NOTE: This will be the final trip hosted by J.T., and possibly the group. See details here… https://bit.ly/2VcsgB3
UPDATE #20: For those who wish to communicate during our trip via WhatsApp, please download the app (if you don’t already have it) and go to this link… https://bit.ly/2zwekZm . If you don’t have it on your phone already, and don’t have an international calling plan, you will need to set up the app before you depart (it sends to you a verification code). We’ve used this for our past trips, and it works out well for group communication. One. more. week!
UPDATE #19: Upon arrival into Japan, the contact information for our group is as follows: operations [dot] japan [at] buffalotours [dot] com, phone: +81 3 5357 7146, emergency / after hours phone: +81 90 2437 5660. Please only use in an emergency as you are traveling to Japan. You can email me at jt [at] goingoutgroup [dot] com. I will connect to wifi when I’m not en route. These UPDATEs have been emailed to the yes RSVPs.
UPDATE #18: The rooming list has been finalized here… https://bit.ly/2MfbAYR . I used the latest information received from everyone and also per UPDATE #17b below. Please verify that I have you and any options listed correctly. Feel free to use the list above to reach out to your roommate and others (click on their Meetup profile to send them a message).
UPDATE #17b: For those arriving into NRT on Sept. 7th and taking advantage of the group arrival transfer per the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting, FYI to better accommodate everyone’s flights, the travel company has decided to change the originally scheduled 4pm shared group shuttle to be in accordance with each individual’s arrival time. Please look for the person at the arrival gates with a sign with your name on it that says “Green Tomato” as shown below. For those that were scheduled to arrive after the original 4pm shuttle departure time from NRT on Sept. 7th, you will now be able to take advantage of the hotel transfer. The “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section has been updated accordingly. If you are not taking advantage of the group arrival transfer, please see the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting for alternate transportation options. When you arrive at the hotel, you will check in under your name, and we will meet in the hotel lobby @ 7pm for our welcome dinner. Please be on time. Three. more. weeks!
UPDATE #17a: If you have not received your book yet, I am available in the Tysons area (Silver line – Spring Hill stop) for pickup (send me a message via my Meetup profile – do NOT comment on the trip posting). I will bring any leftover books with me on the trip provided I have space remaining in my luggage.
UPDATE #16: Just a reminder to familiarize yourself with recommended vaccinations and visa requirements (see the “Visas, Vaccinations, & Immunizations” section of the trip posting for full details). For U.S. citizens with U.S. passport, a visa is not required. I suggest visiting a travel clinic prior to departure, since they can make recommendations on vaccinations that may be useful for travel to this country.
UPDATE #15: Just a friendly reminder, please send me your arrival flight airline / flight number / landing time; and departure flight airline / flight number / take-off time (see the “Traveler Information” section of the trip posting) if you haven’t done so already, NO LATER THAN Sun. Aug. 11th. Also, don’t forget insurance is required for this trip, so please purchase it if you haven’t already done so (see the “Travel Insurance” section of the trip posting for full details). Also, don’t forget to pack light (please see the “Luggage” section of the trip posting for full details). Thank you!
UPDATE #14: The list of hotels has been finalized as follows (with address and phone): KEIO PLAZA HOTEL (Sept. 7 – 9; 2 Chome-2-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-8330, Japan; +81 3-3344-0111), NEW MIYAKO HOTEL (Sept. 10 – 12; 17 Nishikujo Inmachi, Minami Ward, Kyoto, 601-8412, Japan; +81 75-661-7111), HOTEL VISCHIO OSAKA (Sept. 13 – 14; 2 Chome-4-番10号 Shibata, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0012, Japan; ++81 6-7711-1111). Four more weeks!
UPDATE #13: I’ve posted the event for the pre-trip embassy visit here… https://bit.ly/2YTYfHW . Due to their schedule, the embassy requested that I move the date back 1 week. So instead of Thurs. August 1st, it’s now scheduled for Thurs. Aug. 8th (the trip posting has been updated). I’ll need to give the embassy a list of attendees, so please RSVP as soon as you can. I’ll also hand books out to those that have not received one. Getting excited, see you there!
UPDATE #12: The $2945 price has ended and the ticket price is now $3045.
UPDATE #11: The $2945 price will increase to $3045 before Sun. July 7th (see the “Price” section of the trip posting for full details). Follow the steps in the “Payment” section to secure your spot. Change the dollar figure to $500 if you are looking to make just the deposit (rather than paying in full). I hope you can join us on this amazing adventure!
