Exploring Japan
A Pacific Horticulture Society tour
October 18-31, 2018
Escorted by: Greg Graves

To book this tour, please click HERE
6 spaces available

Join us for this exploration of the must-see highlights emphasizing the long history of horticultural
tradition in Japan through a visit to some of the best gardens Japan has to offer while traveling
through the landscape that has inspired garden designers for generations. We  visit Tokyo, Hakone,
Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Awaji, Takamatsu, Kurashiki, Okayama,
Matsue, and Osaka.

Oct. 18 – Depart USA or Canada for Tokyo, Japan
Oct .19-- Yokoso! Welcome to Japan!
Having crossed the International Date Line and lost a day enroute, make your way to our Tokyo hotel
to meet your guide, escort and fellow travelers for a 7:30pm welcome dinner and short orientation at
the hotel.  Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome  

Oct. 20 –Tokyo – Gardens and culture
Following breakfast at the hotel, we will depart with our private guide to spend the day exploring some
of the main gardens of the city, including Kiyosumi Garden, New Otani Garden (subject to permission),
and Hamarikyu Garden.  We’ll have time for lunch on our own in the bustling Ginza district, returning
to the hotel where your evening is at leisure as Tokyo reveals yet another side with its neon signs
brightening the sky.  Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome  

Oct. 21 – Tokyo – Hakone - Mt Fuji
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll say “Sayonara” to Tokyo
and travel by private coach to Hakone - a nature reserve
and hot springs area with great museums, as well as the
possibility, on a clear day, to enjoy one of the best views
of Mt. Fuji.  We’ll visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, a
renowned museum of contemporary art, which uses the
beauty of the surrounding nature as a backdrop for its
exhibits. We’ll stop for lunch and then venture closer to
legendary Mt Fuji, passing by lakes on our way to the
Ichiku Kubota Museum, featuring colorful silk kimono dyed in a unique style by a modern-day master
craftsman.  The museum is housed in a unique structure made from hand-hewn timbers and is
surrounded by a peaceful forest garden.   From there you will continue to our nearby hotel where
buffet dinner is included.  This evening perhaps enjoy a dip in hot springs, a quintessential Japanese
experience! Fuji Premium Resort.

Oct. 22 – Matsumoto - Takayama: The Japan Alps with an Aura of Feudal Times
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then drive to Matsumoto, famous for its castle, one of the very few that
have remained complete from the feudal era.  From Matsumoto, you will head towards Takayama,
driving down a breathtakingly beautiful road, stopping along the way at several different scenic spots,
including a wasabi farm where you’ll learn the life cycle and many uses of this amazing plant and have
time for lunch on your own.  Arrive in Takayama, a small town which has kept the charms of olden
days with preserved areas from the feudal period, inviting you to soak in an atmosphere reminiscent
of past centuries.  Stroll the old part of the town at your leisure, before we gather for an early dinner
at a local restaurant where you will have the opportunity to try one of Takayama’s delicacies – Hida
beef, a high quality marbled beef equal to the famous Kobe beef.  
Hotel Associa Takayama Resort

Oct. 23 - Shirakawa-go and Kanazawa – From Ancient Hamlet to Artisan City
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll first stroll through the morning outdoor market in Takayama,
before we continue to Shirakawa-go, a delight for photographers. A World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-
go is best known for its Gassho-zukuri farmhouses -- a traditional mountain farmhouse style featuring
steep, thatched roofs designed to withstand heavy snow. Apart from taking in the beautiful view from
the overlook point, you can also visit the inside of one of the houses to see the architecture and
lifestyle of the locals who still live in the village. After walking along the town’s small streets and
charming shops, we’ll enjoy lunch before we head to Kanazawa, a charming and lively countryside
city. Kanazawa has a rich artisan and crafts heritage, ranging from gold leaf production to kimono
dyeing, ceramics, lacquer ware decoration and more. It also boasts one of Japan’s most renowned
gardens, the Nomura Samurai House.  If time permits, we’ll visit the preserved Geisha district before
arriving at our hotel, located next to the striking rail station.  Evening at leisure, multiple dining options
nearby.  ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa
(B, L)

