Japan Express
from $3225
Duration: 9 Days
Home to sumo wrestling, sake, geishas, karaoke and onsens, Japan’s got a lot going for it. And on this nine-day Lonely Planet Experience to some of its most acclaimed cities, you’ll get to see the country at its best. Take in the neon nightlife of Tokyo, relax in the manicured gardens of Nikko and discover thousands of years of culture and history in Kyoto. And have you heard about the food? World-class sushi, ravishing ramen, delectable donburi – you certainly won’t be going hungry. With your local leader to point you in all the right direction and plenty of time to explore at your own pace, experience the culture and charm of the Land of the Rising Sun.
  • From the ultra-modern to ancient traditions, this express adventure will introduce you to some of the many faces of Japan in a short amount of time.
  • Visit the little town of Nikko – packed with World Heritage-listed temples and picture-perfect hiking trails, and one of the best backdrops for a soak in a steaming onsen.
  • Eat your way from Tokyo to Kyoto with plenty of chances to try all kinds of delicious street food, sake, snacks and surprises – from a hearty bowl of ramen to world-class sashimi.
  • Even getting from place to place is fun in Japan! Ride the renowned Shinkansen bullet train and make use of public transport day passes to get to and from the activities you choose.
  • With a local leader to show you around, a new group of friends to explore with and plenty of free time for discovery, you’re guaranteed to get the most out of Japan’s wondrous sights.
  • Tokyo - Yoyogi Park
  • Tokyo - Meiji Jingu Shrine
  • Tokyo - Shibuya walking tour
  • Tokyo - Metro day pass
  • Tokyo - Harajuku street
  • Tokyo - Akihabara walking tour
  • Tokyo - Metro day pass
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Outer Market
  • Nikko - Public bus area pass
  • Nikko - Hiking
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari-Taisha
  • Kyoto - Public bus day pass
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Public bus day pass
  • Day 1 Location: Tokyo
    Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore, from fascinating museums and world-class shopping to neighbourhood backstreets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. Afterwards, why not head out for an optional dinner to try some local food and experience the nightlife in this amazing city. You might like to finish the night with a drink at a traditional Japanese izakaya – ask your leader for their favourites.
    Day 2 Location: Tokyo
    This morning, venture out with your small group on the metro to explore the buzzing Shibuya area. Check out one of the busiest intersections in the world before heading into a depachika (underground food hall) for a mouth-watering array of tempting Japanese treats. Next, visit Meiji Shrine – enter via a massive torii (gate) and notice the sights and sounds of the city fade away as you enter the tranquil forest. Afterwards, explore the Harajuku district, the home of quirky youth pop culture. In your free time this afternoon, perhaps take in the historic Asakusa area – one of the older and more traditional parts of Tokyo. Here you can stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple, which was founded almost 1400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. This evening, you've got endless options for dinner – how about a hearty bowl of ramen, crispy tonkatsu, or snacks and beer at (another) izakaya.
    Day 3 Location: Tokyo
    Enjoy a morning walk around the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, where fresh seafood from Tokyo’s wholesale fish market (recently relocated to a new site at Toyosu) is delivered daily. Wander through the narrow aisles to find all sorts of amazing food then perhaps pop in to one of the sushi restaurants for a fresh breakfast. Continue on to the famous Akihabara District – the centre of Japan's otaku culture. Shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are scattered among the electronic stores in the district. This afternoon is free for you to explore, so why not spend some time in the city’s green spaces like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden or create your own entertainment with some karaoke. If you’re stuck on things to do, open up your Lonely Planet app and get exploring with the top picks!
    Day 4 Location: Nikko
    Say goodbye to Tokyo and take the train to Nikko (approximately 2 hours) where you’ll have a free day to explore. Nikko has been a sacred city since the middle of the eighth century and is full of shrines and temples. Perhaps visit the Toshu-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun who was one of the most powerful rulers of the country. Every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold leaf, lacquerwork, paintings and patterns. Here you can also visit the Museum of Art at the back of the temple complex. This 1920s mansion has one of the country’s most beautiful collections of sliding doors and screens decorated by the best Japanese painters of the day. You could also head to Shin-kyo bridge – one of the town’s most famous landmarks – and the Buddhist temple of Rinno-ji, home to fearsome statues and an elegant garden.
