Embark on an ultimate adventure through Japan's fascinating past and present, civilization and nature, people and art
Ever-welcoming and always fascinating, Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and groundbreaking technology. Join us on this ultimate journey that takes you from the futuristic neon lit Tokyo to the dense forests of the southern island of Yakushima, cleanse your mind and soul in the sacred temples in Nikko, Kyoto and Kotohira, feast on local delights at a Takayama market, be wowed at the creativity of modern art at Naoshima Island, make a sobering visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, try for an Indiana Jones stunt crossing the vine bridge at Iya Valley or trek through the dense forests in Yakushima over which princess Princess Mononoke watches. 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, it rarely disappoints
Japan is a year round destination with something in store for every season: cherry blossoms in spring, stunning leaves in autumn and snow and ice in winter.
This trip is a great balance of included activities in each destination and plenty of free time for other optional fun, all backed by a helpful leader to steer you in the right direction of the best experiences.
The town of Hakone is one of our favourite destinations. Not only are there glimpses of Mt Fuji from here on a clear day and picture perfect hiking trails, this is also one of the best places to experience an outdoor onsen – hot springs bath.
There’s no better way to get around Japan than the country’s famous railway system. Be impressed by the efficiency and ultra modernity as you zip from place to place with your included Japan Rail Pass. Here is why you don't want to miss train travel in Japan: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-trains/
Stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and sample simple home-cooked fare in Edo-era Takayama, explore local markets, the Hida Folk Village and perhaps stop by a sake brewery.
A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park is a sobering but important experience for understanding the tragedies of Japan’s not so distant past.
You'll have abundant time to explore Kyoto without a rush, the country’s “cultural capital” and home to a stunning selection of temples, tea houses and frozen-in-time zen gardens.
Explore the unique island of Naoshima, transformed from a sleepy fishing community into a world class art destination, with sleek and stylish museums and artworks that sit in harmony with the landscape
Join locals hiking along trails to hidden temples, being awed at some of the country's impressive castles or in one of Japan's oldest hot spring baths - Dogo Onsen.
Feel like Indiana Jones as you cross the kazurabashi (vine bridges) of the hidden Iya Valley, a remote retreat of deep gorges and lush mountains on Shikoku island.
Uncover the different characters of the cities of Nagasaki and Osaka, from the former’s thought-provoking Peace Park and Museum to the latter’s busy streets where the motto is ‘eat until you drop’
Venture into the thick and mysterious cedar forests on Yakushima, relax at the seaside onsen or see giant turtles lay eggs in the night in the summer months
Japan is best to explore on foot. You'll be surprised at how much distance they end up covering just exploring places on foot! Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.
In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon matresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information.
Be prepared to pack 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 multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas.
As there is not much time included here as part of your trip, we strongly advise you to plan some extra time in Osaka if you wish to see more of the city.
This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018
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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Ultimate Japan trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. A 21 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip.
2. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
3. This is a combination trip, which will help save you from the hassle of making multiple bookings. But please note that your group composition and tour leader may change on Day 13.
4. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.
5. We are currently unable to book pre or post tour accommodation at our start & finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan.