Classic Japan Trip Notes

Classic Japan

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 May 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 15 Jul 2016
Classic Japan
Trip code: CJKJ
Validity: 01 May 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Steeped in centuries of culinary tradition, Japan is nothing less than a treasure trove of exotic cuisine, potent sake and sweet delights. From Kyoto to Tokyo, our adventure takes us into the heart of Japan, enjoying a smorgasbord of treats in a variety of settings. To complete the recipe, we mix in plenty of culture and top it off with some of Japan's best attractions. Be tempted by tempura, savour your sushi and tickle your tastebuds, as we discover the endless variety of Japan and its cuisine.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesAlternate finish point
ThemesMeals introductionAlternate finish point description
Is this trip right for you?MealsAlternate finish point instructions
Why we love itMoney mattersEmergency contact
MapGroup leaderVisas
ItinerarySafetyWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointHealth
Physical ratingJoining point instructionsTravel insurance
Included activitiesAlternate joining pointA couple of rules
Important notesAlternate joining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeAlternate joining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
AccommodationFinish point description
Style
Comfort
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip requires a decent level of fitness, as there's a lot of walking involved. You'll also be required to carry your luggage up and down staircases in train stations. At some destinations, larger luggage will be forwarded on ahead of you, so it'll be easier to get around with your hand luggage. Please refer to the itinerary for more information.
- On this trip we stay at traditional Japanese 'roykans', which means you'll be sleeping on the floor on a tatami mat. This is an important thing to consider if you have problems with your back, as the surface is really firm.
- We like to encourage travellers to indulge in traditional Japanese 'onsens'. This means bathing naked. While the experience can feel strange at first, most of our groups end up enjoying this traditional experience. If you feel uncomfortable with bathing naked, please feel free to skip this activity.
- The best way to traverse the country of Japan is by public bus and train. This means the transport on this trip isn't private and you'll be sharing with the locals. This is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with Japanese residents.
Why we love it
- A seven-day rail pass is included in the price of this trip, so there's no need to worry about the logistics or costs of transport between cities. All you need to worry about is whether to choose ramen or yakitori for dinner
- Spend the night in a traditional Japanese ryokan, sleeping on an authentic tatami mat. These Edo period inns are a true travel experience
- Surrounded by monks and tranquil scenery, an overnight temple stay in Koya-san is as peaceful and unique as it sounds
- During the course of the trip, you'll have plenty of free time to explore and get to know Japan in your own way
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Kyoto
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Kyoto, Japan. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you have some time, step out onto the streets for your first taste of this beautiful city. Originally founded as Heian-kyo (literally “tranquillity and peace capital”) by Emperor Kammu in 794, Kyoto had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years (the name means “Capital City”) but the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. After the meeting tonight, perhaps head out for your first delicious taste of Japanese food. As the millennium-long home of the imperial kitchen, Kyoto is known as the centre of Japanese culinary tradition, so you’re sure to begin this trip with a delicious meal.
Accommodation
Hotel Daiwa Shijo Karasuma or similar (1 nt)
Day 2 Kyoto
You’ll begin the day with an orientation walk around some of Kyoto’s more important sights. Visit the imposing and opulent Nijo Castle, home to the Tokugawa Shoguns who had power over the country during the Edo period. Check out the ‘nightingale floors’ of Ninomaru Palace, which squeak to warn of intruders (like otherwise-silent ninjas). From the Castle it’s a short bus ride to Ryoan-ji, perhaps Japan’s most famous Zen garden, where carefully placed rocks sit in an immaculately raked sea of gravel. Finish off with a browse of Kyoto’s handicraft centre, a perfect place to pick up some souvenirs with a fine selection of woodblock prints, yukata (light cotton robes), jewellery and pottery. This evening, take a step back in time on a walk through the narrow streets of Kyoto's charming Gion district, an entertainment district that’s the centre of geisha culture and that really comes alive at night. If you’re lucky you might spot geikos (geishas) or maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up. If you’ve got the budget, perhaps attend a tea ceremony at one of the district's teahouses, or splash out on a kaiseki meal in a ryotei (small restaurants serving traditional multi-course cuisine).
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden
  • Kyoto - Nijo Castle
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Handicraft Centre
  • Kyoto - Gion District Walk
    Accommodation
    Hotel Daiwa Shijo Karasuma or similar (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 breakfast
    Day 3 Kyoto
    Today is a full free day and there’s so much for you to explore. With its many cultural landmarks and historical sites, and the abundance of traditional arts and literature, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan. Kyoto is also a city that lends itself to walking, and there are a number of paths available. Recommended is a gentle stroll through the nearby eastern hills along the ‘Path of Philosophy’ that links Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, with Nanzen-ji Temple. This walk can be extended south through well-preserved ‘old town’ areas to Kiyamizu-dera (Temple of Clear Water) from where there is a justifiably famous view across a wooded gorge toward Kyoto. Also recommended, for those visiting in spring, is a visit to the theatre for a presentation of Miyako Odori (the Cherry Blossom Dance) performed by elaborately dressed maiko (apprentice geisha), or a visit to the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, immortalised in Yukio Mishima’s novel “The Golden Pavilion”. Close to your hotel the architecturally impressive Higashi Honganji temple and the almost surreal Sanjusangendo, home to 1,001 statues of Kannon. In the late afternoon there will be a short return walking tour of Gion – the geisha district – with its many old teahouses. At the end of the tour, maybe go for a traditional dinner in one of the many restaurants that occupy this exciting area.
