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Couple’s Journey across Japan – Andrea Speizer

A trip to show you the different facets of Japan with a focus on couples-centered activities that can be enjoyed as a group.

Day 1: Tokyo

We typically like to allow our guests to familiarize themselves with how grand Tokyo is on their first day. We also don't like to bombard people with too many activities on their first day. We try to keep it relatively simple. The activities that we have planned for this day are a visit to Tokyo SkyTree, so that you can see how massive, and endless Tokyo truly is. After that, we wanted to arrange a traditional night-time dinner on a yakatabune. A yakatabune is a riverboat, but the interior is similar to what you would see inside of an older Japanese house. The flooring is tatami, and the tables are also low to the ground. This is something that is often enjoyed in the summer months by Japanese people, especially during fireworks festivals. Activities: 

  • Tokyo Sky Tree visit
  • Dinner on a yakatabune (Tokyo Bay area)

Day 2: Tokyo

This day is sure to be memorable. In the morning we will start you guys off with a visit to a sumo stable. I personally enjoy visiting the stables more than I enjoy going to an actual tournament, because you get to see their morning matches up close, and it really gives you a great idea of how strong they are, and also a glimpse into their lifestyle. Sumo has such a rich history outside of being a spectator sport. It has been used historically in divination ceremonies, and the "sport" of sumo is only a recent part of its history. Visiting a stable is a lot of fun, so I was very happy when you showed interest in it over the phone! After that, we would like to arrange a trip to the manmade island in the center of Tokyo Bay, to visit a TeamLab digital art exhibition. There are two on the island. One is more visual, and the other is also visual, but also tactile as well. There is no rush on deciding, and I have been to both, so I can give you an idea of the differences next time we speak. I want there to be some kind of food experience for every day that you guys are here, and so for this day, I've narrowed it down to two places. They are both steakhouses, and they are both excellent. The first is an all you can eat steakhouse that has different cuts from all over Japan. We spoke briefly about this place. They also prepare the food on a teppan grill in front of you. The other place is one I briefly mentioned when we spoke, but it is a steakhouse that specializes in beef from Saga. They have a private room that was designed by the TeamLab group, and so it incorporates a lot of the technology that you would have seen earlier that day. The food is also amazing, and I believe it is somewhere around 10 or so courses. It is truly one-of-a-kind, as I don't think there is another restaurant like it in the world.   Activities: 

  • Sumo stable visit
  • TeamLab Borderless
  • Wagyu steak dinner

Day 3: Tokyo

This day will have a slightly more relaxed pace. We wanted to start you off with a reason to enjoy the spa treatment later on, and so we would like to start it off with a kendo martial arts lesson. As stated on the phone, this is something that is both fun and gives you an opportunity to see what dojo/martial arts culture is like in Japan. The system of respect is very important in this particular aspect of the culture. The place we typically use sets up a small "tournament" after they have taught you the basics to pit you against each other, which is why I thought this would be the perfect activity for a group. Please remind me to tell you about a stunts coordinator who puts together cheesy martial arts movies for guests next time we speak. After that, I would like to arrange a spa day for you all. The first place I thought of was Aman, as they are equipped with an excellent spa/massage therapy section in their hotel. However there are many other places that will work as well. Lastly, you guys showed interest in Japanese spirits, and so I would like to take you to the best place to learn about sake that I know of. They have different types of spirits from all over the country located there, and you can learn about the different processes that each goes through, and what foods they pair best with (and you get to drink all of them as well). Activities: 

  • Kendo martial arts lesson
  • Spa day at Aman or similar location
  • Sake learning center
  • Dinner reservations at place of your choice

Day 4: Tokyo

Today you will learn about the various types of fish that Japan typically uses in its most famous dish, sushi. Your guide will take you to the largest fish market in Tokyo where you can see the massive amount of fish, and marine products brought in, in a single day, buy some fish, and then use that fish to make your own sushi! For most of our itineraries we typically have a half-day (or more) open at each locale, so that our guests can do shopping, or any other activities that they wanted to do on their own. With four people in your party, we think it would be nice to have a day where people had time to pursue some of their own interests. So for that reason we have left the rest of this day open, however please let us know if you would like to add something here, and also we can still make dinner arrangements for everyone on this day. Activities:

