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Exploring Japan Gay Tour

Japan - Endless Discovery

Gay Japan

Exploring Japan Farther Afield
Gay Japan Tour

Tokyo, Hakone, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Naoshima, Okayama, Kurashiki, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, Osaka, and more!

11 Days From Tokyo To Osaka, Japan

May 9 – 19, 2023

 

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Japan gay travelExploring Japan Farther Afield! For May 2023 we’re excited to introduce this new gay group itinerary in Japan that will differ entirely from the very popular tour that we’ve been running since 2014. Starting from Tokyo and finishing in Osaka this 10-night program will shows us Honshu — Japan’s main island — in greater depth than the standard highlights type of tour. Japan will provide you with a wonderful feel for the country's various highlights and reveal the intriguing nature of today's Japan — so modern and yet heavily steeped in its traditions.

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Gay Japan tour

 

Exploring the Land of the Rising Sun

• The national park and resort area of Hakone, an easy day trip out of Tokyo, with lovely mountain scenery, a pretty lake, a world-class museum, and Mt. Fuji presiding over it all.

Kanazawa, known for one of the best gardens in Japan, along with beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts and a wonderful market

• Extensive and impressive contemporary art collections in gorgeous natural settings on the island of Naoshima.

• The former shipping port of Kurashiki, now a picturesque place with its willow-draped canals, converted historic warehouses, and laneways lined with old wooden houses and shops.

• A visit to a working pottery studio specializing in the art of ancient Bizen ceramics dating from the 12th century.

• Reflections on a tragic past in Hiroshima, a sobering but necessary experience taking in the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome.

• Lovely Miyajima island with its iconic "floating" torii gate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• Feasting our eyes on the colorful human parade of Osaka's Dotombori district, a city where "eat till you drop" is practically its motto.

 

Japan gay tour

 

Hakone gay tourHakone – A day trip out of Tokyo, Hakone boasts world-class art museums, walking trails, and gorgeous mountain and lake scenery with sacred Mt. Fuji dominating over the whole. Hakone Open-Air Museum is home to a rich assortment of 19th and 20th century sculptures and installations by leading Japanese artists as well as Rodin, Miró, Picasso, and Henry Moore. We get around, in part, with a gondola ride in the hills and a cruise on Lake Ashino.

Kanazawa – A feudal-era capital that in its heyday rivaled Kyoto as a center for the arts, a vibrant artisan tradition is still present here along with one of Japan’s top gardens — Kenroku-en — dating from the 17th century. Kanazawa also has an excellent contemporary art museum; a rich food culture that draws heavily from the nearby Sea of Japan; beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts; and a wonderful market. It also produces 98 percent of Japan’s gold leaf.

Osaka, Japan gay tourOsaka – Japan’s third-largest city (Yokohama is second but it’s rather an extension of Tokyo) Osaka is an urban extravaganza with locals who are known to be more approachable than Tokyoites. A dazzling nighttime sensory experience with neon lights, animated signage, and flashy video screens awaits. And oh, the food – the city’s unofficial slogan is kuidaore (eat until you drop), and its most famous street food is takoyaki (grilled octopus dumplings) –yum!

Himeji-jo – Reputedly one of Japan’s most magnificent castles, one of the rare originals dating from the 16th century, Himeji-jo is big and well-preserved. The white plaster facade and generally elegant appearance have earned it the nickname of White Egret Castle, and it has starred in its fair share of roles in Japanese movies.

Japan gay tour - Bizen PotteryBizen Pottery – A historic ceramic-making center Bizen has been renowned for its pottery since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). We stop at a hospitable artisan family, with deep roots in the area, who show us their kilns and explain the process of creating this highly prized pottery with an opportunity to purchase their beautiful creations.

Kurashiki – This town possesses a well-preserved atmospheric merchant quarter and picturesque willow-draped canal. Small lanes are lined with old wooden houses and shops. The Ohara Museum of Art houses a fine collection of mostly Western paintings, prints, and sculpture and was established by a local textile magnate in the early 20th century.

Naoshima, Japan gay tourNaoshima – A rural island that has now become a world-class center for contemporary art Naoshima has hosted many of Japan’s well-regarded architects who have contributed their work, designed to enhance the island’s natural beauty. It’s a captivating blend of avant-garde and gorgeous natural settings. Museums and numerous outdoor sculptures dot the island, and creative types from around Japan have set up small businesses here.

