Ancient & Modern Japan

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Traveller ratings
4.7 / 5 from 43 reviews >
Trip code: 
AOP
Way to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–18

Discover Japan's temples, lively cities and tranquil mountains

Ancient wooden temples, raked-pebble Zen gardens and chanting Buddhist monks juxtapose with space-age towers, neon and bullet trains; Japan’s fascinating blend of old and new is legendary. As we explore the southern and western stretches of Honshu, Japan's largest island, we discover the country's unique culture amongst the serene shrines and gardens of Nara and Kyoto and the rarely visited mountainous heartland of castles and spas. Our last stop is the vast and futuristic capital city of Tokyo: sprawling, inimitably busy, welcoming and extraordinary.

Highlights

  • Spot mysterious geishas in Kyoto's Gion district
  • Experience cherry blossom season or beautiful autumn colours
  • Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs
  • Take the incredible high speed 'bullet train'
  • Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels and 3 nights ryokans (traditional Japanese guesthouses) 
  • 14 days land only / 16 days flight inclusive
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 short daywalks 
  • Group normally 4 to 18, plus leader. Min age 18 yrs
  • Travel by train, bus, metro, ferry and private minibus
  • Special cherry blossom and autumn colours departures

What's included

  • 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Group arrival transfer (for group flight)
  • Free departure transfer by limousine (from 2018, only if travelling on the same day as the group)
  • Japan Rail Pass

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request only at hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
020 420 22 20
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Autumn arrives in the temple gardens, Japan

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kyoto
to
Tokyo
  • Day 1

    Start Kyoto.

    The trip starts in Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amidst beautiful hills. 

  • Day 2

    Morning visit to Ninjo castle and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillon); afternoon guided walk through beautiful shrines and temples.

    With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. Today we have an introductory tour of the city, starting with a visit to the impressive Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns, and the famous Golden Temple of Kinkakuji, built in 1397 as a summer villa for the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga and immortalised in Mishima Yukio's novel, 'The Golden Pavilion'. At lunch we will head back to central Kyoto for a stroll at the famous Nishiki Market, known 'Kyoto's Kitchen', which specializes in all things food related and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Those who wish may opt to take a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants in the area or rest at the hotel. Later in the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to visit the stunning Kiyomiduzera temple and walk to historic Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geisha will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.

  • Day 3

    Day trip to Nara, ancient capital of Japan. Visit impressive UNESCO temples including Toda-ji, housing the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha.

    Today we make a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Nara (approx. 1hr each way). With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it's second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan's cultural legacy. Our walking tour includes a visit to the most iconic temples and shrines, including Todaiji Great Buddha temple. Built in 752 by the Emperor Shomu this enormous 15 meters tall bronze Buddha is housed in what is reputed to be the largest wooden building in the world. We also spend time in the Nara Koen park, famous for its large numbers of overfed and slightly unruly deer, and visit the attractive Kasuga Shinto shrine, before returning to Kyoto in the late afternoon.

  • Day 4

    Free in Kyoto; relax in one of the many zen gardens, walk the popular Philospher Path or experience a traditional tea ceremony.

    Today is free for individual sightseeing. With so much to see and do in Kyoto it can be difficult to know where to begin. Our advice is to start with a very early visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto's most important Shinto shrine and famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. Getting there before the crowds at sunrise is the secret for a magical experience. The rest of the day could be spent exploring one of the several well established and easy-to-follow walking tours that take in many of the more interesting sights. The eastern part of Kyoto is particularly rich in temples and gardens, and one can spend the day in this area, perhaps strolling along the tree-lined canal known as the Philosophers' Path and taking time out for contemplation in one of the many intriguing Zen gardens that dot the hillsides. Another day-trip to consider would be to Arashiyama, a pleasant tourist district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. If you are interested in Japanese arts and cultural activities, there is also the option of visiting a cultural show to see some of Japan's ancient traditions such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging and Japanese theatre (these can be arranged locally by your tour leader).

