun.
The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction
by Michael Emmerich (Editor)
This anthology of contemporary Japanese short stories was edited with the traveler in mind. The ten pieces of literature, mystery, science fiction and horror form an imaginary tour of the city of Tokyo.
The Art of Setting Stones & Other Writings from the Japanese Garden
by Marc P. Keane
In these lyrical essays, Kyoto resident and landscape architect Marc Peter Keane uses eight Japanese gardens as bases for essays on nature, religion and aesthetics. His rich, meditative excursions find beauty in garden composition - every element gaining importance and interconnectedness.
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16 days
15 nights
35 meals
14 B 11 L 10 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Tokyo, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Tokyo
D
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m., meet group in hotel lobby at 6:45 p.m.

Afternoon: After some time to relax and get settled, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby and walk to a nearby restaurant where we will go over program logistics and have dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll enjoy a family-style meal together for our Orientation Dinner, with one Welcome Drink (beer, wine, coffee, tea) and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program will be accompanied by both a Group Leader, who will primarily handle logistics, and a Study Leader who will lead most lectures and field trips, unless otherwise specified. Meals will include water and tea; other beverages will be available for purchase, unless specified otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll then return to the hotel. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
History Overview, Imperial Palace Gardens, National Museum
Tokyo
B,L,D
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza

Activity note: Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day; mostly flat, pavement, some steps, elevators and escalators may not always be available. Driving approx. 10 miles total throughout the day, with stops; about 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a tasty breakfast buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We begin the day with a lecture on not only Tokyo’s, but also an overview of Japan’s history by our Study Leader that will set the stage for our exploration of Japanese culture. Boarding our motor coach, we go for an exploration of the Imperial Palace East gardens, the site of the Shogun’s castle, with your Study Leader. Residence of the Tokugawa shogun between 1603 ~ 1867, the Imperial Palace East Gardens are one part of the inner palace area that is open to the public. Here will see the former defenses of the castle including the moats, walls, entrance gates and guardhouses.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we transfer to the Tokyo National Museum. The oldest and largest in Japan, the museum houses over 110,000 objects including 600 Important Cultural Properties. The museum is located on the edge of Ueno Park, a very pleasant park to stroll through.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a family-style meal with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Cultural Entertainment in Japan
Tokyo
B,L
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza

Activity note: Walking approximately 1 mile; gentle pace. Use of public transportation; about 1 hour of assorted rail and subway transfers; some stairs, elevators and escalators may not always be available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: During a morning lecture given by an expert in Kabuki, we’ll learn about this classical Japanese dance-drama that has been performed in Japan since 1603. Afterwards, a visit to the Kabuki-za theater's kabuki museum for an examination of the art form's inner workings.

Lunch: A light lunch at a restaurant in Kabuki-za; tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time to explore the area independently beginning in the mid-afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Japanese Feudal Castle Towns, Matsumoto, Miso Manufacturer
Matsumoto
B,L,D
Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Activity note: Driving approx. 145 miles; about 3.5 hours to Matsumoto. Walking approximately 1.5 miles in and around Matsumoto Castle; some very steep flights of steps and polished wooden floors. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll leave Tokyo and travel into the heart of central Japan to Matsumoto, a pleasant regional city surrounded by the Japanese Alps. As we travel, we’ll learn about the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate through a lecture delivered by our Study Leader. Upon arrival in Matsumoto, we’ll go straight to a traditional miso manufacturer’s facility to learn and see how this essential Japanese foodstuff is made.

Lunch: At the miso manufacturer’s establishment, we’ll enjoy a delicious plated lunch featuring their product with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then explore the city of Matsumoto we go on a visit to the city's castle. The keep of Matsumoto Castle, an impressive and imposing structure, is an original which dates back to the late 16th century and is one of only five in Japan to be designated a National Treasure. While here, we’ll be given insights into the establishment and the importance of castle towns under the Tokugawa Shogunate. We’ll also delve into the facts with our Study Leader and compare them to common myths surrounding samurai. Carrying on, we’ll then check into the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
The Nakasendo Way, Narai, Kiso-Hirasawa & Lacquerware
Matsumoto
B,L
Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Activity note: Transferring approx. 30 miles one way; about 2 hours total. Walking about 2 miles; approx. 1.5 hours; flat terrain around Narai and Kiso Hirasawa. Sitting on the floor on tatami mats for lunch. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a Western plated breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Setting out for a full-day field trip, we’ll first go to Kiso-Hirasawa, a center for hand-crafted, high quality lacquer ware. Upon arrival, we’ll visit the workshop of one of the top lacquer craftsmen of Japan to learn about the painstaking process of his exquisite art.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continuing, we’ll travel to Narai, one of the best-preserved post towns of the old Nakasendo Highway. Lying at the foot of the difficult Torii Pass (4200 feet), Narai prospered from the travelers who would rest there in order to prepare for the difficult journey ahead. While here, we will view the distinctive wooden houses with their overhanging roofs and the many well-preserved features of an old post town. We’ll then return to Matsumoto.

Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Japan Central Alps, Takayama Festival Floats
Takayama
B,L,D
Tokyu Stay Hida-Takayama

Activity note: Driving approx. 50 miles; about 2.5 hours to Takayama. Walking of about 2 miles total throughout the day. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today as well as upon arrival at the hotel.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll leave Matsumoto via motorcoach and drive through the spectacular scenery of Japan’s Central Alps on our way to Takayama, also known as ‘Little Kyoto’ by the locals. Upon arrival, we’ll explore this compact, delightful town on foot with our Study Leader.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have tasty plated meals with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our arrival in Takayama will take us to the Festival Floats Exhibition hall, where 11 of the floats for this famous festival are kept and displayed on rotation, four at a time. These floats date back to the 17th century, and their detailed wood carvings and metal work reflects the districts of Takayama that they represent. We’ll then check into the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a traditional plated Japanese-style dinner. Tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
Regional Architecture, Jinya, Kanazawa Geisha Quarters
Kanazawa
B,L,D
Kanazawa New Grand Hotel

Activity note: Driving approx. 75 miles; about 2 hours. Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day, half in the morning in Takayama and half in Kanazawa in the afternoon; mostly flat terrain on pavement.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a delicious buffet featuring Western and Japanese dishes, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Largely isolated by the surrounding mountains, Takayama fiercely protected its independence under pressure from the Shogunate, which eventually had to resort to direct rule. Through a visit to the historic Jinya, the Shogunate’s local headquarters, we’ll gain insight into Takayama's proud history and daily life in the provinces. As we continue, we’ll take in the picturesque Sanmachi district of town where the streets are lined with many beautifully preserved traditional shops, inns, restaurants, cafés, private homes and museums. Along the way, we’ll see the sake breweries where this very palatable drink is made and sample a glass or two. Our Study Leader will show us around and answer any questions.

Lunch: Plated meal at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Then we will board our motorcoach for transfer to Kanazawa. Spared from large scale bombing during the Pacific War, Kanazawa retains much of its distinct charm. Upon arrival we explore one of the former Geisha quarters before transferring to our hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have delicious plated meals featuring Kaga cuisine, well-known throughout Japan. Tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
The Samurai & Their Domains
Kanazawa
B
Kanazawa New Grand Hotel

Activity note: Walking approx. 2 miles during group activities throughout the morning; mostly flat with some slopes and steps; more depending on personal preference.

Breakfast: At the hotel we’ll enjoy a breakfast buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: In the Edo Period, Kanazawa flourished economically and culturally under the powerful Kaga Clan. With the exception of the Shogun’s family, the Kaga Clan was the wealthiest family with a worth of more than one million koku - one koku (about six US bushels) was defined as enough rice to feed one person for a year. The city’s glorious past is still palpable in its samurai quarters, former pleasure quarters and temples. The Kenrokuen Gardens and the imposing, recreated castle buildings, which we will walk through led by our Study Leader, attest to the power of the Clan’s wealth and evoke their grand lifestyle.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy local regional fare.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to check out the lively and warren-like central food market, the Samurai Quarter or, for a change of pace, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is an acclaimed, ultra-modern structure that is as much of an attraction as the art housed inside.

Dinner: On your own to explore the local fare.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
The Japan Sea
Obama
B,D
Sekumiya

Activity note: Walking approx. 1.5 miles in Kanazawa throughout the morning; mostly flat with some steps. Driving approx. 110 miles; about 2 hours to Obama. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll take a stroll through a nearby samurai quarter and visit a samurai residence built in 1583 that has recently been awarded two Michelin stars. After returning to the hotel to board our motorcoach, we’ll then set out on our driving transfer along the coast to the seaside town of Obama.

Lunch: On your own, choose from various options at a Service Area on route to Obama.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in this charming seaside town, we visit the Tobaya vinegar factory, currently run by the families 12th generation, to discover the secrets behind the production of Japanese vinegar. Later we check into our accommodations and have some time to relax and enjoy the hot spring baths.

Dinner: At the inn, we’ll experience Japanese hospitality at its best with a Kaiseki multi-course plated meal, with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Seaside towns, cruise and food museum
Obama
B,L,D
Sekumiya

Activity note: Cruise trip approx. 50 minutes. Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day; extended periods of standing in the afternoon. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: At the inn we’ll have a traditional plated Japanese breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Free time to relax in the morning or optional walk around the town with your Study Leader. Late morning we take a cruise from Obama Bay around the peninsula to see the beautiful scenery along the Japan sea coast.

