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Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Summer 2010 Itinerary

Believe me when I say, many of the best travel experiences are unplanned and unexpected. Nevertheless, I hope this itinerary will help people imagine the experience of going on Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Summer 2010 and will help give us a basis for our 3 week trip.

These days are full of beautiful, new, and exciting things but there’s also plenty of time to wander and time to relax and process all our experiences.

Our schedule is also open to suggestions from the unschooling and homeschooling teens and young adults on the tour, based on their own interests in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Enjoy and I hope some of you can join us!

Basic info:
Dates: July 20th-August 10th, 2010 (three weeks)
Cost: $4,000 w/ airfare from San Francisco, lodging, & Japan Rail Pass
Estimated expenses during trip: $1,000
Group size: 5-6 young adults
Recommended age range: 15-20 years old

Last year's Worldschool Travel Tour group joking around amidst the shining lights of Osaka's restaurants.

Last year's Worldschool Travel Tour group joking around amidst the shining lights of Osaka's restaurants.

Itinerary

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010: Departure
Leave San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010: Arrive in Japan
Arrive at Kansai International Airport, in Osaka, Japan, in the evening. Take JR (Japan Railways) trains to Kyoto Station. Settle into our new 3 week home base in Kyoto, the center of Japanese traditional art and culture.

Thursday, July 22nd: Explore Kyoto
Walk around our neighborhood of Gojo Paradiso right near the center of town and get a great view of the city from the famous Kiyomizu-dera “Pure Water Temple”.

Friday, July 23rd: Buddhist Temples in Kyoto
Visit Buddhist temples of Kinkaku-ji, the “Golden Temple” on a garden lake, and Ginkaku-ji, the “Silver Temple,” with Zen sand sculptures and moss covered gardens.

Ginkakuji the Silver Temple with sand sculptures in the foreground.

Ginkakuji the Silver Temple with sand sculptures in the foreground.

Saturday, July 24th: Explore Downtown Kyoto
Wander bustling markets, beautiful art shops, souvenirs (including swords and lovely fans), modern department stores, and a Japanese video game arcade for those interested.

Sunday, July 25th: Rest and Reflect Day
Rest and reflect on the trip so far with group discussions and activities, and special time for individual journal, blog, and e-mail writing. Dinner at a real Japanese sushi bar.

Monday, July 26th: Soak in Hot Springs in the Mountains
Take a scenic train, plus light mountain hiking, to Kurama Onsen: a traditional outdoor, healing hot spring in the sacred Kurama Mountains north of Kyoto.

Kurama Onsen (hot spring) in the mountains north of Kyoto.

Kurama Onsen (hot spring) in the mountains north of Kyoto.

Tuesday, July 27th: Fascinating Museums of Kyoto

Discover more about Japan by visiting art and culture museums, plus the sobering Kyoto Museum of World Peace: “takes a refreshingly honest look at Japan’s wartime behavior”

Wednesday, July 28th: Beautiful Nature in Kyoto
Explore Arishiyama Park, just northwest of Kyoto, with beautiful river views and lovely walking paths surrounded by bamboo groves. In the evening we have game night.

Thursday, July 29th: Shinto Shrines in Kyoto
Visit shrines of Japan’s native Shinto religion including Fushimi Inari Taisha the number one shrine devoted to the god of foxes, rice, business, and prosperity.

Teens from last year's tour walking under some of the many torii (gates) at the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto shrine.

Teens from last year's tour walking under some of the many torii (gates) at the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto shrine.

Friday, July 30th: Explore Kyoto
More options for seeing Kyoto, open to people’s interests: including a samurai film studio, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the historical Gion District.

Saturday, July 31st, 2010: Tokyo Excursion
Hop on the famous Shinkansen “Bullet Train” to explore the bustling metropolis  of Tokyo including Harajuku, famous for its creative “cosplay” costumes. Later get a night time view of the city from a skyscraper in Shinjuku, during the Sumida River Fireworks Display: the largest in Tokyo.

View of Tokyo at night from the Tokyo Municipal Government Building.

View of Tokyo at night from the Tokyo Municipal Government Building.

Sunday, August 1st: Day of Reflection and Huge Fireworks
Halfway through the tour, during the first half of the day we check-in and discuss the trip so far. Later we go to Osaka to the PL Fireworks Festival, the largest in Japan, and a great chance to experience a traditional Japanese summer festival where we can eat great food and see people in yukata: lovely light summertime version of the kimono.

A woman in a yukata, light summertime version of the kimono, and a man with that style of shirt at a fireworks festival in Osaka.

