Japan Real Food Adventure
from $7595
Duration: 12 Days
Ignite your tastebuds on a culinary journey through Japan’s most delicious hotspots. To the glittering skyscrapers of Tokyo and the lush alps of Takayama, slurp on soba and sample some sake as you work your way through the contrasting flavours of the land of the rising sun. This 12-day epicurean adventure takes you from the traditional monastic cuisine of Koya-san to the tantalising takoyaki stalls that line Osaka’s vibrant streets. Master the art of sushi making in an intimate cooking class, savour the flavour of sizzling yakitori in Tokyo's hidden backstreet izakaya, spot geisha with your local leader in Kyoto’s Gion district and eat all of the freshest seafood and sumo-sized feasts you can handle. From temples to tempura, shrines to sashimi – embark on a tour that has all the best Japanese ingredients.
  • It’s true – Japanese people take incredible pride in their cuisine. Explore a country where food is taken seriously, all the way from the station tonkatsu restaurant to a high-end sushi establishment.
  • Travel by Shinkansen to the Japanese Alps and taste succulent wagyu beef in the 17th-century Edo period town of Takayama – the definition of a melt-in-your-mouth moment.
  • Snack on awesome and adventurous street food in the unofficial culinary capital of Osaka and master the skill behind making the famous takoyaki (octopus and pickled ginger in batter).
  • Discover the traditions, culture and history behind tea in Kyoto during a private ceremony with a long-time practitioner of this art with your small group.
  • Venture into mountainous Koya-san, spending the night in a monastery and discovering shojin ryori – a traditional vegetarian Buddhist meal with over 800 years of history.
  • Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant
  • Tokyo - Asakusa guided walk & Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Outer Market & Sushi Tasting
  • Tokyo - Art of Sushi-making class
  • Takayama - Hida Folk Village
  • Hida-Furukawa - Sake Brewery visit
  • Takayama - Morning Market visit
  • Kanazawa - Orientation Walk
  • Kanazawa - Kenroku-en Garden
  • Kanazawa – Chaya gai district walking tour (Day 5 or Day 6)
  • Kanazawa - Omicho Market
  • Osaka - Dotombori Tour
  • Osaka – Tour of Kuromon Market and Doguyasuji Arcade
  • Osaka – Depachika visit
  • Osaka – Noodle or takoyaki experience
  • Koya-san - Okuno-in Mausoleum walk
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Nishiki Market walk
  • Kyoto - Orientation Walk
  • Kyoto - Obanzai cooking class
  • 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 izakaya and karaoke bars. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight, so you can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Afterwards, join your leader for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant, perhaps to try some perfectly grilled yakitori skewers washed down with a local beer or some fine sake. For those not suffering jetlag, why not get a crew of you together to explore the night-time ambience of Shibuya's tiny backstreets, maybe stopping by a local bar for a cocktail.
    Day 2 Location: Tokyo
    This morning, take a morning walk around the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, where fresh seafood from Tokyo's largest wholesale fish market (recently relocated to a new site at Toyosu) is delivered and ready to sample daily. Afterwards, learn the art of sushi making first-hand – it's the quintessential Edo-era specialty and possibly Japan's most famous culinary gift to the world. You'll hear about the history of sushi, how to choose the freshest fish, as well as proper slicing and rice making techniques. Then, enjoy free time to explore the historic Asakusa area. Stop by Senso-ji – the city’s oldest temple, founded almost 1400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then Asakusa is a great place get your sugar fix – try fried sweet potatoes tossed in sugar and soy or sweet red bean paste sandwiched between baked pancake batter. Tonight, why not head to Tsukishima to enjoy one of Tokyo's most traditional dishes – monjayaki (a type of savoury pancake). For those wishing to explore Tokyo's urban heart, head to the Shinjuku and the Golden Gai area for crowded alleys, izakaya and jazz clubs.
    Day 3 Location: Takayama
    Leave Tokyo in your dust as you take a bullet train to the 17th-century Edo town of Takayama (approximately 5 hours by Shinkansen). Takayama is a charming town located in the Japanese Alps. The region is famous for its traditional streetscapes, sake breweries and Hida-gyu (Hida wagyu beef) – the beef from a black-haired cattle breed that has been raised in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. On arrival, visit the nearby Hida Folk Village – an outdoor museum where the traditional thatched-roof architecture unique to the area has been put on display. Discover the techniques used to build farmhouses that could withstand fierce winters. Each house is like its own self-contained museum, with displays of personal items and traditional tools. For the next two nights, you’ll stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), where you’ll also get to dine on regional Takayama delicacies.
