Ancient & Modern Japan


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16 days
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Discover Japan's temples, lively cities and tranquil mountains

Ancient wooden temples, raked-pebble Zen gardens and chanting Buddhist monks juxtaposed with space-age towers, neon lights and bullet trains; Japan’s captivating blend of old and new is legendary. As we explore the southern and western stretches of Honshu, Japan's largest island, we discover the country's unique culture amongst the serene shrines and gardens of Nara and Kyoto and the rarely visited mountainous heartland of castles and spas. Our last stop is the vast and futuristic capital city of Tokyo: sprawling, inimitably busy, welcoming and extraordinary.


  • Spot mysterious geishas in Kyoto's Gion district
  • Experience cherry blossom season or beautiful autumn colours
  • Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs
  • Take the incredible high speed 'bullet train'
  • Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels and 3 nights ryokans (traditional Japanese guesthouses) 
  • 14 days land only / 16 days flight inclusive
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 short daywalks 
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by train, bus, metro, ferry and private minibus
  • Special cherry blossom and autumn colours departures

What's included

  • 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Group arrival transfer (for group flight)
  • Free departure transfer (from 2018, only if travelling on the same day as the group)
  • Japan Rail Pass

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request only at hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 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.

Autumn arrives in the temple gardens, Japan

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… 


  • Day 1

    1: Depart London

    The group flight to Kansai Airport (Osaka) departs in the afternoon from London.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kansai; transfer to Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amid beautiful hills.

    The trip starts in Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amidst beautiful hills. Those on the group flights from London will be met on arrival at Kansai Airport this evening and transferred to our hotel located in the city centre.

  • Day 3

    Morning visit to Ninjo castle and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion); afternoon guided walk through beautiful shrines and temples

    With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan.

    Today we have an introductory tour of the city, starting with a visit to the impressive Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns, and the famous Golden Temple of Kinkakuji, built in 1397 as a summer villa for the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga and immortalised in Mishima Yukio's novel, 'The Golden Pavilion'.

    At lunch we will head back to central Kyoto for a stroll at the famous Nishiki Market, known 'Kyoto's Kitchen', which specialises in all things food related and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Those who wish may opt to take a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants in the area or rest at the hotel. Later in the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to visit the stunning Kiyomiduzera temple and walk to historic Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Packed with bars, 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 4

    Day trip to Nara, ancient capital of Japan. Visit impressive UNESCO temples including Toda-ji, housing the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha

    Today we make a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Nara (approx. 1hr each way). With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it's second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan's cultural legacy. Our walking tour includes a visit to the most iconic temples and shrines, including Todaiji Great Buddha temple. Built in 752 by the Emperor Shomu this enormous 15 meters tall bronze Buddha is housed in what is reputed to be the largest wooden building in the world. We also spend time in the Nara Koen park, famous for its large numbers of overfed and slightly unruly deer, and visit the attractive Kasuga Shinto shrine, before returning to Kyoto in the late afternoon.

  • Day 5

    Free day in Kyoto; relax in one of the many zen gardens, walk the popular Philospher Path or experience a traditional tea ceremony

    Today is a free day 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 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. Getting there before the crowds at sunrise is the secret for a magical experience.

    The rest of the day could be spent exploring one of the several well established and easy-to-follow walking tours that take in many more interesting sights. The eastern part of Kyoto is particularly rich in temples and gardens, and one can spend the day in this area, 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.

    Another day-trip to consider would be to Arashiyama, a pleasant 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. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and autumn colour seasons.

    If you are interested in Japanese arts and cultural activities, there is also the option of visiting a cultural show to see some of Japan's ancient traditions such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging and Japanese theatre (these can be arranged locally by your tour leader).

  • Day 6

    Day trip to Hiroshima; visit Peace Memorial Park and the pretty island of Miyajima

    Today is our first experience of Japan's 'shinkansen (bullet train)' as we speed our way to Hiroshima for the day (approx. 2hrs each way). Once in Hiroshima, 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.

