The real deal: Round-trip airfare, eight nights' accommodations, intercity train travel, some meals, and guided tours for $2,825 per person — plus taxes of about $72.
When: Depart Oct. 2, 16, 30, 2007; add $200 for Sept. 11, 25.
Gateways: Los Angeles, San Francisco; add $100 for New York City.
The fine print: Eight breakfasts, five lunches, two dinners, the $226 fuel surcharge, local transportation by bus and train, sightseeing tours, the services of an experienced tour guide, and scheduled entertainment are included. International air taxes are an additional 2-3 percent (about $72 per person). If final payment is received at least 60 days prior to departure, you'll receive full-coverage travel insurance through Travelguard International. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $700. The code for this package is OAJ. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Ritz Tours, 800/900-2446, ritztours.com.
Why it's a deal: In comparison, the lowest fares we found in early October, using Sidestep, are $617 from Los Angeles to Tokyo (United) and $1,448 from Osaka to Los Angeles (multiple carriers). For an additional $760, Ritz Tours provides the airfare as well as eight nights' accommodations, train transportation, guided tours, and the convenience of one-stop shopping.
Trip details: The Journey to Japan package includes an international flight to Tokyo, Japan's notoriously expensive capital. Your journey begins with a half-day tour of the state-of-the-art metropolis, formerly Edo, which was a fishing village for centuries before becoming the capital of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603.
Some of the Tokyo tour highlights include driving by the Imperial Palace (members of the public are not allowed inside the gates), visiting the city's oldest temple (the Asakusa Kannon Temple) soaking up the views from the observation deck atop Tokyo Tower, and shopping in Ginza. A sukiyaki lunch is included.
You'll stay three nights at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, a 40-story tower surrounded by gardens and located close to major shopping and tourist attractions. Each of the 761 rooms has corner windows that offer picturesque views of the city, especially from the 20th and 30th floors.
Make sure to squeeze in some rest while in neon-filled Tokyo, because next you'll be making the big trip to iconic Mount Fuji. Traveling by motorcoach, you'll stop to admire the impressive cloud-covered peak and then proceed to Hakone, a spa retreat that is popular thanks to the many naturally occurring hot springs. This part of the tour also includes a cruise on Lake Ashi and a dinner. You'll stay overnight at a 220-room countryside resort, Kowaki-en Hotel.
On the following day, you'll board a Shinkansen (a.k.a. bullet train) to Kyoto. A guided tour of the former capital will cover major attractions, such as the Kiyomizu and Kinkakuji temples and the Heian Shrine. Conclude the day with a traditional shabu-shabu dinner accompanied by a geisha dance performance. You'll spend two nights at the 714-room New Miyako Hotel, which faces Kyoto Station.
Next on the itinerary is Nara, also a former capital of ancient Japan. A motorcoach will take you to the city's most noteworthy sites, such as the Todaiji temple, the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Nara Park. Then you'll return to Kyoto to board a Japan Rail super express train to Hiroshima.
You'll get a chance to explore Hiroshima and Miyajima by bus and ferry and to scope out the Itsukushima Shrine and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. You'll spend the night at the 407-room Hotel Granvia Hiroshima.
Then you'll hop on the express train to Osaka, a fashionable city once known as the Venice of the East. Your journey concludes here, with an overnight stay at the 650-room Hotel Granvia Osaka, a 20-minue drive from Osaka International Airport.
While the temperatures in October are still relatively high (typically 60s and 70s Fahrenheit), the lack of humidity makes this time of year perfect for traveling to Japan.
For more tips on what to do in the area, visit Japan's official tourism Web site. And before you go, check the weather forecast, the exchange rate, and the local time at BudgetTravel.com.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.