UPDATE #10: Just a reminder, the balance is due Sun. June 23rd. Please make sure to make your balance payment by that date (see the “Remainder Balance Payment Due” section of the trip posting), otherwise you will lose your deposit and your spot on the trip! Can’t wait for this adventure!
UPDATE #9: Just a friendly reminder, for those that have signed up and made payment for the trip, if you have not already submitted your traveler information (see the “Traveler Information” section of the trip posting), please send that to me (through my Meetup profile) as soon as you can. Thank you!
UPDATE #8: The $2845 price has ended and the ticket price is now $2945.
UPDATE #7: We’ve been able to extend the $2845 price! The first 20 paid sign-ups, or those who pay before Sat. June 1st (whichever comes first) get the $2845! After that, the ticket price will go to $2945.
UPDATE #6: We have at least 15 people that have signed up and made payment… so this trip is confirmed! If you’ve made at least the deposit payment for this trip, feel free to book your flights per the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting!
UPDATE #5: The $2845 early bird price will increase to $2945 before Tues. May 7th (see the “Price” section of the trip posting for full details). Follow the steps in the “Payment” section to secure your spot. Change the dollar figure to $500 if you are looking to make just the deposit (rather than paying in full). Don’t forget to send to me your traveler information (see the “Traveler Information” section of the trip posting) as soon as you can. I hope you can join us on this amazing adventure!
UPDATE #4: We need just 4 more spots to fill, for our trip to be confirmed. In the event that does not happen by our next price increase on Tues. May 7th, our trip will need to be canceled and everyone will receive a full refund of their payment(s) to date.
UPDATE #3: The $2745 early early-bird price has ended and the trip price is now $2845.
UPDATE #2: There are fewer than 5 early-early-bird spots left and the price will increase from $2745 to $2845 when the early-early-bird spots are gone or BEFORE Thurs. Mar. 7th (whichever comes first). To be fair to those who want to join in and are ready to make payment, I’ll be removing those that haven’t paid at least the deposit by Sun. Feb. 24th. Make at least the deposit payment to lock in your spot and the early-early-bird price (see the “Payment” section of the trip posting for full details). If you’ve already made payment, the PayPal email you received is confirmation that we’ve received your payment (no need to email me asking for payment confirmation). This UPDATE has been emailed to the yes RSVPs. I hope you are able to join us!
UPDATE #1: I’ve announced the Japan pre-trip dinner. Click here (https://bit.ly/2RDpRAT). If you’ve already made payment or deposit for the Japan trip and can make the dinner, please RSVP for the dinner but do NOT make payment, as the dinner is FREE for those joining the Japan trip itself. Please do so by Sun. Feb. 3rd. After that date, if you’ve made payment or deposit for the Japan trip, and you’d like to RSVP for the dinner after that date, send me a message through my Meetup profile (do NOT comment on the event posting), and I’ll manually add you to the dinner event. I look forward to seeing you there!
Ancient culture and modern life fuse together in Japan!
Historical traditions, state-of-the-art technology, exquisite cuisine, spectacular landscapes, immaculate & efficient bullet trains. These are just some of the words that describe Japan! Let’s visit the land of the rising sun. This action-packed tour of Japan’s highlights is perfect for the adventurer with limited time who wants to explore the region’s diversity. Let’s visit the largest wooden temple in the world, stop by the tallest tower in the world, learn about Shinto rituals, visit sacred and tranquil grounds, experience the world of sumo, travel on the 2nd fastest train in the world (and much more). Our Adventure Tour Leader will help us find the secluded spots only the locals know. Does this sound like a fun and relaxing vacation to you?
Six Reasons to Book This Trip:
- Affordable Adventure — Did you know that this trip INCLUDES a guided tour of the Asakusa district, a stop by Tokyo Skytree, a visit to Meiji Shrine, a trip to a real sumo training session, a samurai sword show, a guided walking tour of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, a visit to the must-see Todaiji temple, a trip through Nara Park where sika deer roam freely, a visit to the bright and beautiful Kasuga Taisha Shrine, a guided tour of Osaka Castle, a stop by the Umeda Sky Building, an Adventure Tour Leader for the full duration of our adventure, 8 breakfasts, transfers from and to the airport, all in-country transfers between cities, 8 nights in a hotel, 3 events in DC (2 dinners and 1 Embassy visit), plus a Japan book discussion (book included) during the trip… all for $305 a day??
- Shared Photos — As with all of our events, we can all upload our pictures to this website to share the best of our photos and multiply the memories!
