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Japan Ancient and Modern

Anyone else going on the AOP913 Ancient and Modern Japan trip leaving on 27 Mar 09?  Would be great to hear from you.




I am also booked on the trip. The departure day is the last day of term so I have already planned my quick getaway. I'm really looking forward to the cute monkeys in the thermal springs  and riding on the bullet trains.

Catherine Rouse 

Hi there.  Good to hear from someone else on the same trip.  I'm travelling on my own which is always a bit nerve-wracking so it's nice to know at least one name!  I'm really looking forward to the monkeys too and taking endless pictures of the cherry blossom to bore everyone with back home.  This will be the furthest east I've been so I'm very excited, even if the prospect of such a long flight is a bit off putting.  Still, no pain, no gain.  Have you learnt any Japanese yet?


I'm thinking of booking for this trip (but it may be the week before)! But I'll let you know when I have booked if I am joining you! I have wanted to go to Japan for so long!



I just booked the trip today! I am flying from Scotland so not on the outward flight with you but hope to meet in Kansai airport as I arrive 1.5 hours before you but on the same flight home! I am alone too. Looking forward to everything! I have wanted to go to Japan for so long and don't worry I'll be taking hundreds of pictures too!! 

Welcome to the group!  I'm already counting the days - can't believe its only about 11 weeks away.  Anyone know of or have read any good history of Japan books that aren't too heavy going?  I'd like to have some sense of the country before I get there.


Thank you for the welcome!! I am not sure of any books - I've watched Last of the Samurai ;o) But I don't think it counts!! I've been busy studying my Japan guide and my Tokyo guide....there seems to be so much to see!

Have you been on any Exodus trips before? I was in Andalucia walking last year and loved how well organised everything was! 

Yep, I went to Peru to do the Inca Trail with Exodus a couple of years ago - it was a great trip, small group, excellent guide, wonderfully stress free.  The only reason I didn't go to Nepal/Tibet with them last year was that the dates didn't fit.  But I'm back with them now.  Can't fault them for organisation.

My only minor niggle is that they've changed the flights for this trip from Japan Airlines to KLM, which now means changing in Amsterdam and making the whole trip much longer.  Personally I think they should have just swallowed the fuel surcharge and kept us on Japan Airlines flights.  But what can you do?

 I must start reading my Japan guide so I can figure out what to do on the few free days we have.  Mt Fuji has to be on the list I think ...


Hi, I agree about the flights, but I've never been to Amsterdam airport before. I hope you ladies are nursing your vocal chords in readiness for your debut at the karaoke bar!



Not sure about the singing - I may get deported from Japan if they hear my poor voice!! Schipol is a great airport to spend time - shops galore, lounger seats, a mini art gallery.....now I have 4 hours in Charles de Gaulle i.e. no seats, often no toilets after security (because the often do security at the gate)......all in all a depressing place! 

I think I'll have to consume quite a lot of sake before attempting the karaoke!

I'm not keen on Schipol airport myself, but that's probably because last time I was there my iPod got nicked so I spent 2 weeks travelling the roads of Peru without music.  V. annoying.  I was looking forward to a flight on Japan Air, the service is supposed to be top notch.  Still, KLM gave me loads of ice cream last time so I shouldn't complain. 

Wonder how big the group is going to be?  It's still listed as available so it's not fully booked.


Hi, when I booked 10 days ago I was number 9!

That's a good number - too many and the group becomes a bit unwieldy and it's hard to get to know everyone. There were only 6 of us on my Peru trip and it was great. We had a whole massive tour boat to ourselves on one excursion - luxury!
I'm having the usual wardrobe debate at the moment - do I take my walking shoes or not? Don't want to overpack as there is so much I want to buy out there.


Hello everyone...

I have just found the Departure Lounge... and was glad to find some fellow travellers. This is my first trip with Exodus and the first time I have travelled on my own, so it was very comforting to hear from some of you that have had lots of good experiences with them.

I am getting very excited now,,, I have started learning Japanese (on my Nintendo DS) - we'll have to see whether they understand my version :-) I have also started to warm up my vocal cords for the Karoke..


