It's hard to sum up Japan in a single sentence, but we'll give it a try:

A lazer-guided, umami-flavoured, Hello Kitty fun machine where samurais battle Shiba dogs in naked thermal hot springs. If you’ve taken a holiday in Japan, you’ll know that that sentence makes a surprising amount of sense. This is a country that’s famously hard to read, so a local-led group tour is a pretty good idea. We’ll introduce you to soba noodle masters, lead you through tuna auctions and sumo stables, stay with Buddhist monks in Koya San and sing bad karaoke ‘til the wee hours in Osaka (all while sipping sake and gorging on market fresh sashimi). You ready? Kanpai!

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9 Jun 2019
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15 Jun 2019
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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

Japan tour reviews

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Articles on Japan

Japan travel highlights

Transport in Japan

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Japan, you may find yourself travelling by:

High speed bullet train in Japan

Bullet train

Travelling at speeds of up to 300 km/ph, Japan's shinkansen (bullet trains) are known for their punctuality, safety and comfort - an awesomely efficient way to get around Japan.

Japan Highlights

Classic Japan

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

Japan Express

Japan Real Food Adventure

Accommodation in Japan

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Japan you may find yourself staying in a:

Monk walking into a monastery in Japan

Monastery

Be immersed in deep spirituality and serenity while staying in a monastery in Koya San, Japan. Meditate, contemplate and enjoy vegetarian food prepared by monks during this unforgettable experience.

Classic Japan

Japan Real Food Adventure

Traditional ryokan accommodation in Japan

Ryokan

Experience a taste of Japanese hospitality while staying in a traditional ryokan. These small inns are filled with character and ensure a memorable stay.

Ultimate Japan

Essential Japan

Japan: Land of the Snow Monkeys

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

Cycle Japan

Japan holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Japan

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top 10 culinary experiences of Japan

Shopping

Festivals and events

Health and safety

Further reading

Japan travel FAQs

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of the itinerary for more information.

Tipping in not customary or expected in Japan; however, some high-end restaurants will add a 10% service charge to your bill.

With one of the most developed high-speed internet networks in the world, the internet is fast and easy to access in most cities and towns in Japan.

Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Japan, but be aware that talking loudly on your phone in public places is considered bad manners. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.

Toilets range from high-end bidets to western-style flushable toilets to squat toilets. You may need to purchase toilet paper from a vending machine, so make sure to keep the small change on you.

  • Bento box = 1000 yen
  • Bowl of ramen = 700 yen
  • Beer = 700 yen
  • Snack from a convenience store = 300-400 yen

It’s safe to drink the tap water in Japan. Help the environment and consider bringing a reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water during your visit.

Japan is a cash society, meaning most places only accept payment in cash. Credit cards may be accepted in department stores and large hotels, but it’s recommended to carry enough cash to cover all purchases.

ATMs are common in Japan, however most of them do not accept foreign-issued cards. To access cash from a non-Japanese bank account, use a postal ATM (an ATM in a post office) or an ATM at a 7-Eleven convenience store – both have access to international networks.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insureance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 1 Jan: New Year’s Day
  • 14 Jan: Coming of Age Day
  • 11 Feb: National Foundation Day
  • 21 Mar: Spring Equinox
  • 29 Apr: Showa Emperor’s Day
  • 3 May: Constitution Day
  • 4 May: Green Day
  • 5 May: Children’s Day
  • 15 Jul: Marine Day
  • 16 Sep: Respect for the Aged Day
  • 23 Sep: Autumn Exquinox
  • 3 Nov: Culture Day
  • 23 Nov: Labour Thanksgiving Day
  • 23 Dec: Emperor’s Birthday

For a current list of public holidays in Japan go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/Japan/public-holidays/

 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

In the lead up to the 2020 Paralympics, Japan is expected to up its game in terms of accessibility for travellers with disabilities and already has laws in place to ensure many places around the country are accessible, however finding information about facilities for travellers with disabilities online in English can be challenging.

Japan is the originator of tactile tiles on footpaths and at train stations. Information in braille in public facilities is abundant, but will be in Japanese Braille. Audible sounds at crossings and frequent repeating signals and announcements in train stations to assist with orientation. Japanese yen notes have tactile identifiers in the top corners ie. the Y1000 note has one raised circle in a corner, the Y10000 note has two.

Accessible hotel rooms in Japan are often referred to as “barrier free” or “universal”. Roll in showers are uncommon. Traditional ryokans generally have bedding on floor level and either shared bathrooms or very small in room bathrooms with a shower in bath. Diners will often sit on the floor at traditional style restaurants. Accessible public toilets are common at major sights, department stores and train station, and are almost universally excellent. Manual wheelchair users will find barrier free hotel rooms, shops and restaurants generally more accessible than those with powered chairs. Food options are abundant around train stations and at shopping malls, so if some places aren’t accessible it shouldn’t be difficult to find another nearby that is.

Elevators are common but not guaranteed, and most elevators will have a priority button for those with accessibility needs. Some stations even have wheelchair accessible escalators. Train stations will always have attendants available to assist when asked and can escort travellers with disabilities to the right platform and provide ramps for accessing the train. They will also call ahead to your station to ensure that someone can meet you with another ramp and assistance. Local public buses are almost universally accessible. A number of taxi companies in Japan are able to provide vehicles with lifts if booked in advance.

Travellers with disabilities may get discounted entrance to some sights. Some temples and gardens will have paths constructed from pebbles and others will have smooth walkways. Some of the most popular temples and shrines are situated up steep hills or accessed by multiple stairs. Most museums will be at least in part accessible and many will have audio guides available for rent. Few locals speak confident English, and while seemingly shy, people are generally very friendly and will go out of their way to help those in need. Weather will impact the accessibility of some destinations ie. in winter snow and ice can create slippery surfaces.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

As a whole, Japan is a hassle-free destination for LGBTQI-travellers. Same-sex relationships and same-sex acts are legal. Tokyo and Osaka have the largest and most welcoming gay scene in the country, though most cities have at least a couple of gay bars. Be aware that Japanese people typically do not engage in public displays of affection, regardless of sexual orientation.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.​

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Travellers at train station in Japan

Top responsible travel tips for Japan

  1. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  2. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  4. Try to use public transport wherever possible.
  5. Refrain from touching or interfering with ancient monuments, relics or historic sites.
  6. Learn some Japanese greetings and don't be afraid to use them - it will help break the ice.
  7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  8. Be respectful and modest when visiting temples and monasteries.
  9. It's customary to remove your shoes before entering homes or ryokans.
  10. Elderly people are very much respected in Japan, and it's customary to allow them to go first when entering buildings or public transport.