We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Japan’s culture. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people.
Japan is a rich and developed country, so is true to say that the opportunities for ‘responsibly operated’ holidays are not as ‘visible’ as they are in other, developing parts of the world. We believe however, that any holiday can be planned in a way which builds on cross-cultural understanding and encourages sensible behavioural change.
An important and educating theme of this journey is ‘contrast’ and this is evident from our first full day in Tokyo, when our low impact half day walking tour begins with a visit to an ancient Japanese garden but ends from the lookout floor of a modern skyscraper. Near the base of Mount Fuji we learn about traditional Japanese food and sleep on tatami mat flooring in a traditional inn. On foot, we explore timeless Takayama and Kiso Valley villages, and finally, in Kyoto and Nara, we delve into quintessential Japan; its ancient Shinto shrines, lantern-lined alleyways, and manicured gardens.
All of our travellers are issued with a ‘Japan Pre-departure Guide’, which provides practical travelling information, but which also gives a balanced introduction into some of the political, social and environmental issues facing the world’s second richest nation. On the ground in Japan, our travellers receive a ‘Tread Lightly’ guide to travelling responsibly, which asks travellers to shun excess packaging, do away with disposable cameras, and avoid daily changing of hotel linen.
In order to minimise carbon emissions associated with operating this journey, we include a significant number of walking tours, and avoid use of vehicles for short transfer distances between hotels and train stations. There are only two days on this journey where a vehicle is used for the full of a day – the overwhelming majority of travel is by rail (super comfortable public transport).
Lastly, the group size for this journey is small – always between 7 and 15 people. Our usual emphasis on ample free time, the avoidance of commission-based shopping stops and our shunning of included buffet dinners means that travellers on this journey have more time, and more flexible time to interact with local people, patronise their enterprises, and make individual discoveries and findings about a truly unique destination.