Join the 2019 Fulbright Alumni Insight Trip to Japan!

 

Visit the land of the rising sun along with the fellow Fulbrighters. Experience the vibrant, megacity of Tokyo along with its serene temples and shrines. Explore the real culinary world of Japan in hand-picked restaurants. Meet with the local Fulbrighters, and reflect at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

About the trip

Total cost: $4297 (shared room); single rooms available for an additional $965

Dates: April 1-11, 2019

Contact: travel@fulbright.org

Registration

To register for the trip, pay your deposit and submit your registration packet by February 1, 2019.

Final payments are due by March 1, 2019.

Itinerary

1

April 1, 2019

Meet at Tokyo Narita Airport: Welcome to Japan! You will be met at the airport by your full-time tour leader who will remain with you for the duration of your tour. Take a private coach from Tokyo Narita Airport to your hotel in Tokyo. Depending on your arrival time, there may be an opportunity to stop off en-route at one of Tokyo's beautiful gardens.

Hamarikyu Gardens (Subject to Arrival Time): Just minutes away from the commercial hubbub of Ginza and hemmed in by urban development on all sides, Hamarikyu remains a leafy pocket of tranquillity seemingly unchanged since Edo times, when it was used by the shoguns and aristocracy for wild-duck hunting, tea ceremonies, and riding practice. The focus of the park is the Shio-iri no ike pond, in the centre of which is a fully reconstructed traditional teahouse, reached by a bridge with beautiful wisteria trellises. One feature of the garden is that the ponds fill from the bay, and so the water level rises and falls with the tides.

Welcome Dinner at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange a welcome dinner at a local restaurant where you can get to know your tour leader a little better; as well as enjoying your first authentic Japanese dining experience.

2

April 2, 2019

Train from Tokyo to Kamakura: From Tokyo station you will take the JR Line to Kamakura, the journey takes about 60 minutes and seats are unreserved.

Guided Tour of Kamakura: Today your Tour Guide will lead you around the main sights of the coastal town of Kamakura. Kamakura's most iconic sight is the Great Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple. Hokokuji Temple is another famous spot thanks to its atmospheric bamboo groves, while Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a large holy complex including two museums and a peony garden. If there’s time this afternoon, you'll head to the coast - a great opportunity to look back inland for views of majestic Mount Fuji.

Train from Kamakura to Tokyo: From Kamakura you will take the JR Yokosuka Line to Tokyo. En-route you will pass the giant Kannon statue at Ofuna as well as going through Yokohama city.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

3

April 3, 2019

Asakusa & Senso-ji: Senso-ji Temple is one of Tokyo’s most treasured and best-loved sights. Despite the wholesale changes that Tokyo has undergone, the red lantern remains, ushering you into the bustling shopping street, Nakamise Dori, that leads down to the temple buildings with their gently sloping heavy lead roofs, clouds of incense and bad fortunes tied to every available wire. Popularly known as Senso-ji, Asakusa Kannon Temple is the oldest and most impressive temple in Tokyo. The main hall was originally built in 645 to house a tiny golden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, which had been repeatedly hauled up in fishing nets despite being thrown back into the river. The statue was enshrined in the main hall where it ostensibly remains today - a sight too holy to be seen. The temple grounds bustle with people buying fortunes, praying, sightseeing, shopping, or just wandering around. Many come for the curative powers of incense billowing from the bronze urn in front of the main hall.

Surrounding it, throngs of people rub handfuls of smoke on aching joints in the hope of being cured. Middle-aged men and women laugh as they wave smoke onto their heads, hoping for clearer thoughts (or in some cases, re-growth of hair!). Fortunes are in plentiful supply for the outlay of 100 yen and should yours not be all you were hoping for then do not fear: simply tie it to the nearest wire ’tree’ and it will remain forever within the temple grounds. The colourful back streets surrounding this area offer a glimpse of old Japan. Artisans, sushi and eel shops, and the general hustle and bustle make it a place to experience at a leisurely pace while savouring the atmosphere.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

4

April 4, 2019

Ueno Park: Ueno park is one of Tokyo’s largest open spaces and contains a host of museums well worth visiting, it is also a good place to sample some real shitamachi atmosphere whilst taking a wander along the market stalls in the tightly packed arcades just a few minutes’ walk south from the station. The Tokyo National Museum contains the world’s largest collection of Japanese art and an extensive collection of Asian antiquities. The National Science Museum in the northeast corner of Ueno park is distinguished by a life-size statue of a blue whale on the grounds. There are some good interactive displays and some English language explanations. Also, to be found in Ueno park is The National Museum of Western Art which just a couple of years ago reopened after renovation and is home to an original cast of one of the world’s most famous sculptures, Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’.