    Optional Activities
    • Kyoto - Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
      Accommodation
      Hotel Daiwa Shijo Karasuma or similar (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 4 Koya-san
      As you travel on public transport for the next few days, we'll forward your big luggage to Hiroshima while you take a smaller daypack to Koya San. Spot the 120 temples dotted around Koya-san as you take the train (approximately 3.5 hours) into an important region for Shingon Buddhism. Founded in the 8th century by the Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi, Koya-san has been a centre for religious activities for over 1,200 years. The last leg of the journey takes you through some of Japan’s finest scenery, on a mountain road rising through the clouds, 915 metres above sea-level. The most impressive sight on Mount Koya is the massive and mysterious Okunoin cemetery, the resting place of many of Japan's most famous people. Some 200,000 stone statues, wooden totems and sometimes bizarre memorials (a rocket marks the site of a mausoleum interring the workers of an aerospace company) lie throughout this moss-laden forest. After visiting the more interesting of the mountain’s sights, make your way to the comfortable Shukubo Temple Lodging for the night. Here you might intract with some of the monks that run the lodgings, and learn about the customs of traditional Japanese accommodation.
      Included Activities
      • Koyasan Tour
        Optional Activities
        • Koyasan - Kongobu-ji Temple - JPY500
          Accommodation
          Rengejo-in Temple or similar (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast, 1 dinner
          Day 5 Hiroshima
          Fortified by a delicious temple breakfast, return by cable railway to Gokurakubashi and make your way to Osaka (approximately 1.5 hours) to board your first bullet train, heading to Hiroshima (approximately 2.5 hours). Travelling by Shinkansen is an absolute buzz, as you’ll reach speeds of up to 270 kmh. As you speed south you’ll stop en route (after approximately 1.5 hours) and pay a visit to Japan’s most impressive samurai Castle at Himeji. The building, which has survived earthquakes and war since the mid-16th century, was restored to its full glory in 2015. The moats, baileys, towers and walled alleyways were ingeniously designed to trick attackers – perhaps so intimidatingly that they were never in fact tested. Explore the castle that was once home to over 10,000 samurai families and look out over the castle grounds and the city below from the seventh floor. Continue on to Hiroshima, the city indelibly connected with World War II and the atomic bomb. You’ll stay in city centre accommodation close to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (commonly referred to as the A-Bomb dome).
          Included Activities
          • Himeji - Himeji Castle
            Accommodation
            Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 6 Hiroshima
            This morning you’ll visit the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, both of which emotionally stand testament to the fateful day in August 1945 when Hiroshima was chosen as target for the first ever wartime use of the atomic bomb. The dome was just metres from where the bomb detonated so it was able to retain its shape; the fact that it looks almost exactly as it did after the bombing means it serves as a reminder and symbol of peace. The memorial park serves the same purpose, and has museums, memorials and monuments dedicated to the memory of victims, education on what lead to the bomb’s use, as well as advocating world peace. In the afternoon you will head for the serene, enchanting island of Miyajima, reached after a short ferry ride (30 kilometres) across the Inland Sea. The island is home to the venerable Shinto shrine of Itsukushima, famous for its huge bright orange gate (tori) that rises majestically out of the sea. At high tide it is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan. The size and physical landscape of Miyajima makes it an ideal place for walking. There is the lovely Momaji Park (known as Maple Valley), from where it is possible to walk or take a cable car up to the top of Mt. Misen. Return to Hiroshima for the night. Maybe try one of the city’s signature dishes for dinner – okonomiyaki, a kind savoury pancake of egg, cabbage, soba noodles, and meat or seafood.
            Included Activities
            • Hiroshima - A-Bomb Dome
            • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum
              Accommodation
              Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast
              Day 7 Tsumago
              Pack a bag for two nights as you’ll forward your larger bags on to Tokyo, making travelling to Tsumago & Matsumoto easier. Board a bullet train to Nagoya (approximately 3 hours) where you will then change to an express train and continue north to the mountainous centre of Japan (approximately 75 minutes). You’ll spend a memorable night in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese Inn) near the medieval village of Tsumago. Once a post town (where travellers could rest on their journey around the country) during the days of the Shogun, Tsumago is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the Edo period Nakasendo Highway. The highway once connected Tokyo with Kyoto and was immortalised in the famous woodblock prints of Hiroshige. Cars are prohibited in the main street and cables run underground in order to maintain the medieval atmosphere of the town. In tonight’s ryokan, rooms are equipped with thin futon mattresses that are spread on tatami mats for a comfortable night's sleep. Tonight you’ll enjoy a traditional dinner cooked in the ryokan.

