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Japan Experience

Suitable for Family, Group, Senior

OVERVIEW

Come with us on a Jewish heritage tour of Japan, where ancient traditions and modern wonders intertwine. This immersive trip will take you through the vibrant cities of Tokyo and Kobe, offering a unique exploration of Japan’s rich cultural tapestry and its Jewish connections.

You’ll land in Tokyo, where you’ll visit the iconic Meiji Shrine, a tranquil oasis nestled amidst the bustling metropolis.

Next, you’ll venture to Tokyo’s vibrant Shibuya district, famous for its bustling streets and iconic crossing.

From there, pay a visit to the National Art Center Tokyo, where you can marvel at masterpieces of Japanese and international art. Explore the captivating exhibitions, from ancient calligraphy and woodblock prints to contemporary installations, gaining insights into the artistic heritage of Japan.

Visit the Jewish Community in Japan building, a gathering place for the local Jewish community. Engage with community members and learn about their experiences in Japan.

In Kobe, you’ll have the chance to visit Chabad, a vibrant center of Jewish life in Japan. Meet with the local rabbi, learn about the activities and services they offer, and engage in cultural exchange with the Jewish community in Kobe.

Japan is a land of contrasts–old and new, ancient and modern, traditional and technologically advanced. Prepare to be inspired by the harmonious fusion of tradition and innovation that makes Japan an enchanting destination.

Highlights*

  • Visit the Meiji Shrine. Located in a beautiful evergreen forest in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, the Meiji is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Japan’s Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken
  • Learn to make sushi like an expert in a sushi-making class and have a special sake tasting during lunch
  • Experience a Japanese unique tradition: Sumo Wrestling. The MC will introduce some fighting techniques & the basic rules of Sumo, while the wrestlers show their moves. Then the wrestlers will spar and if desired, the guests can spar with the wrestlers
  • Stop at Owakudani Valley, one of the most famous viewpoints in Hakone, where you can see the intense volcanic activity up close. It is said that this place came to be thanks to a phreatic eruption and pyroclastic flow that occurred almost 3000 years ago
  • Explore the amazing Hakone Open Air Museum that successfully creates a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its massive grounds in combination with views of the surrounding valley and mountains

*Some experiences are subject to minimum group size

Day by Day Suggested Program

Day 1
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Afternoon arrival at Tokyo’s International Airport.
Check into the hotel.
Dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 2
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Visit the Meiji Shrine. Located in a beautiful evergreen forest in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, the Meiji is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Japan’s Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Built in 1915 in the traditional ‘nagare-zukuri’ style, the shrine contains two major areas:

The Naien is the inner precinct, centered on the shrine buildings and houses a treasure museum with articles belonging to the Emperor and Empress

The Gaien is the outer precinct, which includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of 80 large murals depicting motifs and events central to the lives of the Imperial Family. The precinct also is home to Japan’s National Stadium and the Meiji Memorial Hall, used primarily for official government meetings and events for foreign dignitaries.

Visit the National Art Center Tokyo; a masterpiece of contemporary architecture in Japan built by Kisho Kurokawa. Enjoy a tour of the exhibition “Japanese Art: Past & Present”

Learn to make sushi like an expert in a sushi-making class and have a special sake tasting during lunch

Continue to the Tokyo JCJ (Jewish Community of Japan) building

Tour the building and meet with Rabbi David Kunin, with local Jewish leader, Philip Rosenfeld and with the President of the JCJ, David Semaya

Hear from Fumiko Ishioka, Director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Center, a non-profit educational organization aiming at empowering young people, using the lessons of the Holocaust, to become caring, responsible global citizens committed to peace, human rights and democracy

Tour Shibuya, one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo. One of Tokyo’s most colorful and busy districts, Shibuya is packed with shopping, dining, and nightclubs serving swarms of visitors who come to the district every day. A prominent landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection in front of the Shibuya Station’s Hachiko exit. This is heavily decorated by neon advertisements and giant video screens and gets flooded by pedestrians each time the crossing light turns green, making it a popular photo and movie filming spot

Enjoy dinner on a ‘Yakatabune’, a traditional Japanese-style cruise boat restaurant

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 3
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Wake up early for a visit to the Tsukiji fish market

Breakfast in the hotel dining room

Proceed to the Israeli Embassy for a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to Japan, the Honorable Gilad Cohen

Visit Shunka-en Bonsai garden and museum set up by Bonsai master Kunio Kobayashi (three times winner of the Prime Ministers Award, the most prestigious price to be won in Japan) for a special demonstration and escorted visit. At the end of the visit, we will have a small Bonsai workshop with the master.

