Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo

“Essence of Japan” Land Tour with Tauck… WOW… What An Adventure!!

Recently I flew to Tokyo, Japan to explore this Fascinating Country… and what a Fascinating Country it is!!

Beautiful/kind/tranquil people, yummy food, amazing sites, modern & ancient at the same time… what else can you want when visiting a new place! 🙂


FYI, I flew Business Class with ANA… GREAT airline (Excellent seats & food and awesome service!!) if you have the chance to fly with them!!

If you don’t normally fly Business Class but now & then you splurge & go for it, when flying to Asia is the perfect time to do so as you’ll appreciate the extra roomy seats & flatbeds when on these longer/overnight flights.

Or, if you’re saving up Airline Points for a special occasion… this trip would be the perfect time to use them!! 😉

Shawn Power in Business Class on ANA
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Shawn Power in Business Class on ANA
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Essence of Japan Tauck Land Tour
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And, rather than try to figure out how to explore Japan on my own, I made it simple and joined a Tauck Land Tour… it was Tauck’s “Essence of Japan” Land Tour. 





Not only does Tauck make visiting an Exotic place like this super simple by planning every little detail but I also got to see Japan in a much, much better way than if I had tried to explore it on my own due to Tauck’s exclusive events and long-history in the region

…Tauck truly knows how to show the “Heart” of a destination and pack in amazing value for the money you spend on your Vacations!!


FYI, if you want to read about why I take Land Tours in some destinations over Cruises or if you’re interested in what a Tauck Land Tour is all about and why I exclusively book them for my clients, then check out this post.


And if you want some more details on why I’d recommend a Land Tour in Japan over a Cruise (As you’ll see here I’ve been on 82 Cruises and as you’ll see here I’ve only been on 5 Land Tours so Cruising is my preferred way to travel but in some places Land Tours work best to see more of the destination!) then let me tell you a little story.


10 days after I finished my Tauck Japan Tour (that I’m about to tell you about below) I did a 17-day Ocean Cruise with Regent from Bali to Sydney (As I talk about here “combining” big trips is an AWESOME idea/I do it often as do many of my clients!!) and onboard I talked to A LOT of people who had done Japan Cruises and they all said they couldn’t believe how much more I saw in Japan with Tauck compared to on their Cruises… 

…they didn’t get to see the Geisha show or Sumo Wrestlers show or Samurai show
…they didn’t try all the food I did like eating at “Nobu” and the Teppanyaki & Tempura & Wagyu beef restaurants nor the traditional 9-course “Kaiseki” Japanese meal
…they didn’t go to the Onsens (hot baths) or stay at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) or get to wear “Yukatas” & “Tanzens”
…they didn’t get a “Kagura” Blessing at a Temple nor visit an Ancient Samurai House
…they didn’t get to experience a Traditional Tea Ceremony or “Ikebana” lessons or Sushi making lessons or “Origami” making lessons or “Furoshiki” making lessons or “Taiko” drumming lessons
…they didn’t ride the Bullet Train
…they didn’t see Mt Fuji up close
…etc., etc., etc.

Literally, they all said they had wished they had met me sooner so I could have booked them on the below Tauck Tour as, as they put it, a lot of their stops in Japan were “filler stops” where it was a waste to go there but of course the ships need to stop in lots of places to make it worthwhile to fly all the way over there.


Okay, let’s get back to my review of my Tauck “Essence of Japan” Land Tour!!


As I talk about here and here you should ALWAYS fly into the City where you’re starting your Land Tour or Cruise at least 1 day early… ideally, even earlier/the more extra days the better in my opinion!!


And I usually follow my own advice! 😉 


Although this tour didn’t start till November 13th, I landed in Tokyo a full 8 days early on Nov 5th!