    Day 5 Location: Nikko
    For those feeling energetic, join your leader for a hike around the Nikko area. Depending on the time of the year, you can climb up to the Senjogahara Plateau, where the gods of Mt Nantai and Mt Akagi are said to have battled for possession of Chuzenji Lake. You can take a six-kilometre walk following the course of the plateau or explore the various hiking trails that spread off from the lake itself. The lake area is also home to the Kegon Waterfall, and you can get the Akechidaira Ropeway (cable car) over the falls and lake. A little further on is Lake Yunoko and Yumoto, where you can soak in the natural hot springs – a great place to experience one of Japan's well-loved public onsens. In the town itself you can explore the shops along Hippari Dako, maybe tasting yuba – the skin that forms on top when making tofu. Sounds strange, but it's a delicious treat!
    Day 6 Location: Kyoto
    Enjoy your last free morning in Nikko before making your way to Kyoto. Take the local train (around 2 hours) and then jump on board the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for approximately 3 hours. Originally founded as Heian-kyo ('tranquillity and peace capital') by Emperor Kammu in AD794, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, and with over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in. On arrival, head to one of the most photogenic spots in Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine – famous for the thousands of vermillion-coloured torii (gates) which straddle the paths and trails in the area. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to get acquainted with Kyoto by walking through its historic neighbourhoods.
    Day 7 Location: Kyoto
    Today is free for you to explore. With its many landmarks and historical sites and an abundance of traditional arts and literature, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan. Kyoto is also a city that lends itself to walking, and there are plenty of paths available – ask your leader for their recommendations. Perhaps visit the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, also known as ‘The Golden Pavilion’, or if you’re visiting in spring, head to the theatre for a presentation of Miyako Odori (the Cherry Blossom Dance) performed by elaborately dressed maiko (apprentice geisha). In the evening, enjoy a guided walk through the Pontocho and Gion areas – the famous geisha districts. Even today you can observe the age-old tradition of geisha visiting members of the wealthy elite – this unfolds in small teahouses tucked away in tiny back streets. For those who are keen, you can also choose to attend the Gion Corner cultural centre where you can enjoy some Japanese performing arts, from flower arranging to the Lion Dance.
    Day 8 Location: Kyoto
    Make the most of your day in Kyoto. If you haven’t done so already, you may like to see Japan’s largest pagoda at Toji, or you could visit the imposing and opulent Nijo Castle, home to the Tokugawa Shoguns who had power over the country during the Edo period. You can also check out the ‘nightingale floors’ of Ninomaru Palace, which squeak to warn of intruders. From the castle, it’s a short bus ride to Ryoan-ji, perhaps Japan’s most acclaimed Zen garden, where carefully placed rocks sit in an immaculately raked sea of gravel. For some local shopping there’s Kyoto’s handicraft centre, a perfect place to pick up some souvenirs with a fine selection of woodblock prints, yukata (light cotton robes), jewellery and pottery. Tonight, why not enjoy karaoke with your new friends, or maybe splash out on a kaiseki meal in a ryotei – small restaurants serving traditional multi-course cuisine. Being in Kyoto alone is definitely cause for celebration.
    Day 9 Location: Kyoto
    There are no activities planned for today and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10 am, however if you’re departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    06NOV2021
    Return Date:
    14NOV2021
    3225NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19FEB2022
    Return Date:
    27FEB2022
    3380NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19MAR2022
    Return Date:
    27MAR2022
    3585NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    26MAR2022
    Return Date:
    03APR2022
    3585NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02APR2022
    Return Date:
    10APR2022
    3720NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09APR2022
    Return Date:
    17APR2022
    3720NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    16APR2022
    Return Date:
    24APR2022
    3720NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20APR2022
    Return Date:
    28APR2022
    3720NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    07MAY2022
    Return Date:
    15MAY2022
    3585NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    14MAY2022
    Return Date:
    22MAY2022
    3515NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Japan Express