    In the afternoon we spend time at the A-Bomb museum and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, both monuments to the fateful day in August 1945 when the city was selected as the target for the world's first wartime use of the atomic bomb. In the park burns a symbolic flame that will only be extinguished when the last nuclear weapon on earth has been destroyed. We depart Hiroshima late afternoon arriving back at our hotel in the evening.

  • Day 7

    Travel from Kyoto to Takayama, a traditional old town set amid the 'Japanese Alps'; visit the Hida Folk Village; overnight in ryokan

    Travelling by train through forested valleys we make our way this morning to the peaceful and attractive old town of Takayama (approx. 4 hrs) nestling sleepily in the centre of the majestic Hida Mountains. We spend two nights here and have plenty of time to appreciate the charm and ambience of this delightful place. In the afternoon we visit the Hida Folk Village, an interesting outdoor museum of traditional rural architecture set in pleasant landscaped garden, located a short walk from our accommodation. We stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese guesthouse) where we have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality (please refer to the accommodation section for more information).

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 8

    Orientation tour in Takayama and free day to explore its peaceful shrines and temples; second night in ryokan

    With over a dozen museums and galleries to suit all interests and several well-kept temples and parks, there are plenty of ways to spend a relaxing day in Takayama. We start with a short orientation tour around the morning market held daily along the banks of the Miyagawa River in the centre of town. Here amidst the friendly farmers with their familiar, and not so familiar, agricultural produce it is also possible to find some interesting souvenirs. Not so far away and of particular interest is the well-preserved collection of streets known as Sannomachi, where the many wooden built shops, restaurants and sake breweries give the area a mediaeval feel. For an insight into the life of medieval Japanese officials and the way they dealt (often not so compassionately) with those in their charge, a visit to the old Government House of Takayama-jinya is recommended. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town at your own pace: we recommend taking a stroll along the temple-line path called the Higashiyama Walkway and visit the several temples and attractions created by the mediaeval warlord, Kanamori Nagachika (1524-1600), who longed for Kyoto.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    On to the mediaeval village of Tsumago; short leisurely walk in the Nakasendo trail; train to Matsumoto

    Today we travel by express and local trains to the historic castle town of Matsumoto (approx. 4hrs). Enroute, we visit the mediaeval village of Tsumago that has changed little from its heyday as a post town in the Edo period. This is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the old Nakasendo Way, which fulfils the same role it did in centuries past - offering food and refuge to travellers. Those who wish can join the leader for an optional 1hr walk through peaceful forest trails, starting by the Odaki and Medaki waterfalls and finishing in Tsumago. We reach Matsumoto late afternoon where we have time to relax and perhaps take a leisurely stroll after dinner to see the impressive castle by night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit the famous Matsumoto Castle and travel by train to spa town of Yudanaka; soak in a hot spring

    This morning we visit the impressive Matsumoto castle. Founded in 1504, this castle, otherwise known as Crow Castle due to its black colour, is one of the two best preserved in Japan, most others having been destroyed following the Meiji Restoration. Its imposing six story donjon has been designated a national treasure. Please note that the castle preserves its original interior and structure, with very tall steps and steep staircases which some might find difficult to ascend and descend. We return to Matsumoto train station for our afternoon journey (approx. 3hrs) to the relaxing spa town of Yudanaka, where we spend a night in another Japanese-style hotel boasting some fantastic natural hot springs, including 2 open-air baths.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 11

    See the famous Snow Monkeys before travelling by train to Tokyo; evening orientation tour

    As well as being home to some of Japan's best hot springs, the small spa-town of Yudanaka is mainly famous for being the gateaway to the famous Jigokudani Onsen or 'Snow Monkey Park'. Here, the indigenous macaque monkeys have discovered the benefits of descending from the hills to soak and play in hot baths - observing their behaviour up close is fascinating! This is the only tribe of monkeys anywhere in the world to bath in hot springs for warmth. The sight is most spectacular in winter, when snow covers the grounds and the hot steam creates some amazing visual effects but despite the name, the so called 'snow monkeys' actually inhabit the area year-round. To reach the park we walk for approx. 20-25 mins on an easy forest trail and we will have approx. 1hr free to admire and photograph these entertaining creatures.

