Day 1 

Tues (1/6) - CHICAGO, USA

Tour officially begins inChicago for overnight at aChicago airport hotel. Meet your fellow travelers for an evening at leisure together.

Note: Option to fly from Pittsburgh with Dr. Miller.

Day 2

Wed (1/7) and Thurs (1/8) - (b) USA - TOKYO

Depart O’Hare Chicago forTokyo. Cross the international dateline & “lose” a day. Arrive Narita airport (Thursday, Jan 8). Transfer to Tokyo Grand Hotel (or similar) by chartered motor coach for overnight.

Day 3

Fri (1/9) - (b) TOKYO

Optional morning outing to Tokyo Fish Market before breakfast at the hotel. An all day tour of Tokyo, including the Edo-Tokyo Museum featuring early Tokyo scenes; famous Asakusa Temple with its huge red lantern; Akihabara electronics district; Roppongi /Ginza, the most famous shopping area in Japan; and a pearl shop. Late in day, go to Tokyo Rainbow Bridge (optional trip 500Y rt) and walkway. Overnight: Tokyo Grand Hotel or similar.

Day 4

Sat (1/10) - (d) TOKYO – KAMAKURA - SAMUKAWA

Breakfast on your own with guide’s assistance. Board a chartered bus to The Great Buddha of Kamakura. Continue to Samukawa to meet your home stay hosts and to enjoy an SIEA Welcome Party. If you like being treated royally, you’ll love Japanese hospitality! Overnight: Samukawa homestay.

Day 5 & Day 6

Sun (1/11) & Mon (1/12) (all meals daily) - SAMUKAWA                                  

Spend both days/nights with your host family. On Monday, you may wish to visit the famous Samukawa Shrine to celebrate Adult’s Day Coming of Age ceremony (age 20) and see young people in beautiful traditional dress.

Note: Prepare an overnight bag. Your luggage will be shipped to Beppu tomorrow morning.

Day 7

Tues (1/13) - (b) (d) SAMUKAWA - KYOTO

Meet at Samukawa Station for early departure to Kyoto(06:39) by train. Experience the famous Japanese bullet train and arrive by mid-morning. Leave overnight bags at the historic Buddhist Omuro Kaikan where you will spend the night dormitory style. In Kyoto, see the Ginkakuji Silver Pavilion with its famous raked Zen stone garden, and stroll the Kinkaku Golden Pavilion and garden. Dinner and overnight will be at Omuro Kaikan or similar.

Day 8

Wed (1/14) - (b) KYOTO

After early morning Buddhist services, have breakfast at the temple enjoying vegetarian food and the gardens at this World Cultural Heritage site. Transfer to the New Miyako Hotel to leave your overnight bag. Enjoy an afternoon of leisure in the activity of your choice. You may wish to go to theKyotoHandicraftCenter, one of the few places in Japan where most Kyoto and other Japanese handicrafts are located in one place. In the evening, stroll the Gion district, hopefully to see a geisha or maiko dressed in kimono. Overnight New Miyako Hotel or similar.

Note: Laundromat available.

Day 9

Thurs (1/15) - (d) KYOTO –HIROSHIMA-BEPPU

Depart in early morning by bullet train for Hiroshima and the Peace Park. See the Dome, meet/hear a survivor, visit Sadako’s shrine/statue and ring the Peace bell. In the afternoon, take a boat ride to scenic Miyajima Island, considered one of the three most beautiful places in Japan by the Japanese. See the red Tori gate in the sea and the Itsukushima Shrine.  Leave Hiroshima in late afternoon by bullet train for Beppu on Kyushu Island. Arrive at the ryokan (Japanese style hotel) for dinner and the evening. Enjoy a refreshing hot springsbath and a night on tatami in a yukata on cozy futon. Overnight Beppu ryokan or similar.

Day 10

Fri (1/16) - (b) (d)  BEPPU – SAEKI – BUNGO-ONO

After a traditional breakfast at the ryokan, visit 3 Hot Spring Hells (colored rocks). Board a chartered bus toTakasakiyamaMonkeyMountainwhere two groups of monkeys live, rotating daily to feed at its base. Visit Kojiya to learn about koji a special ingredient used in fermented foods like miso and sake. Arrive in Bungo-ono to meet the mayor and your weekend home stay hosts. Overnight 2 nights with hosts. Send luggage to Fukuoka.

Day 11

Sat (1/17) - (all meals) BUNGO - ONO

Enjoy all day with your Japanese home stay family, including overnight. Pack an overnight bag. Your luggage will be shipped to Fukuoka tomorrow.   

Day 12

Sun (1/18) - (b) BUNGO-ONO –– KUMAMOTO - FUKUOKA

After family breakfast, meet at the train station to go through Aso National Park on the way to Kumamoto to visit the Kumamoto feudal castle, one of the largest and finest in Japan. Depart Kumamotoby late afternoon train for an early evening arrival in Fukuoka. Find your luggage waiting at your hotel. Pack for the trip home. Overnight: Fukuoka hotel.

Day 13

Mon (1/19) - (b) FUKUOKA – NARITA TOKYO - USA

Leave for Fukuoka airport by taxi for flight to Narita, Tokyo to connect to a flight to the USA. Arrive in Chicago the “same” day by crossing the dateline. Sayonara, Japan!