    Day 4 Location: Takayama
    Gifu Prefecture is known for its excellent high-altitude vegetables, so today you’ll explore the morning markets that date back 600 years and browse the stalls of seasonal produce. Stalls are set up by local farm women from 6 am every morning. Look out for the unique local style of pickles, bags of miso wrapped in leaves, genkotsu ame (soy bean candy), preserved fish, spices, and the delicious marshmallow treat of owara tamaten. While you're exploring Takayama, you might come across popular regional dishes – mitarashi dango (rice dumplings roasted in soy sauce), houba miso (miso vegetables cooked in magnolia leaf) and chuka soba (Hida's favourite noodle dish). Later, take a short local train ride to the neighbouring Hida-Furukawa – another alpine town known for its relaxed pace and picturesque tree-lined canals. Here, visit a local sake brewery to sample and learn about the sake-making process. Gifu's alpine climate and crystal-clear mountain waters are perfect for creating Japan's signature liquor. Back in Takayama for dinner, you'll be able to sample some more of the town's iconic dishes.
    Day 5 Location: Kanazawa
    Take the train towards Japan's northern coastline to Kanazawa – sometimes known as the hidden pearl of the Sea of Japan (approximately 2 hours). Having avoided much of the warfare in World War 2, it's a place where both modern and traditional Japan are found. On arrival, head on a leader-led orientation walk before visiting 17th-century Kenroku-en Garden – a highly intricate landscaped acreage of bridges, ponds, waterfalls, fountains and tea houses that are beautiful no matter the season. Perhaps stop for a cup of freshly whisked matcha tea on your stroll through its extensive grounds. Depending on the schedule, you might get the chance to visit the Chaya gai district, with its well-preserved streets of old wooden tea houses, and where geisha continue to perform music and dance for small private functions. In the evening, join your leader for an optional dinner to sample some of the delicious regional food found in Kanazawa, particularly fresh seafood fished from the Sea of Japan. The unique blend of warm and cold currents create the perfect conditions for a wide variety of fish and shellfish – including the famed Kano crabs and sweet prawns – all throughout the year.
    Day 6 Location: Osaka
    This morning, head to Omicho Market, where the city's quality food producers gather. Seafood from Ishikawa Prefecture are brought in from the port every morning and, as well as sold fresh, there are a number of restaurants in the market which whip it up into rice bowls or sushi – almost 200 stalls to get lost in! Later, hop on an express train (approximately 2.5 hours) and make the journey to Osaka – Japan’s third-largest city and unofficial culinary capital. There are sprawling shopping hubs and tiny backstreets full of restaurants and bars, serving up local delicacies as well as Japan's answer to fast food. Osaka is credited with the first kaiten-zushi (conveyer belt sushi) restaurants, after its inventor – the owner of a sushi restaurant with staffing issues – saw the success that Asahi Bewery’s conveyor belt has in serving its customers. The city is also renowned for its take on okonomiyaki (fried savoury pancake), kushikatsu (deep fried meat and vegetables on skewers) and perhaps its most renowned dish – takoyaki (a hot snack of shredded octopus, pickled ginger and spring onion cooked into batter). After checking into the hotel, take a walk through Osaka’s unmissable Dotombori district, sampling some street food as you stroll along its main neon-lit canals.
    Day 7 Location: Osaka
    This morning, visit Osaka’s lively Kuromon food market and stroll through the quirky Doguyasuji Arcade, where you can pick up some kitchen gadgets (or plastic food!) and all the Japanese bowls you’d ever need. Later, pop into a depachika – the food basement hall of one of Japan's department stores – which is a treasure trove for food lovers, given the endless range of products exquisitely displayed. It’s one of the best ways to understand what locals eat on a daily basis. Today, you’ll also learn about one of Osaka’s signature dishes and try your hand at perfecting takoyaki or noodles. This evening, take a dive into Osaka’s twisting back alleys and experience one of the city’s typical tachinomi bars (drinking while standing) – perhaps sharing a few friendly drinks with your travel pals.
    Day 8 Location: Koya-san
