Touring Northern Japan - 9 Days
- Discover both the modern and historic sides of Tokyo
- Visit Mount Fuji and see blooming cherry blossoms in spring
- Enjoy fresh seafood and walk the canals of Otaru
- Tour Sapporo and visit the famous Asahiyama Zoo
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Optional Activities||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Tokyo Modernity & Tradition Tour||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Mount Fuji Day Trip & Ninja Village||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Cherry Blossom Tour Near Mount Fuji||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Transfer to Sapporo, History & Architecture Tour||Sapporo|
|Day 6||Day Trip to Otaru||Sapporo|
|Day 7||Explore Hokkaido, Transfer to Asahikawa||Asahikawa|
|Day 8||Asahiyama Zoo, Transfer to Sapporo||Sapporo|
|Day 9||Transfer to Tokyo, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Optional Activities
Welcome to Japan! With its over 2,000 years of history combined with cutting-edge modernity and a rich Shinto and Buddhist culture, there's no country quite like it. Plus, here you'll find some of the most beautiful scenery and natural landmarks in East Asia. Upon arrival at the airport in Tokyo, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Japan's capital is one of the globe's great cities. This modern metropolis of around 14 million people exists at the forefront of technology and yet, at the same time, is steeped in tradition.
You'll experience Tokyo's culture and incredible sights over the next few days. In the meantime, feel free to stretch your legs with a walk near your hotel. Perhaps visit Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world, or participate in sado, the famous Japanese tea ceremony. When you get hungry, try famous staples like ramen (noodle soup), yakitori (skewered chicken), or tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet).
Day 2: Tokyo Modernity & Tradition Tour
Meet your guide early and head to Tokyo's famous Asakusa district, a historical and traditional oasis in a sea of modernity. Asakusa rose to prominence during Japan's Edo Period (1603-1867), but back then, it was the hub of kabuki theaters and a sordid red-light district. Today it's one of Tokyo's most visited neighborhoods, drawing millions of tourists every year. A large promenade lined with street food vendors leads into Asakusa, where prominent landmarks await.
You'll visit the most famous building in the area: Senso-ji. This Buddhist temple dates to the seventh century, making it the oldest in Tokyo. It managed to survive the air raids of 1945 (although some of it has been reconstructed) and you'll experience the temple in all its glory on a tour of its grounds and main hall. Afterward, you'll stroll up Denbouin Street, the pedestrian thoroughfare running through the district, where you can browse souvenirs like crafts and natto snacks (fermented soybeans). Continue down Dogugai and Nakamise streets, which are other shopping areas dating to the Edo Period.
Day 3: Mount Fuji Day Trip & Ninja Village
In the morning, you'll join a private tour for a visit to Japan's most famous natural landmark: Mount Fuji. This active volcano (its last eruption was in 1707) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stands at an elevation of 7,545 feet (2,300 m) and is located about 62 miles (100 km) west of Tokyo. The bus takes about 2.5 hours to reach Fuji, at which point you'll be able to snap photos of the snow-capped peak and nearby Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
You'll also visit some of the other highlights around Fuji. These include stops at Lake Kawaguchi and the natural springs of Oshino Hakkai. Both are located in the Fuji Five Lakes district and offer great views of the volcano looming overhead. A real treat is a visit to the Oshino Ninja Village, a theme park that puts on ninja-themed performances and demonstrations. Another unforgettable experience is hopping in a flight simulator for incredible 4D views over Mount Fuji. Afterward, you'll enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch before returning to Tokyo.
Day 4: Cherry Blossom Tour Near Mount Fuji
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
One of the most beautiful natural phenomena in all of Japan is the famous spring cherry blossoms. There are few more scenic ways to enjoy this sight than with Mount Fuji in the background. So today, you'll take the train to Yamanashi Prefecture and the northern end of Fuji. This area abounds with great cherry blossom sites, and you can take a stroll through one or combine a few of them into the same outing. Even if you're not visiting during the spring blossom season, the graceful, spreading cherry trees are still a beautiful sight to behold.
