By Jack C., 13-time traveler from Augusta, GA
It has been four years now since my O.A.T. Japan tour, but my memories, though diminished somewhat by time, are still wonderful. Japan is a beautiful country, with amazing sculpted gardens and shrines, temples, and palaces almost everywhere. Although it was not the season of the year for the famed cherry blossoms, there was still a bounty of beautiful flowers and incredible trees and shrubs to be seen and enjoyed all over the country. Leaving the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and its plethora of palaces, temples, and gardens, we moved on to Hakone. Although cloud cover prevented us from getting good views of Mount Fuji, the nearby hot sulfur springs were impressive. The highlights of my time in Hakone were visits to a wood mosaic shop and the Hakone Outdoor Museum, which featured many impressive works of modern statuary art. To say that the visit there was worthwhile is a big understatement.
Meeting an actual geisha in a traditional teahouse, witnessing the nighttime lantern parade of the Hyakumangoku Matsuri Festival, held the first weekend of June each year, as well as the nighttime dance parade the following night were the highlights of our time in Kanazawa. A visit to the nearby picturesque restored villages of Shirakawa and Gokayama in the alpine region of western Japan was also very enjoyable, as well as educational. Even more amazing temples, statues of the Buddha, pagodas, and gardens are in Kyoto, where, among the highlights, were a kimono fashion show, a private concert by two accomplished Japanese musicians, and a side-trip to the city of Nara, the first capital city of Japan, where we helped prepare our lunch.
For obvious historic reasons, perhaps the highlight of the entire trip for me was the post-trip extension to Hiroshima. The ruins, monuments, and museum in the Peace Park were all incredibly moving. I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding Japanese food we ate every place we visited. The entire tour was a culinary extravaganza. I had delayed for several years taking this Japan tour, but I am certainly glad that I finally decided to take it; it was among the best I have taken.
Videos like Jack’s offer a firsthand glimpse of what you’ll experience on one of our adventures—so it’s no surprise that our travelers find them invaluable in planning a journey. If you have videos of your own based on your travels with O.A.T. or Grand Circle, we’d love to see them—you might even be featured on our website or here in The Inside Scoop. Upload your videos here.
Perhaps you, too, will create a slideshow like Jack’s when you join O.A.T. for Japan’s Cultural Treasures.