  • Day 5

    Day trip to Hiroshima; visit Peace Memorial Park and the pretty island of Miyajima.

    Today is our first experience of Japan's 'bullet train' as we speed our way to Hiroshima for the day (approx. 2hrs and 40mins each way). Once in Hiroshima, we make a short excursion by local tram and ferry to the beautiful island of Miyajima famous for the 'floating' tori (Shinto gate) of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. At high tide, when set against the backdrop of Mt Misen, this tori makes for one of the most beautiful and photogenic sights in Japan. In the afternoon we spend time at the A-Bomb museum and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, both monuments to the fateful day in August 1945 when the city was selected as the target for the world's first wartime use of the atomic bomb. In the park burns a symbolic flame that will only be extinguished when the last nuclear weapon on earth has been destroyed. We depart Hiroshima late afternoon arriving back at our hotel in the evening.

  • Day 6

    Travel from Kyoto to Takayama, a traditional old town set amid the 'Japanese Alps'; visit the Hida Folk Village; overnight in ryokan.

    Travelling by train through forested valleys we make our way this morning to the peaceful and attractive old town of Takayama (approx. 4 hrs) nestling sleepily in the centre of the majestic Hida Mountains. We spend two nights here and have plenty of time to appreciate the charm and ambience of this delightful place. In the afternoon we visit to the Hida Folk Village, an interesting outdoor museum of traditional rural architecture set in pleasant landscaped gardens a short walk from our accommodation. We stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese guesthouse) where we have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality (please refer to the accommodation section for more information).

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 7

    Orientation tour in Takayama and free day to explore its peaceful shrines and temples; second night in ryokan.

    With over a dozen museums and galleries to suit all interests and several well-kept temples and parks, there are plenty of ways to spend a relaxing day in Takayama. We start with a short orientation tour around the morning market held daily along the banks of the Miyagawa River in the centre of town. Here amidst the friendly farmers with their familiar, and not so familiar, agricultural produce it is also possible to find some interesting souvenirs. Not so far away and of particular interest is the well-preserved collection of streets known as Sannomachi, where the many wooden built shops, restaurants and sake breweries give the area a mediaeval feel. For an insight into the life of medieval Japanese officials and the way they dealt (often not so compassionately) with those in their charge, a visit to the old Government House of Takayama-jinya is recommended. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town at your own pace: we recommend taking a stroll along the temple-line path called the Higashiyama Walkway and visit the several temples and attractions created by the mediaeval warlord, Kanamori Nagachika (1524-1600), who longed for Kyoto.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    On to the mediaeval village of Tsumago; short leisurely walk in the Nakasendo trail; train to Matsumoto

    Today we travel by express and local trains to the historic castle town of Matsumoto (approx. 4hrs). Enroute, we visit the mediaeval village of Tsumago that has changed little from its heyday as a post town in the Edo period. This is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the old Nakasendo Way, which fulfils the same role it did in centuries past - offering food and refuge to travellers. Those who wish can join the leader for an optional 1hr walk through peaceful forest trails, starting by the Odaki and Medaki waterfalls and finishing in Tsumago. We reach Matsumoto late afternoon where we have time to relax and perhaps take a leisurely stroll after dinner to see the impressive castle by night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit the famous Matsumoto Castle and travel by train to spa town of Yudanaka; soak in a hot spring.

    This morning we visit the impressive Matsumoto castle. Founded in 1504, this castle, otherwise known as Crow Castle due to its black colour, is one of the two best preserved in Japan, most others having been destroyed following the Meiji Restoration. Its imposing six story donjon has been designated a national treasure. Please note that the castle preserves its original interior and structure, with very tall steps and steep staircases which some might find difficult to ascend and descend. We return to Matsumoto train station for our afternoon journey (approx. 3hrs) to the relaxing spa town of Yudanaka, where we spend a night in another Japanese-style hotel boasting some fantastic natural hot springs, including 2 open-air baths.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 10

    See the famous Snow Monkeys before travelling by train to Tokyo; evening orientation tour.

