Japan Family Adventure

13 days
from
£4,099
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5 / 5 from 1 review >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
FII
Way to Travel:
Family Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
8
Group size:
4–16

Journey from Kyoto to Tokyo while enjoying a wide range of cultural and family-friendly activities

Japan: one of the few places in the world where cutting edge tech and futuristic urban design co-exist with ancient customs and timeless character. On this new family adventure we’ll explore both sides of this thrilling intersection of ancient and modern - from the temples of Kyoto, via the bullet train to Hiroshima, to the bamboo forests and monkey park of Arashiyama and finally to the neon lights and robot shops of Tokyo. Perhaps, though, it’s the wide range of hand-picked get-involved experiences which will promise lifelong family memories. The samurai lesson, Taiko drum masterclass, hands-on calligraphy session and cookery class are only a few of the inclusions designed to be inspirational for parents and equally educational and entertaining for kids. This trip guarantees a total immersion into this fascinating, safe, welcoming, and family-friendly island nation.

Highlights

  • Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo
  • Take a Samurai lesson and practise some classic swordplay
  • Hands-on calligraphy, drumming and cookery experiences
  • Visit Himeji, the most beautiful castle in Japan

Key information

  • 8 nights comfortable hotels (en suite rooms) and 2 nights traditional Japanese guesthouse with shared facilities; landy only clients will have an extra night included at the end of the trip in Tokyo
  • 12 days land only/13 days flight inclusive
  • 10 days cultural experiences and sightseeing
  • Group normally 4 to 18, plus leader. Min age 8 yrs
  • Travel by train, bus, metro, ferry and private minibus
  • Japan Railpass included in the cost of the trip

What's included

  • 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • All accommodation 
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Japan Rail Pass

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request in Kyoto and Hiroshima only) 
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kyoto
to
Tokyo
  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kansai and transfer to Kyoto.

    Konichiwa! Welcome to Kyoto, a treasure trove of Japan's cultural heritage and undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Full of historical, yet kid-friendly sites, Kyoto is the perfect place to introduce your family to Japanese culture, while still enjoying the modern amenities most are accustomed to at home. Those on the group flights from London will be met on arrival at Kansai Airport this afternoon and transferred to our hotel located in the city centre.

  • Day 3

    Day in Arashiyama: walk the bamboo forest, visit the monkey park and take a boat ride on the Hozu river.

    A short morning train ride (approx. 30 mins) takes us to Arashiyama, a pleasant family-friendly tourist district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Our tour includes a visit to the UNESCO Tenryu-ji Temple, considered one of Kyoto’s greatest zen temples, a walk through the Sagano Bamboo Forest, one of the most photographed sights in Japan as well as a boat ride along the Hozu river. Today's highlight, however, will without doubt be Monkey Park, located on a hill overlooking Arashiyama and Kyoto. Here hundreds of native Japanese macaque, also known as the 'Snow monkeys' play and roam around freely. We return to Kyoto by train in the late afternoon.

  • Day 4

    Japanese cooking class; afternoon at leisure and evening Samurai Kembu lesson.

    Today starts with a stroll through Kyoto's Nishiki market which specializes in all things food related and is a great place to find Japanese delicacies, including sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. At lunch we enjoy a fun and entertaining cookery class with a local chef who will show us how to prepare some of the best known Japanese dishes with our own hands. This is a great way to get kids involved in the cooking process and is excellent fun for adults too. At the end of the class we will try out the fruits of our labour, and it will be hard not to love the delicious results! The afternoon is at leisure; those who feel energetic can opt to visit one of the many temples and sights of Kyoto such as Nijo castle, the famous Golden Temple of Kinkakuji or the stunning Kiyomiduzera temple. The evening promises another highlight with a scheduled Samurai lesson at Kyoto's Kembu theatre. Kembu literally means sword dance as it is said that Samurai would perform dances like this before a battle in order to raise their spirits and improve their concentration. Kids will learn of the samurai tradition while enjoying a 1-hour light lesson with the opportunity of trying on some costumes. Please note the lesson is included for children only, parents will though be able to watch.

