Last Modified: 04 May 2015
Land of the Rising Sun
Trip code: CJST
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
Ever-welcoming and always fascinating, Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and ground-breaking 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 the magnificent temples of Kyoto. Discover ancient castles, lush countryside and fascinating feudal history on this authentic travel adventure. Pack a good sense of humour and leave all inhibitions behind.
** TRIP CHANGE **
On 6 May 2015, the Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a level 2 warning (do not approach the crater) for Mount Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture. Mt Ontake, on the borders of Gifu and Nagano prefectures, and Mt Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, are currently at alert level 3 (do not approach the volcano).
After monitoring local Government advice and liaising with our local Operator in Japan Intrepid have made the decision to avoid the Hakone area for the upcoming Japan Land of the Rising Sun (CJST) trips. We will replace Hakone with the city of Kanazawa, which is best known for Kenroku-en, a 17th century castle and gardens. Kanazawa is also known for being the home of samurai, it boasts beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts, historic temples and amazing markets you can shop and eat your way around for hours. This change has been implemented for departures in June and July. We will be making a decision on August departure in the following weeks.
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.
Day 1 Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan.
You can arrive at the joining-point hotel at any time as there are no planned activities aside from a group meeting on the evening of day 1, followed by dinner. Your leader will leave a note for you at reception informing you of what time and where this important meeting will take place. If it is likely that you will be arriving after 6pm on day 1, please inform us at time of booking.
Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition. As we only spend one night in Tokyo, we strongly recommend that you arrive a few days prior to this trip in order to explore the city, there is so much to see and we don't want you to be leaving Tokyo wishing you had more time! Ueno Park, with its many galleries and museums, is a great place to spend a day, the Sensoji Temple is a serene way to pass an afternoon and the sumo stables are a must-see.
- Hamarikyu Garden - JPY300
- Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
- Tokyo Edo Museum - JPY300
Kinuya Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 2 Tokyo/Nikko
On day 2, the morning is free for you to stroll the outer grounds of the Imperial Palace, heading to the famous shopping district of Ginza. Then it's time to catch a train out of Tokyo, a chance to appreciate the countryside that makes Japan one of the world's most beautiful destinations.
From Toyko we take an express train (approx. 1 hr) and then a local train (approx. 1 hr) to Nikko.
Trains in Japan are fantastic and the best you'll ever experience. They are clean, fast, punctual, and have plenty of recycling bins for paper, bottles and cans. There are non-smoking and smoking carriages (we use the former) and a trolley cart comes around regularly, bearing all kinds of yummy things for purchase. Be sure to buy a bento box for lunch - these are compact trays containing tempura, sushi, etc., as well as a popular Japanese drink such as cold green tea or Asahi.
Turtle Inn or similar (1 nt)
Day 3 Nikko
Nikko has been a sacred site since the middle of the 8th century and the shrines and temples dotted throughout the area are inspiring evidence of the city's glory. We'll visit Toshu-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun. The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who controlled all of Japan and whose shogunate lasted 250 years, the shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan. Instead, every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold-leaf and lacquerwork, paintings and patterns.
Our charming accommodation in Nikko has private facilities, a shared onsen and is located next to the river.
- Nikko - Bus to Chuzenji Lake (return) - JPY2200
- Nikko - Imperial Villa - JPY500
Turtle Inn or similar (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Hakone
Leaving Nikko, we hop aboard a local train (approx 1 hr), a bullet train (approx 1 hr), another bullet train (1 hr) and finally a bus (approx 30 mins) to reach Hakone.
In the hot spring region of Hakone, we take a boat across Ashino-ko followed by a picturesque cable car journey over the surrounding mountains. On the way, we may be lucky to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji looming in the distance - a shy mountain, getting a glimpse is not guaranteed. However, the lake and its surroundings offer plenty of stunning panoramas.
For those who are adventurous, a bath in an outdoor onsen (hot spring bath) is a real highlight. Although there are separate baths for males and females, remember that no clothes or swimming costumes are allowed in the hot springs - so it's time to shed those inhibitions!
Our family run guesthouse in Hakone is located in a quiet part of town and has shared facilities and a lovely outdoor onsen.
- Hakone - Lake Ashino-Ko boat trip
- Hakone - Cable car
- Checkpoint Museum - JPY500
- Hakone - Onsen (hot spring bath) - JPY1200
- Open Air Museum - JPY1600
Fuji Hakone Guesthouse or similar (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Takayama
Travelling by Shinkansen (bullet train) is an absolute buzz as we reach speeds of up to 270 km per hour! Needless to say, after we descend from the mountains of Hakone by bus and get on the bullet train, we get to Takayama very quickly (approx. 2 hrs by bullet train and 2 hrs by express train).