    As well as being home to some of Japan's best hot springs, the small spa-town of Yudanaka is mainly famous for being the gateaway to the famous Jigokudani Onsen or 'Snow Monkey Park'. Here, the indigenous macaque monkeys have discovered the benefits of descending from the hills to soak and play in hot baths - observing their behaviour up close is fascinating! This is the only tribe of monkeys anywhere in the world to bath in hot springs for warmth. The sight is most spectacular in winter, when snow covers the grounds and the hot steam creates some amazing visual effects but despite the name, the so called 'snow monkeys' actually inhabit the area year-round. To reach the park we walk for approx. 20-25 mins on an easy forest trail and we will have approx. 1hr free to admire and photograph these entertaining creatures. No visit to Japan would be complete without a trip to Tokyo. This afternoon, we travel from Yudanaka to the capital by bullet train (approx. 4hrs), arriving in the early evening. On arrival in Tokyo we'll transfer to our hotel and start exploring the bright lights of the big city at night.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Optional trip to Hakone or to the lovely seaside town of Kamakura.

    For those wishing to see still more of this wonderful country today is the last day of your Japan Rail Pass, entitling you to free train journeys to many destinations. One popular day-trip amongst tourists and Japanese alike looking for a break from Tokyo is Hakone, part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 1hr and 30 mins by train. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone area also encompasses Lake Ashi, which can be toured by boat. An alternative blissful escape from the city is the coastal town of Kamakura, offering numerous temples, shrines, historical monuments as well as panoramic hiking trails. For those not wishing to leave Tokyo, this day is free to soak up the atmosphere of this truly astounding city. Whilst being perhaps the most exciting, energetic and futuristic city in the world, for a capital, Tokyo still remains a remarkably friendly, safe, manageable and fascinating place to visit.

  • Day 12

    A full day city tour of Tokyo including the Senso-ji Temple.

    Today we have a guided tour of Tokyo. Making use of the city's highly efficient tube system we can visit some of Tokyo's main attractions including Ueno (depending on season) and the lively Senso-ji Temple in the old entertainment district of Asakusa. We will also visit one of the city's parks or gardens which become especially spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season. There will be also some free time to discover other attractions at our own pace. For those with a head for heights we recommend an optional visit to the iconic Skytree Tower for breathtaking views of the city. With a height of 634 meters, it is the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. In the evening, the possibilities for entertainment are almost limitless with Tokyo's nightlife as exciting as anywhere in Asia.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 13

    Free day for further exploration; optional karaoke farewell night.

    Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. We recommend starting the day with an early visit to the famous Tsukiji Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species. Worth visiting is also Meiji Shrine; sourrounded by tranquil forest, this Shinto shrine is one of the most popular in Japan and combines traditional Japanese architecture with love for the nature. For an alternative and unconventional experience, head to the Cat Café in Ikebukuro. Finally, those interested in shopping have limiteless opportunities with districts like Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku catering for all tastes and needs!

  • Day 14

    End Tokyo.

    The tour ends this morning. Those on the group flights to London will be transferred to Tokyo Narita Airport in the evening. If you are not travelling on the group flight, you can take advantage of a free airport transfer by limousine bus to Narita or Haneda airport (only if staying at Hotel Metropolitan Ikebukuro). Please contact our Operations team for more information or to request this.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. Australian and South African passport holders do require a visa; these will usually be issued on arrival but it is worth verifying this at your embassy before travel.

Vaccinations

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

3 breakfasts and 3 dinners included.

Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very is common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat).

The included dinners are usually taken at ryokans (traditional guesthouses) which will serve a kaiseki style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will be always to hand to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine. 

Please note that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice, however in In Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  It may also be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs that you normally consume, or to supplement meals with snacks purchased in the local convenience stores.

