Ancient & Modern Japan Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Japan
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AOP
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 10 nights hotels and 3 nights ryokans/minshukus (traditional Japanese guesthouses) 
  • 14 days land only / 16 days flight inclusive
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 short day walks 
  • 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

Trip Highlights

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

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level 3- 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 is 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 so a good level of fitness in essential.

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 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.

 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

We use a mixture of local and International leaders who are all experienced in leading International groups and have an in-depth knowledge of the country.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
18

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Kyoto
End City:
Tokyo

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Kyoto

    The trip starts in Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amidst beautiful hills. 

  • Day 2

    Visit Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Ryoanji temple and Nijo castle; followed by Nishiki Market and historic Gion

    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 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'. We then visit the Ryoanji temple, home to Japan's most famous and iconic rock garden, before moving onto the impressive Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns.

    At lunch we will head back to central Kyoto for a stroll at the famous Nishiki Market, known as '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 walk around 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 3

    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 the Todaiji Great Buddha temple. Built in 752 by the Emperor Shomu this enormous 15 meter 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 4

    Free day in Kyoto; relax in one of the many zen gardens, walk the popular Philosopher 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 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 and Japanese theatre (these can be arranged locally by your tour leader and subject to availability).

  • Day 5

    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. Please note, whilst the ‘floating’ tori of Itsukushima-jinja Shrine is currently undergoing renovation works, we still recommend a visit to this enchanting island as part of the day trip to Hiroshima.

    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 Kyoto in the evening.

  • Day 6

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

    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 gardens, located a short walk from our accommodation. We stay in a traditional Japanese style accommodation where we have the opportunity to experience the Japanese lifestyle and hospitality (please refer to the accommodation section for more information).

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    Orientation tour in Takayama and free day to explore its peaceful shrines and temples

    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 8

    On to the mediaeval village of Tsumago; short leisurely walk on 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 9

    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, which boasts some fantastic natural hot springs, where we spend a night in another Japanese-style accommodation.

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    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 gateway 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 11

    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 12

    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 13

    Free day for further exploration; optional karaoke farewell night

    Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. Worth visiting is the Meiji Shrine; surrounded by tranquil forest, this Shinto shrine is one of the most popular in Japan and combines traditional Japanese architecture with love for the nature. Or for those interested in culture or shopping, there are limitless opportunities with districts like Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku catering for all tastes and needs! Your leader will be on hand to advise how best to maximise your free day in Tokyo.

     

  • Day 14

    End Tokyo

    The tour ends this morning for land only client.

     Clients who are booked on the group flights to London will be transferred to Tokyo Narita Airport in the evening. If you are not travelling on the group flight, it is possible to have a free shuttle service departure transfer to Narita or Haneda Airports. Please contact our Operations team for more information or to request this. Please note, the free shared shuttle departure transfer must be requested in advance with Exodus before departure if you wish to utilise this service (all requests are subject to availability and must be confirmed before departure). It is not possible to request this service once a trip has commenced.

Accommodation

Hotels and Ryokans

In Kyoto, Matsumoto and Tokyo, our hotels are centrally located and of a high standard with excellent modern facilities and English speaking staff. Please note, in Japan, western hotel room sizes in standard hotels are normally smaller in size and if requesting a double bed, please be advised that these can be smaller in size than western double bed sizes so couples may prefer twin beds.

For three nights during the trip we stay in traditional ryokans and minshukus; traditional inns/guesthouses where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. Ryokans and minshukus, whilst comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels and do all have their own unique style; some are more like Japanese B&B's (minshukus) with a homestay/guesthouse feel and guests make their own Japanese style beds up, whilst others are managed more like a standard hotel (typical ryokans) with bedding made up for guests. 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. Please be advised, whilst females and males will have access to separate gender specific bathrooms, inside showering and bathing facilities can lack the level of privacy you would be used to in a western style shared bathroom.

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

Single supplements

Single supplements can be pre-booked for 10 nights at the hotel accommodation in Kyoto (5 nights), Matsumoto (1 night) and Tokyo (4 nights) only. 

In Takayama (2 nights) and Yudanaka (1 night), single supplements are not available and rooming is based on twin share (sharing with another group member of the same sex).

Please be advised single supplements are limited and is payable at the time of booking and subject to availability. In Japan, often single supplements can be accommodated in either an actual single and/or double for sole use room in hotels. 

2022 departures

Please be advised that the below accommodations are just a list of the standard hotels used for 2022 departures. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Kyoto (5 nights): Dormy Inn Premium Kyoto Ekimae

Matsumoto (1 night): Dormy Inn

Tokyo (4 nights): Hotel Gracery Asakusa or Hotel Gracery Ginza

In Takayama (2 nights) and Yudanaka (1 night) groups stay at one of a small selection of traditional guesthouses used by Exodus.