You'll definitely want to visit the Shiogama Shrine and Chureito Pagoda, where you can snap the ideal photo of Fuji complimented by red pagodas and cherry trees. Other highlights include Maizuru Castle Park, which boasts hundreds of cherry trees around a 16th-century fortress; Fuefukigawa Fruit Park, a child-friendly area with gardens and play equipment; or there's the nearby Hokuto region, where you can see Yamataka Jindai Sakura, the oldest cherry tree in Japan (it's believed to be 2,000 years old). At the end of the day you'll return to Tokyo.
Day 5: Transfer to Sapporo, History & Architecture Tour
From Tokyo, take your flight to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture. Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's islands and, among other highlights, is famous for its volcanoes, hot springs, and ski resorts. The city of Sapporo, in fact, is a major hub for ski trips in Japan. Today, though, you'll eschew the mountains for a walking tour of Sapporo's famous and historic landmarks.
This six-hour tour will take you to the gems of the city, including Sapporo TV Tower. There is arguably no better view over the city than the 360-degree vistas you'll enjoy from the 98-foot (30 m) observation deck of this broadcasting tower. You'll also visit Odori Park, which stretches for about half a mile (1 km) and is the location of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in February.
Day 6: Day Trip to Otaru
Meet your English-speaking guide this morning and embark on the one-hour drive to Otaru, a small port city located on Hokkaido's western coast. The city attracts Japanese natives and foreign tourists alike to its charming Otaru Canal, which is lined with historic buildings. During this full-day tour, you'll get to stroll along the canal and also take a boat ride. When it's time for lunch, be sure to try Otaru's famous seafood. Since this is a port city, you can bet on it being some of the best around.
After spending time on the water, visitors can explore Otaru's streets. You'll find plenty of quality museums here, including the Otaru Museum, which recounts the city's history and the development of the Hokkaido region. Otaru is also famous for its glass-blowing industry, so this is the place to shop for fine glass souvenirs. At the end of the afternoon, be sure to return to the canal. After sunset, the water is awash in the flickering and dancing lights of dozens of traditional oil lamps. After enjoying the spectacle, you'll return to Sapporo.
Day 7: Explore Hokkaido, Transfer to Asahikawa
Rise early and board a bus for a guided or self-guided (your choice) tour of Sapporo and the Hokkaido region. The first stop is Nijo Market, a local fish and produce shopping center, where you'll enjoy a traditional Japanese breakfast. Then ride over to the Hokkaido Historical Village, an open-air museum and recreation of a 19th-century farming village. After walking around the village, continue to the Hokkaido Museum, which features exhibits dedicated to the history, culture, and nature of the region.
After lunch, you can return to Odori Park for another leisurely stroll. Then cap the day with a fun and tasty stop at the Sapporo Beer Museum. This region is famous for its beer, and Japan's only beer museum is housed in a 19th-century brick building that was a former brewery. Here you can learn about the legacy of Sapporo beer, which began in 1876, and of course, you can enjoy a glass or two of the star product. Afterward, you'll transfer two hours north from Sapporo to the city of Asahikawa, where you'll check in to your hotel.
Day 8: Asahiyama Zoo, Transfer to Sapporo
After breakfast, you'll head to the outskirts of the city for a day trip to the famous Asahiyama Zoo. Located in the center of the Hokkaido region, the zoo specializes mostly in cold-climate species and is home to over 700 animals. While the 124 species here are indeed incredible, the real star is the zoo's unique design. Visitors can walk through submerged glass tunnels as penguins swim overhead and take a stroll outside as red pandas scurry above them on suspension bridges.
Throughout the outing, you'll be accompanied by a private English-speaking guide. It's an exciting and educational experience during which you'll see plenty of native animals as well as international species. At the end of the day, you'll transfer back to Sapporo, where your final evening in Japan is at your leisure.
Day 9: Transfer to Tokyo, DepartUnfortunately, today you must say farewell to Japan. After breakfast at the hotel, your driver will pick you up for the drive to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!
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