- Make New Friends — We are the ONLY Meetup group that offers us the opportunity to travel abroad with other globally-minded people from the DC area, PLUS arrange 3 more events for the group that take place in DC to make sure that we will make friends that we will continue to see in DC!
- Leadership — I (J.T., your organizer) will be there every step of the way, making sure that the trip goes as smoothly as possible.
- Book Discussion — We will each receive, read, and discuss sections of “At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery,” a tale of one woman’s journey to Japan that will help paint a picture for us of the culture and beauty of Japan. Please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained.
- Unforgettable Memories — Japan truly is a beautiful and adventurous place. Let’s experience it together and make some wonderful memories!
This 9-day exciting expedition through Japan is crammed with all the energy and activities deserving of our group. We’ll begin our journey in DC with a fabulous dinner at Nooshi restaurant in Dupont Circle. Then, before departing on our trip, we will have a private visit at the Embassy of Japan featuring diplomats who will teach us about their country. Shortly after we return stateside, we’ll reunite at DC’s popular Donburi restaurant in Dupont Circle with an evening of Japanese food and a recap of our travel experience for our reunion dinner!
To help us pass the time while traveling and to learn even more about this culture-rich society, we’ll read the book “At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery ” by Rebecca Otowa during our trip. At certain points during the trip, I (J.T., your Meetup organizer) will lead discussions of the book for anyone who wants to participate!
Please note this is a joint trip with the 30s & 40s Going Out Group, and the 20s & 30s Going Out Group. Our traveling group will likely consist of members with an average age in their 30s.
Questions? If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box, message me through my Meetup profile, or call / text me at 703.470.4848.
We’ve got an early bird special for this trip of $2745! The first 20 paid sign-ups, or those who pay before Thurs. Mar. 7th (whichever comes first) get the early bird price! After that, the trip price will go to $2845, then $2945, then $3045. Our past trips have always sold out quickly! We have a LIMITED number of spots so make sure to RSVP early AND make payment to secure your spot and get the early bird price! To make payment, please follow the steps in the “Payment” section of the event posting.
I hope you can join us on this amazing adventure!
Sun. Feb. 17th: Pre-Trip Dinner at Nooshi
This delicious Japanese meal at Nooshi restaurant (or similar) in the Dupont Circle neighborhood is open to other group members as a paid event, but is FREE for those attending the trip. It is wonderful way for all trip-goers to meet each other for the first time, and it’s a perfect time for those who haven’t yet signed up to ask any questions related to the trip. I will even refund the cost of the dinner to anyone who signs up and makes payment for the Japan trip AFTER our dinner!
Thurs. Aug. 8th: Pre-Trip Embassy Visit
We will meet with Japanese diplomats and receive an official country briefing including the history, geography, culture and tourism of Japan (pending embassy approval). This event is organized exclusively for trip-goers and will NOT be open to other members of our group.
Sat. Sept. 7th: Day 1, Tokyo
Arrive at any time in Tokyo, then check in and enjoy the city. Please try to arrive before 7pm for an important group welcome dinner where we’ll meet with our Adventure Tour Leader and other group members.
Tokyo is a marvelous mix of modern living and old-fashioned manners, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples & gardens, slick high-tech gadgets, and cutesy cartoon mascots. Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping and entertainment. The cultural side of Tokyo is famous for its numerous museums, theaters, festivals, internationally noted cuisine, and professional sports clubs, including baseball, football, along with traditional Japanese pursuits like sumo wrestling!
As the capital of Japan (it’s name translates literally to “Eastern Capital”), it is the largest metropolitan area in the world by population, hosting over 38 million people, and the 2nd largest by landmass, spread over 3 prefectures. A few other fun facts about Tokyo:
- Tokyo is one of the safest cities to travel to. Crimes against tourists are extremely rare. It actually has one of the lowest crime rates per capita of any major city in the world.
- Tokyo has the most top-rated restaurants in the world. It is home to over 14 three-star Michelin restaurants.
- Tokyo has more neon signs than any other city in the world. A trademark image in Tokyo is entire streets full of neon lights!
- Vending machines are available in Tokyo every 40 feet. You can buy anything from hamburgers to clothes, candies to cold drinks, milk packs to ice cream, the list goes on!
Overnight: Keio Plaza Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 1.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 50 miles
Sun. Sept. 8th: Day 2, Tokyo
After an included breakfast, we’ll have the morning to explore Tokyo on our own. Optional activities abound. Check out the observatory on the 45th floor (660 feet above sea level) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Visit the Yanesen area to observe the real daily lives of locals away from tourists. Go to a traditional Japanese garden to relax and appreciate the nature and Japanese tradition in a peaceful and quiet space. Our Adventure Tour Leader will help provide us with the information we need for our interests.