    No visit to Japan would be complete without a trip to Tokyo. This afternoon, we travel from Yudanaka to the capital by bullet train (approx. 4hrs), arriving in the early evening. On arrival in Tokyo we'll transfer to our hotel and start exploring the bright lights of the big city at night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Optional trip to Hakone or to the lovely seaside town of Kamakura

    For those wishing to see still more of this wonderful country, today is the last day of your Japan Rail Pass, entitling you to free train journeys to many destinations. One popular day-trip amongst tourists and Japanese alike looking for a break from Tokyo is Hakone, part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 1hr and 30 mins by train. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone area also encompasses Lake Ashi, which can be toured by boat.

    Another alternative blissful escape from the city is the coastal town of Kamakura, offering numerous temples, shrines, historical monuments as well as panoramic hiking trails.

    For those not wishing to leave Tokyo, this day is free to soak up the atmosphere of this truly astounding city. Whilst being perhaps the most  energetic and futuristic city in the world, for a capital, Tokyo still remains a remarkably friendly, safe, manageable and delightful place to visit.

  • Day 13

    A full day city tour of Tokyo including the Senso-ji Temple

    Today we have a guided tour of Tokyo. Making use of the city's highly efficient tube system we can visit some of Tokyo's main attractions including Ueno (depending on season) and the lively Senso-ji Temple in the old entertainment district of Asakusa. We will also visit one of the city's parks or gardens which become especially spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season. There is also some free time to discover other attractions at your own pace. For those with a head for heights we recommend an optional visit to the iconic Skytree Tower for breathtaking views of the city. With a height of 634 meters, it is the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. In the evening, the possibilities for entertainment are almost limitless with Tokyo's nightlife as exciting as anywhere in Asia.

  • Day 14

    Free day for further exploration; optional karaoke farewell night

    Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. We recommend starting the day with an early visit to the famous Tsukiji Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species. Worth visiting is also Meiji Shrine; sourrounded by tranquil forest, this Shinto shrine is one of the most popular in Japan and combines traditional Japanese architecture with love for the nature. For an alternative and unconventional experience, head to the Cat Café in Ikebukuro. Finally, those interested in shopping have limiteless opportunities with districts like Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku catering for all tastes and needs!

  • Day 15

    Depart Tokyo

    Those on the group flights will be transferred to Tokyo airport this evening for the daytime flight to London. Please note that although late check out is not included in the cost of the trip, the hotel provides free lugagge storage facilities. 

  • Day 16

    Arrive London

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



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.



There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

3 breakfasts and 3 dinners included.

Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very is common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat).

The included dinners are usually taken at ryokans (traditional guesthouses) which will serve a kaiseki style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will always be on 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 that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice. However in Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  It may also be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs that you normally consume, or to supplement meals with snacks purchased in the local convenience stores.


Japan has four very distinct seasons. Our aim has been to avoid the extremely cold winters and humid summers and settle for the more pleasant climes of spring and autumn. In Tokyo, September and October are warm, maximum temperatures are 26ºC and minimum 12ºC. September is likely to be the warmer of the two and there is a likelihood of rain. April is cooler with temperatures possibly going as low as 7ºC with a high of 17ºC. Kyoto is very similar climatically to Tokyo but the higher up into the mountains we venture, the colder it will become with nights being especially cold, particularly in March and November.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level 2- Leisurely/Moderate

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 electrifying and modern Tokyo. You will walk mostly in cities and towns and although not strenuous, the amount of walking each day can be considerable and fast-paced (good comfortable walking shoes are recommended). A lot of temples and shrines will be visited during the trip, most of which are built on hillsides. This will mean ascending and descending lots of steps.