              Notes: Please note that in busy times passengers of the same sex may be required to share triple and quad rooms in the ryokan.
              Accommodation
              Hanaya Ryokan or similar (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast, 1 dinner
              Day 8 Matsumoto
              This morning you’ll have time to go back in time as you explore Tsumago, where you can wander the ruins of the castle and browse the local shops. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk along a short section of the old Nakasendo Highway towards the next village of Magome, which has great views of the surrounding hillsides. You’ll then board a train and continue north to the picturesque castle town of Matsumoto (approximately 2 hours). Matsumoto’s atmosphere is surprisingly cosmopolitan, while maintaining its historic charm and tradition. It has pretty streets and friendly people. This afternoon you will stroll through the former merchant district of Nakamachi, lined with well preserved old buildings, where you can find lovely local crafts, treasures and great restaurants. You’ll also have the option of visiting the city’s most famous site, the Matsumoto Castle, formerly known as Fukashi Castle. The regal-looking building has an elegant black roof and walls, and is sometimes nicknamed Crow Castle due to its resemblance to the bird spreading its wings. As the oldest original castle in the country (begun in 1592), it’s also one of Japan’s four castles listed as national treasures. You’ll spend the evening here in Matsumoto. Perhaps try the local soba noodles (some of the best in the country) and be sure to get some wasabi-based treats – the pristine waters from the alps make it grow particularly well here.
              Included Activities
              • Matsumoto - Naksendo Walk
                Accommodation
                Dormy Inn Matsumoto (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 9 Tokyo
                In the morning you will make your way by express train (approximately 3 hours) to Japan’s amazing capital, Tokyo, and your centrally-located hotel where you’ll be based for the next three nights. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore: fascinating museums, world-class shopping, bustling energy and futuristic architecture, as well as a gentler side of neighbourhood backstreets where citizens often reveal themselves – particularly outside of working hours – to be some of the friendliest of any capital city in the world. There are many vestiges of the past, with historic temples and shrines still to be found in some of the most unexpected places, as well as an abundance of parks and gardens – particularly exquisite in spring when the cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom. After you arrive, you have free time to explore – perhaps walk the short distance to see the Imperial Palace and its gardens, then enjoy the myriad food options for dinner.
                Accommodation
                Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 10 Tokyo
                Today you’ll undertake a varied, full-day tour of the city, beginning in the historic Asakusa area. This is one of the older and more traditional parts of Tokyo, and is often called the temple district. Here you’ll stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple – founded almost 1,400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. Browse the many interesting stalls – filled with tasty treats, crafts and souvenirs – that line the shopping street of Nakamise dori. After lunch you’ll enjoy an alternative view of Tokyo as you relax on a short cruise down the Sumida River. You’ll pass significant buildings like the Sky Tree Tower and Tsukiji Fish Market, under the bridges that bisect the river, and then alight at the delightful urban oasis of Hama Rikyu gardens. Here you’ll have time to stroll along paths that were once the sole preserve of the shogun, who would hunt ducks here in the feudal era. Later you’ll make your way to the luxurious shopping district of Ginza where, depending on the theatre schedule, you’ll have the chance to see a short performance of Kabuki, one of Japan’s more spectacular performing arts.
                Included Activities
                • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
                • Tokyo - Sumida River cruise
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 11 Tokyo
                  Today’s a free day to explore this pulsating city, where there’s almost an endless amount of things to see and do. In Shinjuku the city’s highest skyscrapers offer panoramic views, and on clear days you can see Mount Fuji. Districts in the east are magnets for the city’s breathtakingly trendy youth – see the crowds at Shibuya Crossing, the costumes in Harajuku, as well as the important Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the 19th-century Emperor. Take in history at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda, or see ancient treasures at the National Museum in Ueno. Another great museum, which gives insight into old time Tokyo, is the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku. Spend some time in the city’s green spaces like Yoyogu and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, browse high-end shops in Ginza, experience the theatre of a sumo bout, or create your own entertainment with some karaoke. This evening, you’ll join your group for a farewell dinner as you say sayonara to Japan.
                  Optional Activities
                  • Tokyo - Samurai Sword Museum - JPY600
                  • Tokyo - Ghibli Animation Studio visit - (must be booked in advance) - JPY1000
                  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
                  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market - Free
                  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
                  • Tokyo - Hamarikyu Garden - JPY300
                  • Tokyo - Meiji Shrine - Free
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 12 Tokyo
                    Your Classic Japan adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Itinerary disclaimer
                    ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

