Classic Japan

11 Days | Kyoto, Koya-san and more on a cultural crusade

4.8 out of 5 based on 64 reviews submitted.
NZD $7,614
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Steeped in centuries of tradition and full of culinary prowess, Japan is awash with sights to see and histories to uncover. From Kyoto to Tokyo, spend 11 days exploring the heart of Japan, with memories of the Edo era, sobering warfare sites, lush natural landscapes and eclectic neighbourhoods to discover. Be tempted by tempura, savour your sushi and sip some sochu as you discover the endless variety and diversity of Japan with your small group, all headed by a local leader who knows all of the best places to go. What’s stopping you embarking on a cultural escapade to the home of geisha, torii, sake and nori?

Trip overview

Map of Classic Japan including Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Explorer, Rail
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
This trip generates 64 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Discover Japan's most iconic city sights, from walking the Geisha district and seeing the cultural landmarks of Kyoto to touring the temple district and cruising past all the contemporary highlights of Tokyo.
  • Learn more about the sobering past of Hiroshima at the memorial park, the museums and the monuments dedicated to the memory of the victims – they now also advocate for world peace and serve as a reminder of the devastation of war.
  • Feast on okonomiyaki – Japan’s signature savoury pancake of egg, cabbage, soba noodles and meat or seafood – at an included dinner in Hiroshima at a special local restaurant.
  • Meet the locals over a home-cooked dinner during your stay in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in the mountain town of Tsumago – the historic medieval village preserved from the Edo period.
  • Spend a night in Koya-san’s Shukubo Temple and learn about the customs of traditional Japanese accommodation as you share vegetarian meals with the monks who run the lodgings.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. Donations help them provide local employment opportunities and tackle climate change one tree at a time as they restore forests across 10 different countries.

Is this trip right for you?
  • Japan is best to explore on foot. In fact, most travellers are 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 mattresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. This is an important thing to consider if you have problems with your back or knees, as the surface is really firm and there may be no other furniture (eg chairs) in the room. Read more about ryokans here:
  • 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. At some destinations, larger luggage will be forwarded on ahead of you, so it'll be easier to get around if you have a smaller overnight/day pack.


Map of Classic Japan including Japan



10 breakfasts, 3 dinners


Public Bus, Subway, Bullet Train, Train, Boat


Hotel/Ryokan (9 nights), Temple Stay (1 night)

  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden
  • Kyoto - Nijo Castle
  • Kyoto - Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Koya-san - Okunoin Cemetery
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & A - Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima - Peace Museum
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island
  • Tsumago - Nakasendo Walk
  • Matsumoto - walking tour
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Sumida River Cruise
  • Tokyo - Hama Rikyu Garden
Add on activities
  • Kyoto - Bike hire (per day) from - JPY1200
  • Kyoto - Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Nanzenji Temple - JPY600
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera - JPY400
  • Koya-san - Kongobu-ji Temple - JPY1000
  • Matsumoto - Matsumoto Castle - JPY700
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku-gyoen - JPY500
  • Tokyo - Meiji Jingu Shrine - Free
  • Tokyo - Tokyo National Museum - JPY1000
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Tokyo - Samurai Museum - JPY3300

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.

2. At some destinations, larger luggage will be forwarded on ahead of you, so ensure you also have a smaller overnight/day pack with you for essentials. Please check itinerary for details.

3. It is essential that you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. There are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage from 160cm to 250cm may require an additional JPY1000 oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is from 160cm to 250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.

4. We are currently unable to book pre or post trip accommodation at our start and finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through your booking agent.

5. We are currently unable to book airport transfers in Japan. Japan has an extensive and efficient public transport system and the joining and finishing point instructions are listed in the Essential Trip Information.

6. Please note that there are generally less double rooms in Japanese hotels, even those in Western style. While every effort will be made to accommodate double room requests, this may not always be possible.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.8 out of 5 based on 64 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Michael · Traveled May 2024
Excellent trip.
Review submitted 02 Jun 2024

Elizabeth · Traveled May 2024
Mariko, was a fabulous guide. Along with her great humour, she was helpful with any requests and so knowledgeable. Travelling by public transport was a treat and the accommodation was great. This trip was a fabulous way to experience difference aspects of Japan.
Review submitted 29 May 2024

Ruth · Traveled May 2024
Japan is a wonderful country with so much to see and do. The Classic Japan tour fits a lot in and gives a great a good flavour of the country. Mariko our guide was outstanding. She was fun and went way above and beyond to make sure we all had the trip of a lifetime!
Review submitted 30 May 2024

Graeme · Traveled May 2024
The Classic Japan tour was both my first experience of Japan and Intrepid. Loved the trip and very impressed with the organisation from Intrepid. We had a great group and our guide Mariko was absolutely excellent.
Review submitted 30 May 2024

Rob · Traveled May 2024
Our trip to Japan was a special experience, love the country and the culture. Our guide, Mariko, was fantastic! We are vegan and found Japan to be a lot more vegan friendly than we initially expected. Highly recommend this trip!
Review submitted 31 May 2024
Classic Japan
NZD $7,614