Japan : In Two Weeks
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Japan (In Two Weeks)
This is something of a whirlwind trip, but it allows you to take in some of the best that Honshu island has to offer. If you have 1 or 2 extra days, you might wish to devote more time to Kyoto or head over to Kyushu. Day 1: Arrive in TokyoAfter your arrival at Narita Airport, head to your hotel in Tokyo (about a 2-hr. trip). Recuperate from your flight, settle in, and get a feel for the city. Take a walk through a neighborhood close to your hotel and top off the day with a meal in a traditional restaurant. Try to stay up as late as you can to adjust to the new time zone. Day 2: Exploring Tokyo Because of the difference in timezones, you'll probably be wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, so get up and head for Tsukiji Fish Market. After a breakfast of fresh sushi, head to Hama Rikyu, one of Tokyo's oldest Japanese gardens (it opens at 9am), from which you can board a ferry for a cruise up the Sumida River to Asakusa, where you can visit Sensoji Temple and shop for souvenirs along Nakamise Dori. Afterward, see theTokyo National Museum, the world's finest repository of Japanese art and crafts. Toward evening, head to Ginza for a stroll through a department store; if possible, try to attend a Kabuki play. Day 3: More of Tokyo Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum for a colorful portrayal of the city's tumultuous history, followed by a stroll through Akihabara, the country's largest concentration of shops devoted toelectronics, with store after store offering the latest computers, digital cameras, cellphones, calculators, and more. Next, go to Harajuku to see Meiji Shrine, Tokyo's most popular shrine, followed by shopping at Oriental Bazaar, great for Japanese souvenirs. End the day with eye-popping views from the 45th-floor observatory in Shinjuku's Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, followed by a strollthrough Japan's most notorious and craziest nightlife district, Kabuki-cho. Day 4: Nikko Take a day trip outside of Tokyo. An excellent choice is Nikko, famous for its sumptuous mausoleum of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan's most famous shogun, set in a forest of majestic cedars.
Japan : In Two Weeks
Day 5: Takayama & the Japan Alps Earlyin the morning, take the Shinkansen to Nagoya (about 2 hr.) and then a 3-hour train ride to Takayama in the Japan Alps (if you don't have a rail pass, there are also direct buses from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station spring through autumn). Explore the picturesque, narrow streets of this old castle town and its many interesting museums and merchants' homes. Since Takayama has more traditional Japaneseinns than hotels, this is the perfect place to experience tatami living, with accommodations available at various price ranges. Day 6: Exploring Takayama To get a feel for the small-town atmosphere, start your day with a stroll through the Miyagawa Morning Market on the bank of a river. Of the many small museums and attractions in Takayama, must-sees include the Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village withits rural architecture, old merchant homes open to the public, and the Hirata Folk Art Museum filled with items used in daily life during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Also not to be missed is the Historical Government House, the only regional administrative building from the shogun era still in existence. Days 7, 8 & 9: Kyoto Start Day 7 with a self-guided walk through eastern Kyoto, seeingSanjusangendo Hall with its 1,001 wooden statues, Kiyomizu Temple, and Heian Shrine with its garden, followed by shopping at the Kyoto Handicraft Center. On Day 8, visit Kyoto's other main attractions -- Nijo Castle, former home of the shogun; Kyoto Imperial Palace; Ryoanji Temple with its famous Zen rock garden; and the Golden Pavilion. In the evening, head for Gion, Japan's most famous geisha quarters,...