Japan Express Trip Notes

Japan Express

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 19 November 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016
Japan Express
Trip code: CJRB
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 19 Nov 2016
Home to sumo wrestling, sake, geishas, karaoke and traditional onsens, Japan is an extraordinary land. Here you can expect a frenetic pace one day and a tranquil experience the next. Take in the neon nightlife of Tokyo, relax in the manicured gardens of Nikko and discover thousands of years of culture and history in Kyoto. From world-class sushi to legendary samurai, this enigmatic nation is a traveller’s delight. Get back to basics and see the best of Japan without busting your budget.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesAlternate finish point instructions
ThemesMeals introductionEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?MealsVisas
Why we love itMoney mattersWhat to take
MapGroup leaderHealth
ItinerarySafetyTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersAlternate finish point
AccommodationAlternate finish point description
Style
Basix
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip features very few included activities and a lot of free time. This is ideal for people who appreciate their independence, but if you want a more closely guided tour of Japan, consider doing another trip such as 'CJST - Land of the Rising Sun'.
- You'll be travelling between destinations via public transport. While not exactly stretch limos, Japanese trains are clean, efficient and a great way to experience the countryside.
- This trip requires a moderate amount of fitness, as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down stairs.
- Be prepared to do a lot of walking on this trip, particularly around Kyoto which is best seen on foot. Bring comfortable walking shoes.
- You'll sometimes be sleeping in traditional Japanese ryokans which are rather different to western hotels. This means sleeping on the floor on tatami mats and futons. While it may not be what you're used to, it can be surprisingly comfortable.
- As there are few activities included, you will have plenty of options offered by your leader for you to choose from. Public transport to get to various sites is easy and cheap, but do take the cost of transport into account when planning your budget for activities.
Why we love it
- Experience a mix of Japan's most famous sites along with some great off the beaten track gems
- If you're the independent type, this is the trip for you. While we'll get you from A to B and show you around, you'll have plenty of free time to do exactly what you like
- Stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan, sleeping on the floor beside a cosy hearth after a nightly soak in shared baths
- Dine with friends or dine alone. There are no meal inclusions on this trip, which means you're free to customise your own foodie adventure in one of the world's most acclaimed culinary destinations
- Japan's famous railway system is clean, efficient and a great way to mingle with the locals. You'll even get to ride some of the country's bullet trains, which are among the fastest trains on earth
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore, from fascinating museums and world-class shopping, to neighbourhood backstreets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them at this meeting. Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to explore Tokyo’s exhilarating nightlife. Perhaps take a walk down Shinjuku’s Memory Lane. This crowded alley of busy restaurants and bar stalls started in the 1940s and quickly gained infamy as a black market drinking quarter. Today, it is still one of the best spots to try some of Tokyo’s famed ‘fast food’ dishes.
Accommodation
Ryokan (1 nt)
Day 2 Tokyo
Today is your first free day in Tokyo. Why not start by heading up the observation deck of the Metropolitan Government Building for a stunning view across the skyline of the world’s largest metropolis. Perhaps get walking and explore some of some of Tokyo's most well-known districts, like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Ginza – variously known as the fashion centre, the skyscraper district, the home of quirky youth pop culture, and the upscale shopping area. In the afternoon, maybe take some time sightseeing 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 can stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple – founded almost 1,400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. If you’re pressed for choice or feeling a little lost in this enormous new city, consider doing an Urban Adventures tour, such as 'Tokyo After 5'. Speak to your leader for more information. In the evening, there’s an incredible array of options for dinner – a hearty bowl of ramen, crispy tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet), or snacks and beer at an izakaya – the list goes on! After dinner, your leader may also have a tip on where to grab a nightcap at one of Tokyo's uber-cool underground whisky bars.
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Ghibli Animation Studio visit - (must be booked in advance) - JPY1000
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
  • Yoyogi Park - Free
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple - Free
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Tokyo - Meiji Shrine - Free
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market - Free
    Accommodation
    Ryokan (1 nt)
    Day 3 Tokyo