Weather

Japan has four very distinct seasons. Our aim has been to avoid the extremely cold winters and humid summers and settle for the more pleasant climes of spring and autumn. In Tokyo, September and October are warm, maximum temperatures are 26ºC and minimum 12ºC. September is likely to be the warmer of the two and there is a likelihood of rain. April is cooler with temperatures possibly going as low as 7ºC with a high of 17ºC. Kyoto is very similar climatically to Tokyo but the higher up into the mountains we venture, the colder it will become with nights being especially cold, particularly in March and November.

Is this trip for you?

This is very much a cultural trip which attempts to encompass the varying aspects of Japan, from the serenity and history of Kyoto to the extraordinary and modern Tokyo. You will walk mostly in cities and towns and although not strenuous, the amount of walking each day can be considerable and fast-paced (good comfortable walking shoes are recommended). A lot of temples and shrines will be visited during the trip, most of which are built on hillsides. This will mean ascending and descending lots of steps. All transport will be by public transport and mainly trains which are extremely efficient, and therefore it is essential that all group members are punctual to ensure we do not miss any of the scheduled services. Some of the distances covered are long but trains are very comfortable making the journey pleasant. As Japanese trains usually have little room for storing bags, we will be carrying only our daypack/overnight bag for the two nights in Takayama and one night in Yudanaka. One piece of baggage per person, will be transferred by courier service from Kyoto to Matsumoto and then on to Tokyo.

Call us on
020 420 22 20
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Ryokans

In Kyoto, Matsumoto and Tokyo, our hotels are centrally located and of very high standard (usually 4-star in Tokyo and Kyoto and 3-star in Matsumoto) with excellent modern facilities and English speaking staff. 

For three nights during the trip we stay in ryokans, comfortable traditional inns where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. Ryokans, while comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels. Rooms do not generally have private facilities and bedding is generally in the Japanese style with thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. Rooms are always doubles or twinshare but bathrooms and showers are generally communal. 

A double for sole use supplement can be booked for the 9 nights' hotel accommodation in Kyoto and Tokyo. The supplement starts from £895, payable at the time of booking and subject to availability. Elsewhere a single room may be available locally on payment of a supplement but, as some of the ryokans and other hotels used are quite small, this cannot be guaranteed.

Please note that free wi-fi is availble at every hotel.

List of hotels normally used:

Kyoto:  Noku Roxy

Takayama:  Murayama Ryokan or Muhyokan Ryokan

Matsumoto: Kagetsu Hotel

Nagano/Yudanaka: Yorozuya Yurakuan Annex

Tokyo: Metropolitan Hotel Ikebukuro

Onsen (Japanese public bath)
For many visitors to Japan the onsen is a somewhat unfamiliar territory. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. The combination of a strict bathing etiquette, the fact that nudity is involved and compulsory and that the water temperature is often hotter than most Jacuzzis can cause some reluctance for first timers. Once the courage is mustered however, you may discover that a dip in an onsen is likely to become one of the highlights of your visit to Japan. On this trip we will have the opportunity to try an indoor onsen at our ryokan in Takayama, and some fantastic indoor and outdoor hot springs at our hotel in Yudanaka. Please note that it is very possible that you may be refused entry if you have large and visible tattoos. Both accommodations will have private baths available for reservation.

Call us on
020 420 22 20
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
020 420 22 20
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

As the days get longer and brighter, and the morning air begins to lose its bite, we slowly start to see the first sh

  • Reviewed June 2017
    Linda (Jessie) Jessen

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    This tour was amazing on many levels. From the beginning, communications were prompt, helpful, and clear. All questions and concerns were addressed. The tour preparation information was very helpful and appropriate, assisting in smooth transition for the tour. The tour guide, agenda, and opportunities for personal impute, made the tour like a customized personal tour. Attention to needs and wants of the participants was consistently attended to, making the tour so very pleasurable and memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me, Kyoto was the most fascinating. I loved the intact area, undisturbed from wars and major conflicts. The traditions, history, and sites there were wonderfully interesting. The Geisha and Maiko performance was a definite highlight for me, seeing the age-old traditions and styles of performance. I also loved Takayama, the area and the museum of Hokusei, the famous artist/genius! The gardens, walks, the people. All wonderful. Fuji, and oh, oh, oh, the food. Wonderful people, caring, helpful, and so respectful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was attentive, professional, giving us choices, asking for interests, and making them happen whenever possible, which was often! She was personable, positive and fun! We were a small group, but quickly became like a family, having such a great time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to have an exciting time. Recommend reading up on Japan, as this will only make the trip even more appreciable and meaningful. Also, be prepared to do a lot of walking... not difficult, but lots of walking. Learn just a handful of phrases, like thank you, please, etc. Read the info sent to us, as it is meant to help, and it does! You will love this trip!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just thank you to all, for a wonderful and memorable time. I would recommend this tour highly.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Bethany James