In the afternoon, we’ll embark on and get a taste for all that Tokyo has to offer on this full afternoon bus tour, sampling the Japanese capital’s top sights and neighborhoods!
We’ll head to the Asakusa district, home to many of Tokyo’s most famous temples and shrines, where we’ll genuinely find a flavor of old Tokyo and discover the quiet side streets of this traditionally styled district. It is home to the oldest temple in the city, Sensoji. We’ll enter this 7th century Buddhist temple by passing through the Thunder Gate, indicated by a massive red lantern, and a striking 5-story pagoda. Let’s take in the atmosphere of the temple, and be sure to look up at the beautiful ceiling murals. We’ll walk along Nakamise Street, a centuries old souvenir street of 96 shop stalls, do some shopping for that perfect souvenir, or pick up a local delicacy as there’s plenty of scrumptious snacks too.
Next, we’ll visit Tokyo Skytree. At a height of over 2000 feet, it is the tallest tower in the world. Fittingly, it’s observation deck is the world’s highest skywalk, which we will visit!
Meiji Shrine will be our next stop and it is one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Japan, dedicated to the deified spirits of the former Emperor and his wife. We’ll
wash our hands as per the Shinto ritual of cleansing before entering through the 40-foot high Torii gate into it’s sacred and tranquil grounds.
Finally, we’ll explore some the latest trends and fashions in Shibuya, one of the most famous shopping locations in Tokyo. Teeming with funky and subversive fashion, as well as some of the best dining, entertainment, and nightclubs in town, let’s attempt to cross the world famous “scramble” crossroad!
Overnight: Keio Plaza Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 30 minutes. Approximate Distance: 7 miles
Mon. Sept. 9th: Day 3, Tokyo
In the morning, we’re off to we’re off to experience the fascinating sport of sumo up close at a real sumo stable! We’ll get seated on the floor, observe the rules and regulations, and get close to sumo wrestlers as they conduct their morning training routine and practice their techniques. Perhaps we’ll even get our photo taken with some of the sumo wrestlers after practice is finished: A truly special souvenir of this a exclusive Japanese tradition.
In the afternoon, we are free to explore Tokyo on our own. We can pick optional activities according to our interests. Eat authentic ramen at the thousands of ramen restaurants available, most notably the Shinjuku area, called the most competitive ramen district in Tokyo. Go to the Robot restaurant to see a crazy and entertaining hi-tech robot show with flashy neon lights while dining (booking in advance needed). Visit Tsukiji Market, the largest and most famous fish market in the world. For the dancers amongst us, check out ageHa, the biggest nightclub around with three dance floors, plenty of bars, and places to take a chill pill at when we get a little tired, and – get this – they have an outdoor swimming pool!
Overnight: Keio Plaza Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 1.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 20 miles
Tues. Sept. 10th: Day 4, Tokyo / Kyoto
Today, we’ll get in our private vehicle and transfer to the train platform at Tokyo station. We’ll then travel at in comfort on Japan’s fast and efficient high speed rail network, the Shinkansen, one of the most iconic images of modern Japan, en route to Kyoto. Traveling at speeds of up 200 mph, these needle-nose bullet trains are the 2nd fastest in the world!
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for about 1100 years (out of its 1200 years of existence). With 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city has 1,600 Buddhist shrines and 400 Shinto temples. Located in the picturesque valley of the Kamo River surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, it is mostly known for the famous Kyoto Protocol (international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), but Kyoto also surprises with its quiet temples, colorful shrines, sublime gardens, works of art, and remarkably authentic cuisine. It is also the home to Nintendo. Kyoto is both a modern city and historical treasure. Temples and pagodas share the skyline with office complexes; traditional crafts shops and old neighborhoods are intermixed with modern shopping malls and subway stations; and geishas walk down the streets next to salarymen, office ladies and skateboard punks!
In the evening, we’ll get in our private vehicle en route to learn the arts of the samurai as we enjoy a Kembu show. Kembu, literally meaning “sword dance” is a traditional performing art that shows the culture of this ancient Japanese warrior class and the spirituality with a Katana sword and a folding fan. We’ll admire the intricate movements of traditional and new-style Kembu performances, celebrating the legendary stories of Japan’s feudal period. We’ll also hear a fascinating talk and lesson before the performance and have time for a photo session with samurai sword, traditional costume, and the performers post-show.
