While in Tokyo students visited Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, photographed the colorful Tsukiji outdoor fish market, crossed the famous intersection outside Shibuya Station, browsed the Toyko Art Museum and gardens, rode the busy Tokyo subway system, did a scavenger hunt in Akihabara, wandered the streets of the colorful Harajuku fashion district and learned calligraphy and origami with Japanese high school students.
The first stop after Toyko was the giant bronze Buddha statue in Kamakura, where they even got to go inside the statue. They then travelled to Hakone for a night in a traditional Japanese ryokan (hotel) including a traditional dinner with all the students dressed in kimono. From there they went up to the mountainside Hakone National Park where it was lightly snowing, in stark contrast to the steaming vents of this active volcanic valley. They then watched a demonstration of the traditional Japanese craft of intricate wood inlay to create puzzle boxes. From there they took a ferry across Lake Ashi to ride a cable car up Mount Komagatake for the breathtaking views, and then on to catch the bullet train to Kyoto.
On the first day in Kyoto, students headed to nearby Nara where they toured the beautiful Todai-ji Tempe with its tame red deer and the Kasuga Grand Shrine with its thousands of lanterns. After returning to Kyoto, they saw a traditional Kimono show and then toured Nijo Castle, the former home of the Tokugawa shogun, and then headed to the stunning Golden Pavilion, a World Heritage Site.
The final day in Kyoto featured a tour of the Arashiyama Bamboo forest and then the Inari Taisha shrine, famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates. From Kyoto they briefly stopped in Osaka to visit the Pokemon Center on the 13th floor of the Dimaru Department Store before heading home to Phoenix.
Overall an absolutely amazing trip.