    Rise early and take the train (approximately 3 hours) into an important region for Shingon Buddhism. Founded in the 8th century by the Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi, Koya-san has been a centre for religious activities for over 1200 years. You’ll visit Okuno-in, the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered people in the religious history of Japan. Your unique accommodation tonight is in one of the many temples still operating here. You’ll live alongside Buddhist monks and follow their routine of evening meditation and morning prayers. Temple lodgings, known as shukubo, have facilities similar to Japanese ryokans. Rooms are equipped with thin futon mattresses that are spread on tatami mats for a comfortable night's sleep. Tonight you’ll enjoy an introduction to shojin ryori, or monastic cuisine, prepared by novice monks. Shojin ryori was popularised in Japan in the 13th century by Zen monks from China. Shojin ryori is vegetarian, and prohibits inclusion of meat and fish, following the teaching that it is wrong to kill living animals. Instead meals are prepared with seasonable vegetables and wild plants from the mountains.
    Day 9 Location: Kyoto
    Today you’ll make your way to Kyoto – a city regarded as the cultural heart of Japan. Originally founded as Heian-kyo (tranquility and peace capital) by Emperor Kammu in AD794, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years; however, the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. The journey from Koya-san to Kyoto via Osaka takes approximately 4.5 hours. On arrival, get acquainted with this beautiful city on an orientation walk with your leader, taking a stroll through the glass-covered walkway of Nishiki Market. It’s here that you’ll find a range of Kyoto's regional specialities like pickled vegetables hidden beneath layers of fermented rice, ornate Kyo-wagashi (Kyoto sweets), Uji green teas, as well as souvenirs and a renowned hand-crafted knife shop. Later in the afternoon, take a step back in time on a walk through the narrow streets of Kyoto's charming Gion district and learn about the city’s geisha culture. If you’re lucky you might spot geiko (geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) in their elaborate dress and makeup. Join your leader for an optional dinner to sample some of Kyoto's trademark cuisine.
    Day 10 Location: Kyoto
    Kyoto is a city that takes food seriously. Today, you’ll experience the simple pleasures of obanzai ryori in a cooking class. Perhaps not as well-known as kaiseki, this ancient style of a multi-course Japanese feast has strict rules that must be adhered to. It must be simple and follow a seasonal approach – at least half of the ingredients must be Kyo-yasai (Kyoto heirloom vegetables grown locally) – plus the meal should embody the spiritual elements of genuine things, such as balance. Obanzai is increasingly gaining popularity in Kyoto as people seek to ensure that this culinary tradition is preserved. Once you’ve prepared your meal, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour at lunch. This afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. You could find a theatre putting on shows of Noh, Kabuki or Bunraku puppetry, or a traditional maiko dance. If you’re still hungry, why not try some yudofu hotpot, using Kyoto's smooth tofu perfected over centuries by Buddhist monks. With so many other options, your local leader is there to help you make the right choice.
    Day 11 Location: Kyoto
    Today you’ll explore the traditions, culture and history behind tea, which plays a critical part in traditional Japanese society. Learn about the long-lived customs surrounding this brew, which is more than simply a drink, and discover the difference between the fine matcha powdered tea served in the tea ceremony and the other varieties of green tea commonly enjoyed in Japan – everyday houjicha and genmaicha to premium gyokuro. The careful symbolism of Japanese society reaches its peak in the tea ceremony and today you’ll attend a private ceremony with a long-time practitioner of this art in Kyoto. Learn about the importance of the preparation and cleaning of tea utensils, the bow on receiving a cup of freshly whisked tea and the three clockwise turns before a sip is taken. After this experience, you have time to explore this ancient city yourself before joining with your group for a celebratory dinner with your group leader and travel pals.
    Day 12 Location: Kyoto
    Your delicious Real Food Adventure Japan concludes after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    26DEC2021
    Return Date:
    06JAN2022
    7595NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    06MAR2022
    Return Date:
    17MAR2022
    7975NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    13MAR2022
    Return Date:
    24MAR2022
    8375NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27MAR2022
    Return Date:
    07APR2022
    8710NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    03APR2022
    Return Date:
    14APR2022
    8710NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    24APR2022
    Return Date:
    05MAY2022
    8710NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    01MAY2022
    Return Date:
    12MAY2022
    8375NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15MAY2022
    Return Date:
    26MAY2022
    8290NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05JUN2022
    Return Date:
    16JUN2022
    8125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    04SEP2022
    Return Date:
    15SEP2022
    8290NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Japan Real Food Adventure