Lunch: A plated meal in a local restaurant.

Afternoon: In the afternoon we visit the Food Culture Museum, an interesting combination of museum, cooking studio, crafts activity area and hot springs. We enjoy a hands-on experience making Japanese paper postcards. Afterwards, depending on the time of year, we will either visit a high school or we will spend some time meeting other local Obama residents.

Dinner: At the inn, we enjoy our second Kaiseki multi-course plated meal, with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the inn, the remainder of the evening at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
12
Small-Scale Agriculture & Rural Ecology in Japan
Kyoto
B,L,D
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijyo-Karasuma

Activity note: Driving approx. 70 miles; about 1.5 hours to Miyama and 1.5 hours to Kyoto. Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day; gentle pace with short bus transfers between sites. Extended periods of standing in the afternoon. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: At the inn we’ll have a traditional plated Japanese breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll drive to Miyama where we engage in a cooking class with some local residents in a community group and learn to use some fresh local ingredients to make some regional favorites.

Lunch: Enjoy the food you have made.

Afternoon: Our day continues with a visit to the Kayabuki no Sato thatched village. When we get there, we’ll go on a stroll around the houses led by our Study Leader before visiting the indigo gallery.

Dinner: After arriving into Kyoto, at a local restaurant we will enjoy nice dinner with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Japanese Tea Ceremony, Daitoku-ji Temple, Raku Museum
Kyoto
B,L
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijyo-Karasuma

Activity note: Short transfers via taxis. Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day; extended periods of standing in the afternoon. Siting on either tatami mats or small chairs on the floor during tea ceremony. Space is limited at the tea room, and that large groups will be split into two, reversing the daily itinerary. Sitting on the floor at lunch. Shoes will need to be removed to enter some of the attractions today.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start out by exploring the massive 56-acre Daitoku-ji temple complex associated with Sen no Rikyu, the ultimate master of the tea ceremony. While here, we’ll explore the meaning of Zen Buddhist rock gardens and the origins of some notable Japanese architectural features. Rounding off the main theme today, we’ll then experience a tea ceremony in the informative and enthralling company of a tea master. We’ll delve into the ceremony, a delightful and deeply meaningful practice far from the rigid image it often has, and also make tea for each other.

Lunch: At a Shojin Ryori, a temple vegetarian restaurant located by the 56-acre Daitoku-ji temple complex, we’ll enjoy a tasty plated meal with tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll go on a field trip to the Raku Museum to see more examples of ceramics and utensils associated with tea ceremony. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to explore the regional cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Ashikaga Yoshimasa & Japanese Arts
Kyoto
B,L,D
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijyo-Karasuma

Activity note: Walking approx. 2 miles throughout the day; gentle pace, some stairs, elevators and escalators may not always be available. Short transfers via taxis.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel, we’ll begin a comprehensive multi-stop field trip led by our expert Study Leader. First, we’ll arrive at the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts and begin with an introduction to the city’s splendid artisan crafts before walking to nearby Heian Jingu, a vast Shinto shrine complex that was modeled on an ancient imperial palace. Our next stop will be Ginkaku-ji temple (Silver Pavilion), built by the 8th Ashikaga Shogun Yoshimasa. Like his grandfather, Yoshimitsu, Yoshimasa was a great patron of the arts but a poor governor of the nation. While Kyoto was engulfed in the internecine and destructive Onin Wars, the Higashiyama culture began and flourished at Ginkaku-ji. Based largely on the ideals and aesthetics of Zen Buddhism and the concept of wabi-sabi, which can be translated as beauty in simplicity, Higashiyama culture centered on the development of the Japanese tea ceremony, ikebana flower arranging, Noh drama, and sumi-e ink painting.

Lunch: Local restaurant plated meal.

Afternoon: Then we’ll travel to explore the world-famous geisha quarter of Gion. The area emerged in order to accommodate the needs the many travelers and pilgrims coming to visit nearby Yasaka Shrine. A short walk away is the extensive Teramachi shopping arcade, for those wanting to sample some of Kyoto's more modern wonders.

Dinner: Local restaurant plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
The Mystery of Noh Theater, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
Kyoto
B,L,D
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijyo-Karasuma

Activity note: Short transfer via taxis to lecture. Walking approx. 1/2 mile during group activity; mostly flat terrain. More dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out via taxi and on foot, we’ll transfer to a lecture hall to learn about the traditions and symbolism of Noh theatre from one of its leading Western students.

Lunch: Plated meal at a nearby restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll celebrate our journey over a delicious plated farewell dinner. Tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
16
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.