Hi Alison- welcome to the gang! I am getting excited too (my bank account is getting worried as I make my final payment tomorrow!!)

8 weeks to go!


I see we are up to 14 for the trip so far!

Yes, welcome Alison. Nice to see so many solo women travelling - Japan won't know what has hit it!! And at least it won't be a heavily coupley trip. Wonder if we'll have any single young men?? ;-)
Anyone got any ideas for what they're going to do on the free day in Kyoto? I'm happy to team up to explore if anyone doesn't fancy going it alone.

Hi all. I just paid my balance and asked how many other people were travelling solo. Apparently there are 12 people booked and only 1 couple - so it should be a good bunch!!


12 solo travellers is good! I have no ideas yet what I want to do in Kyoto - see temples, see shrines, take photos - happy to go with the flow! The earlier trip (20th) when I was choosing between the 2 had 4 couples already! I paid my balance today too - I just asked her to say how much it was really quickly so I didn't hear how much it was!! Ouch!!


Hi ladies,

Have any of you had any problems with your final payment? There appears to be a discrepancy on mine and I still appear to be paying for the Japan airlines fuel surcharge. Did you receive a new invoice with the letter about the change in flights because I didn't.

Good point. The receipt they sent me after I'd paid the final balance includes a £75 fuel surcharge. This was listed on my original invoice as a Japan airlines fuel surcharge. I'm assuming that KLM will have a similar surcharge so they've just left that intact. They did say that the JAL surcharge had gone up to over £150. I just tried to phone them to check but got no answer (I suspect the snow has affected them as much as anyone else). I'll try again tomorrow but if anyone else has an answer before then let us know.


Hi, I haven't received the receipt for the payment as yet, so must chase but the cost on the credit card is the same as they originally invoiced, so I think it is the same surcharge as JAL. Also, being a little nosey and not being great with the whole landing thing (fine otherwise) I asked for the cost to stay with JAL and they quoted me £81 - so I guess this would be on top of the original charge of £75.

Not sure if this helps.

I am flying KLM so it'll be good to meet you all in Amsterdam (if we can arrange it)...


I have sorted out the invoice problems. Over the phone they had told me that I owed £300 more than what my invoice said. I scanned all my evidence and e-mailed it. Thankfully, in the end it did not take them long to say that they had mad a mistake.
On another note, we could try to arrange to meet up somewhere if you want.

Glad to hear the money situation got sorted.
I'm happy to meet people at Schipol - you can usually spot an Exodus-er from the luggage tags anyway!! Warning tho' - I'm a useless companion on planes as I hate flying so usually just disappear under a blanket or into a bottle of wine for the whole trip!
BTW - I've got a list of the hotels we're staying in if anyone's interested. All seem ok. Altho' I'm a bit worried about this communal bathing malarkey in the ryokans. We'll certainly be getting to know each other v. well indeed.


I haven't received a receipt for my payment yet either even though I asked for one to be sent. But then I booked land only. Would like to know which hotels we are in in Tokyo and Kyoto - just to get an idea of location.

I'll be meeting you in Kansai as I arrive 90 minutes before you all (hopefully anyway!)

If anyone wants the hotel details e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll send them on to you.


I have downloaded from the Lonely Planet website all the relevant chapters from their Japan guide. If anyone would like a copy, please e-mail me at [email protected]

Hey, you're all well under way! Is there room for me? I, too, am single (widow) and will almost certainly be the geriatric of the trip. Not to worry. I've done communal bathing, Inca Trail, and all sorts of other Exodus trips and enjoyed them all enormously. Do any of you bank with HSBC? They've had a 'sumo wrestler' advertising campaign for weeks. Perhaps it was a subliminal decision for us all to head out there! (Not that I fancy a sumo wrestler. Desperate I am not.)


Always room for one more! I think we are going to have a good group!! Can't believe it's only 6 weeks away! Look forward to meeting you in Kansai! Diane

Great! Another one to join the gang. I make that 14 as the website is saying there are 4 places left. Did everyone get the note saying that we won't get to see the Kabuki performance as the theatre is closed for renovations. That's a real shame as I quite fancied that. Oh well, another night out on the sake instead. Sigh. Did anyone see the BBC2 programme about snow monkeys the other eve? I've recorded it and can't wait to watch.