  • Fish market tour + sushi making lesson
  • Free day

Day 5: Aizu Wakamatsu

Today is all about drifting, and your first onsen hot springs visit. I didn't want to overdo this particular day, so the main star is drift racing, and I've left it a lot of space so that you guys can fully appreciate it. There are a lot of things to do in Aizu though, and so after I get your initial feedback on this proposal, we can alter accordingly. However, at this moment, this will be the main activity for the day. Aizu is a very important historical location, and as such, there are a lot of older (but still excellently maintained) ryokan in the onsen district of the town. This is the best place for experiencing a nice onsen, and also for experiencing a traditional ryokan. We can make dinner arrangements here, but what we would like to do is arrange for a kaiseki dinner at your accommodations. Kaiseki is Japan's traditional "course" meal, and is something that must be experienced while here. Aizu is, luckily, not far from Tokyo by bullet train, so I think it would be best to spend only a single night here, and then continue on to the next location. Activities: 

  • Drift racing (either spectating, or being in the car with a driver)
  • Ryokan stay
  • Onsen hot springs visit
  • Kaiseki dinner

Day 6 + 7: Lake Kawaguchi

Mt. Fuji can only be hiked in the summer seasons by the public. Based off of our phone conversation, you guys seemed pretty active, and so I wanted to add a short hike of Mt. Fuji to your itinerary. However, PLEASE let me know if this is something that you would not be interested in. Mt. Fuji is beautiful, and the views from the top are amazing. The mountain is divided into 'stations', so it is possible to have a guide drive you guys to a higher stop on the mountain, and then start your hike from there. Basically, if you guys are interested, I can tailor the hike to how long you guys want to be there/how strenuous you want the hike to be. It's something that can only be done in the summer months, and so I thought it may be a really good addition to your itinerary. Also, we have a few different places that we use in the area for our guests, but my personal favorite is a small boutique hotel in the area that would be perfect for your party. There are only two "rooms" (they are more like 'wings'), and when you look at the hotel from the outside it looks like a really well-constructed modern house in the woods. it is staffed with a cook, so meals will be prepared for you during your stay (in the summer they typically do a Japanese BBQ). While here, there are a few other activities that we have in mind. The most notable one is a visit to an open-air museum. It's basically a small untouched village (think thatch roofs) where every house in the village is a responsible for a completely different traditional craft. Some of which you can just walk into, and they will teach you. One of them is an udon noodle shop, and they do lessons to teach you how to make udon. It's a very unique place. Activities: 

  • Mt. Fuji climb
  • Open-air museum visit (traditional craft-making village)
  • Lake cruise (time permitting)
  • Chureito pagoda visit
*Note: The reason for visiting this location would mainly be for climbing Mt. Fuji. If this is an activity that doesn't interest you, then we can replace this leg with something else.

Day 8: Kyoto + Himeji

From the Mt. Fuji area to the Kansai area. Kyoto, and Osaka are very close to one another. In fact, they are almost the same city. Osaka being the business/nightlife side and Kyoto being the laid back, traditional side. So travel between the two is very short (around 15 minutes by bullet train. We wanted to start the day off with a visit to Japan's most majestic castle, Himeji-jo. Not only is it the largest castle in the country, but it is one of the only that is the actual original structure. After that, we wanted you guys to be able to experience why Osaka is known as Japan's kitchen by arranging a street food tour. Osaka has amazing places for street food. Takoyaki, ramen, yakitori... it's heaven for this. So a guide to take you guys around to those places would be a good way to start the night off. Also Osaka is beautiful. Especially in the neighborhoods that have the best street foods. It's really bright, and quirky. After that, I wanted to reserve a karaoke booth for you guys to enjoy. I want to speak with you about the exact details about this. I can reserve a private booth for the four of you, or I could find a public karaoke place if you want to sing in front of strangers. Also there is an awesome place in Dotonbori that combines an arcade with an indoor mini motorbike racing spot, with a bowling alley, with a karaoke booth. Activities:

  • Himeiji Castle
  • Osaka Street food tour
  • Karaoke
*Note: This is another day that I would like to talk to you guys about. After climbing Fuji, if you guys are still tired, we can remove Himeji Castle, and put it in another day to give you guys some time to rest before heading out for dinner and Karaoke. Actually, thinking about it, it would make better sense to put the half-day of free activities here, and allow you guys to rest up before the night's activities.

