Escorted Tour from Honolulu – Summer Kyoto, Osaka, Onsen & Tokyo 2019
Day 1: Jun 01 (Sat) Departure from Honolulu
We checked in at the Hawaiian airlines counter and met at the departure gate.
Our flight was on time and we were off to fun filled Japan trip! Bon Boyage! Flight time to Kansai was almost 9 hours, and lunch was served about 2 hours after departure. We enjoyed Chicken with gravy, vegetables, potato salad and cookie for desert. One hour prior to landing, Cheese & Egg salad sandwich and Mac chocolate were served.
Day 2: Jun 02 (Sun) Arrival Kansai Airport
Upon arrival in Kansai, we followed arrival process then we were met by our guide whom escorted us to our bus. Upon arrival at Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo, we checked in to our room for good night sleep.
Day 3: Jun 03 (Mon) Kyoto tour
For our breakfast, we had three restaurants to choose from. After a sumptuous meal, we were off on the Sagano Romantic Scenic Train ride. It runs between Saga Torokko station and Kameoka Torokko station in about 25 minutes. Along the way, Hozukyo Ravine offers beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, lush greens in summer, colorful foliage in fall and white snow in winter to entertain visitors.
The Sagano Romantic Train began in 1991 as a sightseeing train to make use of train tracks that were no longer in use due to the double tracking of the JR Sanin line. It is pulled by a diesel locomotive and one cannot help feeling nostalgic. It has become one of the Kyoto’s most popular touring sites.
Next stop was the Hozugawa River Boat Cruise.
This boat cruise operates between Kameoka and Arashiyama, a distance of 10 miles, in about ninety minutes to two hours. Hozugawa River was originally used to transport logs to build many temples and castles in Kyoto and Osaka. However, the opening of trains in 1895 and later road transport like trucks overtook the role of the river. In 1945, rafting logs downriver was stopped.
The cruise utilizes traditional style flat bottomed boats, and boatmen guide the craft with oars and bamboo poles. Hozugawa offers beautiful scenery all year-round with flowers and trees, wildlife along with colossal boulders, mountain and deep pools. Many royal families from other nations and Japan experienced and enjoyed the cruise. Some of us in the front got splashed, which kept us cool.
After the river boat cruise, we took a short walk to Arashiyama market area, which is filled with restaurants, gift shops and other specialty shops. We had some time to enjoy lunch and shopping before riding Rickshaw.
After our lunch, it was time for us to enjoy the beauty of this Arashiyama by Rickshaw. Our very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, friendly guide drove us to a most picturesque, historic neighborhoods and we made few photo stops for beautiful snap shot. We really enjoyed Arashiyama’s nature, especially bamboo forest which was breathtaking view! As we passed by people on foot, we felt like kings and queens. It is a must try!
We returned to hotel and enjoyed dinner on own and did some shopping at Aeon mall next door.
Day 4: Jun 04 (Tue) Kyoto-Osaka-Kyoto
After a breakfast, we left hotel for Osaka shopping and eating tour.
First stop was Kuromon market. This market is famous for it’s fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, meats and much more. It is a covered market and many stalls will prepare, cook and serve their specialty food to you right on the spot! Kuromon market is excellent for strolling, sampling a delicious variety of fresh food and it is very popular among locals and tourists.
Next was Dotonbori & Shinsaibashi for lunch and more shopping! Dotonbori was a theater district with Kabuki and Bunraku theaters. However, the lack of interest in traditional forms of entertainment led to the closing of the original attractions and the last five theaters were destroyed during World War II. Now it is a popular nightlife and entertainment area with large illuminated signboards. The Glico confectionery billboard is seen as an icon of Osaka within Japan.
In Dotonbori, there were many variety of restaurants to satisfy our hunger.
Shinsaibashi is a popular shopping area in Osaka with high fashion retailers, department store, brand name retailers and independent fashion boutiques, also discount shops like Daiso, and drugstore/cosmetic shops as well.
Off the arcade in the side alleys, you will find some traditional stores selling traditional crafts, hanging scroll and kimonos. We spent couple of hours to do our omiyage shopping.
Our last activity of the day was a Tonbori Cruise, a twenty minute cruise of the waterway of Dotonbori, where you can enjoy views of busy downtown area and nine landmark bridges from different angle. After the cruise, we headed to Kyoto hotel by coach bus.
We enjoyed dinner on our own, then prepared an overnight bag for our one night stay at Kawaguchiko, the suit cases were delivered to Tokyo hotel by truck.
Day 5: Jun 05 (Wed) Kyoto – Odawara-Lake Kawaguchiko
After enjoyed buffet breakfast, we walked over to Kyoto Station right across from our hotel with our overnight bag. Our suitcases were picked up and transferred to our Tokyo hotel.
We boarded JR bullet train Kodama #642 to Odawara and enjoyed a comfortable 3 hour ride and beautiful scenery.
Upon arrival in Odawara station, we were met by our English speaking guide then headed to our first stop to visit Kamaboko Fishcake Village for tasting and shopping.
The next stop was our anxiously awaited lunch at the Hakone Hotel restaurant, offering gorgeous views of the lake and delicious food that we really enjoyed.
After lunch our next stop was Mt. Fuji world Heritage Center. The Center opened its doors in 2017 to commemorate Mt Fuji’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The facility offered a movie theater where we watched a movie of Mt Fuji on a 265 inch screen, and experienced that was intensely immersive and also educational.
The graceful form of Mt Fuji in white snow cascading serenely down its ridge lines has been praised in poems and depicted in arts. The weather was perfect and from the observation hall on the top floor we saw a spectacular view of Mt Fuji.
We arrived in our onsen Hotel Regina Kawaguchiko in few minutes by bus. The hotel offers all Mt Fuji view rooms where we had a breathtaking view of Mt Fuji from our own room.
