Land of the Rising Sun Trip Notes

Land of the Rising Sun

Last Modified: 14 Apr 2016
Land of the Rising Sun
Trip code: CJST
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Ever-welcoming and always fascinating, Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and groundbreaking technology. Experience the best that this diverse country has to offer from the excitement of lively Tokyo to the sacred resting places of shoguns at Nikko. Feast on local delights at a Takayama market, make a sobering visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park and explore magnificent Kyoto temples. Discover ancient castles, lush countryside and fascinating feudal history on this authentic travel adventure. If you pack a good sense of humour and leave all inhibitions behind, the Land of the Rising Sun rarely disappoints.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesAlternate finish point description
ThemesMeals introductionAlternate finish point instructions
Is this trip right for you?MealsEmergency contact
Why we love itMoney mattersVisas
MapGroup leaderWhat to take
ItinerarySafetyHealth
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel
Important notesFinish pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish point descriptionFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinishing point instructions
AccommodationAlternate finish point
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- A good degree of fitness is recommended for this trip as there is a lot of walking involved (up to 10 kilometres each day), particularly around Kyoto which is best seen on foot. Bring comfortable walking shoes.
- There is no single supplement option to book on this trip, which means you'll always be sharing a room either with your partner or another traveller of the same gender.
- We recommend packing light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down stairs.
- 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. This is great for those who appreciate a bit of independence and want to customise their journey.
Why we love it
- What better way to see Japan than by the country's famous railway system? It's clean, efficient and we include a 14-day Japan Rail Pass in the trip price
- This trip affords you a good balance of included activities and free time, with plenty of optional activities to keep you busy and a helpful leader to steer you in the right direction
- Most of the accommodation is in the style of a traditional Japanese Ryokan. Sleep on the floor on a tatami mat, keep warm beside an irori hearth and bath in an onsen
- This 14-day adventure zips you through the highlights of Japan, so you'll get a comprehensive introduction to this amazing country
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.
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Hamarikyu Garden - JPY300
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
  • Tokyo - Edo Museum - JPY600
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Tokyo/Nikko
    Enjoy a couple of free hours this morning. Perhaps see 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. Next, catch an express train (approximately 1 hour) and then a local train (approximately 1 hour) out of Tokyo towards Nikko. You’ll enjoy a pleasant ride on a clean train, with beautiful views of the countryside. Japanese trains also have trolley carts with snacks such as bento boxes (Japanese lunch boxes), green tea and beer. Once you arrive in Nikko you’ll have free time to spend as you wish.
    Accommodation
    Ryokan (1 nt)
    Day 3 Nikko
    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.
    Included Activities
    • Nikko - Toshogu Shrine
      Optional Activities
      • Nikko - Bus to Chuzenji Lake (return) - JPY2200
      • Nikko - Imperial Villa - JPY510
        Accommodation
        Ryokan (1 nt)
        Day 4 Hakone
        Leaving Nikko, you’ll board a local train followed by two bullet trains and finally a bus on your way to Hakone. Total travelling time will be approximately 3.5 hours. Once in Hakone, take a boat across Ashinoko Lake and then ride a cable car over the surrounding mountains. The area around the lake offers plenty of stunning views, and you may even catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji in the distance if weather conditions are clear. You’ll be staying at a family run guesthouse with shared facilities and a lovely outdoor onsen. Men and women always enter separate baths and no clothing or swimming costumes are allowed.
        Included Activities
        • Hakone - Lake Ashino-Ko boat trip
        • Hakone - Cable car
          Optional Activities
          • Checkpoint Museum - JPY500
          • Hakone - Onsen (hot spring bath) - JPY1200
          • Open Air Museum - JPY1600
            Accommodation
            Ryokan (1 nt)
            Day 5 Hakone
            Today is a free day in the lake, mountain and onsen area of Hakone. Perhaps visit the boiling sulphur springs, or the Hakone Jinja – the red-gated Shinto shrine. There’s hiking trails in the national park, such as from Togendai to Owakudani, and from there to Mt Komagatake, passing the peaks of Mt Kanmurigatake and Mt Kami. There’s also the great collection of art at the Hakone Open-Air Museum and the Pola Museum of Art, an eclectic mix that includes work by the likes of Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gallé. Ask your leader for some suggestions and tips about what to do in this famous onsen region.
            Accommodation
            Ryokan (1 nt)
            Day 6 Takayama
            Travel by shinkansen (bullet train) towards Takayama. You’ll reach speeds of 270 kilometres per hour and get to your destination within approximately 4 hours. Takayama is a charming Edo period town located in the Japan alps, famous for its traditional inns, sake breweries and the museum of Hida Folk Village. The latter is your first stop, an outdoor museum where the traditional thatched-roof architecture unique to the area has been recreated in a delightful mountain setting. Discover the techniques used to build farmhouses that could withstand fierce winters and long periods of isolation due to snow-closed roads. The thick thatching kept in warmth and the roofs were angled so as to minimise snow build-up. Each house is like it’s own self-contained museum, with displays of personal items and traditional tools. You’ll then have free time to explore the many art galleries, local markets and museums, or simply wander the streets of this delightful little town. For the next couple of nights you’ll be staying in a stunning ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) within walking distance of the town. The inn includes a lovely irori hearth and traditional meals.

            Notes: During the Takayama Festival (14-15 April and 9-10 October), accommodation will be harder to get and may be multishare. Depending on rooming configurations, couples may sometimes have to split up for these nights.
            Included Activities
            • Takayama - Hida Folk Village
            • Takayama - Market visit
              Optional Activities
              • Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
              • Merchant House - JPY700
              • Festival Float Museum - JPY820
                Accommodation
                Ryokan (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                Day 7 Takayama
                The Gifu prefecture is known to produce many fine altitude vegetables, and today you’ll visit morning markets that date back over 600 years. Browse the stalls of seasonal vegetables brought in from the surrounding countryside, set up by local farm women from 6am every morning. While browsing the food markets look out for the unique local style of pickles, the bags of miso wrapped in leaves, Genkotsu ame (soy bean candy), preserved fish, spices, and the delicious marshmallow treat of owara tamaten. The rest of the day will be free to spend as you wish. The alpine climate and crystal clear mountain waters are perfect for creating sake, so why not visit a local brewery for a taste of the region's prized signature drop.
                Accommodation
                Ryokan (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                Day 8 Hiroshima
                Take a train for approximately 5 hours to Hiroshima. 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. You’ll stay at a comfortable hotel in Hiroshima for the next few nights, which is within walking distance of the Peace Park and has internet access.
                Optional Activities
                • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum - JPY50
                • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island - JPY450
                • Hiroshima - Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - JPY300
                  Accommodation
                  Guesthouse (1 nt)
                  Day 9 Hiroshima
                  Enjoy a free day in the city of Hiroshima. You may choose to see more of the extensive exhibitions at the Peace Memorial Park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Alternatively 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. Keep your eyes out for inquisitive and hungry deer that roam the streets. In the evening, 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.
                  Accommodation
                  Guesthouse (1 nt)
                  Day 10 Hiroshima
                  You’ll have another free day in Hiroshima. With so much to do in the area, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Why not visit the sprawling city-centre green space of Chuo Park, or the serene Shukkeien Gardens. You could stop by the magnificent Hiroshima Castle, which originally dates from the 1590s. It was destroyed by the bomb but reconstructed in all its glory in the 1950s, and now holds an informative museum in its five stories. There are numerous other musuems scattered about the city, and the wonderful Shukkeien garden is the perfect place to decompress on a break from sightseeing. Winding across the stone bridges past graceful teahouses and waterfalls can make you feel like you’re in another world. For something a bit louder, there’s the local baseball and soccer teams (if the day is right), or endless shopping choices. Ask your leader for tips, suggestions and directions.
                  Accommodation
                  Guesthouse (1 nt)
                  Day 11 Kyoto
                  Leave Hiroshima today and head Japan’s most impressive samurai Castle at Himeji (approximately 1 hour). 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 a 1 hour train ride to Kyoto. 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, maybe discover Kyoto’s exuberant nightlife. Hit up the city’s izakayas (traditional Japanese pubs), live music venues, theatres or nightclubs.
                  Included Activities
                  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
                  • Kyoto - Temple/Shrine entrance (2)
                    Optional Activities
                    • Kyoto - Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
                    • Kyoto - Sanjusangendo Temple - JPY600
                    • Kyoto - Obanzai Cooking Class - JPY3800
                    • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY300
                    • Tea Ceremony - JPY2000
                    • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY400
                      Accommodation
                      Ryokan (1 nt)
                      Day 12 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 a city that lends itself to walking, and there are a number of walks 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 evening, perhaps 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.
                      Accommodation
                      Ryokan (1 nt)
                      Day 13 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
                      Ryokan (1 nt)
                      Day 14 Kyoto
                      There are no activities planned for the day and you’re able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 12 pm. 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

                      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
                      Nikko - Toshogu Shrine
                      Hakone - Lake Ashino-Ko boat trip
                      Hakone - Cable car
                      Takayama - Hida Folk Village
                      Takayama - Market visit
                      Himeji - Himeji Castle
                      Kyoto - Temple/Shrine entrance (2)
                      Important notes
                      1. A 14 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip (validated on Day 2). For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, an Japan Rail Pass extension (total 21 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. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Venture can be reached on +81 (80) 3012 9269.
                      6. 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.
                      7. 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.
                      8. 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

                      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.