    Meals included: Lunch
  • Day 5

    Free day to explore the temples of Kyoto or take an optional day trip to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan.

    Today is free for individual sightseeing. With so much to see and do in Kyoto it can be difficult to know where to begin. Our advice is to start with a very early visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto's most important Shinto shrine and famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The rest of the day could be spent in the eastern part of Kyoto which is particularly rich in temples and gardens, perhaps strolling along the tree-lined canal known as the Philosophers' Path and taking time out for contemplation in one of the many intriguing Zen gardens that dot the hillsides. Alternatively, we recommend making a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Nara (approx. 1hr each way by train). With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Todaiji Great Buddha temple which hosts an enormous 15 metre high bronze Buddha. Kids will also love spending some time in Nara Koen park, famous for its large numbers of overfed and slightly unruly deer which they can feed. In the evening the tour leader will offer an optional walk and dinner in Gion, Kyoto's most famous Geisha district. Packed with restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice Geisha will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.

  • Day 6

    Bullet train to Hiroshima; en route visit to Himeji Castle, the most beautiful castle in Japan.

    Today is our first experience of Japan's 'bullet train' as we speed our way to Hiroshima (approx. 2hrs and 40mins). These Japanese trains are among the fastest and most efficient in the world, capable of travelling up to 320km per hour. The secret to the train's speed is actually in the tracks as the trains run on even, straight tracks to prevent slowing down or stopping! En route we make a long stop for a visit to Himeji Castle which is considered Japan's most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty as well as for its well preserved grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site and unlike many other Japanese castles, it has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives as one of the country's twelve original castles.

  • Day 7

    Learn of Japan's dark history in the Peace park and museum (optional); visit the peaceful Miyajima island.

    Hiroshima might not seem like the ideal destination to include on a family holiday but it’s an important and worthy stop on any trip through Japan. Each year many families and schools decide to visit the famous city war memorials. It is a very unique opportunity for older kids to familiarise with a dark era of human history and learn of how thousands of other children were affected by these tragic events. Contrary to misconceptions, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a very peaceful and serene place, and everything is set up so that you can take in as much or as little as you want. Kids will love ringing the giant bell of peace and wander through the grounds and gardens. Families, especially those with young children, can opt to skip the visit to the Peace Museum as it contains some very visual displays which might be distressing for some children. In the afternoon we make a short excursion by local tram and ferry to the beautiful island of Miyajima, famous for the 'floating' tori (Shinto gate) of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. At high tide, when set against the backdrop of Mt Misen, this tori makes for one of the most beautiful and photogenic sights in Japan. Overnight in Hiroshima.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to the mountain town Hakone at the foothills of Mt Fuji; enjoy a boat ride on Lake Ashinoko.

    Today's journey will be the longest of the trip (just over 5hrs) as we travel comfortably by bullet train 700km north along the island of Honshu and reach the mountain resort of Hakone. Situated close to Japan's highest mountain, Mt. Fuji, Hakone is a very popular destination known for its abundant hot springs, beautiful nature and museums, exciting sightseeing trails and, on a clear day, stunning views of Fuji's peak. On arrival we enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the beautiful shores of Lake Ashinoko, a volcanic lake that was formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the last eruption 3000 years ago. For the next two nights we stay at a cosy family-run Japanese guesthouse where we get familiar with the timeless rhythms and customs of Japanese hospitality. Each family will be accommodated in traditional Japanese style rooms (with shared facilities) and sleep on tatami mats and futons. There is also the opportunity to try the natural hot spring which comes directly from Owakudani Volcano.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit Owakudani, a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs; afternoon short easy hike.

