12 days in Japan in the footsteps of Bnei Efraim, with Dr. Avigdor Shachan* May 9-21, 2009 * Dr. Avigdor Shachan is a researcher of the Lost Tribes of Israel and the author of "Across the Sambatyon: In the Footsteps of the Ten Lost Tribes." Following on the successful expedition to the Bnei Menashe in Northeast India and the immense interest this expedition evoked in Israel, we invite you to join us on the next captivating voyage in the Ten Lost Tribes Challenge series -to Japan. There are those who maintain that the Lost Tribes wandered eastward along the Silk Road, through the tortuous Gobi Desert, and they stooped temporarily in the Land of the Rising Sun - a cessation that has lasted until today. Our aim in undertaking this expedition to Japan is to deepen our understanding of Japanese culture and with Japanese folklore, which, according to some traditions, have their origins in the descendants of the tribe of Efraim and other Israelite tribes who arrived to Japan some 2600 years ago after their exile from the Land of Israel. We will visit Japan's important, central sites connected to these ancient traditions associated with the Tribes of Israel and their rituals in Japan. We will meet with Japanese people who identify themselves as descendants of the Lost Tribes, who are proud of their belonging to the People of Israel, and who maintain their traditions proudly. This pride has its origins in the crucial influence of the Tribes of Israel via the Shinto faith - the ancient faith of the Tribes of Israel and one of the two main central beliefs of the Japanese people - on the development, culture and day-to-day life of the Japanese. Whenever possible, we will organize face-to-face meetings with Japanese who regard themselves as descendants of the tribe of Efraim. They claim their forebears arrived to the islands of Japan from Central Asia in ancient times along the Silk Road and became an influential core in the cultural development of the Japanese nation in general and the Shinto religion in particular. As we follow in the footsteps of the Lost Tribes in Japan, we'll enjoy the country's beautiful landscapes, we'll be impressed by the new and unique Japanese architecture, and we'll discover the fascinating contrasts in the east-west, old-new, secular-traditional land. The Expedition Program We will land in Okayama, Japan in the early evening and proceed directly to our hotel to rest up for the challenging days ahead. The next morning we'll depart for a secluded rural area, among the mountains of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's main Islands. We'll continue to the Tsurigi Mountains. Here, according to local tradition, beneath one of the impressive huge rocks, lies buried the Ark of the Covenant that wandered to Japan with the descendants of the tribe of Efraim. Near this rock, says an ancient tradition, are buried many of the Jewels of King Solomon, which were brought here by the exiles. We'll spend the night in the mountains and in the morning we'll climb the heights by cable car and foot. After descending the mountain, we'll head for the city of Kobe where we'll spend the evening with the local Jewish community - and will also meet with the Japanese members of Bnei Efraim. From Kobe we'll make our way to Nara, cradle of Japanese culture, and Japan's first permanent capital. In Nara we'll visit the huge statue of Buddha that resides in the Todai-ji Temple, the largest wooden construction in the world. We'll also visit other sites that have a connection to the Lost Tribes. We'll continue to Kyoto, the "true" capital of Japan. Kyoto was Japan's capital for hundreds of years and continues to be a source of spirituality in the fast-paced modernity of Japan. We'll spend three days in Kyoto, including Shabbat. During these days we'll meet face-to-face with Japan's history, culture, esthetics, religion and folk tales that make up the mosaic of Japanese life. During our tours we'll observe creations of the past and how they reflect on the present and vice versa. We'll get to know day-to-day Japanese life in which we'll discover much of the past. We'll be introduced to concepts of Zen esthetics and the architecture and design of Japanese gardens. We'll visit the famous dry-landscape stone gardens of Ryoan-ji and the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. We'll also stop at Nijo-jo, the Shogun's Castle from where Japan was ruled for 250 years. We'll visit Kiyomizu-Dera, the Temple of Pure Water, and the picturesque streets and alleyways that wind down Kyoto's eastern mountains. We'll also visit a Shinto Shrine, Keiko No-Washino, which is a fascinating example of the simplicity and modesty of original Japanese construction. This temple was built by a group connected with the Tribe of Efraim and it enables us to witness the similarities in design between Shinto Shrines and the ancient Israelite Tabernacle. Another fascinating meeting will be with a group of Japanese Christians, supporters of Israel at Beit Shalom. The jewel in the crown of our visit: meeting with members of the community who consider themselves descendants of the Tribe of Efraim. We'll spend Shabbat in Kyoto; we'll enjoy kosher meals and stroll about the less well-known streets of this astoundingly