Shawn Power at Tokyo Disney
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Not only did arriving super early help me get over the jet lag and be totally rested up & relaxed by the time my Tauck Land Tour started (Nothing worse than spending at least $25,000 per couple on a tour + airfare and then showing up right as it starts/being too tired to enjoy it the first few days!) but it gave me time to see some other things that Tauck doesn’t have time to show their guests…

…like “Tokyo Disney” for example! 🙂


Of course, not everyone is a Disney lover… but if you are like me… it’s worth flying in early to check out the 2 parks here… “Tokyo Disneyland” and “DisneySea”!


Not only are they super impressive parks but they also feature lots of unique rides (“Beauty & The Beast” & “Winnie the Pooh” rides… both are amazing!!) & unique shows & unique foods (No worries, you can get your burgers & fries & all the normal stuff here too! ;-)) so it’ll give you the familiar feel of a great Disney experience but with “a twist”! 😉


Overall, I highly recommend going to “Tokyo Disney” if you love Disney but you need at least 2 days there as you can’t “Park Hop” over here like in the US but there’s so much to do in each park you wouldn’t want to anyways… you need at least a day in each Park!!


View from Park Hyatt Tokyo from 46th floor room
**Click/Tap Image to expand** There’s the view from my 46th floor room at the “Park Hyatt” in Tokyo!

After spending 5 days in “Tokyo Bay” where “Tokyo Disney” is, I switched from my hotel in that area to the “Park Hyatt” hotel in the heart of Tokyo where Tauck stays when in the City… and Yes, that’s where Bill Murray stayed in “Lost in Translation”! 😉

It’s a Beautiful Hotel on the 41st to 51st floors of a Tower so AMAZING views of the city from my room for sure… AND, we could even see “Mt Fjuji” from the hotel!! 🙂

If you’d like to see some more of the “Park Hyatt” in Tokyo, I have about a 1/2 dozen pics from there in my “Essence of Japan” gallery here.


FYI, the maximum “extra” hotel nights Tauck can add for you at their hotel is 3 days on each end so I did the full 3 extra in Tokyo.

Maybe you don’t have the time or budget for a few extra days (Ok, if you’re able to afford this tour to begin with we know you have the budget for the extra days so don’t “cheap out” on this part & do yourself a disservice! ;-)) but, as I talk about here, you have almost no excuse to not spend at least 1 extra night in Tokyo as if you book your Tauck Land Tour at the right time with me your extra hotel night will be FREE! 🙂 


It was a 45min ride from my “Tokyo Bay” hotel to Tauck’s hotel but simple for me as Tauck had a private driver pick me up (As usual, not only was he on time but 15mins early!) and bring me to the “Park Hyatt”!


As I talk about here, Tauck always includes transfers at the start & end of their tours no matter if you book airfare with them or not (Best NOT to book air with Tauck as I talk about here!) and they’re flexible on whether that’s from the airport or a train station or another hotel…

…if you do Land Tours or Cruises often, you’ll know this is NOT the norm so a great perk/great value that Tauck makes this simple!!


Food & bar hopping tour in Tokyo
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After settling into my 550 square foot room (People sometimes think rooms in Asia are going to be small but that’s NOT the case with the Beautiful hotels Tauck stays in!!) I headed to the “Shibuya” area where Tokyo’s famous “Scramble Crossing” is and I took a food/bar hopping tour…

…definitely a FUN way (Especially the “Japnese Karoake Bar” part! :-)) to explore a new City by tasting their local food & local drinks… yum!! 🙂

Check out my “Essence of Japan” gallery here to see a few pics of examples of the food/bar hopping tour menus we enjoyed plus some scenes from Tokyo’s famous “Scramble Crossing”.


Personally, I HIGHLY recommend taking food tours when you have some free time in a City before your Cruise or Tauck Land Tour… for me, it’s always been the perfect way to not only get a “Taste” of a new place immediately but the guides usually know lots of other good things to see & do in your free time/they usually have great recommendations and often they’ll show you some key sites along the way too!


