Journey through Japan

15 days

from £1,699

Trip Highlights

  • Explore Tokyo and see a samurai sword demonstration!
  • See flamboyant fashion in Harajuku
  • Visit Japan’s iconic temples
  • Feed monkeys in Arashiyama Monkey Park
  • Experience Kyoto’s iconic shrines
  • Visit Hiroshima and Osaka

Trip Summary

An action-packed 15 day trip to Japan featuring Tokyo, temples, shrines, karaoke, samurai, sumo and more! Get a sushi lesson in Tokyo, see sumos and samurai swords and see flamboyant fashion on show in Harajuku! You’ll be visiting iconic temples and shrines including the Golden Pavilion, Asakusu Temple and tranquil Itsukushima Shrine. You’ll be cruising Lake Ashi on an awesome pirate ship and keeping a look out for regal geishas on the exotic streets of Kyoto! Enjoy this guided tour through Japan with a group of adventurous globetrotters and find out why the country is so mesmerising, magical and mysterious...

Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!

Trip Info

Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo!
Arrive in Tokyo today, Ready to begin your adventures in Japan! You’ll check into your accommodation and the rest is up to you. Depending on the time you arrive, you might want to head out to explore and get to know the energetic streets around your accommodation!

Day 2: Explore Tokyo
This is where it all begins! You’ll meet your group leader at your accommodation and meet your fellow travellers. After a briefing and some information about your itinerary you’ll get out into the city! First up, head to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to enjoy thrilling views of the city’s iconic skyline. You’ll stop for lunch with the group before heading on to the elaborate Asakusa Temple – flamboyant, colourful and quintessentially Japanese. It’s Japan’s oldest temple, and you’ll be exploring the shrine and the surrounding area before heading off for the opportunity to get sporty at a local baseball batting cage (extra cost of JPY400)!  Later you’ll have some free time, so grab a drink with the group or opt to visit a local ‘sento’ bathhouse for a spot of relaxation.

Day 3: Tokyo Highlights
We’ll get the day off to a delicious start with a visit to the revered Tsukiji fish market. Prepare to be amazed by the treasure trove of tasty treats on display, and grab a bite of Japan’s legendary sashimi. You’ll then get a cooking lesson from a sushi chef, learning how to make fresh and delicious food in the heart of the sushi capital! Once you’ve tried your culinary creations we’ll head off to Akihabara, where cartoon colours reign and quirky is the order of the day! We’ll enjoy a ‘Made in Tokyo’ experience at one of the cities iconic maid cafes before heading back to our accommodation.

Day 4: Sumo and Samurai!
Get ready to flex those muscles – we’re heading to the sumo district! You may even have the chance to watch the wrestlers in training before we head off for a traditional sumo lunch. Then it’s time to get up close and personal with Tokyo’s history with a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum where you’ll learn all about life in the capital. Next we’ll be taking a trip to the Samurai Museum for a riveting sword demonstration that’ll leave you spellbound by the elegance of this ancient practice. Later, you’ll have the chance to head to a robot show (extra cost of JPY 7,000) where you’ll get to experience Tokyo’s impressive technological advancements first hand!

Day 5:
Regal grandeur is in order today as we visit the Imperial Palace, the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. The palace sits alongside a picturesque lake and features beautiful architecture and a museum! We’ll then head off on a scenic forest walk to the Shinto shrine, dedicated to Empress Shoken and Emperor Meiji. Emperor Meiji presided over a revolutionary period in Japan, so take the chance to learn more about these exciting times!

We’ll then head to the fashionable Harajuku to see Japan’s sartorial spectacles for ourselves. Lolita girls, punk rockers and candyfloss coloured wigs all make their appearance in this distinctive district! We’ll walk to Shibuya to add our faces to the rush hour crowd that dominates this iconic crossing featured in Fast and Furious and Lost in Translation!  Later, head back to your accommodation or get your game on with a real life Mario Kart adventure! Don a crazy costume and scale Tokyo’s streets in style! (Extra cost of JPY 6,000) Please note that to partipate in this optional activity, you will need to provide a valid international driving permit.

Day 6: Kamakura
We’ll grab brunch in Tokyo before boarding a train to Kamakura, a coastal city and the capital of medieval Japan. We’ll look around the town’s historical shrines before making our way to Kotuku-in temple to see the famous 45ft bronze Amida Buddha statue. Your accommodation is close to the beach, so we’ll be taking advantage of our perfect position with some sunbathing later! If you want some action, why not rent a surfboard and take to the waves? (Surfboard rental JPY 3,000 per day). Enjoy a drink with the group later at a bar on the beach as you watch the sun go down on another glorious day in Japan.