Hiroshima, Japan gay tourHiroshima – Visiting the excellent Peace Memorial Museum, while sobering, is an important history lesson that bears repeating. The adjacent park, designed by noted modernist Tange Kenzo, offers opportunities for reflection. Despite its tragic past the cosmopolitan city is very much forward-looking, alive, and is known for its good food, including okonomiyaki (delicious savory pancakes).

Miyajima – This small charming island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its star attraction being the 50-foot-tall vermilion torii gate which seems to float at high tide – often described as one of Japan’s best views. Mt. Misen, considered sacred, has a 360-degree view of the mainland and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea from the summit, which is reached by gondola.

 

Gay Japan tour

 

Exploring Japan Gay Tour Itinerary

This program is subject to change. While the broad stroke of the itinerary will not be altered, we reserve the right to revise some of the specific sights visited at each destination.

Day 1 - Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Arrive in Tokyo, Japan
Japan gay tour - TokyoWith your own air arrangements you'll arrive at one of the Tokyo airports (Narita NRT or Haneda HND) and then make your way to our group hotel in the city center near Tokyo Station. There are numerous options for getting into the city - with a very wide range of costs for these services - so we have not included the cost of a private transfer in the tour price. Please see “Arrival & Departure Logistics” for information regarding transfer options and costs.

We'll come together in the early evening and enjoy a welcome drink, get to know our fellow travelers, and have a trip briefing before heading out for our welcome dinner.

Please Note: If you would like us to arrange any pre-tour nights at the group hotel in Tokyo, please let us know. We will not be visiting any sights in Tokyo itself, so you may want some extra days here. Additionally, it would be helpful toarrive a day or two beforehand to shake off jet lag and/or to add a buffer in case of any travel hiccups

Meals: Welcome Drink, Dinner
Overnight in Tokyo

 

Day 2 - Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Hakone, Japan
Hakone gay tourWe jump on a “bullet train” for the quick ride to Hakone (about 30 minutes) where we’ll meet a private bus that will take us around the Hakone area for the day. This hot springs resort area is a good place for a view of Mt. Fuji (assuming the clouds cooperate).

The day is spent visiting the Hakone Open-Air Museum (with a fine collection of 19th-and 20th-century Western and Japanese sculpture); a short cruise on Lake Ashi; riding a gondola to take in the mountain views. Historically, Hakone was an important checkpoint on the route between imperial Kyoto and the shogun in Edo (now Tokyo).

Return to Tokyo by bullet train.

Dinner this evening is open, and there’s no shortage of good restaurants in Tokyo to choose from!

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnight in Tokyo

 

Days 3 & 4 - Thursday & Friday, May 11 & 12, 2023
Kanazawa
Japan gay tour - KanazawaAgain we board a bullet train, this time to the city of Kanazawa (approximately 2½ hours) over on the Sea of Japan side of the country.

Note: There is scarcely any space on Japanese trains (even the bullet trains) for large suitcases. This is why luggage delivery services are so common here. We will do as the Japanese and have our main luggage forwarded to Osaka, where we’ll be reunited with it two days later. This means you have to prepare a small bag to take with you to Kanazawa for two nights. This bag should be light enough to place above your seat in the overhead luggage rack on the train and easy enough to walk to the train station from our hotel.

Kanazawa represents the union of Old Japan with a modern trendsetting city. We’ll stroll the former samurai quarter with its picturesque canals and 300-year-old buildings as well as the wooden facades of the former geisha district with its lovely old homes and present-day shops. We also spend time in what is considered one of Japan’s best gardens: Kenroku-en. This historic garden covers some 25 acres. The translation of the name means “Garden of Six Qualities,” those being spaciousness, artistic merit, majesty, abundant water, extensive views, and seclusion. (The last quality is questionable nowadays.)

Renowned for traditional crafts such as gold leaf, dyed silk, lacquerware, and pottery, Kanazawa can also boast the impressive 21st-Century Museum of Contemporary Art. We’ll also visit a gold-leaf workshop.

Meals Day 3: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Meals Day 4: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnights in Kanazawa

 

Days 5 - 7 - Saturday - Monday, May 13 - 15, 2023
Kyoto / Naoshima Island / Okayama / Kurashiki
Japan gay tour - Byodo-in templeWe board a train bound for Kyoto (no bullet train on this route) with travel time around 2¼ hours. A bus will meet us for a transfer to lunch, which will be followed by a visit to the Byodo-in temple - one of the loveliest Buddhist structures in Japan and an 11th-century UNESCO World Heritage site whose image graces the ¥10 coin. The landscaped garden and pond reflect the paradise of the Amida Buddha whose large statue sits in the temple, viewing those below him. Lunch will be in the area.

