When Tokyo last hosted the summer Olympics in 1964, its staging of the planet’s biggest peace-time event symbolised its return to the family of nations after the ignominy and disgrace of its defeat in World War II. The Games also coincided with the launch of the shinkansen or bullet train, a further demonstration of Japan’s technological might.
As Tokyo prepares to host its second Olympics in 2020 after its wildly successful hosting of this year’s Rugby World Cup, what better time, then, for Traveller to announce its latest reader tour, an in-depth look at this extraordinary country which is a personal favourite of yours truly.
This specially-curated tour, in partnership with Luxury Gold, encompasses not just Tokyo in the build-up to its Olympics but also Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.
This one-off tour will be led by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age’s Peter Hartcher, Australia’s preeminent political and international affairs commentator and, crucially, a two-time Tokyo correspondent.
I’ll join Peter for part of the tour to provide insights into the preparations and venues for the Tokyo Olympics as well as other aspects of Japanese society, including the evolution of its bullet trains.
Joining Peter and I will be Alison RobertsBrown, the official tourism representative forTokyo and Kyoto, a fluent Japanese speaker and a former regular on Japanese breakfast TV. You will also have the chance to meet Japanese master sushi chef Toshiyuki Shinohara.
What a unique opportunity to see this truly dynamic and fascinating country.
DAY 1 MAY 28
On arrival at Narita or Haneda airport, meet your guide and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy time at your leisure. You can join Traveller editor Anthony and view the hotel’s exhibition of photographs, prints and historical items from the three generations of buildings across its 130-year history. Among some of the most striking displays are those featuring relics from the second-generation of the hotel, The Wright Imperial (1923-1968), designed by the renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. Tonight, meet political and international editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Peter Hartcher at a welcome reception in the hotel with Anthony, followed by dinner. MEALS D HOTEL IMPERIAL HOTEL TOKYO
DAY 2 MAY 29
This morning meet Alison Roberts-Brown, the official tourism representative of Tokyo and Kyoto and a former regular on Japanese breakfast TV. Alison will join you on a visit the site of the former Tsukiji Fish Market where you can try your hand at making sushi with the highest quality fish. Meet master sushi chef Toshiyuki Shinohara who runs Kouzushi restaurant. Discover why it takes 10 years to become a Master Sushi Chef, and learn the secrets of sushi etiquette before sitting down to a delightful lunch. Then visit a traditional teahouse and learn how to prepare the perfect cup of matcha green tea. The tradition of seasonal tea ceremonies dates back 1000 years and plays an important part in Japanese culture. B L HOTEL IMPERIAL HOTEL TOKYO
DAY 3 MAY 30
TOKYO – NAKA-MEGURO DISTRICT
Japanophile Anthony, who has visited the major Tokyo Olympics venues, will discuss the Tokyo Games. Explore the district of Naka-Meguro which is around the Meguro River and within walking distance of the up-market districts of Daikanyama and Ebisu. Naka-Meguro is home to hip cafes and restaurants, trendy interior and accessory shops and the newly developed Nakameguro Koukashita – a commercial strip set below the railway tracks full of bars, food and specialist stores. Explore at your leisure. Tonight join Peter and a special Japanese guest for a talk and Q&A session. Later, dine at a nearby restaurant. B D
DAY 4 MAY 31
TOKYO – HAKONE
This morning travel with Anthony to Mt Fuji by coach. Admire spectacular views from the observatory at the 5th Station, before heading down to Lake Kawaguchi where you have the chance to view the reflections of the mountain. Then visit the Fujisan World Heritage Centre, designed by architect Shigeru Ban, and winner of the 2014 Pritzker Prize in Architecture. Enjoy time at your leisure. Continue to Hakone. B L D HOTEL HAKONE
DAY 5 JUNE 1
HAKONE – KYOTO
In the company of Anthony, travel by bullet train to Kyoto, which was for thousands of years, the imperial capital of Japan. Visit the Kyoto Railway Museum and learn how tradition and innovation is balance to modernised the country through its railway, where Alison will also join you. The evening is at your leisure. B HOTEL GRANVIA KYOTO
DAY 6 JUNE 2
Explore Japan’s geisha capital on a city tour with Alison and discover its ancient traditions and culture. Visit the World-Heritage listed Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkakuji and take in its spectacular Golden Pavilion, its classic architecture, intricate history and expansive gardens. Visit the famous Giouji Temple atop a majestic grove of bamboos and maple trees, where you’ll learn about local folklore and walk through indigenous bamboo forest. Enjoy KyoKaiseki cuisine for lunch and meet a Maiko, an apprentice geisha who will give you insights into this tradition that has evolved over centuries. Later, walk through the vibrant Gion neighbourhood, Kyoto’s primary geisha district. The evening is at your leisure. B L HOTEL GRANVIA KYOTO
DAY 7 JUNE 3
Meaning “the way of the gods”, Shinto is Japan’s oldest religion and lives on in more than 400 Shinto shrines across Kyoto. Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, one of Kyoto’s most prominent and popular attractions. Later practise mindfulness by joining a zazen meditation session at one of Kyoto’s many Buddhist temples. You’ll be guided through the basic techniques of Zen Buddhist meditation, its history and how to incorporate it into your everyday life. This evening join Peter for a talk and Q&A about his career as a poltical journalist and a foreign correspondent. B HOTEL GRANVIA KYOTO
DAY 8 JUNE 4
Travel by bullet train to Hiroshima where Peter will meet you. Explore the World-Heritage listed Peace Memorial Park and Museum, the only structure left standing after the first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. The bomb was the single most destructive force ever created by humankind and changed the course of history. During your time in Hiroshima meet a Hiroshima Survivor who will share insights into this dark chapter. For lunch, enjoy traditional Japanese savoury pancakes, Okonomiyaki, a local specialty. The afternoon hear Peter talk about Hiroshima and later explore the city at your leisure. B L HIROSHIMA - SHERATON GRAND
DAY 9 JUNE 5
Travel by train to Osaka with Peter. Situated in the heart of Japan, Osaka is a hub of cutting-edge architecture, exotic flavours and laid-back locals. After settling in, discover some of the city’s highlights, starting with a visit to Osaka Castle. Discover why Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan as you embark on a food-tasting exploration along Dotonbori Street. Try local specialties such as Takoyaki, and ground octopus wrapped in batter, before enjoying some free time. This evening, celebrate the end of a wonderful journey with a farewell dinner at the hotel’s Rainbow Lounge. Enjoy views over Osaka and delicious Japanese cuisine, including tempura and sushi. B D IMPERIAL HOTEL OSAKA
DAY 10 JUNE 6
Transfer to Osaka airport for your flight home. B
TOUR DETAILS AND INCLUSIONS
DEPARTURE DATE May 28, 2020
DURATION 10 days
DIRECTION Tokyo to Osaka
PRICES From $9,995pp twin share; single supplement from $1495pp
BOOKINGS Call 1800 001 783
Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm AEST
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Transportation by train and coach within Japan
- Accommodation (9 nights)
- 17 meals (9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners)
- Sightseeing and entrance fees
- Travelling Concierge and expert hosts
- Porterage and tips at included hotels and restaurants
Booking conditions available at luxurygold.com
Call 1800 001 783
Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm AEST