Japan holiday, The Shogun trail

“A 13 day cultural tour of Japan by train, from Tokyo to Nagaski via Kyoto and Hiroshima. Views of Mount Fiji, tea, temples and island cruises await. ”


Tokyo | Hakone National Park | Lake Ashi boat ride | Hakone | Bullet Train | Kyoto | Tea with a Geisha | Nara | Hiroshima | Nagasaki | Tea plantations | Ferry to Hirado | Ikitsuki | 99 Islands Cruise | Fukuoka

Description of Japan holiday, The Shogun trail

From the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to temples and charming rural traditions, this two week tour of Japan offers a fantastic overview of its cities, culture and beautiful landscapes. From east to west, we'll travel by rail, including a ride on Japan's famous Bullet Train, and explore this fascinating country.

Our tour begins in Tokyo, a megacity of sacred shrines and futuristic architecture. From strolling through the city streets to drifting along the Sumida River by boat, we'll explore the sights and sounds of this eye-opening capital. Our next stop is a total contrast, as we spend the day enjoying the magnificent, peaceful views of Mount Fuji in Hakone National Park. Bubbling sulphur springs and Lake Ashi are visited by boat and cable car, before spending the night on a cosy futon bed in a ryokan inn.

Japan's fastest train speeds us away to Kyoto, where zen gardens and temples await. We'll learn more about Japanese tea culture from a local Geisha who will meet with us for tea, and visit the Shogun palace of Nijo Castle.

On to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, formerly destroyed by the world's first atomic bombs, where we will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and a museum to learn more about the history here. As scenic road through tea plantations leads us out of Nagasaki to Hirado and Ikitsuki islands. We'll explore the islands, as well as 170 little, mostly uninhabited islands (known as the '99 islands') by boat, before our tour ends in Fukuoka.

Travel Team

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11 Sep 2021
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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 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.

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.

Our Japanese-speaking tour leaders have all spent time living and working in Japan and been fully trained by us, including a strong focus on responsible tourism practices so they can ensure that our tours run in accordance with our code of practice.

As well as providing a fascinating insight into local culture, they are able to provide guidance concerning local customs and culture to ensure that local sensibilities are respected and also advise on issues such as local water conservation and recycling initiatives. Most of our journeys in Japan are by public transport, including the famous “Bullet Train”, which as well as being one of the most efficient and comfortable modes of transport is also one of the most environmentally friendly.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.

As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. CoolEarth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in.

The Impacts of this Trip

We stay in a number of locally owned guesthouses and also at ryokan which are traditional-style inns where you sleep on a futon mattress in room with tatami mat floors and paper screen walls and gain an insight into traditional Japanese lifestyles. This also helps spread the income generated by our visit amongst the wider community. We eat most of our meals at a variety of local, independently run restaurants.


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