After our visit we continue by bullet train to Okayama, where we get to settle in for three nights. Dinner is included this evening

Japan gay tour - Naoshima IslandDay 6 takes us to Naoshima Island (by private bus and ferry). This little island in the Seto Inland Sea has successfully placed itself on the contemporary art world map, hosting three major contemporary art museums (all designed by internationally renowned architect Ando Tadao) as well as an installation art project scattered among various structures that had been abandoned when residents left the island for an urban life — and all of this in a lovely natural setting. There are also numerous works of outdoor sculpture dotting the island, including Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin, which has become a symbol of the island.

Note: We will not be able to see all the museums, and the specific program for the day has not been determined at the time of publishing this itinerary.

After a full day on the “art island” we return to our hotel in Okayama. Dinner is open this evening.

Japan gay tour - Korakuen GardenOn Day 7 we’ll start with Korakuen Garden right in Okayama, considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. The 32-acre park, alongside the Asahi River with the Okayama Castle as a backdrop, is delightful. Completed in 1700 the park has charming tea arbors, lawns, ponds, and hills— even a small tea plantation and rice field.

We then head to Kurashiki (45 minute ride), which was a vital shipping port from the 17th through 19th centuries. Nowadays the historic center of town is charming with its willow-draped canals, old buildings, restaurants, and shops as well as some fine museums. One stop for us in Kurashiki is the Ohashi House, a beautifully restored residence from 1793, which belonged to one of the city’s wealthiest merchant families. Lunch will be in Kurashiki, and there will be some free time for strolling and shopping in the town center

After returning to Okayama dinner is on your own this evening.

Meals Day 5: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Meals Day 6 & 7: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnights in Okayama

 

Days 8 & 9 - Tuesday - Wednesday, May 16 - 17, 2023
Bizen Pottery / Hiroshima / Miyajima Island
Japan gay tour - BizenThis morning we check out of our hotel in Okayama and take a private coach to a small town famous for its traditional pottery in the Bizen area, renowned for its ceramics since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). “Bizenyaki” is one of the most famous Japanese traditional potteries. We’re fortunate to drop in at a small family-run studio where one of the artists will explain Bizen pottery to us and show us the kilns. Their shop is filled with beautiful pieces.

After lunch we return to Okayama where we’ll board a bullet train with destination Hiroshima for two nights. We’ll enjoy a group dinner this evening.

The next morning is devoted to remembrance. Note that while a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum is a serious and sobering experience, many foreigners who come to Hiroshima are surprised at how lively and modern the city is today.

Hiorshima, Japan gay tourWe’ll see the excellent Peace Museum — intense to be sure — but most visitors appreciate the time spent here. There are displays of charred fragments of clothing, melted ceramic tiles, lunch boxes, watches, and photographs that tell the story of Hiroshima’s destruction by USA atomic bomb in August 1945.

Around the museum is the Peace Memorial Park where we'll see various monuments. It’s both the physical and emotional center of Hiroshima. These include the A-Bomb Dome, the remnants of a building that despite being directly below the bomb blast did not collapse into rubble like the rest of the city.

There is also the Flame of Peace, meant to be extinguished only when the world is free of nuclear weapons. The Pond for Peace is a symbolic offering for the victims who were not able to quench their thirst after the detonation and subsequent radioactive fallout. The Children’s Peace Monument with display cases of paper cranes is dedicated to all the children who died in the blast or from radiation sickness after. And the Cenotaph contains the names of 260,000 individuals who perished

Japan gay tour - MiyajimaFrom here we’ll board a boat for the trip out to charming Miyajima Island. The island’s majestic torii gate gives the illusion that’s it’s floating when the tide is in — one of Japan’s iconic scenic images. Nearby this “sea gate” is the elegant Itsukushima Jinja shrine, founded in AD 593, but the present structure dates from the 16th century. The village itself is a pleasant place to stroll and shop.

We’ll then return to Hiroshima where dinner is open this evening.

Meals Day 8: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Meals Days 9: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnights in Hiroshima

 

Day 10 - Thursday, May 18, 2023
Himeji Castle / Osaka / Farewell Dinner
Japan gay tour - Himeji CastleDeparting Hiroshima this morning the bullet train will take us to the city of Himeji, home of Himeji Castle. Also known as White Egret Castle this is one of the universally beloved castles in Japan. One of the few original castles still extant in Japan it was built in 1333 as a fortress, was altered at the beginning of the 1600s, and has remained the same since. It appeared in Kurosawa’s movie Ran. Afterwards we’ll have lunch in Himeji.