Meiji Jingu: The huge Meiji shrine area is situated at the end of Omotesando (the so-called Champs-Elysees of Tokyo) and just behind Harajuku Station, it is one of the most impressive sights in Tokyo. The shrine itself is dedicated to the Meiji Emperor and his wife. The entrance is marked by an enormous wooden torii gate constructed from the trunks of giant cedar trees. During the week the grounds are quite quiet, and this is a good place to go for a stroll and for an escape from the oppressive urbanity of the city. On weekends however, the shrine is awash with visitors, both foreign tourists and Japanese. If you are lucky you may even get to witness a traditional Shinto wedding parade.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

5

April 5, 2019

Overnight Luggage Forwarding Tokyo to Kyoto: Japan has an excellent luggage forwarding system that works across the country. It is easy to use, reliable, and surprisingly affordable. Today we will forward the bulk of our luggage from Tokyo to Kanazawa to make the intervening travel as easy as possible. The service is next-day delivery, but the receiving accommodation will be happy to hold your bags if they arrive ahead of you. We suggest packing a small overnight bag for your two nights in Hakone, and then you’ll catch up with your main suitcase in Kanazawa.

Private Bus from Tokyo to Hakone via Fuji Five Lakes & Mount Fuji: This morning you will be picked up by coach and taken into Hakone National Park. On the way you will stop at Fuji 5th Station for stunning views of the area, Hakone visitors centre and Owakudani park, before being dropped off at your accommodation later this afternoon.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

6

April 6, 2019

Hakone Open Air Museum: The Hakone Open Air Museum is home to hundreds of pieces of artworks, the most famous of which being those of Picasso. Although the vast majority of pieces are outdoors there are a few indoor galleries, allowing visitors to enjoy the collection whatever the weather. The museum also has a maze garden for children, touchable art-piece statues, an observatory tower, foot onsen (hot springs) and a "hanging playground" that defies description. Be warned that the museum's gift shop has a lot of quirky crafts and toys for children so, unless you want a huge dent in your wallet, we suggest you quickly by-pass that area when leaving!

Train from Odawara to Kyoto: From Odawara you will use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Shinkansen on to Kyoto. The journey will see you racing down Japan's eastern seaboard by Shinkansen and takes 2 hours 10 minutes.

Kyoto Two Day Bus & Subway Pass: We will provide you with a two-day pass which can be used on Kyoto’s extensive transport system, including Kyoto City Buses, Kyoto Subway Lines and on many of the buses operated by the Kyoto Bus company. The pass will give you unlimited use of the transport network for two days.

Explore Nishiki Market: Check out Nishiki market - a food market street that has been dubbed "Kyoto's Kitchen. A great place to feast the eyes and grab some lunch at leisure!

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

7

April 7, 2019

Kyoto Sightseeing: Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji and Arashiyama (Daitokujicho if time available): Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion, is perhaps the most famous temple in all of Japan. It is an exact replica of the 15th century structure that was burned down in 1950. Rebuilt in 1955, the stunning gold façade makes a lovely reflection in the ‘mirror pond’. In the world-renowned rock garden of Ryoan-ji, 15 stones, which vary in shape and size, are laid out in exquisite balance. Despite its limited size, the garden expresses infinite space. This is the supreme example of a dry landscape garden.