    Trip code

    CJZF

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2022

    Introduction

    Ignite your tastebuds on a culinary journey through Japan’s most delicious hotspots. To the glittering skyscrapers of Tokyo and the lush alps of Takayama, slurp on soba and sample some sake as you work your way through the contrasting flavours of the land of the rising sun. This 12-day epicurean adventure takes you from the traditional monastic cuisine of Koya-san to the tantalising takoyaki stalls that line Osaka’s vibrant streets. Master the art of sushi making in an intimate cooking class, savour the flavour of sizzling yakitori in Tokyo's hidden backstreet izakaya, spot geisha with your local leader in Kyoto’s Gion district and eat all of the freshest seafood and sumo-sized feasts you can handle. From temples to tempura, shrines to sashimi – embark on a tour that has all the best Japanese ingredients.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Food

    Transport

    Bus,Train,Bullet train

    Physical Rating

    3

    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

    Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu

    Shibuya Mark City Bldg. 1-12-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, 東京都渋谷区道玄坂1丁目12-2 渋谷マークシティ内

    Tokyo

    150-0043

    JAPAN

    Joining point description

    Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu is located right in the heart of Tokyo in the popular shopping and entertainment centre of Shibuya. Famous Shibuya Scramble is just a short stroll away, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars tucked away in tiny alleys around the hotel. Shibuya is also a convenient location to explore the neighbouring fashion hubs of Harajuku and Omotesando, as well as Ginza, the Imperial Palace, Ueno and Asakusa in the city's west and north.

    Joining point instructions

    Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from the two airports in the Tokyo region (Narita Airport or Haneda Airport) to your hotel. We can also book a shared airport shuttle bus service if you prefer. Narita is located approx. 65 km from Tokyo and taxi fares are expensive given the distance (around JPY25,000). Haneda Airport is closer to central Tokyo and a taxi fare will cost around JPY6,000-10,000. Shared Airport Shuttle Bus Service Please consult with your booking agent well in advance if you are interested in this option. Note that any late requests or changes may not be able to be accommodated particularly in the peak seasons unfortunately. The shuttle bus service we use for both airports is Green Tomato, and as this is a shared shuttle bus service, your bus will stop at different hotels on the way to drop off other passengers. Please wait at the arrival exit after customs clearance in the airport and Green Tomato's representative will hold a Green Tomato sign with your name on it. They will wait for you from 30 mins after your actual flight arrival time until 90 mins after flight arrival. For further info, please see: http://www.greentomato-j.com/eng/shuttle/narita.php# http://www.greentomato-j.com/eng/shuttle/haneda.php If you're having any trouble locating Green Tomato, please ask at the airport information desk. For any other problems with your airport transfer on arrival, please contact our ground team in our Kyoto office on their emergency phone at +81 70 1771 5588. Public Transport If you prefer to make your own way to Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu from Narita, there are various connections either by airport express train or airport limousine bus to Shibuya Station, which is located in central Tokyo in the Shibuya district. The airport information desks can provide helpful advice too. The most direct way is by airport limousine bus to the hotel itself (approx. JPY3,000 and 90 mins). You can also take the Narita Express to Shibuya Station (approx. JPY3,200 and 110 mins), where it is then a very short walk to the hotel. If you're travelling from Haneda Airport, the most direct option is the airport limousine bus (aprox. JPY1,300 and 60 mins) which stops at the hotel directly. You can also catch the Keikyu Line Airport Limited Express (approx. JPY700) and transfer at Shinagawa Station for the Yamanote Line to Shibuya Station where it's a short walk. Please check the transport details on the hotel's website: https://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com/global/shibuya-e/access/index.html If you're having any problems finding the hotel, ring the hotel directly (you can use one of Japan's green public phones with coins of JPY10 or JPY100).

    Finish point

    Karasuma Kyoto Hotel

    Shijo-sagaru, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku 京都府 京都市下京区烏丸通り四条下ル

    Kyoto

    600-8412

    JAPAN

    Phone: +81 753710111

    Finish point description

    Karasuma Kyoto Hotel is located in the downtown area of central Kyoto, approx. 400m from the main shopping street of Shijo Street and the Nishiki Market. There are subway stations and bus stops nearby so it's easy to get to Kyoto's main sites. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and department stores in the immediate neighbourhood. The Gion district (including Ponto-cho), the Kamogawa River and the Higashiyama temple precinct are also accessible by foot, within 1.5km away.

    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 efficient 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.