    Enjoy another free day in Tokoyo. You might like to get up really early for an eye-opening experience at Tsukiji Fish Market – the world’s biggest – where you’ll dodge bargain hunters, fishmongers, and market trolleys piled high with crates of stock as you wander the narrow aisles of spectacular creatures. Afterwards, you could pop in to one of the sushi restaurants that surround the market for the freshest sushi breakfast you could ever eat. For the rest of the day there’s almost an endless amount of things to see and do. See the crowds at Shibuya Crossing, the costumes in Harajuku, take in history at the Imperial Palace or the treasures at the National Museum, and see the grand shrine dedicated to the 19th-century Emperor. Spend some time in the city’s green spaces like Yoyogu and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, or see the city from a different angle with a short cruise down the Sumida River. You could always create your own entertainment with a memorable turn in a sky-high karaoke glass box. If the season’s right you might even get to experience the theatre of a sumo bout.
    Optional Activities
    • Tokyo - Hamarikyu Garden - JPY300
    • Karaoke - JPY2000
    • Tokyo - Samurai Sword Museum - JPY600
    • Tokyo - Depachika visit - Free
      Accommodation
      Ryokan (1 nt)
      Day 4 Nikko
      Re-join the group again today and catch a train to Nikko for approximately two hours. Along the way you’ll see spectacular countryside scenery and enjoy some snacks on the train. Once you arrive in Nikko you’ll have free time to spend as you wish. Nikko has been a sacred city since the middle of the 8th century, and is overflowing with beautiful shrines and temples. Perhaps visit the Toshu-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun who was one of the most powerful rulers of the country. The shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan. Instead, every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold leaf, lacquer work, paintings and patterns. Here you can also visit the Museum of Art at the back of the temple complex. This 1920s mansion has one of the country’s most beautiful collections of sliding doors and screens decorated by the best Japanese painters of the day. You can also pay a visit to the red-lacquered Shin-kyō bridge, one of the town’s most famous landmarks, and the Buddhist temple of Rinnō-ji, home to fearsome statues and an elegant garden. Nikko is considered one of Japan's premier sake producing regions, so be sure to step out in the evening for a shot of this traditional beverage.
      Optional Activities
      • Rinnō-ji Temple - JPY400
      • Kanmangafuchi Abyss - JPY200
      • Iemitsu Mausoleum - JPY550
        Accommodation
        Ryokan (1 nt)
        Day 5 Nikko
        Enjoy another free day in Nikko. For those feeling energetic, Nikko National Park offers plenty of hiking opportunities. You can relax by Chuzenji Lake or climb up to the Senjogahara Plateau, where the gods of Mt Nantai and Mt Akagi are said to have battled for possession of the lake. You can take a 6 kilometre walk following the course of the plateau, or explore the various hiking trails that spread off from the lake itself. The lake area is also home to the Kegon Waterfall, and you can get the Akechi Daira Rope Way cable car over the falls and lake. A little further on is Lake Yunoko and Yumoto, where you can soak in the natural hot springs, or if the weather permits, go skiing. In the town itself you can explore the shops along Hippari Dako, maybe tasting yuba, the skin that forms on top when making tofu.
        Optional Activities
        • Nikko - Imperial Villa - JPY510
        • Nikko - Toshogu Shrine - JPY1300
          Accommodation
          Ryokan (1 nt)
          Day 6 Kyoto
          Enjoy your last free morning in Nikko and then say goodbye to the city. In the afternoon, you’ll take a shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for approximately three hours. 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. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in. Spend some free time getting acquainted with Kyoto and walking through the historical streets. In the evening, head out to Gion, the famous Geisha district. Even today you can observe the age-old tradition of geisha girls visiting members of the wealthy elite. This unfolds in small teahouses tucked away in tiny back streets. You’ll also attend the Gion Corner cultural centre where you’ll enjoy some Japanese performing arts, from flower arranging to the lion dance.
          Optional Activities
          • Kyoto - Sento Imperial Palace - Free
          • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine - Free
          • Gio - Ji - JPY300
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 7 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”. Another great stop is 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 - Gion District Walk - USD32
            • Kyoto Tower - JPY770
            • Kyoto - Sanjusangendo Temple - JPY600
            • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY500
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 8 Kyoto
              Make the most of your last day in Kyoto. If you haven’t done so already, you may like to see Japan’s largest pagoda at Toji. Consider doing one of our Urban Adventure tours, such as the cycling tour of the Path of Philosophy (see urbanadventures.com for more information). You could 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. For some last minute shopping there’s 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. On your final evening you could enjoy karaoke with your new friends, or maybe splash out on a kaiseki meal in a ryotei (small restaurants serving traditional multi-course cuisine).
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 9 Kyoto
              There are no activities planned for today and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
              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