As you’ll see here, I also did a food tour on my last Tauck trip 4 months earlier when I had some free time in Reykjavik before my Tauck “Small Ship” Ocean Cruise in Iceland started. And in Bali, where I spent a week before my Regent Cruise that I did after this Tauck Tour ended, as you’ll see here, I did a food tour there too so these are truly great experiences when in a new place in my opinion! 😉 


Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo
**Click/Tap Image to expand** The “Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden” in Tokyo was a Beautiful place to visit!!

Beyond my food tour/while in Tokyo on my own before my Tauck Tour started, I walked A LOT of KMs/Miles the next few days and enjoyed people watching, tasting new foods, visiting the “Gyoen National Gardens” (Beautiful!!), checking out the nightlife in the Famous “Shinjuku” district (You see it in lots of movies) with its “Times Square like” signage everywhere and it’s quaint “Golden Gai” little tiny bar district, etc., etc., etc.

If you want to see lots of pictures from my extra time in Tokyo, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.


So, as you can see, getting to a “New” City early before your Tauck Land Tour or Cruise is NEVER a bad thing!! 😉


Alright, so after a week+ on my own exploring Tokyo, I met up with my “Tauck Group” and that’s when the real/amazing exploration of Japan started

…as I talk about in my “Tauck Land Tour” post and in my Tauck River Cruise & Tauck “Small Ship” Ocean Cruise posts, Tauck truly shows you a destination better than anyone else!


And Japan was definitely no exception!


As usual (As I talk about here most companies do NOT do anything on the date your trip starts but not so with Tauck!!) Tauck treated our group to a really nice Welcome Reception & Dinner on night #1 in Tokyo 

…not only was this Beautiful Wedding Venue Gorgeous and the food & drinks & company were all great, but on top of all that, we were treated to a Private Sumo Wrestling demonstration.


Sumo Wrestling Demo on Tauck's Essence of Japan Land Tour
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Sumo Wrestling Demo on Tauck's Essence of Japan Land Tour
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Sumo Wrestling Demo on Tauck's Essence of Japan Land Tour
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Sumo Wrestling Demo on Tauck's Essence of Japan Land Tour
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Talk about starting our Tauck Land Tour in Japan off in a “Big” way!! 😉


To see more of what our “Welcome Reception & Dinner” was like, visit my “Essence of Japan” photo gallery here



After that fun evening, here are the other sites & experiences we enjoyed while in vibrant… 

Tokyo, Japan


Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Kagura blessing
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Meiji Shrine– As many tourists do when in Tokyo we visited the Beautiful “Meiji Shrine” where tons of tourists visit but virtually none get to experience a private “Kagura” blessing as we did… as mentioned in my other posts (including my Tauck Land Tour post), it’s common for Tauck to do exclusive events like this on their trips that you won’t experience with their competitors! No pics were allowed in the Shrine but it was a very majestic & touching experience which is typically reserved for those getting married and for young children to bless their futures! What a great way this was to start off our time in Japan!



Tsukiji Outer Fish Market in Tokyo
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Tsukiji Outer Fish Market– While in Tokyo we checked out the energetic & very popular “Tsukiji Outer Fish Market”… this city is definitely very impressive with its Seafood offerings, always so fresh as you’ll see with a visit here!!





Lunch at Nobu Tokyo
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Lunch at “Nobu”What a treat it was to go to famous Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s “Nobu” restaurant for lunch while in Tokyo! I actually met Chef Nobu on a Crystal Cruise a decade ago at his onboard restaurant & loved his food back then and it was just as good when in Tokyo… truly a delicious meal!! 🙂




Taiko Drumming lesson & performance in Tokyo, Japan
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“Taiko”/Drumming lesson & performance– While in Tokyo we were treated to a “Taiko” drumming lesson & performance… so much fun & boy are those drums powerful!!






Tokyo National Museum
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Tokyo National Museum– This was a really enjoyable visit as we saw everything in this place from Buddhist sculptures to Samurai swords to archeological Japanese artifacts to Beautifully decorated folding screens to Kimonos and more. It gave us a GREAT feel for so much of Japan’s culture! 