Takayama is famous for its traditional inns, sake breweries and the Hida Folk Village. We visit the outdoor museum of the Hida Folk Village which aims to preserve the traditional architecture of the area and has a collection of farmhouses we can explore. There is free time here to explore the many folk art galleries, local markets, museums or just wander the streets of this delightful little town nestled amongst the Japanese Alps as well as to pop in to one of the many sake breweries to taste their products. We visit the 600-year-old morning market as well, to try out some of the unusual local specialities that farm women put out on sale from 6:00am every morning.
Our stunning ryokan in Takayama has an irori hearth, included meals and is located within walking distance of the old town. Please note that during the Takayama Festival (14-15 April, 9-10 October), accommodation in Takayama may be multishare. Depending on rooming configurations, couples may sometimes have to be split up for these nights.
- Takayama - Hida Folk Village
- Takayama - Market visit
- Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
- Merchant House - JPY700
- Festival Float Museum - JPY820
Sosuke Ryokan or similar (2 nts)
Days 8-10 Hiroshima
Hiroshima is a bustling metropolis with a tragic history (approx. 5 hrs from Takayama by train). We have free time here to visit the ruins of the A-Bomb Dome building, one of 11 structures left partially standing after the nuclear bomb blast on 6 August 1945, left as a horrifying reminder of the destruction of nuclear war. Around its perimeter is the peace park with monuments and a museum dedicated to Hiroshima and international peace. Alternatively, you can spend an afternoon at the nearby island of Miyajima with its famous 'floating' Torii Gate and the grand Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - be sure to watch out for inquisitive and eternally hungry deer that roam the streets of the island.
Our comfortable accommodation in Hiroshima is within walking distance of the peace park and has internet access.
- Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum - JPY40
- Hiroshima - Miyajima Island - JPY450
- Hiroshima - Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - JPY300
Ikawa Ryokan or similar (3 nts)
Days 11-14 Kyoto
We travel on to Kyoto via Himeji-jo Castle, a sight to behold. Built in 1580, this 5-storey castle is not only a fantastic example of amazing architecture, but a great insight into ancient life in Japan. From Hiroshima to Himeji-jo, the journey takes approx. 1 hr, and then it's a further 1 hr on to Kyoto.
Once in Kyoto there is just so much to do - this ancient city boasts over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens! The magnificent gold-plated Kinkaku-ji Temple should not be missed, nor should the chance to join in a Tea Ceremony class (optional). Kyoto is also a great place to get 'lost' in - walk the streets and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. The city's lively nightlife provides plenty of options for our final evening. There is so much to do in and around Kyoto you might choose to extend your stay here.
There are no activities planned for day 14 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
- Himeji - Himeji Castle
- Kyoto - Temple/Shrine entrance (2)
- Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
- Sanjusangendo Temple - JPY600
- Home-cooking class - JPY3800
- Kiyomizu Temple - JPY400
- Tea Ceremony - JPY2000
- Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY400
Heianbo Ryokan or similar (3 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- Japan Rail Pass Extension (21 Days) CJST ()
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Japan Express (CJRB)
- Japan Winter Festivals (CJSW)
- Classic Taiwan (CJKN)
- Classic Korea (CJKS)
- Real Food Adventure - Japan (CJZF)
- Real Food Adventure - Japan (CJZF)
- Japan Winter Festivals (CJSW)
- Japan Express (CJRB)
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 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.
JAPAN RAIL PASS
A 14 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 21 days) is available. Intrepid offer the chance for passengers to extend their Japan Rail Pass however these Japan Rail Passes cannot be picked up or validated before your tour begins, they can only be extended post tour for another 7 days maximum. Please get in contact with your booking specialist to discuss your options.
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).
For the CJST the Rail Pass will cover 1 more day post trip, for passengers wanting to travel by train back to Tokyo.
Please note at numerous locations you will be required to share Bathroom facilities with other passengers.
We are unable to offer additional accommodation at Kinuya Hotel. Please see the joining point instructions for more information.
* Important *
Please note this trip is a very active trip, you could walk anywhere from 10km or more a day. General walking ability is expected, we don't participate in long treks, however there is a huge amount of walking involved on this itinerary.
You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs to make tight connections, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes, sometimes at a fast pace. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
* Tattoos in Japan *
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 excersize discretion when using a public onsen.
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.
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.
Ikawa Ryokan or similar (3 nts), Heianbo Ryokan or similar (3 nts), Fuji Hakone Guesthouse or similar (2 nts), Turtle Inn or similar (2 nts), Sosuke Ryokan or similar (2 nts), Kinuya Hotel or similar (1 nt)
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.
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.
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.
2 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
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.
Bus, Train, Train (bullet), Ferry, Boat, Cable car
2-14-28 Ueno Taitoku 東京都台東区上野2-14-28
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.
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.
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 you have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
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
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.
Finish 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.
18 Jul 2015 (CJST150718)
Daiwa Roynet Hotel
9-2, Higashikujo-kitakarasumacho Minami-ku
Phone: +81 756930055
Please also 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, strike action 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, 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.
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 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:
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 your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide 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 or on the floor 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 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:
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:
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.
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.
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 leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 556.00 kgs per pax.
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.