Then we bullet again to Japan’s other great metropolis: vivacious Osaka, Tokyo’s friendly competitor. (Osaka is actually the third-largest city in Japan, after Yokohama, but the latter is contiguous to Tokyo.)

Osaka, Japan gay tourOsaka has been known as “Japan’s Kitchen” since the 17th century. After settling in at our hotel for a bit we’ll reconvene and stroll the nearby Dotomburi quarter – the heart of Osaka’s pulsing nightlife in all its blazing neon glory and also a culinary treasure trove. Here we’ll enjoy our farewell dinner recounting some of the highlights of this awesome Japan adventure. We’ll make our way back to the hotel — or you may wish to extend your evening at one of the many bars in the district.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Osaka

 

Day 11 - Friday, May 19, 2023
Departure
Sayonara!
Osaka has two airports — Kansai International (KIX) and Itami (ITM) — with Kansai providing direct flights to the United States. Or you could fly from either of those airports back to Tokyo and then connect onward.

Meals: Breakfast

 

Japan gay group tour

 

Okayama Japan Gay Tour

 

Tour Cost Includes

• 10 nights’ high-end accommodations mostly in large internationally known chain hotels

• Most meals (as indicated in the day-to-day program)

• Glass of sake, beer, wine, or soft drink with group meals

• Sightseeing as noted in the program with entrance fees to sights

• Land transportation using a combination of our own private comfortable coaches, bullet trains, other trains, and two boats

• Local professional tour guide traveling with the group

Venture Out escort throughout the tour (with a minimum of 10 participants)

 

Okayama Castle

 

Not Included:

• International airfare

• Airport transfers at the beginning and end of the tour (many options are available)

• A few meals (as indicated in the day-to-day program)

• Any extra hotel nights that may be needed or desired before or after the tour

• Expenses of a personal nature (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.)

• Pre-trip expenses such as travel insurance, passports, etc.

 

Himeji Castle

 

Accommodations

On this tour our accommodations will be mostly in large international chain hotels as these hotels provide (1) enough rooms for the group; (2) reasonable equality among the rooms themselves; and (3) relatively good space in the rooms by Japanese standards. Among non-chain hotels these criteria are not at all easy to satisfy.

- Tokyo – 2 nights (with the possibility to add pre-tour nights)
- Kanazawa – 2 nights
- Okayama – 3 nights
- Hiroshima – 2 nights
- Osaka – 1 night (with the possibility to add post-tour nights)

Please note: These hotels have few rooms with one large bed. Twin beds are the norm, but they are wider than an American twin bed.

 

Osaka Castle

 

Arrival and Departure Logistics

Airport codes:
Tokyo Narita = NRT; Tokyo Haneda = HND;
Osaka Kansai International = KIX; Osaka Itami = ITM.

Because of the range of options for getting into Tokyo at the beginning of the tour and to one of the Osaka airports at the end of the tour— and the wide variation in costs for these services — we have not included airport transfers in the tour cost.

Here are some of the options and approximate costs:

From Tokyo Narita (NRT) to central Tokyo
Narita Airport is about 40 miles from the city center.
Trains – About $30 per person. The Narita Express runs about every 30 minutes and stops at the Tokyo train station, which is a short walk to the hotel. Before boarding the train a specific seat must be reserved when buying the ticket. Travel time is about 60 to 75 minutes.

The Airport Limousine Bus - about $32 per person. Operates a route that stops at the Tokyo train station, which is a short walk to the hotel. Travel time is about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.

A shared van service that drops at various hotels would cost around $40 per person with travel time about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Taxi - about $225.

We can also arrange Private "meet & greet" service in airport and then private transfer service. We can provide you with a quotation upon request

 

From Tokyo Haneda (HND) to central Tokyo
Haneda Airport is about 10 miles from the city center.

The Airport Limousine Bus - runs frequently to Tokyo train station, which is a short walk to the hotel, at a cost of about $14 per person. Travel time is around 1 hour.

A shared van service that drops at various hotels would cost around $30 per person with travel time about 45 minutes.

Taxi would cost around $80 with travel time about 30 minutes.

We can also arrange Private "meet & greet" and transfer service. We can provide you with a quotation upon request.

 

From Osaka to Kansai International Airport (KIX)
Kansai International airport is about 30 miles from the city center.

There is a convenient rapid train service which takes about 35 minutes, and the cost is around $15

We can also provide you with a quote for a private transfer or a regular taxi.