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 in Takayama, and some hot springs 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.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £680.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

3 breakfasts and 3 dinners are 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 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.

Please advise us at time of booking you have any specific dietary requirements.

Transportation

Transport will be by public train, metro, bus, tram and occasionally private minibus. The trains in Japan are both highly efficient and very comfortable and we use public transport around Kyoto and Tokyo to experience the Japanese urban life.

Japan Rail Pass

The tour makes use of a 7-day Japanese Rail Pass, the cost of which is included in the price and is purchased by Exodus before departure. If you are planning to extend your trip and wish to extend or purchase an additional pass, please contact our Customer Operations team for more information and costs.

In the unlikely event that you are a holder of a Japan Business or Residence visa please note that you will not be eligible to use the Japan Rail Pass. Please contact the Exodus Office if this applies to you.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Emirates Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.


Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Kyoto and ending in Tokyo

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Kyoto in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

In the unlikely event of any of your luggage being misplaced or damaged, a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) must be filed with the appropriate airline if you subsequently wish to make a claim against the airline or on your travel insurance. This must be done at the airport where your baggage arrived, or should have arrived.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights who will be taking a private transfer from Kansai airport to Kyoto on arrival.

If you are travelling on a different flight, arriving before or at the same time as the group and you would like to join the group transfer, please request it at least 6 weeks prior departure. The cost of this transport is included in the trip price if you are able to meet the group and your leader on time. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense. 

Kansai International Airport is situated on a man‐made island in Osaka Bay about 40 km from central Osaka. The easiest and fastest option when traveling between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto independently is the train. The Limited Express Haruka operated by JR West is the only rail service between Kyoto Station and Kansai International Airport. It covers the distance in about 75-80 minutes and it runs regularly approximately every 30 mins. The normal fare is around 2850 Yen. For up‐to‐date info on prices and timetables and to book tickets, please ask the Travel Desk of Kansai Tourist Information Center. This is located on the first floor of the Terminal 1 building. 

Private transfers are not available on this trip.

Further information will be provided in the final joining instructions which will be sent to you 2 to 3 weeks before departure.

 

Location start:
Kyoto
Location end:
Tokyo

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothing is all that is required. Outside of business situations, Japanese are very relaxed about dress so formal attire is unnecessary. On both spring and autumn departures, it is possible that some of the nights outside the main cities may be surprisingly cold, sometimes below zero, so it would be wise to bring a jumper, gloves and/or warm jacket and warm trousers. 
  • As there is a lot of walking involved in this trip, a comfortable pair of walking shoes is a requirement. Ideally these should be easy to put on and take off for the fairly regular occasions when shoes must be removed before entering homes or temples. In the minshuku and ryokan slippers, towels and yukata, a Japanese style dressing gown, are provided.
  • We suggest a strong holdall or suitcase (ideally with wheels) for your main luggage plus a reasonably sized, easy-to-carry daypack or overnight bag. 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. As well as providing for ease of travel on the train system, this will make us more flexible and mobile for our time in Takayama and Yudanaka. This should not prove a problem as effectively your daypack/ overnight bag need only be big enough to cope with you being two nights away from your main bag, i.e. a change of clothes, washing gear, camera etc.
  • Refillable water bottle (1-2 litre capacity). Tap water in Japan is safe to drink and taking a refillable water bottle will help reduce waste!

Bringing Medication into Japan for Personal Use It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the UK, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. For more information, please contact the Japan Embassy in London or the Japanese Embassy in your country of residence.

At time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 23kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Reading List

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

The Inland Sea by Donald Richie

Shogun by James Clavell

The Roads to Sata: A 2000‐mile Walk Through Japan by Alan Booth

Autumn arrives in the temple gardens, Japan

Practical Information

Passport

Japan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. South African passport holders do require a visa; but it is worth all nationalities verifying visa requirements directly at your embassy before travel.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Japan's Timezone:
Asia/Tokyo JST (GMT +09:00)

Electricity

Japan's Electricity:

100 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs (US style). Most battery chargers function at this voltage, but do check their documentation.

Money

Japan's Currency

The national currency of Japan is the Yen (JPY), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2021) of approximately 150 to the GBP, 110 to the USD, 87 to the CAD, 130 to the EUR, 81 to the AUD and 78 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

We recommend obtaining some Yen (JPY) before travelling to Japan, although you should check the exchange rate carefully. Japan is a very safe country and locals often carry around large amounts without problems. Alternatively, if you decided to travel with US dollars or Pound sterling exchange facilities are fairly widely available, including at the airport on arrival, and it is also possible to change money in Kyoto, Hiroshima, Takayama, Matsumoto and Tokyo.