All transport will be by public transport and mainly trains which are extremely efficient. Therefore, 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. As Japanese trains usually have little room for storing bags, we will be carrying only our daypack/overnight bag for the two nights in Takayama and one night in Yudanaka. One piece of baggage per person, will be transferred by courier service from Kyoto to Matsumoto and then on to Tokyo.

Please note that the the order of activities in Kyoto and Tokyo may change depending on the weather conditions and other factors. Your tour leader will provide full details of the schedule during the initial trip briefing.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 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.


Hotels & Ryokans

In Kyoto, Matsumoto and Tokyo, our hotels are centrally located and of a high standard with excellent modern facilities and English speaking staff. 

For three nights during the trip we stay in ryokans; comfortable traditional inns where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. Ryokans, whilst 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 usually in the Japanese style with thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. Rooms are always doubles or twin-share but bathrooms and showers are generally communal. 

A single supplement can be booked for 9 nights' hotel accommodation in Kyoto (5 nights) and Tokyo (4 nights). The single supplement is payable at the time of booking and subject to availability. Elsewhere a single supplement may be available locally on payment of a supplement. However, as some of the ryokans and other hotels used are quite small, this cannot be guaranteed.

Please note that free Wi-Fi is available at every hotel.

Please be advised that the below accommodation listed in each location are just a list of standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Kyoto:  Noku Roxy

Takayama:  Murayama Ryokan or Muhyokan Ryokan

Matsumoto: Kagetsu Hotel

Nagano/Yudanaka: Yorozuya Yurakuan Annex

Tokyo: Metropolitan Hotel Ikebukuro

Onsen (Japanese public bath)
For many visitors to Japan the onsen is a somewhat unfamiliar territory. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. The combination of a strict bathing etiquette, that nudity is involved and compulsory, and that the water temperature is often hotter than most Jacuzzis can cause some reluctance for first timers. However, once the courage is mustered, you may discover that a dip in an onsen is likely to become one of the highlights of your visit to Japan. We will have the opportunity to try an onsen at our ryokan in Takayama, and some indoor and outdoor hot springs at our accommodation in Yudanaka. Please be aware you may be refused entry if you have large and visible tattoos. Some accommodations may have private baths available for reservation.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 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.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 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

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  • Reviewed April 2018
    Tony Thompson

    Excelllent way to discover Japan ‘s varied scenery, culture and cuisine

    Japan is a country I have wanted to travel through for a long time and this itinerary seemed to cover most of the stuff I wanted to see and do. The fact we managed to visit during cherry blossom season, and that the weather was unseasonable kind to us was a bonus. Also, it has to be said that this trip would not have been the same without expert guidance and help from our tour leader, Akemi Nozawa. Nothing was too much trouble, she even managed to find a Fugu restaurant close to the hotel in Tokyo, enabling me to tick off another of my lifetime bucket list items!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several; The shrines and temples The onsen and Ryokan Mnt. Fuji The snow monkeys The food

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Akemi could not have done more. She was always cheerful, ever available and sorted out the couple of problems in the group very quickly and efficiently. On our free days she worked out and wrote down train and bus timetables, even down to platform numbers, for our varied itineraries, which made the act of travellng solo so much easier and enjoyable . She even had time to help me improve the little bit of Japanese I had learned before the trip!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of cash, unless you eat in the bigger places, or at stations, it is difficult to find places that take credit cards. Two places I attempted to use my card, where the signs on the door said that they accepted them, could not process the transaction even though the cards had prior authorisation in the U.K. I was successful in a large chain sushi restaurant though. Don’t depend of free WiFi, especially out and about as it is very patchy and very slow. Some of the hotels we used were ok ish. I hired a mobile WiFi from Nina WiFi (with a discounted deal) in the U.K. and collected it from the airport. The only place it lost signal was travelling through tunnels. In places the connection and upload speeds were better than I get on my home broadband!, The ability to navigate with Google maps was a godsend. Try the local food you will not be disappointed, there’s more than just sushi and noodles.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only disappointment were the flights, they were terrible. Exodus, you really need to do something about this. Not for the first time day two of the holiday has been spent recovering from a journey that did not need to be as long as it was. Twenty odd hours going out and door to door thirty two hours on the return trip. There are plenty of direct flights to Japan, with the cost of this trip we should be using them.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Andrea Redgers