Tonight’s dinner was Japanese Kaiseki with Wagyu beef dinner at hotel.
We were served with a more than ten course meal and enjoyed the taste, texture, appearance and color of all the different foods. Most of us wore Yukata for an authentic Japanese cultural experience.
After the dinner, some people soaked in Onsen and relaxed, and some went to a Karaoke party for more fun, at the hotel.
Day 6: Jun 06 (Thu) Lake Kawaguchi – Tokyo
After buffet breakfast, we had some time to relax before our departure to Tokyo. We checked out of the hotel and departed for a two hour bus ride to Tokyo, with one rest stop on the express way. During the bus ride we enjoyed the views and scenery of mountains, rice fields, villages and towns.
We arrived at Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba hotel around noon and the rest of the day was at our leisure.
Our luggage from Kyoto hotel was already delivered to our rooms. The hotel is conveniently located for shopping and dining. It has easy access to Aqua city mall, and short working distance to Daiba City mall as well as many points of interest. Also Yurikamome Daiba station is right across the hotel for easy access to many areas of Tokyo.
Some of the members enjoyed the Robot Museum, some visited the Ginza area and the rest of us visited the nearby shopping mall for dining and shopping.
Day 7: Jun 07 (Fri) Tokyo
After we enjoyed a sumptuous buffet breakfast we were off to the Tokyo tour!
The first stop was to visit Tsukiji outer market for shopping and food tasting.
After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, the fish market was relocated to Tsukiji district and Tsukiji Fish Market was officially opened on February 1935 with modern market facilities.
Tsukiji outer market is adjacent to the former Tsukiji wholesale market (inner market) which was moved to Toyosu in October 2018. This outer market is a bustling narrow lanes with many wholesale and retail shops where you will find fresh fish delivered directly from Toyosu market, processed seafood, produce as well as kitchen tools. At this market, you can explore rare fish and seaweeds you have never seen before. Also you will find groceries and many restaurants especially Sushi restaurants.
After the Tsukiji market, we walked over to Japan Sushi College for hands on Sushi making. When we arrived at the kitchen, our tables were already set up with gloves, hats and aprons. A professional chef explained the most fundamental ingredients of sushi-rice. We learned the basics of sushi making..how much rice to use, and special handling of each different topping. We also learned proper way to eat sushi, which I was not aware of. We made several nigirizushi with different topping and enjoyed it as our lunch along with sample sushi prepared by chef, miso soup and dessert. At the end of the class, we all received a diploma!
We learned a lot while having fun, and it was fabulous experience which I recommend if you are visiting Japan.
After our delicious Sushi lunch, we headed to Ueno Ameyokocho for shopping.
There are over 180 partially open-air and covered shops which offer from fresh food and fish to clothes, cosmetics and accessories. It is a busy, lively discount shopping street.
There are two theories of origin of a word Ameyoko..one is (Ame-candy) since there were many candy stores lined up after World War II. Second is (Ame-American), since American goods were sold there and it was the site of a black market after World War II. Either way, it is now referred to simply as Ameyoko and very popular with locals and visitors..a must visit place!
The last activity of the day was hands on Furin (wind chime) making.
Furin(wind chime) have been made since Edo period, and the fifth generation of the Furin craftsmen, Yoshiharu Shinohara, named his glass wind bell “Edo Furin”. Edo Furins are hand-blown and hand painted one by one and each offer different sound. It is a handcrafted piece of art.
It take five steps prior to painting….blowing, shaping, cutting etc. Patterns are painted inside of the wind chime with paint brush which requires a steady hand. Furin making was another fun hands on experience and we all showed off our artistic talent!
The rest of the evening was free and we enjoyed dinner on own. We packed our suitcases for our next day’s departure and enjoyed a last night in Tokyo.
Day 8: Jun 08(Sat) Tokyo-Narita-Honolulu
After breakfast, we had some time to relax before our long flight home, since our departure was in mid-morning. We checked out of the hotel then took a short bus ride to La La Port shopping mall for lunch and last minute shopping.
Before we headed to airport, our last stop was at “teamLab Planets TOKYO” which is Japan’s newest exhibition museum. teamLab Planets is a museum where you move through water, and it consist of 4 vast exhibition spaces in center and 7 works of arts. The artworks are based on concept of “Body Immersion”.
We entered dimly lit museum on barefoot, and rolled up our pants. We stored our bags and shoes in the locker, since nothing is allowed inside of the museum except cameras and smart phones.
It was hard to walk through flowing water and many of the surfaces are uneven. The Soft Black Hole room was difficult to walk across the room since it was filled with beanbags. Your feet will sink with each step into the uneven floor and we had to walk on our hands and knees, it required a good sense of balance. Another room has mirrored floor, so skirt and dresses are not recommended, but you can rent shorts free of charge.
The museum is not only darkness, and some rooms are brightly lit in many different colors, just to name a few – Crystal world, Infinite Crystal Universe, Weightless Forest of Resonating Life.
It was a super fun experience!
After this fun activity, we were off to Narita airport.
We dropped off couple of people at different terminals since they were flying on other airlines and said “Good bye”.
We checked in at Hawaiian airlines counter, and proceeded with departure process. We had an ample time to have dinner and omiyage shopping before proceeding to gate.
Flight was on time and short at 6 hours and 50 minutes. Dinner was served after 2 hours and it was a local favorite dish, Loco Moco, with potato salad and cookie, and snack was served 90 minutes before the landing.
Some people enjoyed the movie and some of us just took a short nap.
We arrived in Honolulu safe and on time.
Please join us on future JTB tours to Japan for a first-hand experience!
By Sumie Consillio
Please contact us anytime for information about future tours around the world!
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