Day 9: Kyoto (Gion Matsuri or Tenjin Matsuri)

There is a beautiful valley river just outside of Kyoto, where there are teams of people who will take you down it on a 3-man boat. This is actually the river that many people used to travel between Osaka and Kyoto in bygone eras. It's a very nice way to start the day, and is super refreshing. You see a lot of monkeys and deer along the river too, and there is a really cool boat that pulls up next to you guys (also a traditional boat) with a grill that sells octopus or squid, and beer. Tenryuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has what is considered one of the most beautiful zen gardens in the entire nation. It's located in Arashiyama, which is the last stop on your boat journey. An area that is known for its temples and shrines, and the picturesque bamboo thickets in the area (I'm sure you've seen pictures of it without noticing... I'm going to include a picture of it below in the small photo gallery). Today, outside of these activities, will be completely dedicated to your first matsuri festival! There are two big festivals in the kansai area during the summer. The first is the Gion Matsuri, which is in Kyoto, and I think it perfectly represents Kyoto. It is a more slow-paced festival, but is very beautiful and methodic. Whereas the Tenjin Matsuri is a perfect reflection of Osaka and its people. Fast-paced, and somewhat wild. They both have processions, and they both have street food stalls out, but the yamaboko of Gion Matsuri are a more unique nighttime sight. Tenjin Matsuri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihgWKSrBs8Y Gion Matsuri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUN61gtTeJk&ab_channel=KokoroMedia Those will kind of give you a better idea. They both happen around the same time of year, and so it won't really majorly alter your dates. Activities: 

  • Gion Matsuri or Tenjin Matsuri Festival
  • Hozugawa Kudari
  • Arashiyama tour
  • Tenryuji Temple Zen Garden

Day 10: Kyoto ---> Tokyo

Today being the last day, I wanted to make sure that you guys were able to see the classics of Kyoto before leaving. Fushimi Inari is a MUST see for anyone traveling to Kyoto. This mountain shrine is lined with thousands of bright orange-red torii gates, and is the most famous shrine in all of Japan. Kiyomizu-dera is a temple, but is also a testament to ingenuity, as the entire structure that sits perched on a hillside, doesn't use a single nail. Both of these places are excellent visits with a guide, and although they have been left as the last activities on your Kyoto journey, they are most definitely memorable.   Activities: 

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kiyomizudera Temple
  • Returm to Tokyo


The locations that we’ve chosen for accommodations (outside of the Lake Kawaguchi area) are mainly places that are surrounded by nice restaurants. Please be aware that we cannot pay for food at restaurants in advance, and so the cost of food is not included unless otherwise stated in the itinerary.

Also please note that there were a few other things that I would have liked to have added to this itinerary, but I’ve left them out until you guys let me know if you’ll be able to extend it to 12 days or not.

We have yet to put a date in for your trip, as we wanted to see whether you would be interested in the Tenjin Matsuri, or the Gion Matsuri. The matsuri festivals are typically the highlights of our itineraries as they are events that give you a unique look into Japan’s culture, and they only take place once a year (and they usually have really good street food).

We would like to look into using a courier service when you guys are going between cities, so that you don’t have to waste time checking bags, etc. This, I think is especially important for your trip from Lake Kawaguchi to Kyoto, as it would make it possible to go straight to Himeji Castle, instead of having to check in first.

These are my initial thoughts, for building your trip upon. I'm excited to hear what you guys think. Your excitement for visiting Japan over the phone made me excited to plan your trip! Speak to you soon.


Andrea Speizer

Start date:

TBD (based on which matsuri you attend)

Number of days:





Tokyo / Aizu / Kyoto / Lake Kawaguchi / Himeiji / Osaka /






Based on the conversation we had, I wanted to focus primarily on food, and unique experiences for this itinerary, while trying to keep you guys centrally located in each region so that you don't have to change hotels too many times.

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