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    Really interesting and varied trip, an excellent taste of many aspects of Japan.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The contrast between the charms of the ancient castles, gardens and shrines and the modern sky scrapers and bullet trains . The courtesy and warm welcome of Japanese people in all the hotels, restaurants and places we visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was an excellent group leader going above and beyond ensuring we enjoyed and got the most from our time in Japan. She made sure we could find the most interesting things to see and do in our free time and teaching us to negotiate the wonders of the subway independently as well as suggesting good places to eat and shop for all sorts things and an idea of how to fit into the Japanese way of doing things. She also gave us good basic understanding of how the places we visited and the things we saw fitted into the bigger picture of Japanese history and culture. She rearranged our trains after the Typhoon closed some lines to close and made sure we didn't miss any of our itinerary.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you want an overview of Japan and its varied and fascinating culture book this trip. Remember to check the weather forecast just before you go and pack with this in mind. We encountered Typhoon Lan and were really pleased to have waterproof trousers and tops, Japan is green country and it does rain.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Patrick Mulligan

    aop ancient and modern japan

    We had a wonderful time - Japan is an amazing country and this exodus tour really helped us appreciate that to the full.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing parts of japan off the normal tourist trail

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was fantastic - she couldn't do enough for us all - full of energy and infectious enthusiasm, and very knowledgeable too. She clearly listened to what people said about what they wanted to get from the trip and delivered on this. Impressive.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Patrick Mulligan

    aop ancient and modern japan

    We had a wonderful time - Japan is an amazing country and this exodus tour really helped us appreciate that to the full.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing parts of japan off the normal tourist trail

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was fantastic - she couldn't do enough for us all - full of energy and infectious enthusiasm, and very knowledgeable too. She clearly listened to what people said about what they wanted to get from the trip and delivered on this. Impressive.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    John Lace

    Japanese exploration

    A great tour, which we both enjoyed tremendously. A wide variety of interesting sites to visit and different modes of transport to experience. Being able to visit Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Takayama, Matsumoto, Yudanka and Tokyo was just superb and everything went exceedingly smoothly with all the trains, buses, subways, trams, and PIRATE ships! The group was 18 in number and we always were able to travel together and experience all the sights. Hotels were good and offered restful nights and hot spring water baths at one. Meals were usually together and fish eaters were well catered for alongside the meat eaters. The two luggage transfers were great and suitcases were whisked off to be reunited a couple of days later. The trip schedule meant that most days we had several sights to visit and even on 'free-days' our guide, Ayaka, skilfully put together individual packages depending on our needs. The variety of experiences across the main island of Japan was wonderful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention but obviously the emotions of Hiroshima Peace Park, the busy food markets, the opulent shrines and temples, the extensive art treasures in Kyoto and Tokyo, the snow monkeys in snow, the hot spring bath in snow as well, Mount Fuji, the impressive time keeping of Japanese Rail, the patience, knowledge, good humour and infectious laugh of Ayaka.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka brought together a sizeable group in a calm and unflustered manner and made sure that we were able to fully experience the 'wonders' of ancient and modern Japan. Ever present and always preparing material for free days and helping us get deeper into Japanese society, made the whole tour a really memorable experience. Thank you.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book for next year

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    12 full days made Japan a very accessible country, Shinkansens speed us to far-flung places effortlessly, everybody we came into contact with throughout the tour was pleased to see us and help us unravelled so many aspects of the vibrant Japanese culture.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Byron Campbell

