Japan holiday, ancient and modern

“This two week small group tour takes advantage of Japan's extensive rail network to allow travellers to visit the key sites between Hiroshima and Tokyo by train whilst staying overnight in comfy city hotels.”

Highlights

Osaka | Kyoto | Gion geisha district | Nara | Zen gardens | Hiroshima | Miyajima Island | Peace Memorial Park | Takayama | Hida Mountains | Miyagawa River | Matsumoto | Tsumago | Snow Monkey Park | Hakone | Tokyo | Tsukiji Market |

Description of Japan holiday, ancient and modern

Join a small group tour of Japan travelling from Kyoto to Tokyo via Osaka, Hiroshima and the forts and spa resorts of the Japanese Alps.

This 16 day holiday incorporates the very best of Japan’s ancient and modern sites with everything from sacred temples and shimmering skyscrapers to Buddhist monks and bullet trains, creating an eclectic experience that helps to piece together links between the past, the present and the future.

The shrine-filled gardens of Nara and Kyoto are, without doubt, an essential highlight of any holiday in Japan with the last stop on the tour, Tokyo, conjuring up a fast-paced neon whirl to ensure you leave Japan with newfound friends and unforgettable memories.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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26 Oct 2019
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09 Nov 2019
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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

Japan holiday, ancient and modern

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

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.

4 Reviews of Japan holiday, ancient and modern

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 10 Apr 2019 by

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


The whole holiday was great and our guide, Mayuko, was fantastic. From the cherry blossoms in Tokyo to the the snow monkeys in the snow to the wonderful gardens and temples of Kyoto - it was all so interesting and varied. We enjoyed travelling by all forms of public transport and experiencing different kinds of food, also staying in ryokans. We felt we learnt a lot about Japanese life and culture.

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


We walked many miles which was really good over the two weeks. I would recommend a certain level of fitness. Also, don't take too much luggage as Japanese hotel bedrooms are small and do not have much storage space.

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


Our guide took us to local markets, eating locally in all kinds of restaurants and cafes so that we could experience the Japanese way of life. We always used public transport and stayed in two different ryokans run by local families. We learnt to always take any rubbish or plastic home with us as the Japanese do.

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


Absolutely amazing - one of the best holidays we have ever had. Having such a good guide made all the difference as she was so knowledgeable about her country and also was always on hand to give us advice or helpful tips. We also had free days to explore further and see things which we were particularly interested in.

Reviewed on 27 Oct 2017 by

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


Fabulous people - so welcoming and polite. Loved the Onsens - open air thermal baths where you bathe naked!

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


Just do it - Japan is a great place to visit

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


Somewhat - it's a very forward society.

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


Apart from the weather - typhoon - top marks!

Reviewed on 30 Nov 2017 by

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


Difficult to pick one experience above all others but probably the visit to the Snow Monkeys was the most enjoyable.

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


Book your own flight. The group flight was with Emirates and was therefore via their hub in Dubai. This added thousands of miles to the journey compared with a direct flight over Russia; a 30-hour journey at the beginning and end of the holiday is not a good start/finish and can be reduced by at least 10 hours each way.

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


Certainly the tour supported conservation both directly, by payment to the organisation protecting the Snow Monkeys, and indirectly by using public transport wherever possible. Also we were guided to local suppliers for food and drink, thereby supporting the community and gaining the best of traditional recipes.

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


Brilliant; the tour leader, Ayaka, went to great lengths to provide a variety of opportunities from morning to night such that we could experience as much of traditional Japanese life as possible.

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

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