beautiful city. From Kyoto we'll move on to Suwa - the site of the Binding of Isaac in its Japanese version. On the way, if time permits, we'll visit the villages of Kiso Valley where the period of the Samurai Marches from Kyoto to the capital in Edo, has been preserved. We'll make our way to Tokyo - the huge megalopolis that powers the Japan's powerful economy. We'll visit the impressive Edo-Tokyo Museum which details the life of the city from its earliest beginnings until today, as well as the Temple of Senso-ji, dedicated to the goddess of Mercy. We'll make our way through the colorful shopping street that leads to the temple before coming to the large incense burner at the footsteps of the temple. We'll also visit Meiji-jingu, where Emperor Meiji - who opened Japan to the outside world - is enshrined. We'll continue through Harajuku, Tokyo's funkiest area and then make our way to upscale, chic Ginza - Tokyo's version of Fifth Avenue. On one of the mornings, we'll visit Tzukiji - the world's largest fish market, and we'll add sites whenever time is available. On the afternoon of Thursday, May 21, 2009 - our 12th day in Japan - we'll fly home via Seoul, arriving to Tel Aviv in the evening. Sayonara! PRICES, CONDITIONS AND REGISTRATION Price of Land Arrangements in Japan is $4,750 per passenger The price for those departing from Israel, including international travel with Korean Airlines is $5,980 per passenger (including airport taxes and fuel charges). The cost is calculated according to the rate of 90 Yen to the dollar. Price Includes: 12 days in Japan from the day of arrival on Sunday May 10, 2009 until departure on Thursday May 21, 2009. Double Room Hotel accommodation according to local conditions Kosher half board plus facilities for preparing sandwiches for lunch. 2 Israel-based guides. The tour will be led by Dr. Avigdor Shachan. Local Japanese guide. Local guides at the various sites. Meetings with local researchers. Entrance fees to all sites in the tour plan. Meetings with communities and members of the Bible Forum along the route. Land travel according to the tour plan. Price Excludes: International Travel to and from Japan (for those making their own travel arrangements) Single Supplement: $975 Tips of $8 per day per passenger. Total $96. Extra lodgings in Japan for those arriving early or leaving late. Health and travel insurance. Personal expenses, such as drinks, telephone, laundry, shopping, etc. Important to Note: The Tour Plan: The plan may undergo changes according to the conditions on the ground, such as weather, unexpected developments, and availability of communities for meeting, etc. The team leaders will make the necessary decisions in situ and inform the travelers accordingly. Lodgings: In Okayama, Tsurigi Mountains and Suwa, we will stay in good tourist class hotels, the best available, for a total of 3 nights. In Tokyo, Kyoto and Kobe we'll stay in first-class hotels. Transportation: On Shikoku Island we'll use a mid-size bus suitable for local conditions. Our luggage will be transferred to Kobe separately and travelers will make do with a small overnight bag (trolley) for two days. For the rest of the expedition we will have use of comfortable touring coaches. Selection of Participants: The Ten Lost Tribes Challenge is a unique mission, undertaking a very special journey, under complicated conditions. This requires that participants be well suited to the aims of the expedition and its distinctive content, as well as to the intensity of the field conditions of the expedition. The adventure is very authentic and will undoubtedly be an experience of a lifetime for every participant. In order to ensure that all participants are indeed suitable for the task, we will ask registrants to complete a detailed application form, which will enable us, the organizers, to choose well the team that will eventually undertake this expedition. Application forms are available from the Project Management office - see below. The number of participants per expedition is limited to 35 people. Registration Procedures: Interested potential participants who have registered for the expedition and have been accepted to join the mission will pay a registration fee of $500. The remainder of the fee will be paid up to 45 days before departure to Japan, and not later than March 25, 2009. Please forward a Xerox copy of the picture page of your passport to our offices not less than 45 days before departure, and not later than March 25, 2009. Cancellation Terms: These will be communicated to the participants after acceptance to the expedition. Registration is at the offices of the companies: Eretz Ahavati: Mavo Livneh 2, Beit El, Israel. Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours, 1 Ha'Odem Street, Petach Tikva, Israel. Please forward completed registration forms and queries to: Ronit Sela, Ten Tribes Challenge Project Manager (052-333-3503) Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours: 03-922-4410, moti@shaibarilan.com Eretz Ahavati: 02-997-4113, eretz@102.net US: 1-866-500-5864, UK: 0-800-404-9505, Fax: +972-3-921-9392 JOIN US ON THE TEN LOST TRIBES CHALLENGE - AN EXPERIENCE THAT COMES BY ONCE IN A LIFETIME!

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