    This morning we explore Owakudani, a volcanic area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone 3000 years ago. Much of the area is still a very active volcanic zone where sulphurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. It is also very popular for the local delicacy of eggs which get hard-boiled in the hot springs. Once cooked the eggs turn black and consuming them is said to increase longevity! We will access the area through the panoramic funicular called Hakone Ropeway. Please note that due to the unpredictable nature of the volcanic activity the Ropeway and Owakudani can be closed without prior notice by local authorities. In the event this happens on your departure, alternative activities will be arranged by the tour leader. The visit to this volcanic valley is also not recommended to people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and pregnant women. In the afternoon we continue exploring a different side of the lake, as we take a leisurely short walk along the best preserved section of the Tokaido Highway, the ancient trail which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the feudal Edo Period. We start walking from the cedar avenue, a beautiful tree-lined trail originally built in1618 to give protection to people travelling on the road. The rest of the route is through forest, partly paved, with tall trees and bamboos to the sides. At the end of the trail we will arrive at the Amazake Chaya, a teahouse and rest house of the sort that would have served travellers on the old highway. Overnight in Hakone.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Transfer to Tokyo and visit some iconic sights and districts including Harajuku, Shibuya and Meiji Shrine.

    Today we make our way to the last destination of the trip, the fascinating capital city of Tokyo. Despite being very busy, chaotic and crowded, Tokyo is a fantastic city and the ultimate travel destination for families thanks to its incredible array of attractions and kid-friendly attractions that could easily keep the whole family busy for an entire week! On arrival in Tokyo we'll transfer to our hotel and start exploring some of the city's main attractions and districts including Harajuku, the centre of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles and Meji Shrine, one of the Japan's most popular Shinto shrines. At sunset we also visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, where we can enjoy spectacular city views from the free observation decks of this 243-metre-tall building.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Hands-on activities to discover more of Japanese arts: take a drum (taiko) lesson and learn Japanese calligraphy.

    Today we immerse ourselves in some of the most interesting Japanese arts including a Taiko (drum) lesson and a calligraphy class. Taiko is a Japanese drum that can be heard playing its bold and earth-shaking sound at many festivals around Japan. During the activity we will learn how to play Taiko from a professional teacher. We also have a go at calligraphy (Shodo), one of the most popular fine arts of Japan. Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully and one of its peculiarities is that, unlike the strokes of Roman letters, the strokes of Japanese characters have to be drawn in the correct order, not arbitrarily. Today we will also have some free time to explore more of this multifaceted city before enjoying an optional night of Karaoke where fun is guaranteed!

  • Day 12

    Free day: discover Tokyo's top-class museums, relax in the city's tranquil parks or head to Tokyo Disneyland. Depart Tokyo.

    Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. With countless possibilities and attractions it might be hard to plan the day. Here are a few suggestions which will cater for different interests and ages: to escape the heat or rain, consider visiting one of the top museums such as the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation or the unique Legoland Discovery Center.
    For those into technology a must-see is the Sony Showroom, where the latest technological gadgets are displayed in over 4 floors. Those with a head for heights can opt for the iconic Tokyo tower or Tokyo Skytree, both offering stunning views of the city. If you looking for some peace and tranquillity you may choose to pic-nic in one of the city's best gardens and parks. Finally, families wishing to try one of the world’s best amusement parks should head for Tokyo Disneyland. Those on the group flight will be be transferred to Haneda airport after dinner in time for their overnight flight back to London. Please note that tonight's accommodation is included in the price of the trip so those wishing to stay overnight and fly the following day can do so (please note this needs to be booked at least least five weeks prior departure).

  • Day 13

    Depart Tokyo and arrive London.

    The trip ends in Tokyo today only for those travelling later than the group.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. Australian and South African passport holders do require a visa; these will usually be issued on arrival but it is worth verifying this at your embassy before travel.

Vaccinations

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Apart from 4 breakfasts 1 lunch and 1 dinner, food is not included in the price of this trip. Please note that on the 25th March 2018 departure 2 extra dinners will be provided.