                    MUSEUM OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays.
                    Physical rating

                    In Japan many of our travel connections are made at fast pace and require you to walk up and down stairs at fast walking pace. Please make sure you have an adequate level of fitness.
                    Included activities
                    Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden
                    Kyoto - Nijo Castle
                    Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
                    Kyoto - Handicraft Centre
                    Kyoto - Gion District Walk
                    Koyasan Tour
                    Himeji - Himeji Castle
                    Hiroshima - A-Bomb Dome
                    Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum
                    Matsumoto - Naksendo Walk
                    Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
                    Tokyo - Sumida River cruise
                    Important notes
                    1. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip (validated on Day 5). For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, an Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days) is available.
                    2. Please note a Single Supplement is available for this trip. Please contact your booking agent for more information.
                    3. Due to the expense of private transport, distances of airports from cities, and the fact that Japan has very efficient public transport airport links, transfers are not offered in Japan. Please see the Joining Point Instructions in the trip notes for more information.
                    4. Japan is excellent for exploring on foot, but please be aware of the amount of walking on this trip, sometimes up to 10-15km per day. Pack comfortable walking shoes and ensure your fitness level is such that you’ll be comfortable.
                    5. Please note, decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and be aware that you may not be able to enter public onsens.
                    6. Please note the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo will close on the 3rd of November 2016. The new fish market in Toyosu will open on the 7th of November 2016.
                    7. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Venture can be reached on +81 90 6531 9269.
                    8. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

