Japan Revealed: Shrines, Treasures, Geishas, & Gardens.
The inscrutability is real. Come see for yourself on a journey that begins in bustling Tokyo. Then to Hakone for a history lesson, massive Mount Fuji, incredible Kyoto, and Nara, Japan's first capital.
Japan is not so much one culture as many faces of an ancient culture. Shinto spins a yarn about Jimmu, grandson of the sun goddess. Emperors are pushed aside by mighty shoguns. Zen gardens lead us to rethink our aesthetics. Futuristic bullet trains speed us to ancient towns. Sacred shrines enchant, but so do geishas. All in one tiny nation that's a mere splotch in the Pacific.
This is a 10-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Japan journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Japan.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-4: Tokyo, Japan
• Arrive Tokyo.
• City tour including Edo Tokyo Museum, Asakusa Kannon, Imperial Palace Plaza.
• Independent option to visit Mori Art Museum.
• Options to sumo wrestling stable or Tsukiji fish market.
• Meiji Shrine, Hamarikyu Garden, options to Musée Tomo, Harajuku-Omotesando-Aoyama, Ginza, or Akihabara.
Overnights in Tokyo
Day 5: Hakone, Mount Fuji
• Drive to Hakone with optional stop in historic Kamakura.
• Hanoke's Open-Air Museum.
• Mount Fuji fifth station, Owakudani Valley by cable car, boatbride on Lake Ashinoko.
Overnight in a Hakone ryokan
Day 6-7: Kyoto
• Train to Kyoto.
• Daitokuji Temple Zen gardens, Kinkaku-ji Buddhist Temple, Philosopher's Walk, optional sake brewing lesson and tasting.
• Fushimi Inari Shrine, Miho Museum, Sanjusangendo Temple, leisure time.
• Options for geisha evening.
Overnights in Kyoto
Day 8: Nara, Kyoto
• Day-trip to Nara including Nandaimon, Todai-ji temple complex and Daubatsu, Kasuga Taisha Shinto Shrine.
• Return to Kyoto, leisure time.
Overnight in Kyoto
Day 9: Kyoto
• Nijo-jo Castle, Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
• Leisure time.
Overnight in Kyoto
Day 10: Kyoto; United States
• Fly home.
Per person sharing room from $9,890 for this 10-day sample itinerary.
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Why is Japan's Edo period so important?
The Tokugawa period, also called the Edo period, (1603 to 1867), was the final period of medieval era in Japan, a time of internal peace, political stability, and economic growth under the shogunate (military dictatorship) founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu. A tremendous cache of Japan’s cultural treasury dates from this era.
As one strategy of control, beginning in 1635, the shogunate required landed lords, daimyo, to maintain households in the Tokugawa administrative capital of Edo (modern Tokyo) and reside there for several months every other year. To further maintain stability across the empire, the social order was officially frozen, mobility between the four classes (warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants) prohibited. Members of the warrior class, samurai, took up residence in the capital and other castle towns and became bureaucrats. Peasants (80 percent of the population) were forbidden from engaging in non-agricultural activities, insuring a stable source of income for those in power.
The Tokugawa feared foreign ideas and military intervention as threats to domestic political stability. Having seen the colonial expansion of Spain and Portugal in Asia carried out by the work of Catholic missionaries, the shogunate came to view the missionaries as a threat. Measures to expel them from the country culminated in decrees in the 1630s that effectively banned Christianity. In issuing these orders, the Tokugawa adopted a policy of national seclusion. Foreign books were banned. Japanese subjects were forbidden from traveling
abroad. Foreign contact was limited to a few Chinese and Dutch merchants still allowed to trade through the port of Nagasaki.
The national economy expanded rapidly from the 1680s to the early 1700s. Large urban centers developed, most notably Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto. An increase in mercantile activity and domestic trading gave rise to wholesalers and exchange brokers, and the ever-widening use of currency and credit produced powerful financiers. The emergence of this well-to-do merchant class brought with it a dynamic urban culture, a flourishing of the arts.
As peace prevailed in the land, Japan’s samurai put the martial arts aside and instead educated themselves in literature, philosophy, and art. Townspeople also enjoyed a newly fortified popular culture. The tea ceremony became an important part of life. New art forms like kabuki and noh (theater) became extremely popular. So did professional female entertainers (geisha), music, popular stories, bunraku (puppet theater), poetry, and literature. Japan was filled with beautiful porcelainware and woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) and paintings of female beauty, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, historic scenes, folk tales, landscapes, flora, fauna, and erotica. Literature also flourished with the works of such talents as playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–1724) and poet, essayist, and travel writer Matsuo Basho (1644–94). Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843), one of the most important artists of this period, painted realistic depictions of birds, flowers, and animals.
While merchants continued to prosper well into the 18th century, daimyo and samurai fell on increasingly hard times. During its final 30 years in power, the Tokugawa shogunate faced peasant uprisings and samurai unrest as well as its own financial difficulties. These factors, combined with the growing threat of Western encroachment, brought into serious question the continued existence of the regime, and by the 1860s many demanded the restoration of direct imperial rule as a means of unifying the country and solving Japan’s most pressing problems.
In 1867, the Tokugawa government was overthrown, and in less than a year later, Emperor Meiji assumed power over all Japan. The Meiji Restoration, as it is called, ushered Japan into the modern era and dealt a final blow to feudalism in the land.
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