Day 7: Mount Fuji
Kick things off with an awesome cable car journey along the Hakone Ropeway! You’ll be dropped off at Oowakudani where you may be able to get a glimpse of the stunning Mount Fuji if the weather is clear! You’ll sample black eggs, they’re coloured by being boiled in sulphuric water! We’ll then head to Lake Ashi to board a pirate ship to stand on deck as we cross the lake’s pristine waters. Later, take a steamy soak in the sulphuric water of a traditional onsen. Bliss!

(Please note: unfortunately it is not possible for anyone with tattoos to use the traditional onsen baths)

Day 8: Hello Kyoto!
We’ll board a bullet train to Kyoto today, so hold onto your hats as we go whizzing across the country! Once we arrive we’ll head to Kiyomizu Temple, a stunning UNESCO world heritage site that looks as if it’s been pulled straight from the pages of a fairytale. You’ll have lots of free time this evening, so join the crowds of students enjoying great music, bars and clubs all over the city. We recommend a trip to Pontocho alley to sip sake at a lantern laden restaurant and try to catch a glimpse of the region’s enigmatic geishas. Enjoy a live traditional Geisha performance complete with tea ceremony, traditional music, arrangement of flowers a puppet show!

Day 9: Sights of Arashiyama
We’ll start with a two hour boat trip down Hozugawa River where you’ll enjoy beautiful views from your traditional wooden rafts. Look forward to experiencing the rapids as we wind through the Arashiyama Hills. We’ll then hop off for a refreshing hike through the bamboo forest before making our way up too Arashiyama Monkey Park! Feed the monkeys when you reach the top, and enjoy expansive views of Kyoto below. You’ll then visit the Tenryu-ji temple, one of ancient Kyoto’s most important monuments, and home to enchanting gardens. This evening, be prepared to show us your vocals with a fun-fuelled night of karaoke! A twist is in store, so come along and find out what it is...

Day 10: Free Time in Kyoto!
You’ll have some free time this morning, so why not enjoy a relaxing start to the day and experience the spirituality of local temples, or head to the International Manga Museum to learn more about Japan’s exciting and contemporary culture. This afternoon we’ll head to Fushimi to see the area’s evocative temples before passing through the corridors of stunning red gates to join a hiking trail! Then it’s time to head the sake breweries for a tour and tasting!

Day 11: Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion
Begin the day with a spot of serenity as a Buddhist monk teaches you the art of meditation in a majestic temple. We’ll then make our way to one of Kyoto’s icons – the Golden Pavilion. Tiers of shimmering gold form a celestial sight through the trees, and the magical aura is almost tangible. Then we’ll board bikes and cycle to the Imperial Palace to take any last minute shots before we say out goodbyes to amazing Kyoto. We’ll hop onto another bullet train to head west to Hiroshima! Once we arrive we’ll check into our accommodation and get some rest before tomorrow’s eventful day.

Day 12: Hiroshima and Miyajima Island
It’s a sobering but important start to the day as we visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We’ll find out about how the impact of Hiroshima’s past has resulted in the valuable work that the city does to spread peace and advocate for a nuclear-free world. We’ll then board a ferry to Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima shrine and the inspiring floating torii gate. The temple buildings sit on stilts, so prepare to be awed as you walk through the corridors and catch a glimpse of the ocean beneath you! Be sure to take those all important snapshots – this is a location unlike any other!

Day 13: Osaka
Today we’ll hop on another bullet train to Osaka, arriving in time to grab a delicious lunch. We’ll then take the train to Osaka Castle to take pictures of the grand moat and marvel at the nine tiered donjon! Next up is the Dotonbori riverfront, one of Osaka’s main tourist destinations. Prepare for a flamboyant flood of colour and light as you walk through Dotonbori – it’s an eye popping display! There are plenty of clubbing options in the local area, so enjoy time with the group before heading back to your capsule hotel, an icon of modern Japanese life and possibly some of the most unique accommodation you’ve stayed in!

Day 14: Umeda Sky Tower
It’s our final day in Osaka! We’ll go on a farewell trip to the Umeda Sky Building to enjoy panoramic views before enjoying a tasty brunch. Then it’ll be time to catch our final bullet train bound for Tokyo.

Day 15: Farewell
Your trip ends today and there are no activities scheduled. Say your goodbyes, swap numbers and memories and then it’s time to make your way to the airport or head off on more travels! We hope to see you for your next amazing experience!

Please note activties and itineraries are subject to change. 

Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation is included as part of this trip, and you’ll be staying at hostels or inns on a multi share basis.

Food and drink are not included in the trip, but your guide will take you to affordable restaurants.

We recommend budgeting £15-£20 a day for food and drink, but the amount you spend does depend on your taste and budget. A simple meal such as a bowl of ramen costs approximately £2 but high class sushi will be more expensive. 

