Depart from Los Angeles for Narita, Tokyo on award-winning Singapore Airlines.
Upon arrival at Narita Airport, transfer to hotel in Tokyo.
IN 2FEB-OUT 4FEB. – 2 NIGHTS AT 4-STAR GRAND PRINCE HOTEL NEW TAKANAWA ( Superior Natural room – newly renovated) WITH DAILY BREAKFASTS
The hotel is located in an urban resort environment that includes a beautiful traditional Japanese garden with koi pond. Rooms are newly renovated and all rooms have balconies.
A hotel shuttle takes you to the Shinagawa Station and a short train ride takes you to Ginza, Shinjuku and Shibuya, the entertainment and shopping centers of Tokyo.
Shinagawa Station and its surroundings have been completely transformed in the past decade. KONAN Exit on the East side opens to the massive Shinagawa Commons Skyscrapers complex and Shinagawa Intercity – a vast commercial district but also has many Japanese and Western restaurants. In the Edo Period of Japanese history, Shinagawa was the first post town in the Tokaido Highway between Edo and Kyoto. Little remains of that period though you can walk around Ebara Shrine and the Former Tokaido Street. The old streets are dotted with “izakaya” or drinking places.
GRAND PRINCE HOTEL NEW TAKANAWA
Tokyo City Tour of traditional Japan as well as the modern metropolis.
The first site is the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. The move of the Fish Auction market has been postponed, however, you will not be visiting the fish auction area, unless you want to get up at 3:00am to wait for one of 120 spots. However, the Tsukiji Market is open to all and fun to explore and get a glimpse of the Tokyo that has not changed for decades.
There are two parts to the market, the outer market to the west of Harumi Dori has numerous small shops selling traditional Japanese ceramic dishes and other bargain finds. Or wander through the inner market with its chaotic narrow paths and stalls selling everything from sea urchin to whale meat. It is best to visit between 9:00 – 10:00am. There are also numerous small eateries serving the freshest seafood. Sushi for breakfast, anyone?
Drive to the Imperial Palace and walk around the Niju-Bashi Bridge area for a great photo op of the Palace grounds.
The Imperial Palace East Gardens are part of the inner palace area and open to the public. They are the former site of Edo Castle, the residence of the Tokugawa Shogun. The bridges on the main approach to the palace – the stone bridge and the second iron bridge forming the main entrance – are popularly called Niju-bashi, or “Double Bridge”.
The Imperial family still resides in the palace which is only open to the public twice a year to offer congratulations to the Emperor on Jan. 2 and on his birthday.
Next visit is to the Meiji Shrine near Harajuku area. The Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the Emperor Meiji is one of the holiest pilgrimage centers in Japan. The Shinto Shrine, built to commemorate the illustrious achievement of Empero Meiji, was characterized by dignified simplicity. The large Torii gates are made of hinoki, Japanese cypress wood over 1,700 years old. There is also the Treasure House where many articles of Emperor Meiji are kept and the beautiful Iris Garden. Many festivals are still held at the Meiji Shrine and many Japanese people come to pray for success in business, university entrance exams as well as good marriage and health.
After visiting Meiji Shrine, you will be dropped off at Harajuku to explore on your own.
Harajuku is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, made famous by the so-called “Harajuku Girls”
Harajuku Girls is a term used to describe women and teenage girls who wear outlandish fashion in a street culture style. Especially on the weekend, you may see people dressed in styles of Gothic Lolita, Cyber Fashion or second-hand fashion. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori ( Street) and the side streets, lined with trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores and fast food outlets.
Harajuku also has lots to offer for the adult fashion shoppers. The tree-lined Omotesando Street is often called the Champ Elysees with many name brand stores, new Tokyo designers’ boutiques, antiques shops, trendy cafes and Western restaurants.
Also not to be missed is one of Tokyo’s largest Daiso Harajuku – 100 Yen shop, which offers a wide array of goods, including clothing, kitchenware, food and stationery- great place to pick up affordable and unique souvenirs.
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Pack a carry-on bag for the trip to Snow Monkey country. Wear warm clothings for snowy, winter conditions, especially snow boots or waterproof hiking boots for the hike into the Snow Monkey Park.
This morning, after breakfast we walk to the Shinagawa train Station to board train to Nagano station. The bullet train takes about 2 hours and it is customary for Japanese travelers to buy a box lunch “Bento” at the train platform to carry on the train for lunch. There are many varieties of beautifully prepared box lunches, including chicken rice, sushi or beef bowls.
Upon arrival at Nagano Station, board a coach to drive towards Snow Monkey Park near Yudanaka.
Enroute, visit the unique Tanaka Family Museum at Suzaka town. The Tanaka family is from a long line of descendants that made their wealth in growing and trading grain, soy sauce, sake, cotton and tobacco starting in 1733. They have preserved many of their precious heirlooms, such as wedding kimonos, calligraphy scrolls, paintings, folding screens, Japanese Hina dolls and priceless ceramic dishes used to entertain the feudal lords. Many are now displayed in the galleries. The family compound also includes a beautiful garden to be viewed in all seasons
The next town of Obuse is famous for the Hokusai Museum and chestnuts. Hokusai is probably the most well-known Japanese artist outside of Japan, renowned for his ukiyo-e, woodblock prints, such as the Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji: the Great Waves off the Coast of Kanagawa. Like you, Hokusai loved traveling. He felt that painting was in a way just like taking trips to new places. After the age of 80, Hokusai stayed in Obuse four times, leaving a body of work in this town, including the ceiling mural on the Kammachi Festival Float and a number of other paintings.