                      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
                      Guesthouse (3 nights), Hotel (1 night), Ryokan (9 nights)
                      RYOKANS:
                      Japanese style inns (Ryokans) involve sleeping on comfortable futons at floor height. Please note in winter months Ryokans can be quite cold, heating systems in Japan (which is quite different to western countries) is reliant on oil heaters. As such, most open social spaces would not be as warm as closed spaces/rooms. Extra blankets and additional bedding can be requested at some locations, please have a chat to your Leader if your sleeping arrangements are uncomfortable.

                      Please consider choosing a different trip style if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues, as futon bedding may exacerbate any pre-existing physical/medical injuries.

                      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
                      2 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.

                      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 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. We endeavour 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. 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/safety

                      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.

                      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.

                      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.

                      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.
                      Joining point
                      Kinuya Hotel
                      2-14-28 Ueno Taitoku 東京都台東区上野2-14-28
                      Tokyo
                      JAPAN
                      Phone: 81 338331911
                      Joining point description
                      Located in the heart of Tokyo, great for exploring. Ueno Park is the height of activity on weekends, so is well worth a look. 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.

                      We are unable to offer additional accommodation at Kinuya Hotel. If you are spending extra nights in Tokyo consider booking direct with the hotel.
                      www.kinuyahotel.jp
                      email: info@kinuyahotel.jp
                      Joining point instructions
                      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, Keisei Ueno. The fare is 2,400 yen for the express Skyliner train (about 1 hour) or 1,000 yen for the normal train (about 1.5 hours). When you get off at Keisei Ueno go out the ticket gates (there is only one set of ticket gates at this station) and turn right. Go up the stairs and out the Ikenohata Exit. The Kinuya Hotel is across the road at the top of the stairs.
                      Finish point
                      Heianbo Ryokan
                      725 Nishiiru-higashishiokojicho, Shichijo-sagaru, Karasuma-dori 〒600-8216京都市下京区烏丸通七条下ル西入ル東塩小路町723
                      Shimogyo-ku
                      Kyoto
                      JAPAN
                      Phone: 81 0753510650
                      Finish point description
                      This lovely ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) in Kyoto has a small garden, tatami mat rooms and a shared onsen (bathhouse). It's within easy walking distance of Kyoto station.
                      Finishing point instructions
                      The Heianbo Ryokan is a 5 minute walk 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.

                      Alternate finish point
                      For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                      16 Jul 2016 (CJST160716), 10 Sep 2016 (CJST160910)
                      Daiwa Roynet Hotel
                      9-2, Higashikujo-kitakarasumacho Minami-ku
                      Kyoto-shi
                      Kyoto
                      601-8017
                      JAPAN
                      Phone: +81 756930055
                      Alternate finish point description
                      Alternate finish point instructions
                      Alternate finish point
                      For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                      14 May 2016 (CJST160514), 28 May 2016 (CJST160528), 20 Aug 2016 (CJST160820)
                      Kotoya Guesthouse
                      186 Kaikōjichō, Minami-ku,
                      Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 601-8406
                      Kyoto
                      JAPAN
                      Alternate finish point description
                      Alternate finish point instructions
                      Alternate finish point
                      For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                      07 May 2016 (CJST160507)
                      Palaceside Hotel
                      Karasuma Shimodachiuri Agaru
                      Kyoto
                      602 8011
                      JAPAN
                      Phone: +81 754158887
                      Alternate finish point description
                      Alternate finish point instructions
                      Alternate finish point
                      For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                      02 Jul 2016 (CJST160702), 30 Jul 2016 (CJST160730)
                      The B Kyoto Sanjo
                      Chome 49-1, Sanjo Ohashi Higashi-iru,
                      Higashiyama-ku
                      Kyoto
                      605-0001
                      JAPAN
                      Alternate finish point description
                      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 (80) 3012 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 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

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