Teppanyaki lunch in Tokyo
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“Teppanyaki” lunch– No doubt the views from the 21st floor where the restaurant was were really nice… but of course, the main highlight was the Japanese Wagyu Beef we were treated to… it was so good!! And no offense to Australia but they had Australian Wagyu beef there as well & served them to us side by side & the Japanese Wagyu definitely won the “flavorful” contest! 😉




Senso-Ji Temple in Tokyo
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“Senso-Ji Temple”WOW, this ancient Buddhist temple, the oldest Temple in Tokyo, was stunning!! The other really nice part about this visit was seeing many locals dressed in traditional attire which I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Tokyo so far… some of the Kimonos we saw people wearing were truly works of Art… definitely a highlight of a visit to the “Senso-Ji” Temple!!




Well, after spending a few days in Tokyo with Tauck & 11 days there in total, I can definitely say Tokyo is a super interesting/friendly/safe city to hang out in!

So, when you take your own Tauck Land Tour or Cruise over here, make sure to spend as much extra time in Tokyo as your schedule and budget allows as you’ll no doubt have a great time visiting this Fascinating City!! 🙂


If you want to see even more pictures from my time in Tokyo with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.



Japan bullet train from Tokyo to Hakone
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After our time in Tokyo, we boarded Japan’s famous “Bullet Train” (That alone was an amazing experience in itself… Wow, those things move fast and are super smooth!!) and next headed to…






Hakone, Japan

It was for sure a full 2 days in Hakone where we enjoyed great sites, great food, wonderful RELAXATION at the hotel (More on that in a minute! ;-)) and we even learned some new things… 

…here’s a look at what we did & experienced in Hakone.


Scenic Cruise on “Lake Ashi”– As soon as we arrived in Hakone we headed from the train station to “Lake Ashi” where we enjoyed a very scenic Cruise with GREAT views of Mt. Fuji!! 

Lake Ashi Cruise in Hakone, Japan
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Views of Mt Fuji from Cruise on Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan
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Hakone Open Air Museum in Hakone, Japan
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Hakone Open Air Museum– What a unique place this was!! In my experience, open-air museums usually feature historic buildings/homes, etc. but I’ve never seen outdoor sculptures like this, a fun place to visit for sure!! 





Ikebana lesson in Hakone, Japan... a traditional Japanese art of flower making
**Click/Tap Image to expand** When staying at the “Hyatt Regency” in Hakone we all wore traditional Yukatas & Tanzens the whole time which was a great experience! 🙂

“Ikebana” Lesson– While in Hakone we were treated to an “Ikebana” lesson which is a traditional Japanese art of flower making… that was lots of fun/definitely a unique experience for me and I got to keep what I created in my room so that brought lots of smiles! 🙂










Kimono at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan
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“Itchiku Kubota” Art Museum– Itchiku was a Japanese textile artist famous for his dying techniques… his works have been showcased around the World including at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington! We explored the scenic grounds around the Museum and inside saw a couple of dozen of his Kimono creations… truly Beautiful!








Glass Tree at the Hakone Glass Museum
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Hakone Glass Museum– We enjoyed a very nice lunch with great food & live music at the Hakone Glass Museum and then we followed that with a tour of the Museum… the artwork from Japan, Paris, Venice & Prague was all Very Impressive but the Gardens were the highlight for sure with its glass trees & glass-lined bridge… WOW!









Shawn Power making Sushi at the Hyatt Regency in Hakone, Japan
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Sushi Demonstration– At our “Hyatt Regency” hotel in Hakone we enjoyed a Sushi-making lesson… it’s not as easy as you’d think but it was definitely fun & tasty! 🙂











Onsen... natural hot springs bathing facilities at the Hyatt Regency in Hakone, Japan
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“Onsen” experience– Above I alluded to wonderful Relaxation at the hotel! What that was all about was at the “Hyatt Regency” in Hakone we had complimentary access to an on-site “Onsen” (Hot springs bathing facilities) which I went to 4 times in 2 days… it was so nice as the water was 41.4 degrees/around 115 Celsius so I felt like a Baby wrapped in a warm blanket! 😉




If you want to see even more pictures from my time in Hakone with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.



