Upon arriving at either Narita or Haneda Airport, you will be met in the arrival hall by your driver who will provide you with a private arrival transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure, free for you to relax or explore the neighborhood you're staying in. Dinner is on your own tonight.
A true megacity that is difficult to categorize as anything but Tokyo, this city is famous for its cutting-edge modernity, neon-lit landscape, and towering skyscrapers - but it is also home to sprawling parkland, peaceful shrines and temples, and lovingly tended gardens. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples stand proudly in the shadow of skyscrapers as a reminder of Japan's past. This staggering diversity of architecture and history is a testament to Tokyo's achievements, deftly connecting the present and the future with the lessons of the past. The best way to understand Tokyo is by first learning about its many neighborhoods - from fashion-forward Harajuku and Akihabara's technophilic ambience, to the harmony of tradition and modernity found in Asakusa or Marunouchi – Tokyo is abundant with history and culture. This melting pot of ideas has birthed one of the world's leading gastronomic communities, as Tokyo has a vibrant and renowned street food scene and the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants in the world.
Today, the morning and afternoon are spent at your leisure before your Local Gourmet Evening Tour.
Meet your local, English-speaking guide and get ready to dive-in to Tokyo's renowned and always-evolving culinary scene. Explore some of Tokyo's many foodie hotspots near your hotel to discover the local specialties and culinary classics. You’ll be sure to try yakitori and grilled chicken skewers served with salt or tare, which is a staple of Japanese street food. Depending on where you are in the city, you’ll also have the chance to try sashimi, okonomiyaki, Japanese fried chicken, sushi, tempura, and so much more. Let your taste buds run wild and savor the unique flavors of the night!
(Breakfast, Dinner & Accommodations, Tokyo)
After breakfast, meet your guide and begin your exploration of the buzzing and lively Tsukiji Market. One of the world's biggest seafood markets in the world, the market handled about 2,888 tons of marine products a day worth about 2.8 billion yen (US$20million) before half of the market moved to its new location in Toyosu. While the inner market has moved to its new location, the outer market remains standing. You will stroll around the market with a guide who will be able to tell you about how each item is caught, prepared, and served while you try some tasty samples as you explore.
Next, travel via public transit to visit a local sushi chef for a sushi-making demonstration and tasting. You'll be able to ask the chef questions about how sushi is traditionally eaten and about Japanese foodie culture while he/she prepares the artisan sushi. Enjoy the handmade sushi for lunch and then the rest of the day is at your leisure.
(Breakfast, Lunch & Accommodation, Tokyo)
After breakfast, check-out of your hotel and meet your guide for a taxi ride to the Tokyo train station where you'll board the famous Bullet Train for your ride to Kyoto. This trip will take about and a half hours as you ride aboard the fastest train in Japan that travels up to 186mph.
Arriving in Kyoto, meet a private driver who will take you from the train station to your Kyoto hotel. Once checking-in to your hotel, the rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Kyoto's cultural heart.
Kyoto is Japan's old imperial capital and one of it's spiritual and cultural centers. It's long history can be found in its many Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, imperial palaces, castles, and gardens. Kyoto was the residence of Japan's emperor for much of its history, until as recently as 1868, and as such Kyoto, and nearby Nara, is home to much of the nation's historical, spiritual, and cultural heritage sites. With 2,000 religious buildings, including 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and associated architecture, it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan and has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The spiritual center of Japan, Kyoto contains multiple architectural masterpieces including the extravagant Kinkakuji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion, the impressive feudal-era Nijo Castle, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and countless other shrines and sacred sites throughout the city. Surely, Kyoto is the city for those searching to find traditional
Japanese architecture, ambience, and culture. Japanese architecture, ambience, and culture.
(Breakfast, Tokyo; Accommodations Kyoto)
After breakfast, meet a local guide and explore the mile-long Nishiki Market shopping street that is lined by over one hundred shops and restaurants. Known collectively as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this bustling yet pleasant area is a great way to explore the flavors and ingredients that most characterize Japanese cooking. Your guide will accompany you as you purchase the ingredients for a Japanese cooking class later in the day. But before we get to the cooking class, venture through the back alleyways of Kyoto to pay a visit to a traditionally constructed townhouse for a bespoke sake tasting. Once you have wet your palette with sake, begin the Japanese cooking class where you'll learn how to make rolled sushi, miso soup, and a cooked fruit salad for dessert. Enjoy your creations for dinner and the rest of the evening is at your leisure.
(Breakfast, Dinner & Accommodations, Kyoto)
Today you will partake in one of the most peaceful of all Japanese traditions - a tea ceremony within a local's home. This delicate ritual involves a series of highly intentional and specific movements, each of which holds deep meaning. During the ceremony you will learn about the various types of tea, the instruments used to prepare it, and the deeper meaning behind the movements. By the end of the ceremony, we hope you will have gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of what serving tea to guests means in Japan. After the ceremony, the rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Kyoto one last time.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Kyoto)
After breakfast, check-out of your hotel and meet your driver for a private transfer from Kyoto to Osaka by car. This drive will take only about one hour, giving you plenty of time to check-in to your hotel in Osaka and explore Japan's other megacity!
Considered as one of Japan's culinary capitals, Osaka is Japan's second largest metropolis and is famous for its eclectic modern architecture, bustling nightlife, and delicious street food. Visit the canal-side neighborhood of Dotonbori, a pedestrian district surrounded by restaurants and bars that is known for its buzzing energy and neon-lit streets. Along the side-streets and alleys you'll find famous crab restaurants, hole-in-the-wall takoyaki stands, Osaka-style sushi, and stalls serving freshly prepared ramen.
(Breakfast, Kyoto; Accommodations, Osaka)
After breakfast, the morning and afternoon are at your leisure to explore Osaka as you wish before your evening tour. Osaka's excellent subway system makes it easy to explore its myriad neighborhoods. Try specialty coffee in the eclectic Amerikamura neighborhood, shop for souvenirs in the Horie district, peruse the boutique stores in the glitzy Minami district, explore the excellent Osaka Aquarium, tour the impressive Osaka Castle, or stroll through one of the city's Japanese Gardens.
In the evening, meet your private guide who will take you to either Shinsekai or Dotonbori, depending on which one is closer to your hotel. Both streets are famous pedestrian-only streets that are both renowned for being foodie paradises! Osaka is known for its culinary scene and the culture of kuiadore - meaning to literally eat oneself to bankruptcy! Along this evening tour you'll have the opportunity to try a large sampling of local delicacies, ranging from the classic takoyaki (commonly known as octopus balls), okonomiyaki (a savory pancake-like dish), and kushikatsu (skewered meats and vegetables). The cost of these three dishes is all included, as well as one drink per person. After the scheduled tour, your guide can also help recommend other restaurants and dishes to you, from ramen to udon and izakaya bars where you can spend the rest of the night as you wish.
(Breakfast, Light Dinner & Accommodations , Osaka)
After breakfast, check-out of your hotel and take a private transfer to Kansai Airport for your return trip home or onwards to your next Avanti Destination!