              You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs to make tight connections, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes, sometimes at a fast pace. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.

              Japanese style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons at floor height. Please consider this if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues.
              Important notes
              1. This itinerary is far from a hand-holding, all inclusive trip, so enjoy the freedom of discovering Japan, with the guidance of expert advice on how to spend your time from your leader.
              2. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Venture can be reached on +81 90 6531 9269.
              3. 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 or civil unrest) necessitate a change to our planned route.
              4. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. You will need to buy your own train tickets for any independent rail travel you wish to do in Japan.

              Group size
              Maximum of 16 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.

              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.
              A single supplement is not available to purchase on this trip.
              Accommodation
              Hotel (5 nights), Ryokan (3 nights)
              RYOKANS:
              Japanese-style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons or matresses on tatami mat floors, with bedding often packed away during the day. Attached bathrooms/toilets will usually be very small and many ryokans will have shared bathing facilities with certain hours, or times available for booking at reception. Your leader will explain ettiquette involved in using the shared facilities. 

              As this style of accommodation will often not have furniture (ie. chairs or beds) in the rooms, please consider choosing a different trip style if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues.

              Some ryokans may have a curfew when travellers need to be back in the accommodation - this is usually around midnight.

              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
              No meals included
              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.

              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.


              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:
              We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
              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:

              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
              Sakura Ryokan
              2-6-2, Iriya Taito-ku
              Tokyo
              JAPAN
              Phone: +81(0 3 3876 8118
              Joining point description
              Located within an easy walking distance of Asakusa, Kappabashi Street (5 minutes walk) and Ueno Park, this traditional Japanese inn also offers convenient access to all major tourist attractions in Tokyo, including the Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza and Narita Airport. Offering family-style service, the Sakura Ryokan provides its guests with access to free internet, a common bath, dining room, coin-operated laundry, vending machine and IDD telephone. The clean rooms TV and air-conditioning, with shared bathrooms.
              Joining point instructions
              To get to Sakura Ryokan from Narita Airport:
              Narita Airport is approximately 60 km from Tokyo and a taxi will cost you approximately US$250. Due to these high prices we do not offer private arrival transfers in Japan.

              Japans public transport is a cheaper option than arrival transfers and very efficient. We recommend you take the train to your starting point. It's not complicated and there are plenty of people around to help you if you need to ask for directions. The train station is located under the airport, very close to the exit from immigration.

              Take the Keisei line train and get off at the final stop, Ueno. The fare is 1,920 yen for the express skyliner (about 1 hour) or 1,000 yen for the normal train (about 1.5 hours). When you get off at Ueno follow the signs to the Hibiya metro line, marked with grey circles. Travel in the direction of Kita-Senju and get off at the first stop, Iriya (the fare is 160 yen).

              Iriya is the closest stop to the Sakura Ryokan. Exit the station through either exit 1 or 2 then walk along Kototoi Street towards ASAKUSA for about 6 minutes. After the seven eleven on your left turn slightly left at the next big intersection. About 80m along you will see the Sakura Ryokan on your left. Check in is from 3pm but you can leave your bags with reception if you arrive before this.