                    Group size
                    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                    Your fellow travellers
                    GROUP TRAVEL
                    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                    SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (9 nights), Monastery (1 night), Ryokan (1 night)
                    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
                    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
                    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                    CHECK-IN TIME
                    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                    There are shared bathrooms at some of the accommodation on this trip.
                    Meals introduction
                    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
                    Meals
                    11 breakfasts, 2 dinners
                    Money matters
                    The official currency of Japan is Yen (JPY).

                    Japan is predominantly a cash society and locals carry large amounts of cash for daily business.

                    Changing cash and travellers' cheques is possible in major cities although the use of travellers' cheques is quite limited and exchanging can be very time consuming. International credit cards can usually only be used at major department stores or large restaurants but cash from non-Japanese bank accounts can be withdrawn via the Cirrus and Maestro systems by direct debiting (as well as Mastercard and Visa cash advance). This is now available at all post office ATMs around the country, as well as 7 Eleven convenience store ATMs, making it very easy to get access to cash throughout the trip at each location 24 hours a day.

                    We recommend you arrive in Japan with as much Yen as you feel comfortable carrying. If your arrival day is on a weekend please ensure you have enough money for the first few days, either by bringing it with you, or changing it at the airport. Although most locations will have access to a 7 Eleven store with an ATM, be prepared that ATMs may not be available at all times of the day in the immediate area.

                    SPENDING MONEY
                    When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                    If you are happy with the services provided by your group leader tipping - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tour.

                    The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$1-2 per person, per day can be used.

                    DEPARTURE TAX
                    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

                    EMERGENCY FUNDS
                    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                    Group leader
                    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                    Safety
                    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                    BALCONIES:
                    Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

                    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                    SEAT BELTS:
                    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

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

                    LIFE JACKETS:
                    While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
                    Joining point
                    Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto-Shijokarasuma
                    678, Omandokoro-cho, Karasuma-dori Bukko-ji Sagaru,
                    Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 600-8413
                    Kyoto
                    JAPAN
                    Joining point instructions
                    ARRIVING BY TRAIN
                    -Shijo Station (Karasuma Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway)
                    Go up to the ground from Exit 5 using stairs and walk toward your left.
                    You will see our hotel on your left within 1 minute by walking.
                    -Karasuma Station (Kyoto Line of Hankyu Railway)
                    Go out through the West Ticket Gate, walk toward your left, and you will see an access way to Shijo Subway Station.
                    From the underground Shijo Station, please use the route stated in (1) above.

                    ARRIVING BY PLANE
                    -If you come from Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport)
                    Take the Osaka Monorail at Osaka Airport Station and get off at Minamiibaraki Station.
                    Take Hankyu Kyoto Line at Minamiiaraki Station and get off at Karasuma Station.
                    It is a 5-minute walk from Hankyu Karasuma Station.
                    *Go through the underground passage and go out through Exit 5 of Shijio Subway Station.

                    -If you come from Kansai International Airport
                    Route (1)
                    Take [JR Limited Express Haruka] at JR Kansai Airport Station and get off at Kyoto Station.
                    Take Kyoto Municipal Karasuma Subway Line at Kyoto Station and get off at Shijo Station.
                    It is about 1 minute by walk from Exit 5 of Kyoto Municipal Subway's Shijo Station.