Major credit cards are not widely accepted (although chain electronic shops generally accept Visa) and only a few ATM's are international debit card compatible. To withdraw directly from an international account (non-Japanese) using a debit card, the post office or 7‐Eleven ATM machines is the best option. 

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Apart from three breakfasts and three dinners included in Takayama and Yudanaka, food is not included in the price. You should allow around GBP 40-45 (USD 50-60) 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.

A certain amount should be allowed for optional entrance fees and bus/ taxi fares not included in the itinerary. The cost of these will of course vary according to individual preferences but a figure of around GBP 80/ USD 100-110 is reasonable.

Optional Excursions

Different optional cultural experiences can be arranged by your leader locally (subject to availability) including a traditional tea ceremony as well as theatre shows of traditional performing arts such as Kabuki.

Please note that sumo can be watched only during the official tournaments which are held every year. In Tokyo these take place in January, May and September. Tickets sell out months in advance, so we recommend for clients to try and secure these tickets directly online and as far in advance as possible. if you are visiting Tokyo when the tournaments are held and would like to go, to secure tickets, please check out the information on prices and dates at http://sumo.pia.jp/en/

All the below optional activities are subject to availability during your tour:

Gion Corner ‐ theatre show (Kyoto) approx. GBP 23
Zen gardens ‐ (Kyoto) approx. GBP 2‐5 each
Tea ceremony ‐ (Kyoto) approx. GBP 35‐40
Kabuki show ‐ GBP 7‐15

Tipping

Tipping locals for services is not expected or required in Japan, so you do not need to budget for tipping in restaurants or hotels - don't be surprised if your money is returned if you do try to leave a tip.

However, if you feel that your leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services - the amount you give is entirely personal and at each individual's discretion, but we suggest as a rough guide of GBP 2-3 per day is a good starting point.

Responsible Tourism

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • Guests will have the opportunity to stay in traditional Japanese guesthouses (ryokans/minshukus) for 3 nights of the tour in Takayama & Yudanaka, where they will eat delicious home cooked, traditional Japanese meals prepared by locals.
  • With a strong emphasis on culture and history, this trip provides plenty of opportunities to visit various museums and cultural sites. Our visits to the museums and sites will benefit the locals and contributes to the preservation of their cultural assets through the money spent on entrance fees and other purchases made within the area. 

 Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste. For example, we encourage eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead encourage clients to drink the tap water, which is safe to drink in Japan. We encourage all clients to take a refillable water bottle with them on the tour.
  • During the tour, our guides educate guests on how to appropriately separate and dispose of any waste, as well as encouraging clients to use reusable chopsticks and canvas tote bags for shopping.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • We choose to travel predominantly by train and public transport through-out this trip as opposed to private transport or taking domestic flights. 
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary mostly use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.
  • Most accommodations used on this trip adhere to strict environmental policies in order to save water and energy and lower their carbon footprint.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip. Tap water in Japan is safe for drinking, hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles for this purpose and minimise our usage of single use plastic bottles.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Shoes are never worn in someone's home or on Japanese tatami flooring (mats). There will always be a place to put your shoes. In addition, you will be given slippers to wear. There are often different slippers for the bathroom.
    • It is highly inappropriate to stick chopsticks into food, especially into a bowl of rice. This practice of placing chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is a funerary practice known as ‘tsukitate-bashi’. 
    • When eating soup or rice, it is acceptable to lift the bowl closer to your mouth to avoid spilling food. Generally, miso soup (which accompanies many meals) is drunk directly from the bowl, while larger soups are usually consumed by using a soup spoon.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Important Notes

In line with our ‘book and travel with confidence’ promise which allows you to cancel free of charge up to 42 days prior to departure, or transfer to another trip free of charge up to 21 days prior to your trip starting in country,  please be aware that this excludes ‘irrecoverable costs’. Details can be found here: https://www.exodus.co.uk/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions

 

For this trip, the irrecoverable costs related to in-country operations are outlined below, if booking flight inclusive your sales agent will confirm the terms related to your international flights at the time of booking.

 

If cancellation occurs 21 days or up to 24 hours prior to departure:
Accommodation and Train Tickets    £237.02 / US$297.87 / CA$397.17 / AU$416.39 / €262.64

 

Costs are accurate at the time of writing in September 2020

 

If you need to cancel your trip because you or a member of your party is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has received a request from the Government to self-isolate, you will receive a full refund less these irrecoverable costs.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.