Oct. 24 - Kyoto- The Heart of Traditional Japan
After breakfast we’ll enjoy a morning stroll through
Kanazawa’s famous Kenrokuen Garden before heading
by coach on a long drive to the old capital of Japan -
Kyoto.  On the way, we’ll visit our first highway rest stop,
a Japanese oddity you may come to enjoy.  These
highway rest stops feature multiple food venues, ranging
from yakitori over a hot grill to sit-down restaurants to
push-button fast food—plus very clean bathrooms
decorated with blooming potted plants.  After lunch on
your own, we continue to Kyoto - the hub of traditional culture in Japan. Kyoto gardens are at the
pinnacle of the rich Japanese horticultural tradition. Kyoto is a city that for hundreds of years has
been an island of tradition in a swirling whirlpool of progress. Kyoto has 17 World Heritage Sites – the
most in any one city – each a representative masterpiece of the era in which it was constructed. Over
the next few days you will encounter the daily tales that make up the Japanese story.  Check in to our
hotel for the next 3 nights and enjoy evening at leisure.
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Shijo

Oct. 25 - Kyoto's Classic Sights
After breakfast, we’ll explore Zen culture and gardens, architecture, and horticulture through visits to
famous places such as the distinguished stone garden at Ryoanji Temple, the spectacular Golden
Pavilion (Kinkakuji), and the Shogun’s Castle.   We’ll wander Nishiki Market for lunch on our own and
then visit a garden that is not open to the public and enjoy a lecture by its designer. We will complete
the day with an intimate meeting with the Japanese culture by having dinner with a Geisha.  
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Shijo
(B, D)  

Oct. 26 – Kyoto Gardens – Simple Tranquility
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the temple complex of Daitokuji
with some of the best Zen gardens in Japan:  Daitokuji, Daisen-in, Zuihoin
and Kotokuin (If time permits).  We’ll have a brief urban lunch on our own,
then we hope to visit Saiho-ji (the Moss Garden) but permission is not
granted more than 30 days in advance so please be patient (good Zen
training!).  This afternoon you have the option to experience Sado, The
Way of Tea, in a private home (extra cost) or enjoy the afternoon at leisure
to shop, stroll, or relax.  Evening at leisure.   
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Shijo

Oct. 27 – Awaji and Takamatsu
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart Kyoto for Awaji Yumebutai,
visiting Kiseki no Hoshi Botanical garden (aka Miracle Planet Museum of Plants).  Enjoy lunch on your
own at the museum café or at several nearby venues, then continue to Honpuku Temple (water
temple) designed by Tadao Ando.  Next we head for the delightful city of Takamatsu, where we’ll
check into our hotel for an evening at leisure.   
JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu  

Oct. 28- Takamatsu, Kurashiki, and Okayama
After breakfast, we’ll visit the famous Ritsurin Garden for a long stroll before we visit a nearby bonsai
master who will show us his wares and give a brief description of his art and craft.  We’ll enjoy a lunch
featuring the local specialty, udon noodles, and continue to Okayama, a middle size city with a
traditional “landscape garden”, one of the three most renowned gardens in Japan, offering an
interesting comparison to the gardens visited earlier in our adventures.   We’ll continue by coach to
the lakeside city of Matsue, where we will enjoy dinner before retiring for the evening.   
Hotel Ichibata  

Oct. 29- Yasugi and Izumo Taisha
Following breakfast, we will tour a
critically acclaimed garden called by
many experts Japan’s Best Garden -
the Adachi Museum garden – a
perfect example of Shake, borrowed
landscape, a well-known element in Japanese gardens.  Our next stop is the Yuushien Garden,
featuring Japanese peonies and Korean ginseng in a delightful and expansive garden setting.  
We’ll enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants in the garden and have time for shopping before we
continue to historic Matsue Castle, an impressive structure which has survived most of its
counterparts, providing us with another rare glimpse into feudal architecture. It’s easy to visualize the
time of samurai and rickshaws while strolling along the glassy moat around the castle.  Return to the
hotel with evening at leisure.  
Hotel Ichibata

Oct. 30 - Matsue Castle and Osaka
After breakfast, we will make a brief stop at Matsue City
Museum to enjoy unique outdoor sculptures, a lovely view,
and a charming gift shop.  We’ll continue by road on the long
drive to Osaka, stopping at a highway rest stop for lunch on
our own.  Osaka, one of Japan’s biggest cities, is renowned
across Japan as the city of comedians and outgoing people.
Walking along the city center is an experience not to be missed
– with many shops open late, lively restaurants and bars, and one of the busiest entertainment
quarters in Japan, this promises to open another window into Japanese modern culture. We will
conclude the journey with a farewell dinner.
  Hotel Nikko Osaka  (B,D)      

Oct. 31 – Sayonara, Mata Ne!
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll provide transfers to Osaka’s Itami and Kansai airports (see
"Flights" section below).  We hope you take with you lasting memories of places and people you
encountered over these all too brief days of adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun.  