A woman in a yukata, light summertime version of the kimono, and a man with that style of shirt at a fireworks festival in Osaka.

Monday, August 2nd: Rest Day
Spend the day resting after the busy fireworks festival weekend.

Tuesday, August 3rd: Himeji Castle
We get on the Shinkansen train again to see the most impressive medieval castle in Japan: Himeji-jo. Climb the tower for an amazing view of the old castle grounds and the modern city.

The sun setting on Himeji-jo Castle.

The sun setting on Himeji-jo Castle, the most famous castle in Japan.

Wednesday, August 4th: Scenic Mountain Hike
There are many wonderful day hike options from Kyoto that we can choose from on this day: we can see waterfalls, amazing trees, flowers, narrow gorges, rivers, and Biwako, the largest lake in Japan.

Thursday, August 5th: Open Day
This day is totally open for the group to decide what we do: take it easy, play arcade video games, sing karaoke, visit another temple, shrine, or museum of your choosing, explore markets, etc.

Friday, August 6th: Hiroshima on 65th Anniversary of Bombing
Take Shinkansen to Hiroshima to see the Shinto shrine and the famous huge floating torii (gate) on Miya-jima Island. In the afternoon visit Peace Memorial Park on 65th anniversary of atomic bomb being dropped by the US and attend memorial service where thousands of paper lanterns are floated down the Ota-gawa River as commemoration for the souls of those who died in war and a personal commitment to peace.

Memorial Service in Hiroshima, Japan with floating lanterns on the river in front of the A-Bomb on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Memorial Service in Hiroshima, Japan with floating lanterns on the river in front of the A-Bomb Dome on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Saturday, August 7th: Osaka Fireworks
Today we visit the second largest city in Japan and my home for most of 2004: Osaka. There are great markets and exciting restaurants in Shinsaibashi, Spa World in the center of the city, Osaka Human Rights Museum right next to Osaka Castle, etc. In the evening we’ll go to our last fireworks festival on the Yodogawa River.

Fireworks from the Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival in summer 2004.

Fireworks from the Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival in summer 2004.

Sunday, August 8th: Nara, Big Buddha, and Deer
Our last excursion we visit the old capital of Japan: beautiful Nara. We see the amazing Todaiji Temple with Daibutsu “Big Buddha” statue and feed cabbage to tame deer that wander around the town.

Last year's Worldschool Travel Tour Japan group in front of Todaiji Temple in Nara.

Last year's Worldschool Travel Tour Japan group in front of Todaiji Temple in Nara.

Monday, August 9th: Saying Sayonara
Last minute souvenir and gift shopping in Kyoto and saying sayonara to Kyoto and Japan.

Tuesday, August 10th: End of the Tour
Depart from Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan and arrive in San Francisco, CA, USA around midday of the same day. We say good-bye to the group and each fly back to our homes with some souvenirs, memory cards full of photos, and hearts full of life-long memories.

Notes: I write in certain days that we’ll have special time to rest, reflect, process, or write e-mails. But every day we’ll have time to check and write e-mail and stay in touch with family and friends back home.

And every day we’ll have group check-ins to see how everyone is doing, process our experiences, and address any issues in an open and safe way.

Some days we’ll get up early to take advantage of a full day and other days will be much more relaxed.

The whole time we’ll have a great traditional Japanese house in a great location all to ourselves, to hang-out, play games, and watch movies.

Please feel free to post any comments, questions, or suggestions!

And please contact me if you have any questions you’d like answered directly; or you or your child would like to take advantage of this opportunity to travel with a bunch of independent learners around the rich, beautiful, and complex country of Japan.

6 Responses to “Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Summer 2010 Itinerary”

  1. […] (Please check-out the itinerary for this trip to see what sort of things we’ll do, plus see photos from the 2009 Japan trip here!) […]

  2. […] young adults. Plus, info about the upcoming Japan tour in summer 2010 (see the itinerary for that trip): including a chance for a parent-child pair to attend the tour! Also, announcement […]

  3. John Bai says:

    Off to a good start! Hope you can plan for two trips to Japan this year!

  4. Eli Gerzon says:

    Thanks John! I don’t know about two trips but I’m excited about a summer trip! Next trip I’d like to go in spring time during the plum or cherry blossom season. But next year the plan is Europe in spring, so maybe 2012….

  5. Maria says:

    Are you ever planning to do family tours? Mine are not teens yet!

    • Eli Gerzon says:

      It’s a common question I get! I really hope to do some family trips some day but nothing planned yet. Keep checking my blog or sign up for my newsletter and I’ll keep you posted!

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