Combining lights, cameras, and plenty of action with serenity and beautiful countryside, Japan is the perfect blend of old and new. Package tours introduce you to botanical gardens, rising mountains, huge urban centers and traditional arts. Book them now, because fall packages to Japan are available for terrific value.
Ritz Tours (tel. 626/289-1010; www.ritztours.com) has an eight-day/seven-night package tour of Japan departing out of Los Angeles or San Francisco starting at $1,899 for departures on October 5 and October 26, 2005. (Add only $100 for departures out of New York.) The trip starts out in Tokyo before hitting Mount Fuji, the Japanese seaside resort of Atami, Kyoto and Osaka. This combo includes roundtrip airfare; all hotel accommodations at four-star accommodations; daily breakfast of either a traditional Japanese fare or a full American breakfast, lunches at local restaurants, and two dinners including a farewell banquet in Kyoto, the original capital of ancient Japan; entertainment festivities; hot springs in Atami, extensive sightseeing including a cruise on Lake Ashi in Hakone and a ride on the famous Japanese bullet train. Tax for this package will come to $85. In October, the Maple Leaf Festival dominates Japanese cultural life as weekends are filled with parades and fairs celebrating the annual transition of summer to fall.
Globus Vacations (tel. 800/541-3788; www.globus.com) has a pricier 11-day "Discover Japan" tour that takes you to Tokyo, Kyoto and the Japanese countryside. The trip visits mystical Japanese villages filled with folklore and artifacts as well as Matsumoto, the "gateway" to the Japanese Alps. In addition to airfare, all hotels and sightseeing excursions, you get nine American breakfasts, one lunch and four dinners with the price of this package. The October 31 departure out of San Francisco starts at $3,244. Security taxes and departure fees are estra.
JalPak (tel. 888/352-5725; www.jalpak.com), Japanese Airline's packaging arm, has all kinds of options for travel to the land of the rising sun. A very special trip puts the focus on children and amusement parks. A seven-day/five-night "Hello Kiddies" tour of Japan covers Japanese theme parks and museums dedicated to Japan's most famous animated characters in your choice of either Tokyo or Osaka. This air/land fun-filled trip costs $1,265 for departures out for Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas to Tokyo from October 28 to December 8, 2005. The Osaka trip starts at $1,179 for departures during the same period.
For Sumo lovers, JalPak has a seven-day/five-night tour that studies the intricacies and history of the Sumo wrestling world in your choice of three cities -- Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya. You'll visit Sumo museums, training facilities, and stadiums to view Sumo matches. In addition to Sumo wrestling, this trip takes you to a performance of Kabuki, the ancient Japanese dance theatre founded in the 17th century. For trips departing between September 6 and 23 expect to pay $1,429 departing out of New York or Chicago. Take a good, detailed look through the entire JalPak website to see the extent of their numerous and diverse vacation package offerings.
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