Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Artistic Japan: Travel beyond the Tourist Circuit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Artistic Japan: Travel beyond the Tourist Circuit

Article excerpt

Visiting a country with a completely different culture can be an extraordinary experience, but it can also be a bit intimidating. Uncomfortable language barriers and culture shock can keep Americans from seeing some of the most amazing places in the world, but it need not be so. Absolute Travel offers deluxe travel tours throughout Asia and the best part is, they will help you move beyond the confines of the well-traveled tourist circuit and really understand what you're seeing. If you're an art lover, you'll love the two-week Artistic Traditions of Japan tour, which will take you to see the most famous monuments as well as numerous less-famous, but still spectacular art treasures in eight cities.

Start the tour in Tokyo, where you'll be seeing all the most famous sights, including the Imperial Palace Plaza, the Asakusa Kannon Temple, and the Rikugien Garden. You'll be shown around by a resident tour guide who knows the area as only a local can.

The Imperial Palace Plaza is the current residence of the Japanese Imperial Family, and is surrounded by moats and massive stone walls. Then, take a day trip to Nikko, where you'll see a Buddhist-Shinto religious center with amazing natural and manmade attractions. The first of the Nikko temples that you will find there was founded 1,200 years ago along the shores of the Daiya River. In the 1600s, a dying shogun said his final wish was to build a shrine in Nikko and enshrine him in it, and be called the "guardian of peace-keeping in Japan." As a result, Nikko became a mausoleum for a line of shoguns which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There is a forest of over 13,000 cedar trees and one of the main attractions of the area is a small wooden carving on the wall of a stable: the famed three wise monkeys. It's unlike anything you've ever seen and it's well worth the visit.

From there, you'll be taken by private driver to Kamakura to see the famous 44-foot bronze Buddha. Also, you'll be taken to the fifth station of Mount Fuji and the Hakone Open Air Art Museum, which is the first open-air art museum in Japan. There, you'll see hundreds of masterpieces by artists such as Rodin, Bourdelle, Miro, and Moore. …

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