Last Modified: 22 Jul 2014
Real Food Adventure - Japan
Trip code: CJZF
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Pack your chopsticks and celebrate thousands of years of food artistry by diving into one of the world’s most elegant, eclectic and harmonious cuisines. Combine time spent seeing the country's sights with a scouting out of its prized eating and drinking spots. Watch yakitori sizzling in front of you in Shinjuku's Memory Lane, eat fresh-off-the-boat sashimi at the incredible Tsukiji Fish Market, learn to make soba noodles in a hands-on cooking class and take on a sumo wrestler – in the eating department – with a bowl of chanko nabe. Glimpse a geisha drifting through the alleyways of Gion while in Kyoto and experience a charming kaiseki dinner, otherwise known as a multi-course meal of seasonal and local specialties, at a traditional ryokan. If it's a trip that tantalises the tastebuds as well as sates a sense of adventure, this Japan Real Food Adventure ticks all the boxes.
Table of Contents
- 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.
Days 1-3 Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
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.
Head for Shinjuku's Memory Lane (aka Piss Alley). This crowded alley of busy restaurants and bar stalls originated 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, including yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) as well as some of the city’s more daring fare.
From the observation deck of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building we have a fantastic night view over this wonderful metropolis.
Get ready for a very early start to catch a live auction at the world-renowned Tsukiji Fish Market. This market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, selling more than 400 types of seafood from around the globe. The auctions start around 5.20am and conclude by 7.00am.
The Tsukiji Fish Markets are closed every national holiday and every Sunday, and the tuna auctions may be closed to visitors during busy times.
Sit down at one of the sushi restaurants surrounding the market and enjoy the freshest sushi breakfast you will ever eat! You may also want to browse among the surrounding shops specialising in Japanese kitchen gadgets and restaurant supplies.
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.
Learn the art of creating soba, Japan’s famed buckwheat noodle, in a hands-on cooking class. Slurp up your creations for lunch.
Enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing in the Asakusa area. This old part of town is home to Kappabashi-dori (or Kitchen Town), a street almost exclusively dedicated to shops supplying the local restaurant industry. This is the perfect place to score an offbeat kitchen gadget, a soba knife or marvel at the life-like plastic food samples seen in many restaurant windows around the city. For any sweet-tooths, this will be the place to satisfy your craving as there are many local sweets to be sampled.
You will also have time for your own food adventure. Perhaps discover the charms of a typical Japanese izakaya or indulge in one of Tokyo’s famed high-end dining establishments.
After dinner, your leader may also have a tip on where to grab a nightcap at one of Tokyo's uber-cool underground whisky bars.
- Memory Lane Yakitori Dinner
- Tokyo - Metropolitan Government Building
- Asakusa Guided Walk
- Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market & Sushi breakfast
- Soba Noodle Making Lesson
- Tokyo - Sumo Stable visit
- Tokyo - Depachika visit
- Tokyo Farmers Market Visit
- Japanese Izakaya Dinner - JPY2500
- Tokyo Whiskey Bar - (Drinks at own expense, price is a guide only) - JPY1500
- Chanko Nabe Restaurant - JPY2000
- Karaoke - JPY2000
Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar (3 nts)
Days 4-5 Nikko
Set amid a magnificent cedar forest, Nikko is home to some of Japan's most important shrines and temples - including the elaborately decorated Toshu-gu Shrine.
Experience the collision of old and new Japan as you head from Tokyo to rural Nikko. Visit the resting place of a Tokugawa shogun. Sip local sake while soaking in a traditional onsen and enjoy a traditional meal of rural Japanese cuisine.
During our time in Nikko we learn about and taste the different foods long associated with temple and shrine complex and their ceremonies - from life to death. A town with many vegetarian restaurants we get the chance to explore and learn about local dishes such as yuba-ryori (tofu skin). We visit the lake area in the Nikko National Park and take the time to learn the ins and outs of all things fresh from these rich food sources - from water to plate over the centuries.
