Japan family tour, rural adventure

“An eight day family holiday in Japan, travelling in a small group, exploring rural areas and traditional Japanese culture away from the crowds. Staying in mix of hotels, minshukus and ryokans.”


Nara | Asuka | Sasayama | Kameoka | Boat ride along the Hozu River | Kyoto | Monkeys and Mount Arashiyama | Staying in traditional minshukus and ryokans | Farm visit | Taiko drumming lesson | Visit to traditional pottery

Description of Japan family tour, rural adventure

This Japan family tour takes you off the beaten track in Japan and into its heart. Because although many people think of cities when it comes to exploring Japan, rural life, the mountains, rivers and valleys are where you will find the cultural gems.

This small group, family adventure is a journey around the Kansai area of Honshu Island, Japan’s main island, where we spend quality time getting to know the communities of Asuka and Sasayama. We have carefully crafted an itinerary which appeals to a mixed group of ages, including learning about the traditions and techniques of Wadaiko Taiko drumming, cooking, taking part in a traditional pottery class and making Japanese paper lanterns.

This family holiday is all about enjoying every day activities with local people, and the welcome given by Japanese hosts is second to none. Share cooking experiences, stroll through stunning bamboo forests, cycle explore Samurai houses in Sasayama and discover rural shrines as Fushimi Inari Shrine, with its ten thousand vermillion Torii gates.

During this trip you will stay at minshuku and ryokan inns, a very special experience for families, enjoying traditional Japanese hospitality, hot spring baths or onsen and superb regional food. Throughout the trip you will also be accompanied by an expert, English speaking Japanese guide.

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Check dates, prices & availability

19 Jun 2021
excluding flights
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Holiday type
Small group holidays
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.

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.
“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?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We are conscious about our carbon footprint and this particular tour does not involve long-distance travelling within Japan. Indeed, this family exploration focuses on the lesser-known places of the Kansai area. We use public transportation on our trips rather than chartered motor vehicles to lessen our environmental impact.
Our tour features stays at small, family-run Japanese inns. This means that our accommodation suppliers value locally-produced food, which has a lower carbon footprint and further encourages economic activity in the community.
Choosing smaller lodgings such as staying at Minshuku (Family-run guesthouses), owned and run by local people, helps and supports local communities and businesses. This means we aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of natural resources, culture and society, treating them with respect and fairness.
This family tour visits the monkey park in Arashiyama, Kyoto. The name 'Monkey Park' can be quite misleading and negative: it is not a park, but rather a forest where the monkeys actually live. Refreshingly, it is the animals who are free to roam while the humans are caged in a box!

The Impacts of this Trip

Focusing on the lesser-known places of the Kansai area, this tour allows travellers to stay at small, family-run Japanese inns. As part of the tour, families visit various traditional workshops and try their hands at paper-lantern making, pottery making, etc. together with local artisans. Families also enjoy an immersive farming experience, which fosters genuine interaction between local populations and visitors. Hosts at this organic farm are examples of the 'I-turn' movement in Japan, whereby city dwellers return to the countryside, reversing the trend of recent decades, and re-create a lifestyle more closely connected to the land. We want to support this movement and allow our guests to experience the rural lifestyle. Bringing visitors to country communities, such as the peaceful agricultural community of Asuka, helps sustain their economic viability. Encouraging economic activity in the community means that their society and culture can endure, too. This is particularly important for rural areas, many of which faced decades of decline and depopulation as younger people moved away to the cities. There are now welcome signs that this tide has started to turn.


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