                    Route (2)
                    Take the airport limousine bound for Kyoto at Kansai International Airport and get off at Kyotoeki-hachijoguchi (Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit).
                    Take Karasuma Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway at Kyoto Station and get off at Shijo Station.
                    It is a 1-minute walk from Exit 5 of Kyoto Municipal Subway's Shijo Station.
                    Alternate joining point
                    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
                    20 Sep 2016 (CJKJ160920), 08 Oct 2016 (CJKJ161008), 28 Oct 2016 (CJKJ161028)
                    Hotel Noku
                    604-0861 Kyoto
                    Nakagyo-ku Okuracho 205-1, Japan
                    Kyoto
                    JAPAN
                    Alternate joining point description
                    Alternate joining point instructions
                    Finish point
                    Hotel Parkside
                    2-11-18 Ueno
                    Taito-Ku
                    Tokyo
                    JAPAN
                    Phone: +81 338365711
                    Finish point description
                    Located right across from Shinobazu Pond, and conveniently close to Tokyo’s vibrant Ameyoko-cho district and the museums and galleries of Ueno Park.

                    Check in time is 14:00. If arriving after 21:00, please telephone us your time of arrival.

                    We are unable to offer additional accommodation at Hotel Parkside. For additional nights please book online:
                    www.parkside.co.jp
                    Alternate finish point
                    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                    05 Nov 2016 (CJKJ1611052)
                    Asakusa Sunroute Hotel
                    1-8-5 Kaminarimon
                    Taito-ku
                    Tokyo
                    JAPAN
                    Phone: +81 338471511
                    Alternate finish point description
                    Asakusa Sunroute Hotel is in the heart of Tokyo, so it is a great location for wandering around town. Ueno Park is located within 30 minutes walk.

                    Although Tokyo is a big city it is not too difficult to get around, quite safe, and people are friendly and helpful. Be sure to take a business card from reception before heading out into the streets, just in case.

                    Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 2:00pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival. Please note we cannot offer any additional accommodation at this property. If you require additional pre-tour accommodation please email the hotel directly at info@sunroute-asakusa.co.jp
                    Alternate finish point instructions
                    Emergency contact
                    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                    For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                    In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.


                    Intrepid's Local Kyoto Office: +81 90 6531 9269
                    Visas
                    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                    Japan Visa

                    Stays of up to six months are permitted for citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK. Citizens of these countries will almost always be given a 90-day temporary visitor visa upon arrival, which can usually be extended for another 90 days at immigration bureaux inside Japan.

                    Citizens of the USA, Australia and New Zealand are granted 90-day temporary visitor visas, while stays of up to three months are permitted for citizens of Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and a number of other countries.
                    What to take
                    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                    Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                    On this trip, you're expected to carry your own luggage for up to 30 minutes at a time. Train stations are quite complex and usually require a lot of stair climbing, especially when doing a quick transfer from train to train. Elevators aren't always available and cannot accommodate many people at a time, so if you are choosing to bring a suitcase, please ensure you are able to lift and carry it yourself without difficulty. A backpack is recommended for these reasons. Many inns don't allow suitcases with wheels into rooms with tatami mat floors. Japanese transportation is often quite small and cramped so it's best to pack as light as possible.

                    During your visit to Japan you may receive hospitality from local families/people. A great way to reciprocate is to bring a small gift from your country, eg. animal figurines, pens, flags or stickers.

                    Please note that the weather is quite a bit cooler in more remote areas outside of Tokyo - please pack accordingly.

                    WATER BOTTLE
                    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                    Cold tap water in Japan is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap or public water fountains.
                    Health
                    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
                    Travel insurance
                    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                    When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                    A couple of rules
                    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                    Responsible Travel
                    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                    While Japan is known for its 'out there' fashions overall it is quite a conservative country. Please remember that we spend time at temples, working monasteries, holy shrines, recreated villages and castles, cooking schools and ancient gardens. At these places it is important to be respectful to the staff and other visitors by wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

                    The Intrepid Foundation
                    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                    http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                    Feedback
                    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback