We will be spending seven days in Japan and two days traveling. The tour will depart from [International Airport]  on Saturday, April 5, 2008 and will arrive back home Sunday, April 13, 2008.

The tour will fly, overnight, into [International Airport]  near [Japan] . As soon as the students step off the plane and gather their bags the tour leaders will take the group to their first destination.<img alt="" src="" ialign="rwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 131px" class="rwrap" /> 

Osaka is Japan's third largest city; the airports and seaports make Osaka a major transportation hub for Pacific Asia. The sky line is dotted by sky scrapers, none more distinktive than the Umeda Sky Building, whose all-glass composition reflects the bustle of the modern city around. But like all modern Japanese cities, Osaka has many ties to the past and is a wonderful place to take in traditional Japanese culture. With the arrival of spring comes the season of [[1]] , or flowering cherry trees. And with the blossoming of the sakura comes the ritual of the cherry blossom festival. Cherry blossom festivals are held throughout the city, almost anywhere that cherry trees are found. Visit any shrine or park for various sakura viewing activities both by day and by night, including [dances] , lantern lighting, and [and drink] .

On the third day of the tour we will be visiting hisotrical [Castle] . A local guide will introduce us to Osaka <img alt="" src="" ialign="lwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 130px" class="lwrap" />Castle, a classic donjon with five towers and panoramic views of Osaka City. The castle was originally constructed by [Hideyoshi] , the famous general who completed the unification of Japan in the 16th century. Today’s castle is a reproduction of the original donjon, and inside you can find art objects and historical documents. The grounds around the old castle form a public park, where modern-day Japanese can relax in the shadow of their past.

After we explore Osaka Castle it is off to [[2]]  (the anagram lovers Toyko), one-time hub of Japanese civilization and national capital for more than a thousand years. Beginning at the onset of the Heian Period in A.D. 794, the Imperial family resided here until the capital was changed to Tokyo in 1868. Kyoto is a city rich in history—pagodas can be seen longside [[3]]  shrines, old imperial villas and Buddhist temples. Time-honored crafts such as silk weaving, ceramics and lacquer ware have been made here for generations. Kyoto’s past becomes our present as we explore the city with a local guide. Begining at [castle] , a structure built almost entirely out of Japanese cypress. The castle was built under the orders of the powerful Tokugawa shogun, who would live here during his visits to Kyoto. Then we visit the [Shrine] , constructed in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of Kyoto’s founding. Our tour concludes at the [[4]]  and [[5]] Temples—also known as the Silver and Gold Pavilions.

Day four of the tour is a free for us to discover Kyoto. Perhaps we'll want to visit the [Temple], with its spectacular views of the city and surrounding valley. We may also choose to explore the [National Museum], which features traditional [art objects and treasures]. Or simply wander the canal-lined streets and let the wooden homes, bonsai trees and occasional kimono-clad geisha in traditional makeup take you back to years <img alt="" src="" ialign="rwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 130px" class="rwrap" />past.

On the fifth day we will take the [train] to Hakone. In 1964, the first bullet train (shinkansen) sped from Tokyo to Osaka. Today, the most up-to-date model will whisk us across the Japanese countryside. We'll reach speeds of 180 miles per hour before coming to a stop at Hakone, one of Japan’s most popular inland resort cities. Lying in the middle of a national park, [[6]] is noted for its dramatic natural features—forested mountains, glens and deep ravines. We will have a guided tour through one of Japan’s most beloved national parks. A popular getaway for Tokyo residents seeking a relaxed natural setting, Hakone offers hot springs, lakes, historic; it is known as the Central Park of the East.


Day six finds us traveling toward Japan’s capital, we will stop in the small town of Kamakura for a photo opportunity at the [Image of Buddha]. Second largest of its kind—behind the Buddha image in Nara—this one tops out at more than 37 feet. The modern-day capital of Japan, Tokyo, is the national center of government, education and finance, and home to 12 million residents--the largest city in the world. Museums and restaurants, shrines and kabuki theaters—it can all be found here beneath the neon lights of this pulsating modern metropolis.

<img alt="" src="" ialign="lwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 132px" class="lwrap" />On the following day the sights, sounds and smells of the largest city in Japan will come at us from all directions, but our licensed local guide will put it all in perspective. Begining with a visit to the [Shinto Shrine] and its elaborate

wooded Inner Garden. We'll pass through [[7]], the trendy district popular among the younger Tokyoites, and continue through the Shopping District. Then visit the [Palace], residence of the Imperial family, with

its gigantic stone walls, a spacious plaza and a large garden open to the public. Afterwards, we will finish the tour with a cruise on the [River] to Asakusa, Tokyo’s amusement center. The 7th-century [Kannon Temple], dedicated to the [of Mercy], is a five story pagoda surrounded by shops, restaurants,

theaters and cinemas.

The fishing industry is one of Japan ’s most important—an early visit to a fish market will confirm its significance. Well before dawn, fishing ships from all over the world pull into port bearing the harvest of their work out at sea. Among the seemingly endless surge of sea life the [[8]] unload, tuna is the most well-represented. Eventually, the catch of the day will all end up in the hands of restaurateurs and retailers—on day eight we will have a chance to witness the first step of its journey from the sea to your plate. In the evening we will indulge in t [[9]], one of the better-known Japanese culinary delights, consists of fresh seafood and <img alt="" src="" ialign="rwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 132px" class="rwrap" />vegetables dipped in batter and cooked in vegetable and sesame oil. We will try many different kinds—tempura can be anything from shrimp or squid to eggplant or sweet potato—and don’t be afraid to experiment. Tempura connoisseurs have one more piece of advice: Get it while it’s hot!


The last day in Tokyo we will enjoy free time to absorb the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of this ultra-modern urban setting. While we can fill a morning simply meandering the streets and feeling the rush of the city around us, there is no shortage of cultural and historical sights to anchor our explorations. Perhaps visit Sensoji Temple , the city’s oldest and most popular temple. According to legend, it was constructed to honor the Buddhist goddess of mercy and happiness. Alternatively, survey the wide-ranging collection of Japanese art at the massive Tokyo National Museum . If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you might seek out one of the tranquil Japanese gardens. Hama Rikyu Garden is one of Tokyo ’s most renowned city oases, having served as duckhunting grounds for the Tokugawa shoguns more than 300 years ago.

<img alt="" src="" ialign="lwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 132px" class="lwrap" />At the end of the day our tour director assists us with the transfer to the airport, where we'll check in for the return flight home.

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