Welcome... it's good to have you on board. I did watch the programme on the Snow Monkeys and it was really good. It is a shame about the theatre but my friend who went to Japan last year recommended the tea ceremony - they really enjoyed it and said it was an experience, so am very intrigued now. 6 weeks and counting...

Excellent! All that remains is to sort out the suitcase and the overnight bag - or the overnight bag and the backpack - or the suitcase and the Exodus bag - or the ......

Whatever bag you take make sure it's got wheels! I think we're going to be doing a lot of our own 'portering'.
Questions for you all: Is anyone taking walking boots? Can't decide whether to or not. Doesn't look like anywhere is going to be too rough going and by not taking them there is more room in my bag for shopping!! Also, what are you doing about taking currency? Are people taking yen or travellers cheques?
5 weeks and counting!!


I am also struggling on trying to decide what bag/suitcase to take - I do have a habit of over packing for the just in case situation... however don't want to be laden down with a huge suitcase. I'm not taking walking boots however will be packing my trainers for the days we explore. I have got the majority of my money in travellers cheques. A friend who recently wen over to Japan told me to take dollars as the exchange rate is better when your over there, however have a little bit in cash for the first couple of days.

Taking dollars means you're doing a 'double exchange' and therefore paying charges twice. I reckon my spending money will be such a small drop in the global money ocean that it's not worth agonising over! I'll take £s and exchange at the arrival airport. No walking boots. Trainers should be fine, I think. (Apart from teetering on tatami, when we expose our socked toes.) Medium case with large rucksack stuffed inside has to be the way to go for the 'abandon your suitcase' days. Decisions, decisions - and it's getting closer by the day!

Think I might just take yen - I've got my body pouch for cash/passport so unless someone wrestles me to the ground it's not going to get nicked! As for bag, I'm taking a holdall with wheels. If this is anything like the other exodus trips I've done the bags tend to get chucked around a bit so an expensive suitcase is in serious danger. Four weeks to go - I'm demob happy at work already!


I'm just taking yen and my switch card (mostly relying on yen - only have the switch card for emergencies but at least in Tokyo there is likely to be a post office or 7-11 where I can use it!) I'm taking a smallish rucksack and my day pack - I am trying to think about what to take in terms of clothes - don't want to take too much - need room to bring stuff back!!

i too am getting excited!


I just checked on the potential cherry blossom times for this year and on the 5th of March, the meteorological society said that in Kyoto it would start on the 28th of March and be at it's peak between the 1st and 11th of April and in Toyko from the 1st to the 9th of April! Hope that the weather remains stable to keep these dates correct and we will be lucky!


That's fantastic news..  I can't wait to see all the sights, especially the Cherry Blossom.  I have taken all your advise and got Yen instead of the dollar, so thank you all...  will have my credit card as my emergency back up (I hope they take C/C's).  So final preparations are on the way.  Has anyone received their tickets yet, I think I remember reading that we get them a couple of weeks beforehand, which I hope will be next week, but not overly sure.  Also, I have never done a connection flight so I am hoping the luggage will follow me :-)  



I'm Helen and I will also be joining this trip. So excited now that I've recieved final joining instructions today. I've been eating soba noodles for the past 3 weeks to get into the zone..... oh, and reading Japanese slasher fiction - probably not the best introduction to Tokyo, but hey, exciting all the same.

Does anyone know if we'll all be seated close on the flights?


Welcome Helen!  Always good to add another to our number.  The news on cherry blossom sounds good - I just hope I've got enough cards for my camera for the endless no of photos.  Be warned all - I also have a video camera so get ready to star in my home movie.  Re: connecting flights - once you've checked in at your departure airport then you and your luggage should automatically get checked on to your other flight as well.  So you won't see your luggage at Amsterdam - fingers crossed we all see it at the other end!  As for sitting together, it'll depend on when we all check in.  As far as I know Exodus don't block reserve seats.  Oh and on credit cards - my book says that American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Diners cards are accepted at leading banks, hotels and major stores in major cities but it's unlikely you'll be able to use them in cash machines as they can't read them.  Post Offices are apparently more likely to have ATMs that will work.  I guess you can use the card to change money at the hotels if you're really stuck.  Guess we'll all be in the same boat.  Might be worth checking with your card supplier first.  Still waiting for the final joining instructions but it's almost time to start thinking about packing.  So excited.


