Japan Family - Essence of the Orient Trip Notes

Japan Family - Essence of the Orient

Last Modified: 12 Nov 2014
Japan Family - Essence of the Orient
Trip code: CJFP
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Grab the family and embark of an intriguing exploration of Japan. From ancient emperors to technological gizmos, Japan is a flurry of contradiction and excitement. Partake in a calligraphy lesson, hold a tune at a karaoke bar, swim in hot springs, visit a volcanic valley and explore the old temples of an imperial family. Allow Intrepid to take care of the finer details while you and your family enjoy a world of sushi, geishas, high-speed trains and sumo wrestling, alongside a local expert.
Table of Contents
StyleTippingArrival complications
ThemesDeparture taxEmergency contact
MapImportant notesEmergency funds
ItineraryGroup sizeVisas
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersWhat to take
Culture shock rating AccommodationHealth
Physical ratingMeals introductionSafety
Physical preparationMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsFeedback
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Family, Explorer
Japan Family - Essence of the Orient
Days 1-4 Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7pm Day 1.
Make your way to your first nights accommodation and check in. You will meet your group leader and the rest of your family group at the welcome meeting.
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.
Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition.
There's the chance tonight after dinner for an optional night walk and to see the incredible city skyline from the 45th floor of the Government Tower.
Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore - from fascinating musuems and world-class shopping to neighbourhood backstreets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars.
During our time here we will have a number of included activities accompanied by your tour leader as well as free time to explore on your own. The order and day of the included activities will depend on a number of things, including weather or local events. Your leader will discuss with you the plan for the next few days at the group meeting. We'll get around the city using the extensive and efficient public transport network - the fastest way to get to where we need to go and the best way to have the most local experience of what life is like in this big city.
While in Tokyo we will:
Get ready for an eye-opening experience at Tsukiji Fish Market. This market is the biggest wholesale seafood market in the world, selling more than 400 seafood varieties from around the globe. Wander through narrow aisles, witness heated negotiations and watch out for speeding market trolleys piled high with crates of stock for the day's trade.
After your market visit, sit down at one of the sushi restaurants surrounding the market and enjoy the freshest sushi breakfast you will ever eat!
Note: the Tsukiji Fish Markets are closed every national holiday and every Sunday.
For early risers, it is possible for the public to attend the tuna auctions. The auctions start around 5.00am and conclude by 7.00am, although it is necessary to arrive an hour earlier to secure a spot as only a small number of people are admitted. A taxi is required to get to the markets for the tuna auctions, as trains are not yet operating. Please advise your guide if you wish to attend the tuna auctions. Tuna auctions may be closed to the public during busy times.
Head to Akihabara to explore the manga (comic) market and then visit a comic making studio to see how manga is made.
Visit a sumo stable where we can watch the wrestlers take part in their morning practice. Please note that occasionally the sumo stables are closed and not accessible to the public. Another activity will be substituted in its place if this occurs.
Take a walk through a Tokyo depachika. The word is a combination of depato, meaning department store, and chika, meaning basement. In Tokyo the basement of many department stores is dedicated to food. Over the years, these ‘food halls’ have become one of the premier places to see the cutting edge of Tokyo’s food scene. Unlike a supermarket, where food is organised into aisles, a depachika is made up of many stalls with a mind-boggling array of both traditional and non-traditional Japanese foods. At some depachikas you can even find take-away sushi from Michelin-starred restaurants. Feel free to grab another snack if you are still hungry!
No doubt you've seen or heard of the Japanese animated films Spirited Away, Tottoro or Howls Moving Castle? They were all made here in Tokyo at Ghibli Studio, where will visit during our time in the city.
Learn to write your name in Japanese characters and try your hand at calligraphy (and your mouth at pronouncing some useful Japanese words!) in a class with a local teacher.
Take a look inside the Sony showroom for a glimpse at the newest technology from this Japanese company, from the latest TVs and home theatre, to personal devices, new video games to try and even robots to play with!
Cook your own "okonomiyaki" dinner (hotplate pancake) on one of our nights here, all while on board a boat on Tokyo Bay surrounded by the lights of the city.
On Sunday we'll visit Yoyogi Park where we'll join the locals for a picnic lunch and have the chance to see cosplay, local teenage bands, circus, acting and traditional arts groups all meeting to play and perform.
Some options during your free time include Tokyo's beautiful Imperial parks and temples, unique museums such as the Tokyo Edo Museum or the Samurai Sword Museum, watching a game of baseball or:
Spend time at Kodomo no Shiro, a children's play area consisting of 7 (yes, seven!) floors of indoor fun for kids including art & craft activities, music, movies, toys, games and playgrounds.
The Japanese love karaoke. Lose your inhibitions and sing the night away with a visit to a karaoke box for some after dinner drinks, snacks and songs.
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Metropolitan Government Building
  • Tokyo - Sumo Stable visit
  • Tokyo - Okonomiyaki dinner
  • Tokyo - Ghibli Animation Studio visit
  • Tokyo - Japanese & Calligraphy lesson
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market & Sushi breakfast
  • Tokyo - Sony Showroom
  • Tokyo - Depachika visit
Optional Activities
  • Karaoke - JPY2000
  • Tokyo Edo Museum - JPY300
Hotel (4 nts)
Days 5-6 Hakone
Today we leave Tokyo behind and head direct to Hakone by train. It’s astonishingly easy to travel by train in Japan. Trains operate with metronomic precision, and the sight of a white-gloved guard, bowing to a carriage full of travellers, is something we’ll never forget!
Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone has just about everything you could wish for – hot springs, mountains, bush walks, lakes, breathtaking views of Mt Fuji and interesting historical sites. Famed as a luxurious resort area since the Meiji period, Hakone's onsens (hot spring baths) are a top holiday destination for Tokyo residents looking to unwind.
There’s something for everyone here in Hakone. Together we will:
Ride the cable car to visit the volcano area of Owakudani with its sulphur pools which emit foul-smelling, but supposedly beneficial, gases. Try one of the hard boiled eggs, which are turned black by the water, they are alleged to prolong your life. If the weather is fine, we’ll get sublime views from Lake Ashino-ko of the icy cone of Fuji-san; Japan’s definitive mountain broods serenely on the skyline.
Take a scenic walk around the historic lake area, visit the old Samurai Postal Town and museum.
Meet the staff of the local cultural centre or visit a nearby school.
Enjoy a traditional music, language, origami or calligraphy lesson (where you will learn to write your own name in Japanese characters on a scroll to take home with you).
In Hakone our accommodation is in a small family-run ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, where the owners take pride in preserving the atmosphere and history of the building, which is usually wood. A garden is also a common feature. We will stay in a Japanese-style room on a futon, which will be comfortable enough (but don’t expect modern conveniences!) and tonight we can enjoy a traditional style home-cooked meal.
Our ryokan also has its own outdoor and indoor onsens which families can book and use privately.
Included Activities
  • Hakone - Cable car
  • Hakone - Onsen (hot spring bath)
  • Hakone - Cultural Centre/School visit
  • Hakone - Scenic walk
Optional Activities
  • Checkpoint Museum - JPY500
  • Open Air Museum - JPY1600
Ryokan (2 nts)
Days 7-11 Kyoto
The charms of the former imperial capital of Kyoto are discreetly hidden, and our stay will reveal some of the finest temples, shrines, palaces and gardens in the country. We have plenty of time to explore together - though we could easily spend a week in Kyoto without getting bored!
There are many great experiences included in our stay here:
Wander the Gion disctrict in the evening with your leader and see if you can spot geikos (geishas) or maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up.
Go for a leisurely bike ride along the great paths around some of Kyoto's key sites - definitely the best way to navigate the city.
Experience a food market with your leader and learn all about the ingredients on sale and how to use them. Maybe even buy some supplies for a picnic lunch by the riverside.
Visit Hikone Castle on a half day trip, including the samurai quarter.
Explore the stunning sights of the Arashiyama area, such as Tenryuji, rafting with boatment on the old Kyoto River and a walk through the bamboo forest.
In the rest of your free time you might like to:
Learn the art of Japanese archery (kyudo), try your martial arts skills in an Aikido class or master traditional culinary skills in a cooking lesson.
Immerse yourself in the time honoured tradition of a tea ceremony.
Check out the fashions at a kimono showroom.
Universal Studio Japan is only an hour away from Kyoto by fast train.
We'll have a chance to try some great local food here, such as Kyoto style okonomiyaki, tempura, teppanyaki, local style izakaya and of course, more sushi!
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market
  • Kyoto - Gion District Guided Tour
  • Cooking class
  • Kyoto - Guided bike ride
  • Kyoto - Shosei Strolling Garden
  • Kyoto - Nanzenji Temple
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari 10,000 Gate Shrine
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama sightseeing
  • Kyoto - Hikone Castle
Optional Activities
  • National Museum - JPY500
  • Tea Ceremony - JPY2000
Hotel (4 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
      Itinerary disclaimer
      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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      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.
      Culture shock rating

      Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
      Physical rating

      Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
      Physical preparation
      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 plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      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.
      Money Exchange
      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
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      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.
      Important notes
      Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.
      RAIL PASS: No Japan Rail Pass required for this trip unless you are flying out of Tokyo after the trip and need to get back there. We travel by JR bullet train using Shinkansen.
      Group size
      Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. On our Family Adventures, single relatives or friends are welcome to travel along with a family. These single travellers share with people of the same gender for the duration of the trip and in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Please note that 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 Comfort and Original style trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (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.
      A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
      Hotel (8 nts), Ryokan (2 nts)
      Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
      Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
      Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
      Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
      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.
      If you've purchased pre- or post-trip accommodation you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
      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.
      10 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 5 Dinners
      Budget for meals not included:
      USD 400.00
      Train (bullet), Train, Taxi, Cable car, Tram
      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.
      Joining 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
      Joining point instructions
      The Hotel Asakusa is conveniently located five minutes’ walk from the Tsukuba Express’s “Asakusa Station” and a one-minute walk from Ginza’s “Tawaramachi Station”.
      1) From Narita Airport, take Keisei "Skyliner" train to Ueno station. After exiting the Keisei line at Ueno station, look for the sign to Subway "Ginza" line - an orange circle with a "G" in it. Follow this sign and get on the subway Ginza line heading for Asakusa, and get off at the second station, Tawaramachi, (G-18.)
      At Tawaramachi station, head for EXIT 3 and go up to street level. Follow the main road (Road 462) towards North – the same direction as you walked upstairs. As you get up to street level at exit 3, there will be an area map displayed. You are walking to the right direction if you see a "DOUTOR COFFEE" on your left at a bus stop in about 30 meters. Keep on walking along this main street for another 60 meters until you see Sunroute Hotel on the other side of the road. Sunroute hotel houses "Jonathan Restaurant" so you will see the huge red letters "Jonathan". You actually have to go a bit further on to cross the street. From exit 3 to the hotel will take you about 1 minute to walk.
      2.) If you have a Japan Rail Pass and want to validate it you can do this before you get on the train. Then take the JR Narita Express train to Tokyo Station (1 hr) and from there change on to the Yamanote loop line (green line) going toward Ueno. This is also a JR line so you can use your JR Pass. From Ueno Station, follow directions for the Ginza subway line as above.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
      Emergency contact
      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Venture can be reached on +81 (80) 3012 9269
      For all other enquiries and contact details please see the following page:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, 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.
      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
      We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      Australia: No - not required
      Belgium: No - not required
      Canada: No - not required
      Germany: No - not required
      Ireland: No - not required
      Netherlands: No - not required
      New Zealand: No - not required
      South Africa: Yes - required in advance
      Switzerland: No - not required
      United Kingdom: No - not required
      USA: No - not required
      Issues on your trip
      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.
      What to take
      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.
      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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (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.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
      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.
      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 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.
      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. 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 group 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 group 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:
      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!
      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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      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 group 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.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      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:
      Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
      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.
      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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      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.
      Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.