After a short visit to the Hokusai museum, stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
You also have some time to explore the small town of Obuse with many narrow streets and traditional homes. Obuse is famous for chestnuts and along the “souvenir” street, you can sampl chestnut ice cream, traditional Japanese cakes as well as apple pies! The province of Nagano produces the sweetest fragrant Fuji apples.
Continue on to Yudanaka Hot Springs area and check in your traditional Japanese Inn:
Ryokan Biyu no Yado. Yudanaka & Shubu Onsen are the best known hot springs at the base of the Shiga Kogen ski area. Check in your hotel with Japanese style Tatami Rooms for a uniquely Japanese experience. After a long journey from Tokyo, change into your “yukata” robes and enjoy a hot springs soak before dinner.
Dining at Ryokan Biyu no Yado is a treat – you will partake at a traditional Japanese “kaiseki” cuisine, with many dishes of vegetables, seafood and meats based on seasonal offerings.
Meanwhile your rooms will be prepared with “futons” and you will enjoy the best sleep ever.
Overnight at Biyu No Yado – Japanese Inn. B
No Monkeys Like Snow Monkeys
This is what you come all this way for! After a Japanese style breakfast, dress up for the cold weather and venture to the Jigokudani Yaen Park, established in 1964 to protect the Japanese Macaques. With the philosophy of humans and monkeys co-existing in harmony, the goal is to allow people to view the monkeys in their natural habitat.
The park, built deep in the hillside, is only accessible by walking. Here the wild monkeys enter the hot spring pond built for them and they behave normally in the presence of humans. They are the best behaved monkeys which are not afraid of humans and do not attack. This allows both species to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Baby monkeys clinging to their mother’s backs, males that close their eyes and relax in the hot springs. It is difficult to tire of these picturesque scenes. Best time to visit is in the midst of snowy winter when the monkeys dip into the 100 degrees spring water to warm themselves.
Upon return to the hotel, check out and take the train back to Tokyo.
Tokyo – day is at leisure. Options and suggestions in trip tips.
Late this evening, fly to Bali via Singapore.
Upon arrival into Bali, transfer to the Courtyard Bali Seminyak Resort.
Set in the buzzing Seminyak area, this upscale hotel in a contemporary setting is a 5-minute walk from Seminyak beach and close to the shopping and entertainment street of Jalan Legian. The new hotel has sleek, modern rooms, a spa, fitness center and 3 outdoor pools. Breakfast is at the stylish, open-kitchen restaurant.
Relax at the beautiful resort or explore the Seminyak area.
Seminyak is Bali’s most fashionable beach area, home to many of the island’s luxurious resorts and fine restaurants and boutiques, along Jalan Petitenget and Jalan Kayu Aya. Petitenget Beach offers a more secluded ambiance comparable to Kuta and Legian to the south.
However, after sunset, a livelier nightlife scene takes over. Premier dining and entertainment venues such as Ku De Ta and the Potato Head Beach Club attract an international crowd.
This afternoon, after check in, embark on a tour to the famed Mengwi Temple, visit the Monkey Forest, ending at sunset at the spectacular famous Tanah Lot Temple.
Your excursion begins with a drive into Central Bali and small town of Mengwi. Long associated with the Balinese Royal Family, Mengwi is home to the superb temple complex at Taman Ayun. Translating as ‘beautiful garden’ Taman Ayun is considered by many to be one of island’s most attractive temples and is still used today by people from all over Bali for special ceremonies and events. Next, head to Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest. This small forest is populated with giant nutmeg trees and home to hundreds of macaque monkeys. You will experience the different nature of these monkeys which are more aggressive and naughty. Spend a while observing their characteristics and mannerisms before heading south to the island’s most famous temple complex at Tanah Lot. With its spectacular location, Tanah Lot is an integral part of Balinese mythology and one of seven sea temples that are said to form a ‘chain’ around the island. The temple is only accessible at low tide but despite its off-shore location in the Indian Ocean, it features a fresh water spring at its base which is said to contain holy water. As a result the temple is extremely sacred and Balinese visit from all over the island to drink the water and splash it over their bodies in order to cleanse themselves of any bad spirits. The temple’s inner sanctum is located on top of the rocky outcrop and only accessible to Balinese Hindus. You will arrive in time for sunset when photographic opportunities abound.
Courtyard Bali Seminyak Resort.
Bali THE ENCHANTING OF UBUD 8:30am – 2:00pm
UBUD - ARTS AND CRAFTS
Tour Operates : 08:30 – 14:30
Ubud is well known as the artist village of the painters, where you are also have opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside. You will visit three villages now renowned for their craftsmanship in silver, woodcarving and paintings.
In CELUK, you will see skilled artisans creating silver jewelry and ornaments out of fine filigree strand. In MAS, you can watch fine carvers work on ebony, jackfruit and coconut wood. Famous Balinese style paintings are to be found in their thousands at UBUD, where artists have collected for over 50 years.
Courtyard Bali Seminyak Resort B
Day is at leisure.
Optional tours such as day sailing to Lembongan Island or White-water rafting in Ubud are also available.
Courtyard Bali Seminyak Resort B
Depart Bali in the evening for the US.
Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.