    Ancient & modern Japan

    This was a brilliant trip with a great group of fellow travellers. It took us along the length of Honshu, from the coast, cities, and into the mountains, using very efficient public transport - the Shinkansen & Tokyo metro which are experiences in themselves. We saw friendly deer, excitable snow monkeys and dressed-up dogs in prams (an example of an eccentric sight Japan will offer many of). It offered relaxing moments like bathing in the hot springs and warming sake, to quite intense moments like navigating busy train stations and some longer days on our feet exploring parks and cities.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I travelled to Japan to particularly catch the autumn colours - amazing! Late November was the perfect time of year for acers and they are a sight the country over, so Japan kept giving beatiful views throughout the two weeks. Ginkaku-ji in Kyoto gave my favourite moment for autumn colour - it's optional, but I v much recommend. If in blossom, the Philosopher's walk would be stunning as it's lined with cherry trees, again this was optional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka had great enthusiasm, was very humourous and she was very well organised. She moved 18 people several times through Tokyo stations at rush hour without loosing anyone! She offered great advice on sights to see on our free time, and gave useful maps with recommendations highlighted. She knew her Japanese food, and I particularly liked the group treats she sourced in Kyoto and she got us into some lovely restaurants despite being a big group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There's more walking than may seem obvious in the trip notes, and most is on paved urban surfaces, so it could be quite uncomfortable by the end of the longer days. So take comfy shoes and be prepared for several miles on one or two days. Tokyo's rail carriages get busy and cramped, and the stations themselves at rush hour take a lot of patience. But, for me it was part of experienceing the modern side of Japan so added to the understanding of what it means to be a local. Busy! There's more time in Tokyo then I'd really appreciated, so I'd recommend doing more research than I did on your options so you can make the most of it.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Claire Palmer

    Thoroughly enjoyable trip

    Excellent trip giving a great introduction to the culture & history of Japan.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    - autumn colours - Hiroshima - Kyoto golden temple - snow monkeys - bullet train - Nara It was all fabulous!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka did an excellent job of organising a group of 18 people & keeping us on track. She was always cheerful, friendly & helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There was more walking than I expected. It was fine for us but I think it's worth letting travellers know that you could be walking 6-7 miles a day. There was also more transport changes than we expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We loved Japan especially the countryside and the people.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Trevor Hoyland

    Japan - Ancient and Modern

    Having wanted to visit Japan for some years my wife and I picked the Exodus trip - 'Japan - Ancient and Modern' because it seemed to offer an interesting range of locations and was a few days longer than trips offered by other companies. The opportunity to spend nights in ryokans sleeping on the floor, bathing in onsens and experiencing traditional Japanese hospitality was also a factor as were travel by train between destinations and sightseeing on foot. The reality lived up to and beyond our expectations, we loved Japan and its people. The country is safe, ordered and steeped in a unique culture with a wealth of sights and sounds so very different from western societies. The trip took us to many historically important sites, to places of religious significance, both Buddhist and Shinto and to the quiet back streets and public spaces and gardens of ancient towns and the serene districts of the bigger cities. These were juxtaposed with the ultra modern cityscapes of Tokyo, a city which would take half a lifetime to explore and the reality of travel by bullet train and the technological wonder that is the Japanese toilet. Although the trip is full on, up early and off most days, there is also built in some time for personal exploration or just resting and taking in the passing scene. My only negative comment would probably be about the snow monkeys, which are never at Yudanaka at the time we visited, they are still feeding in the woods and have recently had their babies and don't come down to the hot springs until later in the year when the snows come. I suppose the clue is in the name. In any event Yudanaka itself is not to be missed and the hotel and onsen at which we stayed were superb. Through Exodus we arranged to fly home seven days after the 16 day trip had finished and spent a further week visiting two locations of particular interest to us with an extra day and night in Tokyo. Exodus staff were extremely helpful during our researches and the success of this extra time was in no small way down to their expert knowledge and readiness to give advice. All in all a wonderful experience which has whetted our appetite for a return visit to Japan to explore some of the many fascinating destinations it has to offer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational moments, first ride on the bullet train, the view from the top of a skyscraper of Tokyo at night, monks moving quietly through the grounds of their temples, watching the devotions of local people at the various shrines and temples, the sudden view of Mount Fuji from the window of a train and entire hillsides covered in trees in their autumn glory illuminated by the afternoon sun. There were inspirational moments around every corner.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Alena Eckelmann and the success of the whole trip was linked directly to her hard-work, enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the country. She has excellent language skills, has lived in Japan for the last 10 years and was able to move us around the country safely, despite the obvious pitfalls in moving a group of 18 on and off crowded Japanese trains and buses. Her priority at all times was for the group to get the maximum enjoyment from their holiday whilst keeping us safe and well. This she did with a gentle sense of humour, clear historical and cultural information when appropriate and precise instructions about what was happening next, where we would meet and what our options were for our free time. Always patient, always good-humoured, flexible when necessary, Alena was the cornerstone of what was for us a wonderful experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As a taster experience for what is a fascinating country with many, many regions to explore I believe Japan - Ancient and Modern is excellent. A well chosen itinerary with good accommodation and comfortable travel arrangements for a pretty full-on trip. Much of the exploration is on foot and days start early and sometimes finish late. Pack light, bring your comfortable walking shoes, an umbrella and an open mind and you will have a great time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks to Marta Marinelli and Andre Lopes - Exodus Travel consultants for their patience and help in planning our extra week. We visited Nikko and Hakone for 3 days each and had a lovely time. If extra time is an option Nikko in particular is a good choice for a few days in the mountains.
  • Reviewed November 2017