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS:  A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of the tour is required
for travel to and from Japan.  US and Canadian passport holders do not require a visa to enter

FLIGHTS:  Where to meet the tour:  The tour begins with Welcome Dinner at our hotel in Tokyo
730pm October 19.  Due to the wide choice of flights to Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports, arrival
transfers are not included, but guidance on getting from your arrival airport to the hotel will provided
with your final itinerary.   Our tour ends in Osaka October 31 and transfers will be provided to both
Osaka's Itami and Kansai airports for flights departing 130pm and later.   Guests are also welcome to
arrange private transportation Oct 31 at their own expense, although no credit be given for unused
transfers.  We suggest contacting Leslie Garber of Cadence Travel for assistance booking flights.  Be
sure to ask about business class as there can be attractive sale fares.  Leslie charges a fee for her
service, but our guests find her service to be of value
Leslie.garber@cadencetravel.com   (619) 756 7388.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:  We strongly encourage all guests to purchase travel insurance in case of
injury or illness during the tour and, of equal importance, to protect against cancellation penalties.  
We have made special arrangements with Leslie Garber of Cadence Travel to provide quotations and
assistance acquiring appropriate insurance for this tour.  Guests should consider insurance purchase
at the time of deposit as certain benefits as to pre-existing conditions are available.  Leslie Garber
can provide more detailed information.  Group travel insurance will not be offered with this tour.

LAND COST PER GUEST:  Based on a minimum of 20 paying guests, $4880.00 per person for
members of Pacific Horticulture Society, $4980.00 for non-members.  (Membership in PacHort starts
at just $28, join now at www.pachort. org). Single supplement:  $780.00.  A nonrefundable deposit of
$400 per person is required to secure a reservation, with balance due 60 days before departure.

•        12 nights superior hotel accommodations -- see note * below
•        $250 tax-deductible donation to Pacific Horticulture Society
•        Porterage of one piece of luggage
•        Services of an English speaking guide.
•        Transportation by private motorcoach, driver gratuity included.
•        12 breakfasts (B), 4 Lunches (L), 7 dinners (D)
•        Admission fees for all visits as stated in itinerary
•        Bottled water on the motorcoach
*  Hotel rooms in Japan tend to much smaller than is standard in the USA.  Requests for king
bed will be noted but may not always be possible where only rooms with 2 beds are offered.

•        International Airfare
•        Meals and drinks not specifically mentioned
•        Entrance fees not specifically mentioned
•        Room Service
•        Excess Baggage Charges & Porterage of more than 1 piece of luggage.
•        Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, etc...
•        Gratuity for our local guide.
•        Trip insurance – strongly suggested.

1:  Hotel rooms in Japan tend to be much smaller than in the USA.  Requests for one large bed will be
noted but may not always be possible where only rooms with 2 beds are offered. Our hotel in Matsue
has only two Western style rooms available. These will be allocated on a first come first served basis.,
Please indicate preference for Western or Japanese style rooms when making your reservation.  Both
Japanese and Western-style rooms have private bathrooms. Please note: hotel space cannot be
confirmed until Oct. 2017. If the stated hotels are not available comparable properties will be

2.  Luggage:  Please limited your luggage to one checked bag and one carry-on.

3.  Porters:  This service is neither standard nor predictable in Japan so guests should be prepared to
handle their own luggage in and out of hotels.  We encourage all guests to travel lightly.
4.  Food:  Japan is world-famous for its cuisine, but not well-known for its ability to accommodate
special dietary needs.  Gluten-free has not made it across the Pacific, in fact you may see a small
dish on breakfast buffets offering extra gluten for your meal.  Similarly, MSG is still widely used and
vegetarian cuisine is often difficult to arrange.  If you have food issues, please indicate the details
very clearly on your reservation form.  If you have severe food issues, this may not be the right tour
for you.

To book this tour, please click HERE.

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Sterling Tours, Ltd            
2907 Shelter Island Drive Suite #105-262    
San Diego, CA 92106      Tel: 619 299-3010     800-976-9497
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