The compelling tastes of Japanese cuisine range from the zing of wasabi to the subtle sweetness of mochi. And a visit to Japan offers the same high/low contrasts in cultural experiences, with hushed temple gardens and clanging pachinko parlors, chaste tea ceremonies and naughty anime costumes, futuristic bullet trains and rustic traditional villages. The 12-day tour with National Geographic Journeys gets to the heart of Japan with access most visitors can’t arrange, including meditation with a Buddhist monk, a lesson with a sushi chef, and an overnight stay at a traditional onsen or hot-spring spa. Starting in Tokyo, the small-group tour will enjoy upgraded services as it goes from ultramodern city to rustic village and back again.

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