After a full 2 days in Hakone it was time to head to…


Matsumoto, Japan

Matsumoto was a quick 1 night stop but for sure it was a highlight of our time in Japan as we got a Great feel for Japanese Culture & Hospitality that day!


For starters, as we headed through the mountains to Matsumoto, we had Great views for most of the day of Mt. Fuji which was a nice treat on its own but we also had some really nice experiences which were…


Meeting locals in Ashigawa, Japan
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“Ashigawa”– This is a small Village of 300 people. It was so nice visiting one of their homes and being treated to tea and really tasty fruit and hearing how they liveI always enjoy these experiences when I travel of getting up close & personal with the locals!! 🙂 




Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto, Japan
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“Matsumoto Castle”– No wonder this is considered one of the grandest Castles in Japan… it’s an absolutely stunning structure, just the kind of thing you see in the Movies & on TV and hope to experience with your own eyes when in Japan! 🙂





Traditional bedroom/bed at a Japanese Ryokan
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Traditional bedroom/bed at a Japanese Ryokan
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“Tobira Onsen” Guesthouse– This is a traditional Japanese Inn or “Ryokan” as it’s called in Japan. Not only did we get to wear Yukatas/Tanzens like​ at our last hotel in Hakone but we got to enjoy an even bigger “Onsen”/Japanese Hot Springs bathing area (this one had outside areas too… 3 different Onsens altogether), AND, for those who chose to (They also had “Western” style rooms too but of course I had to try the “Japanese” style room! ;-)) we got to stay in a “Japanese” style room and slept on a traditional futon bed on the floor… Very cool! 🙂 And if all that wasn’t enough, we also enjoyed a traditional “Kaiseki” multi/9 course Japanese meal which was accompanied by live music & lots of Sake… what a wonderful experience this whole stay was! 😉 






If you want to see even more pictures from my time in Matsumoto with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.



After our time in Matsumoto, we next headed to…


Kanazawa, Japan

After our 1 night stay in Matsumoto at the “Ryokan”/Traditional Japanese Inn, we headed down from the mountains to Kanazawa but we first stopped in the very quaint town of Takayama to explore the traditional style homes and traditional style shopping area. Also while in Takayama, we visited a Sake brewery to learn how this popular Japanese drink is made and of course we did a tasting! 😉 Our visit to Takayama was capped off by a meal at “Le Midi” whose known for serving “Hida” beef which is one of the highest quality grades of Wagyu beef available… the flavour and tenderness of our steaks were exceptional!!

Takayama, Japan
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Sake brewery visit & tasting in Takayama, Japan
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Le Midi restaurant in Takayama, Japan... Hida beef, high quality Wagyu beef
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If you want to see even more pictures from my time in Takayama with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.


Okay, back to Kanazawa… after we arrived there, here are the highlights of what we saw & experienced during our 2-night stay:

A visit to an ancient Samurai House

A stroll through the Ohmicho Market… so much awesome-looking food & goods in there! 🙂

We went to the Beautiful “Kenrokuen Gardens”… it was a VERY nice Gardens, everywhere you looked was picturesque site after picturesque site!!

We ended our fun & interesting time in Kanazawa with a spectacular private Samurai show!

Nomura Samurai House in Kanazawa, Japan
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Ohmicho fish market in Kanazawa, Japan
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Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa, Japan
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Private Samurai show in Kanazawa, Japan
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Kanazawa was overall another great stop for sure during our “Essence of Japan” Tauck Land Tour!!


If you want to see even more pictures from my time in Kanazawa with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.




From Kanazawa, our next stop was just for 1 night but it was a necessary one where we took the “Bullet Train” and went way down to Southern Japan to…


Hiroshima, Japan

Of course, Hiroshima is famous for being the site (Now a World Heritage Site) of the infamous 1945 Atomic bombing!!