You should allow around £30-45 per person (less for children) a day to cover the cost of food and drink. It is possible to eat more cheaply than this, or to spend considerably more, depending on the standard of restaurant chosen. In many of the places we visit there are restaurants available to cater for all tastes and pockets and it is generally very easy to enjoy every aspect of Japan's excellent cuisine either as a group or on your own. Your leader will be always to hand to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine. Please note if you are a vegan, strict vegetarian (i.e. you do not eat fish or seafood), or gluten free the choice of Japanese food in restaurants may be very limited, although in Kyoto and Tokyo special products may be available in supermarkets and shops . It may be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs and snacks that you normally consume. Japan cuisine is varied and it is relatively easy to find child-friendly dishes, even in traditional restaurants; namely noodles, omelettes, croquettes etc. Alternatively you could opt for one of the many international restaurants, and fast-food joints which are found in the big cities of Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima.

Weather

Is this trip for you?

This is very much a cultural trip which attempts to encompass the varying aspects of Japan, from the serenity and history of Kyoto to the extraordinary and modern Tokyo. You will walk mostly in cities and towns and although not strenuous, the amount of walking each day can be considerable (good comfortable walking shoes are recommended). Some temples and shrines will be visited during the trip, most of which are built on hillsides. This will mean ascending and descending some steps. The monkey park in Arashiyama is located approx. 200m above sea level and can be reached only with a 40 mins hike uphill. We use public transport throughout the trip as it is extremely efficient; it is essential that all group members are punctual to ensure we do not miss any of the scheduled services. Some of the distances covered are long but trains are very comfortable making the journey pleasant. Overall good general fitness and mobility will be important to make the experience enjoyable. This trip is graded 1 (Leisurely).

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & traditional Japanese guesthouse

In Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo, our hotels are centrally located and are 3 and 4-star with excellent modern facilities, free wi fi and English speaking staff. We base ourselves at each of these hotels for several nights, allowing us to get comfortable and really get to know two of the greatest cities on Earth. In Hakone we spend two nights in a traditional guesthouse where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside and mountain towns. These traditional inns, while comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels. Rooms do not generally have private facilities and bedding is generally in the Japanese style with thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. As the ryokans generally have limited space, it may on occasion be necessary for parents to share the room with their children. The whole family will love the rituals involved in staying in this type of accommodation, such as having to take off their shoes, sleeping in sparse rooms on futons, soak in hot springs and drinking tea. List of hotels normally used on the trip: Kyoto: New Miyako Hotel - 4-star Hiroshima: Sunroute Hiroshima - 3-star Hakone: Fuji Hakone Guesthouse Tokyo: The b Ikebukuro - 3-star

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

As the days get longer and brighter, and the morning air begins to lose its bite, we slowly start to see the first sh

  • Reviewed August 2017
    Sarah Bailey

    Japan Family Adventure FII 170723

    A thoroughly inspiring tour of Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone and Tokyo featuring wonderful activities from Japanese cooking lessons, to drumming, Samurai sword handling and calligraphy. We particularly enjoyed getting 'under the skin' of the country, before arriving in the sensory overload that is Tokyo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The exquisite beauty of Kyoto... the lotus flowers and bamboo forest The magical atmosphere of Miyajima island... mists and shrines and the floating Torri gate The tranquil, moving peace park of Hiroshima

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Ayaka Tsukamoto was patient, kind, a great listener. She was impeccably organized and ran our tour with calm finesse

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I wished I had done more reading about each destination beforehand. I didn't pack enough clothes (the humidity drenched everything), so I needed to buy extras I should have had a more sensible day pack for my back. In fact, I needed a two day pack. With the train traveling and backpacking, I would say the trip is a little less leisurely than the literature presents.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had a magical adventure, however, it was quite a challenging trip for a 10-year-old and I don't think I would attempt with a younger child. Towards the end of the trip, my son needed some time and space to chill and reenergise and that was quite difficult in Tokyo. I think it would be good to provide information and opportunity for some relaxed play time when there are kids of this age in the group. My son wanted to jump into a pool and swim or kick a ball in a park and just have some low-key downtime.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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