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    This is definitely a trip worth booking. Japan is such a beautiful place and my partner David and I really felt that this tour is ideal for a first visit. If you would love to see Japan but are unsure which places to visit or how to work out the transport systems then this trip is ideal, you truly see a diverse range of places and are able to experience so many different things. If you're like me and get a bit anxious with trains, buses and lots of people then I highly recommend booking this trip. Having a tour guide in Japan really allows you to relax and truly take everything in while your guide does all the confusing stuff for you. From beautiful, traditional Kyoto to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and everything in between, this trip is really worth experiencing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's extremely hard to just pick one inspirational moment of this trip as there so many. Kyoto is a beautiful, friendly place with so many hidden gems which might be missed without a tour guide. However, the day trip to Nara has really stuck with me and if you're an animal lover like me then this should not be missed! What's not to love about crowds of cheeky deer bowing to you for a snack in front of the stunning view of a giant buddha statue. Truly amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was an ideal group leader! She was extremely knowledgeable in every part of the tour and never ceased to go the extra mile, during free time to roam certain places she made sure she found us to tell us extra little facts and stories so we really knew the history of the places we were visiting. On our free days Ayaka went out of her way to make herself available and ensure a day never was wasted, she gave us all the information we needed to visit the places we wanted and had no problem accompanying us when we were unsure where to go. Ayaka has such a great sense of humour and really made us feel at ease in a country with a completely different culture to our own. She never rushed our group and allowed us to go at our own pace while making sure we never missed anything important. Ayaka truly made our holiday one to remember!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Comfy shoes are definitely a must, there's quite a lot of walking but it's definitely worth it. I was surprised at just how hot it was some days so make sure you take plenty cool clothes, we got lucky with just one day of rain so make sure you take a light raincoat too! I definitely over-packed my suitcase and didn't wear half the stuff I took, it's a casual trip so don't go nuts. I was far too strict with myself when buying souvenirs etc. and now i'm home I definitely regret not buying the things I wanted. There's so many lovely little things to take home, if you like it just buy it!
  • Reviewed May 2017
    David Hunt

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    A well paced tour of Japan. We saw a lot but it never felt rushed. The mix of city, both Kyoto and Tokyo, with the smaller towns and countryside was well balanced. It's an amazing country, so different to Britain, with the modern skyscrapers sitting side by side with the temples, shrines and gardens. The sight of the snow topped mountains at the same time as the cherry blossom was beautiful. The people are friendly and polite and despite my expectations I enjoyed the food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to say - Kyoyo; visiting the beautiful temples and shrines, particularly seeing the Miyajima floating tori; travelling on the Shinkansen; lying in the onsen after a busy day; seeing Mount Fuji without the clouds. I could go on and include everything as it was all so good.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant! He guided us around calmly and without hassle through the very efficient but complicated transport systems of Japan. He was always there for us but never intrusive. He took us on some of the optional trips on the free days or otherwise gave us detailed instructions on how to get there. He took us to a variety of Japanese restaurants, explaining what it was and how to eat it! His English is excellent and he was very knowledgeable about the history of Japan, plants and generally about everything we asked him. He kept the information and instructions simple so that we weren't overloaded and repeated it when necessary. One, if not the, best guides I've had on my 15 or so group holidays.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take good, comfortable shoes that are easy to get on and off. The weather varied quite a bit so take clothes for warm and colder weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    GABRIELLA GALEA LAURI