The Japanese have developed a sophisticated, yet simple cuisine highly customized to the change of seasons. Modern Japanese enjoy a variety of traditional Japanese food, including many seafood dishes as well as a multitude of foreign cuisine. One can easily find Chinese, Korean, and Thai dishes as well as non-regional American, French, and Italian foods. Sushi shops are among the most popular restaurants

National specialities:

  • Teriyaki (marinated beef/chicken/fish seared on a hot plate).
  • Tempura (deep fried seafood and vegetables).
  • Sushi (slices of raw seafood placed on light and vinegary rice balls – very tasty and refreshing).
  • Sashimi (slices of raw seafood dipped in soy sauce).

National drinks:

  • Green tea is by far the most popular beverage amongst the Japanese. The quality of the tea varies greatly from houjicha (a common brown-coloured tea) to matcha (a bitter green tea used in tea ceremonies).
  • Sake, rice wine served hot or cold according to the season, is strong and distinctively fresh tasting.
  • Shochu, a strong aquavit, is an acquired taste.
  • Japanese wines are inconsistent, but improving.
  • Popular brands of beer are Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory.

You will need to get into practice of eating with chopsticks. By the end of your stay you are bound to have it mastered!

How to hold your chopsticks:

  • Hold your chopsticks towards their end, and not in the middle or the front third.
  • When you are not using your chopsticks and when you are finished eating, lay them down in front of you with the tip to the left. Do not stick chopsticks into your food, especially not into rice. Only at funerals are chopsticks stuck into the rice that is put onto the altar.
  • Do not pass food with your chopsticks directly to somebody else's chopsticks. Only at funerals are the bones of the cremated body given in that way from person to person.
  • Do not spear food with your chopsticks.
  • Do not point with your chopsticks to something or somebody.
  • Do not move your chopsticks around in the air too much, nor play with them.
  • Do not move around plates or bowls with chopsticks.
  • To separate a piece of food into two pieces, exert controlled pressure on the chopsticks while moving them apart from each other.
  • If you have already used your chopsticks, use the opposite end of your chopsticks in order to move food from a shared plate to your own plate.

Knife and fork are used for Western food only. Spoons are sometimes used to eat Japanese dishes that are difficult to eat with chopsticks. A Chinese style ceramic spoon is sometimes used to eat soups. 

Often there will be an Oshibori towel – this is for you to wipe your hands before you begin your meal. 

Eligibility & FAQ's

The minimum age for this trip is 18.

Whats Included

  • Accommodation
  • All train, bus and boat travel as per itinerary
  • A Combination of Western and Japanese Bilingual Tour Guides
  • Asakusa Temple visit
  • Sashimi lesson in Tokyo
  • Traditional onsen bath experience
  • Lake Ashi Pirate ship trip
  • Hakone Ropeway cape car journey
  • Geisha performance in Kyoto
  • Arashiyama bamboo forest hike
  • Karaoke in Kyoto
  • Fushimi visit
  • Sake brewery tour and tasting
  • Imperial Palace cycling trip in Kyoto
  • Fushimi visit
  • Meditation session with a Buddhist monk
  • Hiroshima visit
  • Visit to Umeda Sky Tower
  • Other activities listed in itinerary

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airport Transfers
  • Optional Activities
  • Meals, snacks and drinks

Flights

Flights
Your flight for this trip should arrive into Tokyo Airport (also known as Narita International Airport) or Haneda Airport at any time on your programme start date. You are free to depart from Tokyo Airport at any time on your programme end date (day 15 of the itinerary).

To book your flights why not contact our flight specialist on 01892 277037, who'll find you some great deals.

Although airport transfers are not included with this programme, it is still important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your Online account, or alternatively, you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination. 

Insurance
Please note, you must have adequate cover in place before your trip begins. Whether you’re travelling for two weeks or two years, insurance is an essential part of your adventure and will help you enjoy your travels, secure in the knowledge that you have the protection you need.

Of course you are free to buy insurance from any provider, however at Real Gap Experience, we have travel insurance that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of global travel that’s far from run-of-the-mill.

If you think you’re already covered by an existing policy, such as those provided by credit card providers, check the policy very carefully to ensure it covers you for your Real Gap Experience, specifically:

  • For the duration you require
  • For the activities you’re planning on doing

If you would like some further information about our insurance options please speak to one of our travel advisors.

Visa Information
You should ensure that you have a full passport that is valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information provided below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

If you are visiting Japan for tourism and are a national of one of the 61 countries that Japan has Visa Exemption Arrangements you will not need to obtain a visa to enter the country. To find out if you qualify this under this please visit the following website and see if your country is listed and if so what period of stay is possible; http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html

If you are travelling to Japan as part of a work package please see the information regarding the relevant visas elsewhere in this document.

Internet
We cannot guarantee that Wi-Fi will be available at your accommodation, but larger cities will have internet cafes that you can make use of.

Telephone
The Japanese dialling code is +81, so be sure to let friends and family members know that they’ll have to type this number in before dialling a Japanese number.

Laundry
We cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to do laundry at your accommodation, so we suggest packing some biodegradable wash or travel wash so that you’ll be able to do your own washing if need be.

 

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