- Bus to Chuzenji Lake (return) - JPY2200
- Imperial Villa - JPY500
Nikko Station Hotel Classic or similar (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Koya-san
Founded in the 8th century by the Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi, Koya San has been a centre for religious activities for over 1,200 years. We stay in one of the hundreds of temples still operating and learn more about the lives of the monks as we follow their routine of morning meditation and evening prayers. For our meals (included), we enjoy strict vegetarian fare, lovingly prepared and presented by the novice monks.
We visit the temple complex of Kongobu-ji, with its complex history and religious significance. Now the head temple of all Shingon sect temples in Japan it features the largest rock garden in Japan, a sublime creation of white raked pebbles and seemingly randomly placed dark stones. Another must see sight is the graveyard of Okuno-in, a massive area containing over half a million graves. The path leading from the entrance of the graveyard to the resting place of Kobo Daishi is 2km long and on either side are the tombstones of people wanting to rest close to the founder of the Shingon sect.
Our temple lodging in Koya San has shared facilities and we join the monks for prayers before eating shojin-ryori meals.
- Koya-san - Okunoin Cemetery
Rengejo Inn or similar (2 nts)
Days 8-10 Kyoto
This amazing city was originally founded as Heian-kyo in 794 and had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. The city still bears the name Kyoto ('Capital City'), even though the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. Home to many cultural landmarks and historical sites, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan, with its abundance of traditional arts and literature.
With magnificent temples, stunning gardens and gorgeous geishas, Kyoto is the ancient heart of Japan's unique culture.We have time to reflect on the past through visits to some of the seasonally stunning sites of this ancient capital and time to delve into geisha culture and the food that goes with this ancient art. At night we visit the busy Gion area and try some of the largely unknown Kyoto street food as well as okonomiyaki, famous in this part of town. For authentic tastes and smells of the kitchen of Kyoto we visit the Nishiki market and finish up at a Sake brewery to learn all there is to know about this ancient conversation starter and the food that goes with it.
With your free time you may want to try kaiseki ryori, the traditional food with artistic design or you might give one of the may Michellin rated restaurants a try.
- Kyoto - Temple/Shrine entrance (2)
- Kinkakuji Temple - Free
- Sanjusangendo Temple - JPY600
- Tea Ceremony - JPY2000
- Kiyomizu Temple - JPY400
- Home-cooking class - JPY3800
- Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
New Miyako Hotel or similar (3 nts)
Days 11-12 Osaka
Known for its delicious cuisine, Osaka's sprawling shopping hubs and tiny backstreets are overflowing with restaurants and bars serving up local delicacies, such as takoyaki (octopus balls).
What better way to finish our trip than in a city that has the motto 'Kuidaore' which translates to 'eat until you drop'!
With our time in Osaka we learn how to make takoyaki, quick hands are needed, and for the daring amongst us, you have the option of celebrating our time in Japan with a final dinner of fugu. No other city eats more fugu (pufferfish) than Osaka and only specialised chefs who have passed rigorous training can prepare the dish. If fugu is not your style you can try Osaka's very own sushi, hako zushi or sample some of the local street food offerings and wash it down with a locally brewed beer.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
- Takoyaki (octopus ball) class
- Osaka Castle - JPY600
- Bunraku Puppet performance - JPY2500
Unizo Yodoyabashi Hotel or similar (1 nt)
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.
- Japan Rail Pass Extension (14 Days) CJZF ()
- Japan Rail Pass Extension (21 Days) CJZF ()
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Japan Express (CJRB)
- Land of the Rising Sun (CJST)
- Classic Japan (CJKJ)
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.
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.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
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 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.
A number of activities on this itinerary may have an alcohol component. Relevant local laws governing the legal age for consumption of alcohol apply to this trip. If you are below the local drinking legal age, you will not be able to participate in any trip activities involving alcohol. No refund will be offered for those 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.
Many sights and attractions are closed on Mondays.
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
SUMO STABLE VISIT
Occasionally throughout the year we may not be able to visit the Sumo stables due to tournaments taking place. Should this be the case your leader will advise you at the beginning of your trip.
JAPAN RAIL PASS
A 7 day Standard/Ordinary Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip. For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, a Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days) is available. Please contact us at time of booking regarding this service.