    The Land of the Rising Sun Ancient & Modern Japan

    A great organised holiday full of activities, exciting days and a superb highlige holidaht everyday

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I would put the question as the most inspirational momentS not moment. So many too mention but will mention the most memorable ones for me. Visiting Matsumato Castle in the evening, when the castle was all lit up, with the reflections of the castle shimmering on the moat. We were surprised to even go on the inauguration lighting evening with musicians playing within the castle. Another inspirational moment was being with the snow monkeys, how beautiful and cute to see a mother monkey affectionately holding and bonding with her baby monkey. The philosopher's path and bamboo forest were really a fantastic highlight of the holiday, highly recommended and to top up the fantastic memories we were very lucky to see Mt Fuji with its snowed peak, such a magical moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Ayaka Tsukamoto was very well prepared and knowledgeable, very energetic and always happy to advice or help when asking for optional favorites. She even went out of her way to find ways & means of pleasing some members of the group to see the sumo wrestlers. Ayaka is very promising, engaging, highly spirited and great to lead a group of new travelers from all walks of life, quite amazing. One needs to be adaptable, flexible and engaging and that was Ayaka.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good level of physical strength and health is considered as there is quite a lot of walking on this tour especially in trains stations, quite a lot of steps to take. I would definitely carry some cereal bars or nibbles for long journeys. Do take a thick jacket or thick fleece as it was colder than expected in Kyoto in April and it rained too so always pack an umbrella. Make sure to take the optional day tours to see Mt Fuji (if lucky weather wise) and also to do the Philosophers Path & Bamboo Forest. If you don't like fish or don't eat shellfish make sure to communicate this as Japanese food is very fishy. Make sure to take part in the Hiroshima pancake, it was DIVINE and such an enjoyable evening to see live cooking and then eat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is no need to question much or doubt in booking this holiday just go for it and enjoy the real traditions, colors, nature, sushi, geishas roaming and what Japan has to offer not least the amazing bullet train.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Marian White

    Japan

    Mount Fuji. It was breathtaking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The People. so polite. And very helpful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was very good and helpful. Would have been helpful if she have had a small flag to hold up Because when ther was a lot off people I had trouble seeing her. Because she was small . But she was very good .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes gust go and see this beautiful country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Jenny Harris

    One of our best holidays

    This was a superb holiday from start to finish. The itinerary was well thought out and we loved using the rail network rather than being stuck on busses. We were lucky to arrive at the peak of the cherry blossom, to have wonderful views of Mount Fuji and to arrive in Takayama on the day of the spring festival. The ryokans were great fun and we enjoyed the whole experience of the olsens. We found the Japanese people to be polite and helpful and we always felt very safe which made it a very stress free holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trip to Hiroshima. It made us feel very sad and we felt that every world leader should be forced to come there. But it was a vibrant city and it also made us hopeful that there can be forgiveness and a moving on. And the pancakes were amazing!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It was all made brilliant by our leader, Ayaka, who was a font of knowledge, efficient, funny and thoughtful, always making sure that we were getting the best from our holiday ( and not getting lost on the metro in Tokyo!) We cannot praise her enough.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Wear comfy shoes. There are a lot of steps and don't forget your umbrellas. The climate is as variable as it is in England. It is a cash society but we had no concerns about carrying lots of money about

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We wished we had gone a couple of days early to get over the jet lag. The people who did so said it was an easy transfer from Osaka to Kyoto .
  • Reviewed April 2017
    carol brown

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    A very comprehensive and inspirational trip ,though the travelling and walking was quite taxing in such a short time(2 weeks)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto:cannot praise her highly enough:great people skills, full of all appropriate knowledge,coped with herding us on all sorts of transport-without losing anyone!, great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although not billed as a walking holiday-there is quite a lot of walking involved including steep steps to shrines and in Subway.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fascinating insight into current culture too.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Isabel Jane Clark