Overnight: New Miyako Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 3 hours. Approximate Distance: 320 miles
Wed. Sept. 11th: Day 5, Kyoto
In the morning, we’re off on a guided walking tour of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” and is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its magical, seemingly unending path of over 10,000 vibrant orange torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 764 feet, and belongs to the shrine grounds. Each of the famous torii shrine gates has been donated by an individual or a Japanese business in the hope of receiving good luck and fortune. The name of the donor is inscribed in black ink on the back of each gate.
This shrine, dedicated to the god of rice and sake in the 8th century, also features dozens of statues of foxes. The fox is seen as the messenger of the god of grain foods, Inari, and the stone foxes are often known by the same name. The keys often depicted in the fox mouths are keys to granaries. Fushimi Inari shrine is the head shrine with which all other 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the entirety of Japan are affiliated. In the 1300 years since its establishment, people have gathered here to pray for bountiful harvests, business prosperity, the safety of their home and family and the fulfillment of all kinds of other wishes.
In the afternoon, we are free to explore Kyoto on our own. Optional activities abound. We can opt to partake in a Japanese tea ceremony which has more than 400 years of history; visit the Gion district, known for being a hub for artists, theaters, and geishas; visit the Nishiki Market and find delicious treats, handmade traditional crafts, ceramics, textiles, fresh seafood, and more; weave through a thick mystical bamboo forest at the Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama for is a place of peace and meditation; and head to Monkey Park Iwatayama where there are monkeys everywhere swinging through the trees, scampering across the path, and even daring to come close for a better chance of stealing food.
Overnight: New Miyako Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 30 minutes. Approximate Distance: 4 miles
Thurs. Sept. 12th: Day 6, Kyoto / Nara
In the morning we are free to explore Kyoto on our own. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Nara in our private vehicle and guide. Nara was Japan’s first capital for the first 74 years, and as such, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest, largest, and most impressive temples.
We’ll start off our adventure at the jaw-dropping and must-see Todaiji temple, the world’s largest wooden building. We’ll enter the enormous wooden gateway, towering over 82 feet high and fashioned from 800 year old trees, passing the guardian king statues of the temple. Let’s take in the stunning complex grounds, as we gaze upon this impressive structure. Next, head inside to see the largest bronze Buddha statue, or Daibutsu, in the world (standing at 50 feet high and weighing over 500 tons), enveloped in a golden halo.
Next, we’ll take a wander through Nara Park, one of the oldest parks in Japan where over 1200 tamed yet wild sika deer, classified as a natural treasure, freely roam its grounds. Considered to be sacred messengers of the gods (in Shinto), the deer are protected and they call this park home. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed. Let’s stroll through “deer park” as the locals call it, as we take in the quaint, yet ancient charm of the grounds.
Lastly, we’ll head off to Nara’s most celebrated shrine, the bright and beautiful Kasuga Taisha. Kasuga Taisha is not only ancient, but architecturally stunning with the contrast between the bright vermillion paint, white walls, and cypress wood roofs, surrounded by Nara’s beautiful woods. One of the first things we’ll notice are the 3000+ stone lanterns, donated by worshipers over the centuries. The path to the main building is flanked on both sides by these lanterns, and the main building has hundreds of bronze lanterns as well.
Overnight: New Miyako Hotel or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 1.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 55 miles
Fri. Sept. 13th: Day 7, Kyoto / Osaka
Today is a free day to explore Kyoto on our own. In the evening, we’ll transfer to Osaka in our private coach.
Home to nearly 9 million people and powering an economy that exceeds both Hong Kong’s and Thailand’s, Osaka packs quite a punch. It is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo, and in many ways, it’s the soul of Japan. While Tokyo is polished and pricey, Osaka is laid back and down-to-earth. It’s a great place to experience a large, modern Japanese city in all its glory, but on a more human scale than Tokyo – and for significantly less money. The confident, stylish city is all about great food (and lots of it), nightlife, and shopping, especially bargain shopping. Best of all, Osaka is packed with friendly and easygoing citizens who are at ease with foreign visitors.
Overnight: Hotel Vischio Osaka or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 1 hour. Approximate Distance: 45 miles
Sat. Sept. 14th: Day 8, Osaka
In the morning, we’ll embark on a private tour of Osaka! We’ll begin by visiting Osaka Castle, once the largest castle in Japan when originally built. The 5-story castle tower is surrounded by secondary citadels, gates, turrets, impressive stone walls, and moats, and is one of the most visually spectacular creations in the country, with a history that dates back almost 450 years! It played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century. The castle has an observation platform with city views and a history museum that uses holograms, 3D pictures, and other technologies to describe the history of the castle and the period during which it was built.
