Japan holiday, ancient and modern

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07 Oct 2016
£ 3749
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14 Oct 2016
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11 Nov 2016
£ 4249
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19 Oct 2018
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09 Nov 2018
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Japan holiday, ancient and modern

Environment

Accommodation & Meals:
On this trip we spend some nights in comfortable hotels and others in traditional style ‘ryokans’ (local inns). These are usually family run and locally staffed, which means we are benefiting the smaller businesses instead of some of the huge, multi-national hotels you can find in Japan. Many also have environmental policies like optional sheet and towel washing in order to save water and energy. Locally sourced ingredients will be used where meals are provided; where not provided clients will be eating at local shops and restaurants under the guidance of their tour leader. There are some incredible eating opportunities like the Miyagawa River morning market. This is a great chance for cultural exchange as you will become acquainted with some really unusual agricultural produce.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Local Craft & Culture:
Having a largely cultural focus, this tour has many opportunities to learn about the crafts of Japan. Visiting Tsumago post town in Nagano and Hida Folk Museum in Takayama may benefit the locals as well as the preservation of their cultural assets because the group have chance to buy products made in the areas as well as learning about traditional methods and structures of production. There is also a small museum in Nagano devoted to Japan’s best known artist, Hokusai Katsushika. Hokusai is famous for his risqué cartoons and traditional woodblock pictures of Mt. Fuji and you will find these reproduced on souvenirs all over the area.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise on the wildlife, environment and culture that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Japan holiday, ancient and modern

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 13 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All of it - we loved it

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


do some research about the places being visited on the tour beforehand

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes to both

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 20 Apr 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


being in a totally different culture, the people were so friendly and helpful, it was the best!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


take plenty of money and be prepared to eat different foods and go with the flow

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


fab

Reviewed on 08 Apr 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


So many to choose from! Watching the sumo world championships in Osaka there was a terrific moment when the crowd went wild as a top wrestler lost his bout - cushions in the air! It was a great sight... and every time we found another new vista complete with cherry blossoms, such as the donjon at Matsumoto, with the snowy Japanese Alps as backdrop, I realised how lucky I was to be there. Best for me though was perhaps a lovely outdoor hot spring bath overlooking the forest near Jigokudani Yaen-koen, pure heaven! No! The Itsukishima Shrine off Miyajima Island - plus how everyone made my birthday so special (thanks Steve!). Every day was exciting from start to finish.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Top tips - chat to Japanese people as you go - they are so friendly! I had great chats with people on the trains, in the onsen, in the grounds of places we visited, at the sumo! It made it all the more interesting.... plus - check the weather & be prepared...

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I was really happy to stay in the ryokans, and to eat in smaller restaurants (even if they groaned with size of our group all at once sometimes) and it was good to see that our guide, Steve, was on good terms with the people at all these places, which helped make me feel we were getting down to local benefit from our visit. We travelled almost exclusively by train, and not only did this seem more eco friendly and efficient, it was relaxing and a great way to see the countryside. Full marks.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


My holiday was absolutely fantastic - I have never had such a great time, never loved somewhere so much, never actually had my breath taken away so often, absorbed so much atmosphere, relaxed so completely or felt so carefree and happy as I did on this trip to Japan - and I have travelled super extensively. I was happy all the time, my expectations were greatly met and then exceeded - it was beautiful and perfect!

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