But before we got to reflecting on history, upon arrival into Hiroshima we headed to “Miyajima Island” to check out the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Itsukushima” Shrine and the famous red “Floating” Torii/Gate…

…we definitely saw lots of great scenes on “Miyajima Island” that day! 🙂

Miyajima Island, Itsukushima Island, Japan
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Torii Gate on Miyajima Island, Itsukushima Island, Japan
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Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, Itsukushima Island, Japan
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Five Story Pagoda on Miyajima Island, Itsukushima Island, Japan
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If you want to see even more pictures from my time on “Miyajima Island” with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.


After a nice rest at the “Hiroshima Sheraton” where we spent our 1 night in the city, the next morning we set off to see what we came for which was…


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan
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“Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park”– It was definitely a somber morning the day we visited the “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park” which is the site of the first City in the World to suffer a nuclear attack on August 6th, 1945. It for sure though felt like a necessary visit when in Japan so that hopefully the World can learn that war is awful and unnecessary! 🙁



Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima, Japan
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“Shukkeien Garden”– After our visit to the “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park” we had lunch at an Italian restaurant next door to the Beautiful “Shukkeien Garden”… Japan truly knows how to do Gardens right!! 🙂






If you want to see even more pictures from my time in “Hiroshima” with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.



After our reflective time in Hiroshima, we headed back North on the “Bullet Train” to our final destination and to where was one of the biggest highlights during our “Essence of Japan” Tauck Land Tour… for the next 3 nights we stayed in Beautiful…


Kyoto, Japan

We saw & experienced a lot during our time in Kyoto!!


Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan
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Kinkaku-ji “Golden” Temple– It’s no surprise that one of Kyoto’s most famous Temples is its “Golden” Temple… not only is it a Beautiful structure but it has some really nice gardens surrounding it as well!!










Karamon Gate at Nijō Castle in Kyoto, Japan
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“Nijo Castle”– Besides being able to take pictures of its impressive main gate, no pictures were allowed in the Castle but if you get the chance to visit yourself you’ll see it houses some awesome artwork… no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!





Lunch at TEMPURA ENDO in Kyoto, Japan
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“Tempura” Lunch– Although we’d tried tempura as a part of some of our other meals, in Kyoto we got to experience a full “Tempura” lunch with multiple seafoods & veggies covered in this yummy goodness! 😉   






Geisha district in Kyoto, Japan
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Walked Kyoto’s “Geisha” District– Not only were the sites beautiful as we walked this historic area but we learned a lot about “Geishas” as well… including that they aren’t sex workers but are true artists who spend years & years learning & perfecting their entertainment skills which include traditional dancing, singing, playing instruments, etc. And they perform for not only men but for women, families, at weddings, etc. and it’s a highly regarded profession in Japan… definitely different from what the movies make you think! 




Temple in Kyoto, Japan
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Saw many Beautiful Temples– Incredibly, Kyoto has over 1,500 temples… we saw a few during our first day of touring but I would have had to stay there for another year or so to check them all out! 😉







Tea Ceremony and Origami lessons and Furoshiki Lessons in Kyoto, Japan
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Tea Ceremony/”Origami” & “Furoshiki” Lessons– In Kyoto we were treated to a very special “Tauck Exclusive” event where we visited a 100+ year old home and experienced a Tea ceremony as well as “Origami” lessons (I made a little box & a Samurai helmet!! ;-)) and “Furoshiki” (Cloth Wrapping) lessons… it was lots of fun and the ladies were all so kind & funny & Very gracious hosts… a truly memorable event!! 🙂





Floating sushi at Musashi Sushi in Kyoto, Japan
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“Floating Sushi”– This experience wasn’t included in Tauck’s itinerary since the restaurant can’t accommodate large groups but I had to mention it as our “Tauck Director”, Matt, offered to take those who wanted to go there so about a dozen of us went & had a great meal at this “Floating Sushi” bar where it all gets served to you on a conveyor belt so you can see exactly what the choices are before you choose them… so fun & fresh & tasty, we all Loved it/highly recommended if you enjoy Sushi!! 🙂 




Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan
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“Kiyomizu-dera Temple”– I know I already mentioned/showed you some Temples above but Kyoto REALLY knows how to do Temples right!! 🙂 As much as I thought all the other temples I saw were beautiful, WOW, this one in the hills was Super impressive as well!! 🙂





Private Geisha performance with Tauck Land Tours in Kyoto, Japan
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“Farewell” Reception & Dinner– On our last evening in Japan, Tauck treated us to a Beautiful “Farewell” Reception & Dinner in Kyoto highlighted by a truly Beautiful & Memorable “Geisha” performance… what a fitting way to end our time in this Spectacular/Gracious/Welcoming Country!! 🙂








If you want to see even more pictures from my time in “Kyoto” with Tauck, you can check those out here in my “Essence of Japan” gallery.



Well, as I’m sure you can see above, Tauck REALLY did a Great job of showing us around Japan on their “Essence of Japan” Land Tour… my memories of this amazing Country will definitely stay with me forever!!


Before I end this post, some notes about the “Logistics” of this tour/why it ended up being another GREAT Tauck Land Tour like the other Tauck Land Tours I’ve experienced


“Exclusive” Experiences

Between the “Welcome” reception & dinner with the Sumo Wrestlers and the “Kagura Blessing” we received at the temple in Tokyo and the visits in private homes and the 9-course meal and other great meals at “Nobu”, etc., and the “Onsen” Hotel in Matsumoto and the Samurai performance and the Tea Ceremony and the “Ikebana” lessons/the Sushi making lessons/the “Taiko” drum lessons/the “Origami” lessons/the “Furoshiki” lessons and the “Farewell” reception & dinner with the “Geisha” performance, etc…. Tauck truly gives you experiences that you won’t find elsewhere which, of course, always end up being some of the best memories of my trips with them!! So, when you’re looking at Tauck’s prices and they seem to be a lot more than “the other guys”, as I talk about here, your experience with Tauck will truly be above & beyond what others offer & you’ll see and experience everything you REALLY wanted to when in a new place with Tauck so do yourself & favor & pay more for the better overall trip/better experience as no doubt you deserve to “do it right” after working your butt off for years & years to be able to see fabulous new destinations like Japan!! 😉 


Matt, our “Tauck Director”

I can’t say enough positive things about Tauck’s “Director” staff (I talk more about them in my Tauck Land Tour post & my Tauck River Cruise Post and my Tauck “Small Ship” Ocean Cruise Post) but, as usual, our Japan “Tauck Director” Matt was a pro!! On days were the weather wasn’t good in the morning but it looked good that afternoon, he had the connections to switch what we were doing so we could do indoor stuff in the morning & outdoor sightseeing in the afternoon. We had multiple emergencies with 2 couples during the trip and he knew exactly how to handle them! (His 20+ years of experience doing this TRULY helps!!) And the “extras” he offered us like taking us for “Floating Sushi” (when he probably really could have used some sleep during his free time!!) were truly awesome/made our trip! Let’s just say, traveling with Tauck’s truly professional “Tauck Directors” are a huge part of what makes their trips awesome & memorable so know you’re in “Great Hands” when you travel with Tauck.


Local Guides

Since Matt has been “Directing” this Japan tour for years (He was already in Japan for 3 months leading Tauck Tours by the time we met up with him) no doubt he could do all the educating us about Japan & showing us around, etc. (As I talk about here, some companies just give you the one guide) but of course that’s not how Tauck does things… they always have EXPERT local guides on top of your “Tauck Director” to make sure you’re learning about what you’re seeing from the very best people!! On this tour, we had 1 local guide with us for the first 8 days, Yoko, and then when we headed down South to Hiroshima Seiko took over… these ladies truly knew everything about what we were seeing & experiencing and they were kind, funny and truly seemed to love what they were doing… even though both of them had been doing it for decades!! Overall, our Local guides were awesome and made our time in Japan Very Educational & Very memorable!! 🙂 