    Captivating Japan

    A brilliant introduction to Japan, its people and its culture. A top notch guide and a friendly, cohesive group made up for the terrible but unseasonal weather. Despite raining for 15 out of 18 days it didn't stop us from completing the itinerary (except for a landslide which closed the park where we were due to see the snow monkeys). And it was a packed itinerary, so not much downtime (which you might or might not prefer). The biggest disappointment for me however, was the lack of autumn colour. It was really too early in this part of Japan so I think Exodus should revise their note where it says "Best for autumn colour". I was expecting to find the food to be a challenge but it wasn't, the food was good with plenty of choice and variety. The Temples, shrines, gardens and parks are exactly as you would expect. What you might not expect is that some ancient sites sit cheek by jowl with modern high-rise buildings but usually not the main tourist sites. The Shinkansen was actually better than expected, not to be missed. Plenty of ordinary folk wearing traditional dress, especially in Kyoto.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The "matter of fact" video testimonies of the survivors from Hiroshima. I felt that, although the city will never forget and the degree of forgiveness is hard to assess, it has, nevertheless, "moved on".

    What did you think of your group leader?

    If you get Akemi you will be in very good hands.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are unlucky enough to get bad weather make sure you have packed some waterproof shoes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Perhaps not a holiday of highs and lows but consistently good throughout.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Zofia Chustecka

    Wonderful time in Japan

    Had a great time on this trip, it lived up to its promise of seeing Ancinet and Modern Japan

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying at the traditional Japanese houses, sleeping on a futon, eating traditional Japanese food while wearing a kimono, doing origami with the hostess and best of all bathing in the outdoor hot sprngs in the dark - that was the best moment for me!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was a wonderful group leader, she was unrelentingly cheerful and helpful and enthusiastic even in torrential rain and even when there was a typohoon that caused trees to fall on railway lines and landslides stopped the usual route up to the snow monkeys -- she persevered and made alternative arrangments so that our ploans could still be carried out. Ayaka was also most helpful in helping us to plan our itineries for our free days and she came along to some of the sights we wanted to see to help us out. I think she went out of her way to help, way beyond the call of duty, and she made the trip fun and highly enjoyable, in fact she made the holiday!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I very much enjoyed seeing the Ten Thousand Gate shrine (Fushimi-Ku) in Kyoto, which we went to on our free day, and I wonder why it isn't included in eth itinery -- we could have stopped off to see it on the day we went to Nara, on the way back we went through that station.

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!

Call us on 020 8772 3936