Next, we’ll make our way to the Umeda Sky Building, a strikingly unique and very shiny high-rise structure of glass and steel which stands tall and aloof in an open area. It was rated as a “Top 20” list of world buildings that also included the legendary Taj Mahal in India, and Spain’s Sagrada Família, by British publisher Dorling Kindersley. We’ll go up to the Floating Garden Observatory platform, a bridge connecting the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building, whose roof features a doughnut shape that provides an unobstructed 360-degree view. While enjoying the breathtaking sights, we can also directly feel the wind ― which at 560 feet off the ground can get quite strong. Here, not only will we see all of Osaka, but we will also see as far away as Awaji Island. The basement of the building houses the Takimi-Koji gourmet street that replicates a town of the early Showa period from the 1920s.
In the afternoon, we are free to explore Osaka according to our interests. Check out the Dotonbori area, the central hub of bars, restaurants, and cafes, also known as the place to go out and enjoy the best of the city. For ocean lovers, Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, that is directly connected to the Pacific Ocean, with eight floors of exhibits, including a plethora of marine life such as whale sharks, otters, dolphins, and turtles. Locals will tell you that the best place to go shopping is in the Shinsaibashi district which sells pretty much anything and everything, such as souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, and household objects. The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is one of the most iconic sights in Osaka and is located on the edge of the scenic Osaka Bay. For theme park lovers, check out everything related to your favorite films at Universal Studios Japan, obviously with more of a Japanese twist. For animal lovers, visit one of the many popular animal cafes (e.g. cat cafe, dog cafe, rabbit cafe, etc.) and get your fill of cuteness multiplied many times over!
In the evening, we can head out for a final meal and night on the town!
Overnight: Hotel Vischio Osaka or similar. Total Estimated Transfer Time: 30 minutes. Approximate Distance: 5 miles
Sun. Sept. 15th: Day 9, Osaka
Depart at any time.
Total Estimated Transfer Time: 1.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 40 miles
TBD: Post-Trip Reunion Dinner at Donburi
Dates and details TBD. We will feast on a sumptuous Japanese meal at Donburi (or similar)! Dinner attendance will also be open to non-trip goers in our group.
Price below reflects double occupancy. For single occupancy, please add $965. Full payment is due by Sun. June 23rd.
- $2745 if booked before Thurs. Mar. 7th (or whenever early birds sell out)
- $2845 if booked before Tues. May 7th (extended until before Sun. June 1st)
- $2945 if booked before Sun. July 7th
- $3045 on or after Sun. July 7th*
* Starting Sun. July 7th, spaces are subject to availability. If booking on or after Sun. July 7th, do NOT purchase your airline ticket until you have been confirmed on the trip by the Organizer.
DEPOSIT & FINAL PAYMENT
Non-refundable deposit of $500 is due at booking, full payment due by Sun. June 23rd or at booking, whichever is later. This deposit locks in a price per the “Price” section.
The travel company needs the following information for final booking. Please send me a message (through my Meetup profile) with this information as soon as you’ve secured your spot by making payment (you can get to me your flight information later, but please get to me everything else that you can): 1. Full name as it appears on passport 2. Passport number 3. Passport issue date 4. Passport expiry date (as a general rule, passport must be 6 months valid beyond date of return from another country) 5. Date of birth 6. Nationality 7. Existing medical conditions 8. Meal requirements 9. Emergency contact / next of kin. 10. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the hotel upon arrival? 11. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the airport upon departure? 12. Cell phone number 13. Will you be getting a single room for an extra $965? 14. Sex 15. Roommate’s name (if you have one; otherwise, a roommate of the same sex will be assigned to you) 16. Arrival flight airline, number, and landing date / time; and departure flight airline, number, and take-off date / time (when you secure it).
Price is based on double occupancy. If you have a preference for a roommate, please let me know full first and last name (send me a message through my Meetup profile). Otherwise, you will be assigned a roommate (same sex). Single supplement is $965 to stay in your own room. Optionally, and pending availability, if you plan to stay additional day(s) in Japan either before our after our tour, and wish to book pre or post-tour accommodations (at our starting and ending hotels respectively), you may do so for $449 per night (Tokyo pre-tour) or $475 per night (Osaka post-tour). Breakfast included. Please click here (pre-tour) or please click here (post-tour) to make payment, and also send to me a message (through my Meetup profile) the exact date(s) you are looking to book.
PayPal account not required. Please follow the steps below (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your RSVP is not guaranteed without payment, and your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). You can also log into your PayPal or credit card account online to verify payment. All but 1 of our trips have sold out, so I recommend you secure your spot online early.