While you enjoy lunch, you will experience a Japanese unique tradition: Sumo Wrestling. The MC will introduce some fighting techniques & the basic rules of Sumo, while the wrestlers show their moves. Then the wrestlers will spar and if desired, the guests can spar with the wrestlers

Tour of historic Asakusa, the center of Tokyo’s ‘shitamachi’ (literally “low city”), and one of the districts where an atmosphere of Tokyo’s past, including its pre-war history, survives. The main attraction is the Sensoji, a popular Buddhist temple, built in the 7th Century and approached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing visitors with a variety of traditional local snacks and souvenirs for centuries

Driving through some of Tokyo’s highlights and neighborhoods such as Tokyo Station, Yurakcho, Ginza, and Odaiba

Go to Konnoh Hachimangu Shrine for cocktails and a special dance performance by Taketeru Kudo called “Butoh”, which erupts from primitive emotions and sensuality rather than calculated muscular movements. Hear from Joni Waka, the great storyteller and member of the Million Steps group

Dinner with leadership of David Semaya and members of the local Jewish community.

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 4
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Depart the hotel and take the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto

Arrival in Kyoto. Drive to the hotel and check in. Freshen up before services

Depart the hotel and drive to the Sagano church

Shabbat concert at Kyoto’s Beit Shalom. Meet with members of this unique Christian community known for its support and close ties to Israel. Enjoy the unique and heart-warming singing of their renowned Japanese-Hebrew choir

Take the bus back to the hotel for Shabbat dinner in a private room with Rabbi Michael Paley

Day 5
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Breakfast in the hotel dining room

All meet and begin the day at Kiyomizudera (“Pure Water Temple”), one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizudera is best known for its hanging temple that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below

Continue to Nishiki Market

Tour the best traditional food market in the city, Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block-long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, (fresh seafood, produce, knives, and cookware) and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties

Following a culinary market tour, explore the area and have lunch at a local restaurant

Visit Nijo Castle built in 1603 as the residence of the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). It was later used as an imperial palace before being donated to the public as a historic site. It is a traditional Japanese building and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994

Dinner and evening at leisure

Overnight in Kyoto

 

Day 6
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Depart the hotel and travel by bus to the city of Kobe

Meet with the local Chabad Rabbi Shmulik Vishedsky for a welcome reception at Kobe’s Old Jewish Synagogue. Rabbi Vishedsky will join us as we visit four of the city’s Jewish landmarks, including a meaningful visit to the historic Jewish Cemetery located in the area’s picturesque Kobe Hills, the synagogue, mikvah and the community center

Lunch at Chabad in the community center

Drive to Mt. Rokko, which is the highest peak in the Rokko mountain range and which provides the pleasant green backdrop to the city of Kobe. Panoramic views of the heavily urbanized Hanshin region (Kobe and Osaka) can be enjoyed from the mountain. Enjoy the view of flowers from season to season and the autumn colors

Take a cable car ride to the Mt. Rokko observatories where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Kobe, Setouchi Inland Sea, and Hanshin Region

Go to The Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum, dedicated to sharing the origins of sake brewing. It brings true joy of knowledge by providing information and hands-on experience regarding the world of sake brewing – past, present, and future

Drive from Mt. Rokko to Kyoto

Arrive back to the hotel to relax and freshen up for dinner

Dinner in a private room at a local restaurant in Kyoto with a Geisha performance. Geisha are the living cultural heritage, who preserves the tradition from the Samurai era. Today, the number of Geisha is limited, and they can only be found in cities with the tradition, like Kyoto. They are in the elegant costumes (kimonos), and entertain guests with traditional dancing

Overnight in Kyoto

Day 7
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Breakfast in the hotel dining room

Depart the hotel by bus to visit Arashiyama

Visit the scenic area and national historic site of Arashiyama. Here, the incredible Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s main attractions and for good reason: standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world. Included in the visit will be a traditional Japanese tea ceremony

Begin the day with a visit to Kinkaku-ji. Constructed in 1397, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto where the top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. The temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will, it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408

Lunch at Ryoanji’s Park Restaurant, famous for serving the Kyoto specialty of Yudofu (boiled tofu). Here, the food is served in attractive ‘tatami’ rooms that look out onto a traditional Japanese garden

Return to the hotel

Overnight in Kyoto

 

Day 8
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Check out of the hotel and drive to Nagoya

Arrival and Lunch in Nagoya

Visit the Toyota factory hosted by a company executive

Drive to Hakone

Check into the hotel and freshen up

Dinner in one of the hotel restaurants

Overnight in Hakone

Day 9
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Explore the amazing Hakone Open Air Museum that successfully creates a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its massive grounds in combination with views of the surrounding valley and mountains

Lunch at a local restaurant

Enjoy a ride on a 19th Century highway and visit the Hakone Sekisho checkpoint, one of the most important traveler checkpoints in ancient Japan. From here, you can see the magnificent Mt. Fuji

Stop at Owakudani Valley, one of the most famous viewpoints in Hakone, where you can see the intense volcanic activity up close. It is said that this place came to be thanks to a phreatic eruption and pyroclastic flow that occurred almost 3000 years ago

Drive to Tokyo and on the way, stop at Yokohama Port, where we will see the ship, Hikawamaru, on which the Jewish group traveled to Seattle during WWII

Check into the hotel. Freshen up before dinner

Farewell dinner at a local restaurant

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 10
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Breakfast and check out of the hotel

Accommodation

*Star rating standards vary from country to country.

This experience is fully customizable. We will create your personal dream experience!

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