    Important information

    1. A single supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties. 2. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please advise us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so that we can ensure you’ll enjoy this trip. 3. We are currently unable to offer pre and post tour accommodation at our trip hotels in Japan. Should you be arriving earlier or departing later, please make your own arrangements at a hotel of your choice. 4. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result, our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese people or long-term foreign residents in Japan. 5. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip (validated on Day 3). For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan after the trip, a Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days or 21 days) is available for purchase at time of booking. Please note that you can't purchase the rail pass or extension after arriving in Japan. 6. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. There are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage over 160–250 cm may require an additional JPY1000 fee per train journey. Luggage over 251 cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains. Please notify your group leader at the welcome meeting if your luggage is over 160–250 cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.

    Group leader

    All Intrepid 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. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip. 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 were 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.

    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

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    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

    It’s true – Japanese people take incredible pride in their cuisine. Explore a country where food is taken seriously, all the way from the station tonkatsu restaurant to a high-end sushi establishment.

    Travel by Shinkansen to the Japanese Alps and taste succulent wagyu beef in the 17th-century Edo period town of Takayama – the definition of a melt-in-your-mouth moment.

    Snack on awesome and adventurous street food in the unofficial culinary capital of Osaka and master the skill behind making the famous takoyaki (octopus and pickled ginger in batter).

    Discover the traditions, culture and history behind tea in Kyoto during a private ceremony with a long-time practitioner of this art with your small group.

    Venture into mountainous Koya-san, spending the night in a monastery and discovering shojin ryori – a traditional vegetarian Buddhist meal with over 800 years of history.

    Is this trip right for you

    This trip aims to give you an exciting, diverse and well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. In many countries, dietary restrictions are not common or well understood. If you have dietary requirements, please advise your agent at time of booking to receive information on how this may impact on your ability to take part in included activities and meals. Come with an open mind and open mouth, and you won’t be disappointed. This itinerary is a great overview of Japan, however there is a lot to take in – especially in Tokyo and Kyoto. If you wish to spend more time exploring these cities, beyond what is included in your itinerary, we recommend extending your stay at the start and/or finish of your trip. We are confident you won't run out of things to see or do! Please be aware that the wholesale fish market, previously located at Tsukiji, moved to a new location in Toyosu in late 2018. However, as part of this tour, we continue to visit the old, atmospheric Tsukiji Outer Market, which still functions as a fresh fish and produce market for the public, but we do not visit the new wholesale market. 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. Read more about ryokans in the ‘Accommodation’ section of the Essential Trip Information. A good degree of fitness is recommended for this trip as there is a lot of walking involved (up to 10 kilometres each day), particularly around Kyoto which is best seen on foot. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet. We recommend packing light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas. There’s an optional luggage transfer offered on this trip so if you’d like to take up this option, bring a small backpack or overnight bag for one night.

    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

    While we will endeavour to cater to dietary requirements where possible, please note that many meals and food activities on Real Food Adventures are set in advance in order to deliver a well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. In many countries, dietary restrictions are uncommon and not well understood. If you have dietary requirements and are concerned about whether this may impact on your ability to participate fully in all food-related activities on this trip, please speak with your booking agent so it can be determined whether your dietary requirements can be met. 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/ Meals & Beverages: Please refer to the inclusions section for the included meals and food activities. Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are not included with meals unless specified or part of a beverage tasting activity. 

    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. BUDGET: Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest USD360.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. 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. DEPARTURE TAX All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket. 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

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps). If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    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 Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

    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

    Climate and seasonal

    WEATHER March, April and May are excellent months to holiday in Japan and, as a result, are the busiest. The weather is usually fine and beautiful cherry blossoms are in full bloom. September, October and November are also great months to visit Japan on holidays, as the days are warm but not humid and the autumn colours are out. Winter, while cold, offers great conditions for skiing, snowboarding, going to snow festivals and admiring the stunning mountain scenery. The summer months can be quite humid, but tourist areas are generally quieter and there are many fun festivals and fireworks displays to enjoy. 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

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: 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 case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below: Intrepid's Local 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 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.

    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

    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/ There are shared bathrooms at some of the accommodation on this trip.

    Transport notes

    JAPAN RAIL PASS A 7 day Standard/Ordinary Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip and will be validated on day 4. For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, a Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days) is available. Please contact us at time of booking regarding this service. Please note that Japan Rail Passes are only valid for foreign tourists visiting Japan from abroad for sightseeing under the entry status of temporary visitor (tourist visa).

    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.

    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. MUSEUM VISITS & OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes even Tuesdays). We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where required/possible.

    Accommodation

    Hotel (8 nights),Ryokan (2 nights),Monastery (1 night)

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