Please note that Japan Rail Passes are only valid for foreign tourists visiting Japan from abroad for sightseeing under the entry status of temporary visitor (tourist visa).
Maximum of 12 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
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
New Miyako Hotel or similar (3 nts), Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar (3 nts), Nikko Station Hotel Classic or similar (2 nts), Rengejo Inn or similar (2 nts), Unizo Yodoyabashi Hotel or similar (1 nt)
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.
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.
Some nights on this trip will be spent in Japanese style inns and sleeping on comfortable futons at floor height.
There are shared bathrooms at some of the accommodation on this trip.
While travelling with us you'll experience a vast array of dishes, beverages, dining experiences, ingredients and produce.
To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, the trip price does not include all meals. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility – whether you wish to partake in budget, mid-range or high-end dining options. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. Generally, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company, however there's no obligation to do this.
For travellers wanting to eat at a particular high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurant, there will be specified free nights in certain locations where you can make your own restaurant reservations. It is recommended you make reservations for high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurants well in advance of your departure, as there can be long lead times for booking in some instances.
11 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Your group leader will endeavor to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary. Please notify your group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip.
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Bus, Train (bullet), Train
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. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip.
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.
Asakusa Sunroute Hotel
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Alternate Joining point
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
13 Sep 2014 (CJZF140913), 25 Oct 2014 (CJZF141025)
Phone: 81 338365711
Alternate Joining point description
Located right across from Shinobazu Pond, and conveniently close to Tokyo’s vibrant Ameyoko-cho district and the museums and galleries of Ueno Park.
Check in time is 14:00. If arriving after 21:00, please telephone us your time of arrival.
We are unable to offer additional accommodation at Hotel Parkside. For additional nights please book online:
Alternate Joining point instructions
Narita airport is approximately 60 km from Tokyo and a taxi would cost you around US$250.
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.
For a cheaper option we recommend you take the train. It's not complicated and there are plenty of people around to help you if you need to ask for directions.
There are two railway companies that run trains from Narita Airport to Tokyo: Keisei Railways and Japan Rail. The train stations for both companies are located under the airport, very close to the exit from immigration. There are English signs.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass and want to validate it you can do this before you get on the train at the rail pass office in the station. Then use your pass to take the JR 'Narita Express' train to Tokyo station. At Tokyo Station, change on to the Yamanote line (look for green signs) going toward Ueno. This is also a JR line so you can use your JR Pass. From Tokyo station Ueno is the 4th stop and should take about 8 minutes. On arrival at JR Ueno Station, go out the Shinobazu exit. When you get out of the station, you should see pedestrian crosswalks in front of you and on your right. Turn right and cross the street, then turn left. On your right you'll see stone stairs leading into Ueno Park. Walk past the stairs. Soon you'll see a blue and white sign for Keisei Ueno Station. Walk past the station, and look for a small police station on your right, just at the entrance to Ueno Park.
Keep walking straight, and look to your right. You should see a McDonald's restaurant on the next corner. Turn right at the McDonald's. You will see a large pond on your right, and a concert hall just past the pond. Look across the street, and you'll see an illuminated sign that says 'Hotel Parkside'.
If you do not have a Japan Rail pass or don't want it validated yet we suggest you take the Keisei Railways train and get off at the final stop, Ueno. The fare is 1,920 yen for the limited express Skyliner train (about 1 hour) or 1,000 yen for the regular express train (about 1.5 hours). Get off at the final stop, Keisei Ueno Station.
When you exit the ticket gates at Keisei Ueno Station, turn immediately right. You will be at the Ikenohata exit. Cross the small street in front you you, and turn left. Keep walking until you see a McDonald's restaurant on your right, and turn right at this corner. You will see a large pond on your right, and a concert hall just past the pond. Look across the street, and you'll see an illumated sign that says 'Hotel Parkside'.
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 operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Unizo Yodoyabashi Hotel
Phone: 81 662032020
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
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), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
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.
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.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK 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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
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:
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:
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.
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:
Carbon Offset C02-e 250.00 kgs per pax.
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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.