    Trip code

    CJRB

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    Home to sumo wrestling, sake, geishas, karaoke and onsens, Japan’s got a lot going for it. And on this nine-day Lonely Planet Experience to some of its most acclaimed cities, you’ll get to see the country at its best. Take in the neon nightlife of Tokyo, relax in the manicured gardens of Nikko and discover thousands of years of culture and history in Kyoto. And have you heard about the food? World-class sushi, ravishing ramen, delectable donburi – you certainly won’t be going hungry. With your local leader to point you in all the right direction and plenty of time to explore at your own pace, experience the culture and charm of the Land of the Rising Sun.

    Style

    Basix

    Themes

    Lonely Planet Experience

    Transport

    Public Bus,Metro,Train,Bullet Train

    Physical Rating

    2

    Physical preparation

    You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including while moving about busy public transport hubs to make tight connections, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes, sometimes at a fast pace and in crowds. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. Japanese cities are best explored by foot and public transport, so be prepared for a lot of walking each day you are in a destination! Many travellers are surprised how much distance they end up covering each day just seeing the sights. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet.

    Joining point

    Kinuya Hotel

    2-14-28 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo 東京都台東区上野2-14-28

    Tokyo

    JAPAN

    Phone: 81 338331911

    Joining point description

    Kinuya Hotel is located in the heart of the Tokyo, on the city's north-eastern side at Ueno, and is a small hotel with a mix of Western-style and Japanese traditional rooms near the scenic lake in extensive Ueno Park just near Ueno Station. The hotel provides a convenient base for exploring Tokyo, as well as Uneo itself. Ueno Park is home to the country's national museums and Ueno itself is a great place to discover restaurants and bars in tiny backstreets and enjoy some authentic local food.

    Finish point

    Hotel Seiki Kyoto Station

    24-5, Kitakarasuma-cho, Higashikujo, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi

    Kyoto

    Kyoto

    601-8017

    JAPAN

    Phone: +81 756062826

    Finish point description

    Just 5-minutes walk south of Kyoto Station, this conveniently located hotel provides great access to many of Kyoto's sights. Fushimi Inari Shrine is three stops away from Kyoto Station, and scenic Kamogawa River and Sanju-Sangendo Temple in the Higashiyama temple precinct is an easy walk away. Just west of the hotel is the tiered pagoda Toji, Japan's largest.

    Finish point instructions

    Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from your hotel to the two airports in the Kansai region (Kansai Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport). Both airports are located a long way from Kyoto so we advise you use the public transport options available rather than considering a taxi. We can also book a shared airport shuttle bus service that will take you from your hotel to either airport, which needs to be arranged in advance through your booking agent before you leave your home country for Japan. The shared shuttle bus service we use for both airports in Kyoto is MK Shuttle Bus (for more info: http://mk-group.co.jp/english/shuttle_kyoto.html). Please wait at your hotel and MK will pick you up. Please note that as this is a shared shuttle bus service, your bus will stop at different hotels on the way to the airport to pick up other passengers. If there are any issues with your airport transfer, please contact your tour leader. If you are making your own way to the airport by public transport, please talk with your leader or consult with the hotel's reception desk or check the hotel website for more transport details: http://www.hotelseiki.com/access.html

    Important information

    1. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. You will need to buy your own train tickets for any independent rail travel you wish to do in Japan pre- or post-tour. 2. We are currently unable to book pre- or post-tour accommodation at our start and finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through your travel agent or an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan. 3. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage between 160–250 cm may require an additional JPY 1000 oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251 cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your welcome meeting if your luggage is over 160 cm or 251 cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional sources for employing tour leaders. As a result, our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may either be Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    JAPAN Crime levels are low. It is generally safe to walk around at night and to travel on public transport, but you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home and take sensible precautions. Reports of inappropriate touching or ‘chikan’ of female passengers on commuter trains are fairly common. The police advise that you shout at the perpetrator to attract attention and ask a fellow passenger to call the train staff. The Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo is considered a higher risk area for crime.

    Visas

    PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. COVID-19 Entry and Exit Requirements Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for the most up to date information.You may also refer to our travel alert page for more info https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts Make sure you are familiar with the current border measures and entry requirements as these are quite complex and changing frequently without notice. Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers your travels as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country. RETURN TRAVEL Please ensure you stay up to date with any current testing or quarantine requirements for returning to your home country or transiting through other destinations after the completion of your tour. We are able to help facilitate taking a COVID-19 test while on trip. Please ensure you have funds available to cover the cost of this test which will be payable directly to the testing site. Your Intrepid Tour Leader will provide more details at the group meeting as well as assist with booking appointments for all travellers who need to be tested. JAPAN VISA Most nationalities, including Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, EU countries and United States, are able to get visitor visas on arrival. The length of the visa will vary depending on your nationality, but most will be for stays of 90 days or more - check with your local consulate for exact details.