 

From Osaka to Itami Airport (ITM)
Itami airport is about 12 miles from the city center.

An airport bus service takes about 30 minutes, and the cost is around $10.

We can also provide you with a quote for a private transfer or a regular taxi

 

Japan bullet train

 

Transportation & Travel Times

We’ll be using many shinkansen (bullet trains) throughout this itinerary, one “limited express” train, comfortable privately chartered buses, and a couple of public boats. Some of the longer train rides will be in first class; others will be in regular tourist class.

As mentioned in the detailed itinerary earlier there is scarcely any space on Japanese trains (even the bullet trains) for large suitcases. This is why luggage delivery services are so common here. We will join the Japanese and have our main luggage forwarded from Tokyo to Okayama, where we’ll be reunited with it two days later. This means you have to prepare a small bag to take with you to Kanazawa for two nights. This bag should be light enough to lift and place above your seat in the overhead luggage rack and easy enough to walk to the train station from our hotel in Tokyo.

For the other occasions where we’ll be using bullet trains the distances are close enough that the luggage will be delivered to the next hotel on the same day.

Here are the approximate travel times involved throughout this itinerary:
Day 2 - 30 minutes each way on bullet train, plus local travel in the Hakone area by private bus, public boat, and public cable car.

Day 3 - 2½ hours on bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa, plus local city travel by private bus within Kanazawa

Day 4 - Private bus just within Kanazawa

Day 5 - 2¼ hours on Limited Express train from Kanazawa to Kyoto. Private bus around Kyoto, 1¼ hour bullet train from Kyoto to Okayama

Day 6 - 2 hours round-trip by private bus and public ferry

Day 7 - 1½ hours round-trip by private bus

Day 8 - About 1½ hours round-trip by private bus plus ¾ hour by bullet train

Day 9 - Around 1¾ hours round-trip by boat

Day 10 - 1 hour on bullet train plus another ½ hour on bullet train

 

Japan sushi

 

Trip Notes

Climate
The average high temperature is this part of Japan in May ranges from 70 to 75 F, and the average low is from 55 to 60 F. The month of May receives about 5 inches of rain, so do expect some during your visit.

Currency Exchange Rates:
Our costs to operate this tour are tied directly and entirely to the exchange rate between the Japanese Yen and the U.S. Dollar. Over the past several years the value of the dollar has fluctuated in quite a volatile manner against the Yen. We reserve the right to alter the trip pricing indicated here should there be a significant fluctuation in the exchange rate from the time this tour is published.

Traveling Single
Costs are based on double occupancy of a room. If you are traveling solo and wish to have your own room throughout the tour then the single supplement will apply. If you are traveling solo and wish to share a room, we will match you with a roommate if one is available. Should there be no one to pair you with, the single supplement fee will apply.

About our tier pricing:
There are certain fixed costs involved with operating a trip of this nature regardless of the number of participants who have signed up. With a smaller number of group members, the fixed costs (per person) are higher. In order to cover those fixed costs for a smaller sized group, we prefer to charge a bit extra in order to ensure that the trip can run rather than have to cancel a trip due to a low number of sign-ups.

And Finally...
While as accurate as possible at the time of publishing, this itinerary should be considered a close indication of the schedule and scope of activities, trip routing, and meals, rather than an inflexible schedule of events. It is subject to change. We also reserve the right to maintain flexibility in order to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. This trip is subject to the Limitation of Liability and all the Terms and Conditions as detailed in the Trip Enrollment Form.

To realize the maximum enjoyment from your Venture Out trip, we encourage participants to have flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity and enthusiasm about new people and places, and an openness to the unexpected. With a spirit of adventure and positive attitude, we're sure you will have a very special travel experience. If you are uncertain about the level of comfort, difficulty, or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please email us to discuss your concerns.

 

Hiroshima Castle

 

 

 

Lonely Planet Japan Travel Guide

 

 

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Exploring Japan Gay Tour Prices

Tour Date Description
Per person
$ (USD)
Availability

Tour Only, Per Person, Double Occupancy.

$ 6,595

Tour Only, Per Person, Single Occupancy
(If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will match you with a roommate if one is available. Should there be no one to pair you with, the single supplement fee will apply.)

$ 7,590

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A small group surcharge of $200 per person will be added to a group size less than 14 travelers.

A small group surcharge of $400 per person will be added to a group size less than 12 travelers.

Initial deposit of $400 per person at time of reservation; second deposit equal to 20% of the base tour cost per person due 120 days prior to trip; final balance due 60 days prior to departure.

Payment card charges may apply.

 

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