Let’s just say you WON’T go hungry when on a Tauck Land Tour and Japan was no different!! 😉 Overall (Besides Breakfast as buffets are simply the easiest/most convenient meals to have in the mornings) we only had 2 buffets during this 13-day tour… I say “only 2” as many companies give you buffets meal after meal after meal since it’s simply the cheapest way to feed you when you travel with them! 🙁 With Tauck though, we ate in famous Chef “Nobu’s” restaurant, we experienced 9-course meals, we had many other multi-course meals where we got to try lots of different things and we had many “A-La-Carte” meals where we could simply go to the restaurant at the time that worked for us (In multiple hotels we even had a choice of restaurants) and we could order anything off the menu including the $90 steak, etc.!! Try that with “the other guys”!! Now, you may be saying, I don’t need all that food/I just want to see Japan but, I can promise you, when in Japan or anywhere it’s wonderful to get to try lots of different foods & to NOT be stuck eating with a group at every meal with a “set” menu or at a buffet, etc. Overall, you’ll love having some nice “choices” when it comes to food on a Tauck Land Tour and not being stuck with the “1 choice” meals many companies offer you!! 



As exact hotels can change for many reasons (For example, the “Park Hyatt” in Tokyo is shutting down for 2-3 years for a huge renovation next year) I won’t get into the exact hotels we stayed at but overall know that Tauck puts you up in some VERY nice places (The “Park Hyatt” in Tokyo & the “Four Seasons” in Kyoto were fabulous!!) and for those cities without super high-quality hotels, know they put you in perfect locations… in Kanazawa & Hiroshima, for example, we literally walked to the train stations next door to our hotels. And in Hakone & Matsumoto, as I showed you above, we stayed in Beautiful hotels with “Onsens” (Hot Springs Baths) for the wonderful, traditional Japanese experiences they offered!! The bottom line is when you book a Tauck Land Tour you DON’T need to think for a second about where you’ll be staying as you’ll know Tauck is putting you up in great places… and will also be seamlessly moving your luggage from place to place so you hardly need to lift a finger!! 😉 



Same thing as hotels… know you’ll be on comfy Motorcoaches or on scenic boat rides or on fun SUPER FAST train rides, etc. BUT, as per the hotels, you’ll NEVER have to worry about it as Tauck takes care of every little detail & seamlessly moves you from place to place! 🙂 



As I talk about here, when you book a “Tauck Land Tour” you’re paying for A LOT up front… most meals (Yes, a few are not included but that’s “by design” to give you time to go explore a new place & experience the exact kind of foods you want)… ALL transportation including airport transfers on each end… besides for your “Tauck Director” ALL tipping is included for drivers, local guides, bellhops, restaurant staff, etc. so nothing you need to think about… all excursions/day tours are included (Your “Tauck Director” does NOT try to sell you “extras” as MANY companies do!). Let’s just say, besides souvenirs & shopping (Tauck can’t help you with that expense! 😉 ) it’ll be hard to spend a lot of “extra” money on a Tauck Land Tour besides what you paid upfront since they include so many things in your initial price!



Again, if you want to get a VERY thorough breakdown of what’s included in a Tauck Land Tour and what they’re like, visit here for a really good “feel” for what Tauck’s Land Tours are all about!


Well, there you go… I hope you enjoyed my “recap” of my “Essence of Japan” Tauck Land TourI certainly enjoyed experiencing it all in “real life” & truly, truly hope you get to too as it’s a WONDERFUL trip!! 🙂


And if you want to see LOTS & LOTS more pictures to get a GREAT feel for this trip, check out my “Essence of Japan” gallery here, and make sure to read the detailed captions under the pictures.


Any questions about this Tauck Tour or to book it or to book any Tauck Land Tour or any Ocean Cruise or River Cruise, simply contact me here and, as always, I’ll be Happy to help you get that next great trip planned! 🙂 


I Appreciate You!

Shawn Power
Your Trusted Cruise & Tauck Tour Expert!

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