    Why we love it

    From the ultra-modern to ancient traditions, this express adventure will introduce you to some of the many faces of Japan in a short amount of time.

    Visit the little town of Nikko – packed with World Heritage-listed temples and picture-perfect hiking trails, and one of the best backdrops for a soak in a steaming onsen.

    Eat your way from Tokyo to Kyoto with plenty of chances to try all kinds of delicious street food, sake, snacks and surprises – from a hearty bowl of ramen to world-class sashimi.

    Even getting from place to place is fun in Japan! Ride the renowned Shinkansen bullet train and make use of public transport day passes to get to and from the activities you choose.

    With a local leader to show you around, a new group of friends to explore with and plenty of free time for discovery, you’re guaranteed to get the most out of Japan’s wondrous sights.

    Is this trip right for you

    This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in. Your leader will take you on orientation walks in each destination, giving you tips on things like supermarkets, places to eat, ATMs and recommendations of fun things to see and do. For more in-depth exploration you can head off on your own or with other members of your group, or if you are interested in an itinerary with more inclusions, please see Intrepid’s Land of the Rising Sun trip – search trip code CJST on the Intrepid website for more information. In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon mattresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. Are you aged 18-29 and want to travel with people of a similar age? Check out the Real Japan adventure – search trip code CJYO on the Intrepid website to get the low-down.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels HEALTH SCREENING If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. TESTING & VACCINATION POLICY From 1st May 2021 we introduced new safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia and New Zealand. On trips departing before 1st September 2021, you will need to show one of the below to your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or - Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip, or - Proof of recovery documentation In addition, if you’re aged 70+ or have an existing health condition that puts you at a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, you are also required to provide proof of vaccination before you can join a trip. MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICY From 1st of September 2021 we have introduced enhanced safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. You will need to show your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination This policy is in addition to any specific testing or vaccination requirements for entry or exit to a destination or required by your airline. For more information, including a detailed FAQ about this policy, please visit https://www.intrepidtravel.com/covid19

    Food and dietary requirements

    FOOD IN JAPAN The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (ie. in flavourings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetable ones), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research before travelling about some of the options that might be available to them. While our leaders will assist you whenever they can, there may be some included meals that are fixed in advance and not flexible, such as those included at ryokans, and cannot be modified for different diets. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, still your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic. Food and drink are such a high part of Japanese culture. Here are some links to get your tastebuds tingling: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-convenience-store-food/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-tokyo-alleyways-locals-guide/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/eat-and-drink-like-a-local-in-japan/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegetarian-vegan-travel-japan/

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. The official currency of Japan is Yen (JPY). Japan is predominantly a cash society and locals carry large amounts of cash for daily business. International credit cards can usually only be used at major department stores or large restaurants but cash from non-Japanese bank accounts can be withdrawn via the Cirrus and Maestro systems by direct debiting (as well as Mastercard and Visa cash advance). This is now available at all post office ATMs around the country, as well as 7 Eleven convenience store ATMs, making it very easy to get access to cash throughout the trip at each location 24 hours a day. TIPPING: If you are happy with the services provided by your group leader tipping - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tour. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Tipping is not customary in Japan in restaurants and for other service providers. BUDGET FOR MEALS NOT INCLUDED: Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs.

    What to take

    MAIN LUGGAGE On this trip you will need to carry your own luggage for up to 30 minutes at a time. Train stations are quite complex and usually require a lot of stair climbing, especially when doing a quick transfer from train to train. Elevators aren't always available and cannot accommodate many people at a time, so if you are choosing to bring a suitcase, please ensure you are able to lift and carry it up and down stairs yourself without difficulty. A backpack is often preferred by travellers for this reason. Our ryokans allow suitcases but you'll need to carry instead of wheeling it onto the tatami floor in the room. Japanese public transport is often quite small and cramped without large luggage racks for big suitcases (even on the shinkansen trains), so it's best to pack as light and small as possible so that you are not blocking aisles or taking up extra seats on trains. If you have a lot of luggage you may need to use luggage forwarding services. These are economical and efficient - please speak to your leader if you need to get your baggage to another destination in Japan. DAY PACK A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations, while on public transport as well as for any shorter overnight stays will be useful.