- Select “Yes” (checkmark)
- Enter the number of guests coming and click “Finish Payment on PayPal”
- Verify correct dollar amount for number of people you’re paying for. Modify if appropriate, click “Pay Now” (or “Pay Online Now” button at the top of the event posting)
- If you are paying in full, and if you are looking for double occupancy, leave the dollar amount as is. If you are looking for single occupancy, please add $965 to the total and change the dollar figure. For your convenience, the single occupancy price will either be $3710 (booked before Thurs. Mar. 7th), $3810 (booked before Tues. May 7th), $3910 (booked before Sun. July 7th), or $4010 (booked on or after Sun. July 7th). Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button.
- If you are paying just the non-refundable deposit, change the dollar amount to $500. Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button. You will need to pay the balance by Sun. June 23rd.
- If you don’t have a PayPal account, enter your payment information
- If you have a PayPal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via PayPal
REMAINDER BALANCE PAYMENT DUE
PayPal account not required. DO NOT use the links in this section if you are making initial payment (please follow the steps in the “Payment” section above instead). If and only if you’ve already paid the initial non-refundable $500 deposit, please follow the instructions below for making the balance payment (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). Balance payment must be made by Sun. June 23rd, otherwise you will lose your deposit and your spot on the trip. If you would like to pay your balance in installments, please message me through my Meetup profile.
- Click on the appropriate link below
To pay the balance ($2245) for the $2745 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Thurs. Mar. 7th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2345) for the $2845 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. May 7th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2445) for the $2945 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. July 7th), please click here
To pay the balance ($3210) for the $3710 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Thurs. Mar. 7th), please click here
To pay the balance ($3310) for the $3810 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. May 7th), please click here
To pay the balance ($3410) for the $3910 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. July 7th), please click here
- If you don’t have a Paypal account, click “Pay with a Debit or Credit Card”
- If you have a Paypal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via Paypal
- Pre-trip dinner at Nooshi restaurant (or similar) in DC
- Pre-trip Embassy of Japan visit with diplomats (pending approval)
- “At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery ” hardback version and book discussions during the trip (please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained)
- Accommodations as stated above (hotels 8 nights, based on twin-share rooms)
- 8 breakfasts
- 1 dinner
- Guided tour of the Asakusa district (home to many of Tokyo’s most famous temples and shrines)
- Tokyo Skytree stop (the tallest tower in the world with the world’s highest skywalk on it’s observation deck)
- Meiji Shrine visit (one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Japan)
- Visit to a sumo training session (at a real sumo stable)
- Samurai sword show (Kembu)
- Guided walking tour of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine (used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”)
- Todaiji temple visit (the world’s largest wooden building)
- Nara Park stop (where tamed yet wild sika deer freely roam)
- Kasuga Taisha Shrine visit
- Guided tour of Osaka Castle (the largest castle in Japan when originally built)
- Umeda Sky Building stop (rated on the “Top 20” list of world buildings by British publisher Dorling Kindersley)
- Group arrival and departure transfers from / to airport
- All transfers between destinations and to / from included activities (bullet train, train, local bus, air-conditioned bus / minivan)
- English speaking travel guide
- Meetup group facilitation with book discussion by J.T. (Organizer)
- Local guides / representative assistance
- Post-trip reunion dinner at Donburi (or similar)
- Entrance fees not listed
- International airfare
- Applicable tourist visas
- Airport taxes
- Meals not mentioned above
- Excursions and activities listed as optional or suggestions
UPDATE: The trip is confirmed (see UPDATE #6 at the top of the trip posting for full details). Go ahead and purchase your air tickets!
This trip is confirmed when 15 people sign up and make at least the deposit payment. An email will be sent to the yes RSVPs when it is and I will also update the trip posting at the top of the page. Do not purchase your air ticket until the trip is confirmed (see the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section for full details).
FLIGHTS, DAYS OFF, & AIRPORT TRANSFER
UPDATE: The trip is confirmed (see UPDATE #6 at the top of the trip posting for full details). Go ahead and purchase your air tickets!
Please do not purchase your air ticket until this trip is confirmed (see the “Trip Confirmation” section for full details). We can coordinate air schedules in the comment box of the event page to try to get the same flights.
When buying your air ticket, make sure it arrives on Sat. Sept. 7th into Tokyo and departs on Sun. Sept. 15th from Osaka (see paragraph below). I typically use Momondo’s multi-city option to search for flights with success. Also, depending on how many transfers you get, you may need to request off of work Thurs. Sept. 5th – Mon. Sept. 16th. Please send to me your flight information through my Meetup profile. Also, please see here for recommendations on when best to buy your airplane ticket… https://cnb.cx/AG1h3h. Note that I have had mixed results following these general rules of thumb in the past.
Upon arrival on Sat. Sept. 7th, our group transfer from the airport (Narita International Airport – NRT) to the hotel will depart the airport based on each person’s arrival flight landing time, so we can get to the hotel in time for our recommended welcome meeting at 7pm with our Adventure Tour Leader and other group members. Look for the person at the arrival gates with the sign with your name in it that says “Green Tomato” as shown below. If you are unable to take advantage of our group transfer, you can take the Airport Limousine bus directly to our hotel. The cost is ~$30 USD and takes ~1.5 – 2 hours. To book and view timetables, see here… https://bit.ly/2H14vJn.
For departure on Sun. Sept. 15th, our group transfer from the hotel to the airport (Kansai International Airport – KIX) will depart at 9am (travel time is 1.5 – 2 hours). So if you’d like to take advantage of our free group transfer, please be ready to leave the hotel by then and book your flight accordingly.
According to Japan Railways regulations, each passenger may bring up to 2 pieces of luggage onto trains, not including smaller bags. Each piece of luggage may not weigh more than 30 kg (66 lbs) and its 3 dimensions (length, width and depth) may not add up to more than 250 cm (8 feet), while its length may not exceed 200 cm (6.5 feet). See here for full details… https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html . However, the travel company HIGHLY recommends packing as light as you can (e.g. 1 bag, the smaller the better), as oftentimes, trains do not have room for bulky luggage. The travel company also recommends using a delivery service to send your luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto the day before at a moderate cost (which our guide can help us with). This is common cultural practice in Japan. See here for full details on size, weight, and cost requirements… https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html
VISAS, VACCINES, & IMMUNIZATIONS
For U.S. citizens with a U.S. passport, a visa is not required. Please take a look at the State Department website for visa information here… https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html (click on the destination country, then click “Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements”). Please inform yourself if you are able to obtain visas at the borders, visa regulations change often, therefore we cannot hand out information. Please take a look at the CDC website for recommended vaccinations and medications here… http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/ . I suggest visiting a travel clinic prior to departure, since they can make recommendations on vaccinations that may be useful for travel to this country.
You are required to purchase an all-inclusive insurance policy that covers emergency repatriation, medical, and evacuation for a combined minimum amount of $200,000. Trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss and accidents should also be included. Costs vary by age, travel dates, and when you purchase, but an approximate quote is $100 – $150 for a 30-year-old. You should extend the insurance to cover your entire journey if you are arriving before or departing after our trip. Please secure full coverage (rather than coverage for covered reasons). You will need to book your air flights first before getting insurance coverage.
Mains electricity in Japan is 100V 50Hz (Tokyo) and 100V 60Hz (Kyoto, Osaka) and utilizes plug type A and B. Depending on your appliance, you may need a converter and an adapter. Please see the following link for more information… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country
If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box, message me through my Meetup profile, or call / text me at 703.470.4848
Since payment is made in advance for this trip, all sales are final unless the trip is canceled or rescheduled. Thanks for understanding. =)
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO BRING
1. USD cash 2. Credit and / or debit card 3. Pre-departure information and trip details 4. Passport, with photocopies (as a general rule, passport must have at least 6 months of validity beyond the date of return from another country) 5. Travel insurance (with photocopies) 6. Airline tickets (with photocopies) 7. Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required (with photocopies, see “Visas, Vaccinations, & Immunizations” section) 8. Camera (with extra memory cards and batteries) 9. Reading / writing material 10. Binoculars 11. Day pack 12. Plastic bags or cover for backpacks 13. Lock for luggage 14. Fleece top / long sleeve top 15. Windproof / waterproof jacket 16. Small towel and swim wear 17. Shirts / t-shirts 18. Water shoes / sports sandals / flip flops 19. Sun hat 20. Shorts / skirts 21. Long pants / jeans 22. Hiking pants / track pants 23. Hiking boots / sturdy walking shoes 24. Rain poncho / umbrella 25. Sunblock 26. Sunglasses 27. Toiletries 28. Watch or alarm clock 29. Water bottle 30. Pocketknife 31. Flashlight 32. Insect repellent 33. First-aid kit (should contain lip balm, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking) 34. Ear plugs 35. Eye mask 36. Moneybelt 37. Outlet adapter 38. Sleepwear