The Friendship Force of Los Angeles and Saitama, Japan, are offering a Bonsai Tour to Japan June 18 to July 1. Participants begin in Tokyo, staying for two days and taking a half-day city tour before moving on to Saitama for the focus of the tour--bonsai. Guests will stay in the homes of Japanese families for seven nights in the Saitama prefecture just north of Tokyo. The town of Omiya, in Saitama, is the worldwide center of bonsai. Saburo Kato, president of the Nippon Bonsai Assn., will set up classes, demonstrations, and tours of bonsai displays and nurseries in Omiya. Three days will be spent in Kyoto for sightseeing before flying home from Osaka International Airport.
Cost: $1,995 per person, double occupancy, including air fare, ground transportation, one-week home stay with meals, hotels and local guides. Meals are not included in Tokyo and Kyoto. Contact: Ed Lawrence of the Friendship Force of Los Angeles, 23055 Collins St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367; telephone (818) 348-8211.
New England Islands
An eight-day tour called Islands of New England departs Aug. 8. In Rhode Island, participants will tour Providence, the Newport mansions, Aquidneck Island and Block Island. Next they will travel to Cape Cod, Plymouth and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts for a New England lobster feast. The tour moves on to Nantucket, Mass., and returns to Cape Cod to see Cape Cod National Seashore.
Cost: $1,634 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, all breakfasts and dinners, and ferry fares. Contact: Richard Robinson at Santa Monica College; tel. (310) 450-5150, Ext. 9731.
Spectacular Sport Specials offers center court seats for either of its one-week packages to the French Open tennis tournament held in Paris. Week 1 runs May 25 to 31 and costs $2,350 per person, double occupancy. Participants receive tickets to three sessions, including opening day and two preliminary matches. Week 2 runs June 3 to 9 and costs $3,185. It includes tickets to four men's and women's semifinals and finals matches. Both trips include six nights' accommodations, daily continental breakfast, a Seine River dinner cruise and an unlimited Metro pass. Air fare is not included. Contact: Spectacular Sport Specials; tel. (800) 451-5772.
Instead of ice and snow, summer in Alaska offers wildflowers and wildlife. Seven-day trips depart June 8 through Aug. 31. Travelers explore the Kenai Peninsula and Denali National Park. Highlights of the tour include the Chugach Mountains, a raft ride on the Kenai River, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the town of Talkeetna and Iditarod-champion Jeff King's kennel.
Cost: $2,395 per person, double occupancy, including cabin or lodge accommodations, meals, guides and mini-coach transportation. Air fare to Anchorage and Kenai is not included. Contact: Alaska Wildland Adventures; tel. (800) 334-8730.
A two-week walking tour, offered to three villages in French, Italian and German Switzerland, runs June 9 to 23. The emphasis will be on wildflowers and castles with four nights each in Rougemont on the edge of the Bernese Oberland, Morcote on Lake Lugano on the Swiss/Italian border and Gais in the Appenzell region. Food, culture and architecture vary greatly in these areas.
Cost: $2,120 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner, transportation and guides. Air fare is not included. Contact: All About Switzerland, 272 Waugh Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95065; tel. (408) 476-4482.
Back to Antiquity
The Fielding Institute is offering a 15-day study tour titled Egypt: River of the Gods. The tour is Nov. 8 to 22 and is led by Egyptologist Fadel Gad, who has worked for many years with the Egyptian Department of Antiquities. One of the itinerary's highlights is a visit to the recently opened tomb of Queen Nefertari. The group will visit the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Sphinx, and Abu Simbel, where the group stays overnight to see the rock-cut temples of Ramses II. In Aswan, the tour begins a five-day cruise up the Nile to visit many sacred cities. Several archeologists will present their theories on ancient Egyptian art, history and culture.
Cost: $3,990 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX, accommodations in first-class hotels, Nile cruise, breakfast and lunch or dinner every day, domestic flights in Egypt and all entrance fees at sites. Contact: The Fielding Institute, Tour Administrator Katherine Pfeifer; tel. (805) 687-1099, Ext. 3160.