              There are two ways to get to Sakura Ryokan from Haneda Airport:

              By Subway: from the airport, please take the Keikyu line (bound for Keisei Takasago) and change to the Hibiya line (bound for Kitasenju) at Ningyocho Station. Get off at Iriya Station.

              By JR line: from the airport, please take the monorail and change to the Yamanote line (bound for Tokyo) at Hamamatsucho Station. Get off at Uguisudani Station.

              If you have any problems please call the Ryokan from a public phone and they will help you with directions. From within Japan the phone number is 03-3876-8118 and you can use any green public phone by inserting 10 and 100yen coins.
              http://www.sakura-ryokan.com/en/access/

              If you are arriving late in the evening please let our sales team know at time of booking so that we can advise the hotel.
              Finish point
              Palaceside Hotel
              Karasuma Shimodachiuri Agaru
              Kyoto
              602 8011
              JAPAN
              Phone: +81 754158887
              Alternate finish point
              For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
              15 Oct 2016 (CJRB1610152)
              Hearton Hotel
              Higashinotoin-Dori, Oike-Agaru Nakagyo-Ku
              Nakagyo Ku
              Kyoto
              JAPAN
              Phone: 075 222 1300
              Alternate finish point description
              The hotel is located near one of the major intersections in Kyoto, where Karasuma Dori meets Oike Dori, than the subway below this intersection is the junction of the Karasuma line and the Tozai Line. Some of the major attractions of Kyoto (Nijo jo, Honganji etc) are within walking distance, as is the Wining / Dining and Shopping area of Kawaramachi.
              The front desk is open 24 hours, and the staff are only to happy to help you with tourist information, or choosing a great place to eat. Rooms are comfortable and modern, with western beds and bathrooms. For those on longer stays there is a coin operated laundry on site.

              We are unable to offer additional accommodation at Hearton Hotel. For additional nights please book online:
              www.heartonhotel.com
              Alternate finish point instructions
              The Karasuma Oike subway station, the intersection of Kyoto's two main subway lines, is a short walk away from the Hearton Hotel. Take the Karasuma line southbound three stops to Kyoto station. The fare will be approximately 200JPY

              From KYOTO station:
              To get to Kansai Airport (Osaka) take the Limited Express Haruka (1 or 2 per hour depending on time of day). The fare is 3,690 yen or free with a valid JR Pass.
              To get to Narita Airport take the Hikari Limited Express to Tokyo station (2.5 hours) then change onto the Narita Express. The fare is 16,330 yen or free with a valid JR Pass. Please be aware that the Narita express requires a seat reservation as there are no unreserved cars. This can be bought / reserved at any JR Green ticket window. Find out before you board which terminal you need to go to (Terminal 1 or 2) by looking at your ticket or checking details on www.narita-airport.jp. If you need to go to Terminal 1 this is the final stop of the train and the station name is 'Narita Airport'. The station name for Terminal 2 is 'Narita Airport Terminal 2'. Please do NOT get off at 'Narita' station; this is the city, not the airport.
              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
              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.

              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.

              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

              JAPAN LUGGAGE
              On this trip you will need 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 up and down stairs yourself without difficulty. A backpack is often preferred by travellers for this reason. Some ryokans 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 so that you are not blocking aisles or taking up extra seats on trains.

              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.

              TAP WATER:
              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

              Intrepid Travel is a big supporter of the protection of endangered species around the world.

              And so it is against Intrepid’s Responsible Travel policy for our leaders to take passengers to places that use cruel practices or supply or serve foods that are on the endangered species list, such as whale, turtle, tiger, bird’s nests, pangolin and shark.

              Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year. We do not visit places that serve whale meat on any of our trips, nor will your leader guide you to where it is offered.

              For more information on our Responsible Travel policy, see our website:
              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/about/responsible-business

              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