Arashiyama is a beautiful area of Kyoto with lots of lovely things to see and do. The boat trip detailed above is a perfect way to spend a morning or an afternoon and when you arrive into Arashiyama at the end there are certainly many ways to enjoy the rest of the day. If there is time, the final stop of the day will be at Daitoku-ji. This sprawling temple complex is a great example Zen-style architecture on a grand scale with its carefully landscaped gardens built during the 15th and 17th centuries. The Daitoku-ji temple compound is like a small village, made up of nearly two-dozen sub-temples clustered around the temple itself. The main temple, along with most of the sub-temples, is closed to the public. However, about half a dozen of the most interesting sub-temples are open. Although wandering through the temple compound is free, each sub-temple charges its own admission fee. Particularly recommended are the Daisen-in, Ryogen-in and Koto-in sub-temples.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

8

April 8, 2019

Train from Kyoto to Hiroshima: From Kyoto you will head on down the eastern seaboard west to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen bullet train. During this 400km journey the train passes through several major cities along the coast, including Kobe, famous for its top-grade beef.

Train from Hiroshima to Miyajima-Guchi: From Hiroshima Station you'll take a local line train to Miyajima-Guchi Station, the access point for the ferry to Miyajima Island. The journey takes 25 minutes.

Ferry from Miyajima-Guchi to Miyajima: From Miyajima-Guchi Port you will take the JR ferry for the 5-minute crossing to Miyajima Island. Have your camera ready for some great views of Miyajima's red torii gate which is said to float on the water at high tide.

Morning Miyajima Sightseeing: You will have the morning to explore Miyajima Island. The first port of call must be Itsukushima Shrine, which you will have already seen from the ferry. The iconic vermillion shrine is built out into the sea, taking on a different appearance as the tide comes and goes, and it’s a great place to get some panoramic photos of your trip. On the way to the shrine you will inevitably encounter the rather curious deer who populate the island – keep a tight hold on any maps, as the deer are known to try to steal anything! The main road along the shore and behind the shrine is lined with lots of little shops selling all manner of snacks and souvenirs, so be sure to pop in and have a look. Ferry from Miyajima to Hiroshima Peace Park: You've seen the sights and met the deer on Miyajima; now it's time to head back to the mainland. You will take the ferry from Miyajima to the Peace Park in the centre of Hiroshima City. The journey time is 45 minutes and we will provide reserved seat tickets for the trip.

Peace Memorial Museum: A trip to Hiroshima is not complete without a sobering visit to the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, built as a memorial to the harrowing events of August 6th, 1945. The museum contains clear English explanations of the time-line leading up to that fateful day as well as the aftermath, including poignant accounts of the hibakusha A-bomb survivors. The museum is in the grounds of the sprawling Peace Memorial Park which provides a calm, meditative counterpart to the heart-breaking historic accounts housed in the museum. Scattered around the park are various memorials, including the Children’s Peace Monument with its thousands of origami cranes, and the Peace Flame which will burn until the last nuclear weapon is destroyed. Just across the river is the iconic A-Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings in the city to miraculously survive the attack and a striking link to Hiroshima’s past.

Evening Meal at a Local Okonomiyaki Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

Transport to Hiroshima Station: It's time to start heading back. Using your Hiroshima Peace Pass, you'll hop on the Hiroshima Dentetsu Electric Tram at the Gembaku-Dome-Mae stop for the 15-minute ride through the city to Hiroshima Station.

Train from Hiroshima to Kyoto: You will board a Shinkansen train at Hiroshima Station and head east to Kyoto. Journey time is around 2 hours.

9

April 9, 2019

Kyoto Sightseeing: Fushimi Inari, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizudera & Teapot Lane: Very close to both Keihan Fushimi-lnari Station and JR Inari Station, the head shrine of some 40,000 Inari shrines located throughout the land, it was founded in 711 and is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice-cultivation and business. More than 10,000 vermillion torii gates straddle the four-kilometre path up the mountain. Look out for the many stone statues of foxes, considered to be the messengers of Inari. Go early in the day (7:30-8:00am) to see if before everyone else arrives.

Nijo Castle was built by the Tokugawa Shogun in 1603, although Tokugawa rarely stayed there. Highlights are the gorgeous details and a specially constructed 'nightingale' floor to warn of approaching intruders. Perched daringly on a steep hillside, Kiyomizu-dera is possibly the most beloved temple in the nation. Founded in 798, its present buildings date mostly from 1633, and it is entered from 'Teapot Lane'; so-called because of the numerous shops lining the approach that sell Kiyomizu ceramics.