......oh, and I'm taking my walking boots as my everyday shoes because they're more comfy than my trainers for city days - hideously unnattractive but really comfy.

 Rugged suitcase on wheels with a hold all for ditch your suitcase day for me.

I'm packing a sleeping bag liner for the ryokan, but not taking an actual sleeping bag because I'm under the impression that bedclothes will be supplied.............. am I wrong?

 Is anyone taking a posh frock for nights out? And if so, will you let me get away with a moderately smart shirt with my jeans, as long as I promise to forgo the walking boots with that outfit?  I'm really trying to pack light, but I'm worried about packing too light as 2 weeks is quite a long time.

I must must must half pack my bags this week. I'm camping with cadets until thursday night then flying out on friday morning.............. it'll be a rush, that's for sure.

 Helen x



Sleeping bag liner, definitely. Posh frock? You have to be joking. Cherry blossom sounds good. Home movies do not. E-ticket now received. Counting days. What is the collective name for a group of single women? A natter? A chatter?


a gaggle? nope I think that is ducks........

Erm, hadn't thought of the sleeping bag liner but I'm not sure it'll be necessary - I think my pyjamas will be enough.  And posh frock? Probably a little dress that can be scrunched up - nothing OTT.  Like to have something smartish just in case i meet the millionaire man of my dreams.  You never know.  Still haven't got my e-ticket - hope that doesn't mean I'm getting left behind.  As for the collective noun - I think 'onslaught' might provide the Japanese with sufficient warning of our arrival.  Let's hope we're all this chatty when we actually meet up!!


Hi Ladies,

My final joining instructions came today. With our posh frocks for the evening it looks like we might be all fighting over the millionaire, should he be out there! Getting very excited now. I was sitting in my staff room today talking about and relishing in the fact that this is the first Easter holiday in over 20 years that I won't have to mark GCSE coursework as my subject has dropped it. 


How do we find out how many people are booked on the trip now? I guess it could be full.  I booked my taxi to Heathrow this afternoon......... Keep your eyes peeled for me - I'll be the one in the bar with a Tokyo guidebook under her nose.  Helen


Hello! I agree with the onslaught! Do you think (apart from the 1 couple and the guy I was told was booked when I booked) that it will all be women?? Last i checked there were still 4 places on the trip which means a cohort of 14 - which is the same as when Karen checked last and was told there was 1 couple and 12 solo travellers!

 I too am trying to pack light - no posh frock for me but perhaps a skirt! Ordered some yen today and will get some more next week - the exchange rate is so miserable - perhaps I'll be eating noodles the whole trip too! 

Latest on cherry blossom is opening in Kyoto on the 26th of March with full bloom within 10 days and on the 24th in Tokyo.


Got my joining instructions today.  Depressingly early check in (why 3 hours before a short haul flight? Don't understand).  Not sure whether to risk the tubes or book an expensive cab.  I've given up on all attempts to pack light now - we're in one place for quite long periods of time so at least we don't have to move our bags every day.  As long as I have enough room to bring home some goodies.  

As for how the group is made up - maybe all the boys have been terrified by our chatter here and stayed away? ;-)   I think us solo women will definitely be in the majority.  Girl power! 


My check-in time is 4.30am! I'm on the 610am flight from Edinburgh to Paris then I have 4 hours or so in Paris (if I took the 9am flight I'd only have had 40 minutes connection time). I'm planning on checking in on-line before the flight - hope that means I don't need to be there too early with the luggage!


This saturday morning - chapel, teaching, then lacrosse (joy of joys). Next saturday - cadet camp with abseiling (glamorous!). The saturday after............ Japan!!!!! Hooray.

Looking forward to wandering around Schipol, trying to spot you all.

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