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    Fascinating, full of interest and led by a very capable and knowledgeable guide

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visit to Hiroshima was the most inspirational and thought provoking but each day had its own highlight - visiting Philosophers path in Kyoto, various shrines and temples, seeing Geisha dance and tea ceremony, the cherry blossom, travelling on the bullet trains, seeing snow monkeys, gorgeous gardens, Hida folk village, festival in Takayama, Matsumoto castle, Mount Fuji and various shopping markets. Staying in ryokans and Japanese baths

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good , helpful and knowledgeable , took very good care of her charges and made many suggestions to meet individual interests. She was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip was full on and requires good level of energy and reasonable fitness to cope with walking especially in cities

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Tokyo section of this trip worked less well for me. perhaps I was a little tired or I don't really enjoy the bustle of big cities. I needed to be more selective to focus on one or two items that would interest me. we did find a museum Amuse museum that was just right - not busy , small and interesting - that was not on the list of things to do.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Neil Bates

    Cherry Blossom and so much more in Japan

    We had high expectations for our visit to Japan for the Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season and they were exceeded. Not only did we get to see the beautiful blossom but also the old Japanese streets of Kyoto, dancing Geisha, the spring fair in Takayama, snow monkeys bathing and so much more. We got to stay in a traditional ryokan with great dining which was a great Japanese experience. Over and above the standard tour, our group leader also arranged on our free days to see Mount Fuji (wonderful view from Lake Ashi) and the sumo wrestlers training. We've been back a week and still processing all the wonderful experiences.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many but four that come to mind are: - being in Takayama for the spring fair and seeing all of the giant shrines (yatai) in all their glory. - coming into Tsumago from the old Japanese Nakasendo highway. Like stepping back in time. - snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs. - a fantastic view of Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi (after not expecting any view at all!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was absolutely fantastic, organising everything wonderfully and going above and beyond on our free days to ensure everybody saw what they wanted. She even came with us to Mount Fuji on one of our free days in Tokyo and what a difference it made (not only did we see the mountain from a perfect viewpoint, she also took us down the Tokaido highway, arranged a presentation at the secret box shop and made sure we caught the pirate boat across the lake). You could tell that she really wanted to make sure everybody had the perfect trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure to pack sturdy walking shoes as you will be on your feet a lot if you want to see everything this wonderful country has to offer. Assume you will be paying cash for everything and get the money before you go as ATMs accepting foreign cards are not prevalent. You can pay a little by credit card in Tokyo and Kyoto but, in general, everything is paid for in cash.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try and go in the cherry blossom season as it is stunning. If we went back, it would probably be in the autumn as we saw photos which looked fantastic with the red acers.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Alison Trimble

    Land of contrasts

    This trip was everything I had hoped for, AND so much more. Our mid-March tour was a little too early for us to catch the cherry trees in full bloom, but meant we were able to view the first blossom without the crowds and queues. Japan is full of stunning contrasts: from the tranquillity of the beautiful Golden Temple to the noise and bustle of the Tokyo fish market; from the dignified Peace Memorial at Hiroshima to the hilarious showmanship of a crazy pancake chef. Photo-opportunities are EVERYWHERE …

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Breathtakingly beautiful scenes as we stood in a fairytale landscape – with snow still falling – watching the snow monkeys playing in the hot pools.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Throughout, our local guide led us confidently from bullet train to funicular, from tram, to bus, to ferry. He took us to places only a local would know about, including, at our request, to a karaoke bar on our last night!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do heed the warnings in the Trip Notes about bringing cash instead of cards; and take warm clothes and sensible footwear to the mountains – we hit minus 4 one morning! The underground system in Tokyo is efficient and easy to navigate, with plenty of signs in English. You do need to be reasonably fit, however – there were lots of steps.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All the Japanese people we met were extremely friendly and eager to help and, especially to those of us who had visited China, the ordered calm of both traffic and people in Tokyo came as a surprise. If you’re thinking of booking this trip, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Just go for it.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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