Kagizen Yoshifusa: Traditional Japanese sweets known as wagashi are delicate works of art eaten before receiving tea. Each piece is appreciated for its flavour but also its aesthetics, as well as expressing the season. The variety of wagashi is so wide that it's unlikely you'll ever try the same type of wagashi twice! This afternoon you'll visit a traditional sweet shop in the heart of Gion and experience these delicacies for yourself.

Evening Meal at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange dinner at a local restaurant for the group.

10

April 10, 2019

Train from Kyoto to Nara: Nara is just a 40 minutes ride on the local train from Kyoto and there are frequent departures throughout the day.

Guided Tour of Nara: Nara lies just 40 minutes by local train from Kyoto and is renowned for the wealth of its Buddhist and Shinto heritage. Nara was formerly the end of the Silk Road and was for this reason the area which first saw Buddhist teaching making the transition across the ocean from China and over into Japan. In 710 Nara became the first permanent capital of Japan and with this the large monasteries rapidly gained in political power and influence resulting in frequent bloodshed as the different sects fought for supremacy and power. Such was the rise of the monasteries that in 784 the capital was moved away from Nara to protect the position of the Emperor and the central government, eventually settling in Heian (Kyoto) in 794 where it remained for the next 1000 years.

Today Nara retains many dramatic sights as reminders of its former power and influence. The Daibutsu or Big Buddha is hugely impressive as is the huge wooden structure which houses it; to this day it is the World's largest wooden building despite the current structure being a third smaller than the original. The myriad of shrines and temples are all set against the backdrop of the low-lying mountains and in the midst of Nara park which is famously home to a vast population of pesky deer who given half a chance, will munch on your guide books, umbrellas, scarves, and about anything else they can get their noses into! You can also buy official deer cookies to feed them with but do so at your own peril!

After exploring the religious side of Nara, you can head into the city proper to explore Naramachi, the former merchant district; it’s a pleasant place to experience a slice of Edo Period Japan.

Train from Nara to Kyoto: Return to Kyoto on one of the frequent trains.

Farewell Dinner at a Local Restaurant: This evening we will arrange a farewell dinner at a local restaurant where you can swap stories and highlights of your trip as it comes to an end.

11

April 10, 2019

Private Coach from Kyoto Hotel to Osaka Kansai Airport: Sadly, your time in Japan has come to an end. We will arrange a private coach to take you in comfort from your hotel in Kyoto to Osaka Kansai Airport. Journey time is usually a little under 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

Those flying home out of Tokyo (Narita or Haneda airport) can make travel arrangements through tour partner.

What's Included

  • Double room accommodations in comfortable hotels (2 occupants per room). Single rooms are available for an additional cost
  • Group meals as indicated in the forthcoming complete itinerary
  • Transportation by private, air-conditioned motor coach/minibus/van, as well as group transfers as appropriate
  • English speaking guide(s)/interpreter(s) to accompany participants through the whole tour period
  • Preparatory reading materials
  • Admission and fees to museums and program activities as listed in itinerary
  • Train and bus passes on select days

What's Not Included

  • Flights to/from Tokyo
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature
  • Room service charges
  • Transportation of luggage in excess of weight allowance
  • Travel Cancellation Insurance
  • Daily meals that are not organized for the group
  • Extra beverages at group meals

Please read all the information in our registration packet for terms on cancellations, refunds, and other policies. Note that we highly recommend waiting to buy any flights until the trip has been confirmed after the registration deadline.

Membership requirements: Please also note that you must be a current member of the Fulbright Association in order to join the tour. If you are not a member, you can click here to join, or if you are a lapsed member, please click here to renew your annual membership. Not a Fulbright alumn? No problem! The Fulbright Association welcomes all supporters of the mission of the Fulbright Program to join as Friends of Fulbright. Tour registrants may also bring one non-member guest. Please indicate who your guest is in your registration materials.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at (202) 775-0725 or e-mail us at travel@fulbright.org.