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Japan and South Korea

Cherry Blossom Season
These two East Asian countries both combine fascinating history, rich traditions and some of the world’s most modern achievements.

Japan is a complex country with scenic beauty, ancient temples, colourful shrines, unique cuisine, fascinating street markets and much more. We begin in Tokyo, where we will explore modern Japan. Then we travel through the beautiful mountainous region around sacred Mount Fuji, to the cultural capital, Kyoto, which hosts Japan's largest concentration of temples, shrines and traditional arts. Next is Hiroshima - completely rebuilt after the war, and the picturesque island of Miyajima - home of the Itsukushima Shrine (a UNSESCO World Heritage Site). Our final stop in Japan is the lively harbour city of Fukuoka, with a cruise on the Yana River.  Much of our travel within Japan will be aboard the high-speed Bullet Train.

South Korea is a mountainous country with scenic hills and valleys alongside stunning coastlines and beaches. We will take a jet ferry from Japan to the port city of Busan, and then proceed to Gyeongju (considered one of the world’s most historical cities), where we discover a treasure trove of priceless artifacts and ancient sites, including the oldest astronomical observatory in the world. We finish in Seoul, the capital, where one can find traces of its 5,000 year history in the palaces and temples.
Tour Highlights:

   • Tokyo’s Imperial Garden & Asakusa Kannon Temple
   • Cruise on Lake Ashi with panoramic views of Mt. Fuji
   • Cultural capital of Kyoto
   • Okayama Castle and Koraku-en Garden
   • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
   • Kintai Bridge and Iwakuni Castle
   • Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and 6000 Plum Trees
   • Ferry to South Korea and port of Busan
   • Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla dynasty
   • Traditional village of Yangdong
   • Gwanghwamun Plaza, temples and markets of Seoul

* Those joining any of our tours to Asia must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Tokyo with Air Canada.
We arrive in Tokyo and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure until our Welcome Dinner this evening.
Our touring of Japan’s capital includes the Imperial East Garden and Asakusa Kannon Temple. We will enjoy a cooking class to learn how to make sushi. Following a lunch of our creations we’ll take a stroll through the famous Ginza area.
A very scenic day as we skirt the Japanese Alps with constant panoramic views of Mount Fiji. We enjoy a cruise on Lake Ashi, then take the Hakone Ropeway to climb Mount Komagatake for views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
We take an express Bullet Train to the cultural capital, Kyoto - a treasure trove of art, architecture and landscaping. Our tour will include the Golden Pavilion Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the former residence of the Imperial family, Nijo Castle and Heian Jingu Shrine - built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary as the capital.
We travel by train to the unique city of Okayama to visit the Okayama Castle and Koraku-en Garden, considered the most beautiful in Japan. We then continue by train to Hiroshima.
Our full day tour includes visits to the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Itsukushima Shrine - a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the deer filled island of Miyajima.
We drive to Iwakuni to visit Kintai Bridge, an historic wooden arch bridge, and the impressive Iwakuni Castle, originally built in 1608 and rebuilt in 1962 conforming exactly to the original construction. We then continue to Fukuoka .
This morning we visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, one of Japan's first and most famous shrines dedicated to the scholar and politician, Michizane. There are over 6000 plum trees on the temple grounds. Later we enjoy a cruise on the Yana River.
We take a jet ferry to the port city of Busan, home to some of Korea’s most beautiful beaches. After lunch we visit the largest fish market in Korea - the symbol of Busan.
Our full day tour of Busan includes visits to the Beomeosa Temple, Haeundae Beach and the UN cemetery. We also visit the famous international market, Gukje Sijang.
We travel to Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Silla dynasty and recognized as one of the ten most historic cities in the world. Enroute we stop at Gampo for a glimpse of the underwater tomb of King Munmu. Our afternoon tour includes the summer palace where kings were entertained, the tomb of Kim Yusin - a great general who unified the kingdom, and ancient Bunhwangsa temple.
Our touring of Gyeongju continues with visits to two World Heritage temples, the Seokguram grotto - home of the 8th century serene stone Buddha, and Bulguksa, built during the glorious period of the Silla kingdom. Later we visit the Gyeongju museum with its thousands of priceless treasures. Other visits include Cheomseongdae - the world's oldest astronomical observatory, and Tumuli Park with its rare exhibits of ancient tombs.
This morning we visit Yangdong Maeul, a traditional village from the 15th century and UNESCO World Heritage site. We will see the tile and thatched-roofed homes built throughout the dense forest, many of which have been preserved for more than 200 years, along with ancient folk customs. We then depart for Seoul, the capital and largest city in South Korea.
Our city tour of Seoul includes visits to Gwanghwamun Plaza (the landmark of Seoul), the National Folklore Museum, Jogyesa Temple and Insa-dong, known as the centre of traditional Korean art and antiques. We finish with some time to explore Cheonggyecheon, a lively district filled with huge markets and arcades. Tonight will be our Farewell Dinner.
Morning at leisure. This afternoon we transfer to the airport for our Air Canada flight home.
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