    WATER BOTTLE Cold tap water in Japan is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by bringing your own bottle and refilling from the tap or public water fountains. OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE - reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys - travel mug, cutlery, plate/bowl for preparing any self catered meals - plastic lunch box for storing food & snacks - slippers or flip flops - torch/flashlight - travel wipes - small towel - ear plugs & eye mask OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER - check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

    WINTER You will need to take into consideration the below freezing temperatures you are likely to encounter travelling in Japan in the winter months and ensure that you bring appropriate clothing for spending time outside in the elements: - Hat - Gloves or mittens - Scarf - Windproof, warm jacket or coat suitable for temperatures below zero (just a fleece will not be sufficient!) - Warm socks - Waterproof boots suitable for walking on snow and ice - Thermals or clothing that can be easily layered - Snow pants may be useful if you are planning to do any outdoor activities In the northern area especially in Tohoku or Hokkaido where there will be heavy snow, it's important to have sturdy waterproof footwear that's suitable for snowy or icy conditions. You can also bring crampons or buy them in Japan which cost around 2000JPY.

    Climate and seasonal

    PEAK TRAVEL TIMES Please be aware that while travelling during major national holidays (late Apr to early May) and peak seasons in Japan (Apr-May/Sep–Oct) are fascinating and exciting times to travel, there are also some downsides. There will be huge crowds at most tourist attractions and on all public transport. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train tickets at our usual preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic jams and changes to the itinerary without prior notice can be necessary. If you decide to travel during peak periods come with a sense of adventure and flexibility and we are sure that your experience will still be rewarding and memorable.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. For additional Conditions of Carriage regarding COVID-19, see here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/conditions-carriage

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Kyoto Office: +81 70 1771 5588

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller LOCAL CUSTOMS It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting Japan is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip, but here are some tips to get you started: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/etiquette-in-japan/ CLOTHING While Japan is known for its 'out there' fashions overall it is quite a conservative country. Please remember that we spend time at temples, working monasteries, holy shrines, recreated villages and castles, cooking schools and ancient gardens. At these places it is important to be respectful to the staff and other visitors by wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. WHALE MEAT We are big supporters of the protection of endangered species around the world. It is against our Responsible Travel policy for our leaders to take passengers to places that use cruel practices or supply or serve foods that are on the endangered species list, such as whale, turtle, tiger, bird’s nests, pangolin and shark. Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year. We do not visit places that serve whale meat on any of our trips, nor will your leader guide you to where it is offered. TATTOOS IN JAPAN: Please note, decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and check rules for public onsens.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. RYOKANS Japanese-style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons or matresses on tatami mat floors, with bedding often packed away during the day. Attached bathrooms/toilets will usually be very small and many ryokans will only have shared bathing facilities with certain hours, or times available for booking at reception. Your leader will explain etiquette involved in using the shared facilities. As this style of accommodation will often not have furniture (ie. chairs or beds) in the rooms, please consider choosing a different trip style in Japan if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues. Some ryokans may have a curfew when travellers need to be back in the accommodation - this is usually around midnight. Please also be aware that you would normally be required to change to slippers when entering into your room in a ryokan. Hotels and ryokans will charge extra fees if dirty marks are left on their beddings or towels that require professional cleaning. Read more about ryokans here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-japanese-ryokan/ AVAILABILITY The recent huge increase in tourism to Japan has put a lot of pressure on accommodation. On occasion, we may need to change accommodation from what is listed in the itinerary in order to operate your departure with minimal changes. ONSENS We like to encourage travellers to visit traditional Japanese 'onsens' while in the country as it is a quintessential local experience. In public onsens this means bathing naked with others of the same gender. While the experience can feel strange at first for some, most of our groups end up enjoying this activity. There is very specific etiquette for visiting onsens - your leader can give you some tips and instructions. Please be aware that travellers with tattoos may not be permitted to enter public onsens. Private onsens may also be available - talk to your leader for more information. See our guide to onsens here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-onsen-guide/

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport or the information we have in our booking system, so if you identify differently from the gender marker on your passport, please let us know in advance. We also have a Single Supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. A Single Supplement to have your own room is not available to purchase on this trip due to hotels having limited number of rooms and the high demand on availability.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Hotel/Ryokan (8 nts)

    Banner Image
    Hero Images

    Make an Enquiry

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.