Japan - Best Tours & Trips 2019

191 Japan tours from 76 tour companies. 315 reviews. 4.6/5 avg rating.
A tour of Japan can swing wildly between the dazzling lights of Tokyo and the pastoral pleasures of a rural ryokan (traditional inn), the exquisite temples of Kyoto and a trip to towering Mt. Fuji. Whether it's the always intriguing Japanese culture that draws you in, or the chance to hike or sample hot springs in memorable countryside, Japan is sure to charm and surprise you at every turn.
All Japan tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Itinerary Focus

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 338 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Ancient & Modern Japan

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
16 days
$ 387 / day
$ 6,199
From : $ 8,369
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Spot mysterious geishas in Kyoto's Gion district
  • Experience cherry blossom season or beautiful autumn colours
  • Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs
  • Take the incredible high speed 'bullet train'
  • Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo
Visits:
Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Japan
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Authentic Japan: Old & New

Global Basecamps
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 279 / day
$ 3,348
From : $ 4,118
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Experience Japan's unique blend of modern and ancient culture as you explore Tokyo, Matsumoto, Tsumago, and Kyoto
  • Private guided exclusive tour
Visits:
Tokyo, Kyoto, Japan
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Classic Japan

Intrepid Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 357 / day
$ 4,288
From : $ 5,274
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Japan is a year round destination with something in store for every season: cherry blossoms in spring, stunning leaves in autumn and snow and ice in winter.
  • This trip is a great balance of included activities in each destination, big cities and smaller gems, plenty of free time for other optional fun, all backed by a helpful leader to steer you in the right direction of the best experiences.
  • There’s no better way to get around Japan than the country’s famous railway system. Be impressed by the efficiency and ultra-modernity as you zip from place to place with your included 7-day Japan Rail Pass. Here is why you don't want to miss train travel in Japan: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-trains/
  • Surrounded tranquil scenery and an overnight temple stay in Koya-san is as peaceful and unique as it sounds and the perfect place to stop between Kyoto and Hiroshima. See some of what to expect from your monastery stay here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japanese-monastery/
  • A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park is a sobering but important experience for understanding the tragedies of Japan’s not so distant past.
  • Spend a memorable night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) in tiny Tsumago, one of the best preserved Edo-era towns along the ancient Nakesendo Highway. Enjoy a traditional dinner here and take a short walk to a nearby village.
Visits:
Hiroshima, Kyoto, Tokyo, Imperial Palace, Japan
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Discover Japan

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 350 / day
$ 4,199
From : $ 9,897
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Explore historic Imperial Palace (Tokyo)
  • See the majestic Mt. Fuji
  • Visit Hakone National Park
  • Opportunity to see the Shirakawago (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Visit Ancient town in Takayama
  • Sightseeing in Kyoto
Visits:
Hakone, Hiroshima, Imperial Palace, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Mount Fuji, Osaka, Shirakawa, Tokyo, Japan
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Backroads of Japan

World Expeditions
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
15 days
$ 302 / day
$ 4,523
From : $ 6,332
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Staying in traditional ryokans
  • Hiking through forest trails
  • Wander the bustling streets of Tokyo, Japan's capital city
  • Behold the iconic Mt Fuji and its five lakes
  • Be enthralled by the famous Geisha district of Gion in Kyoto
  • Explore and experience Kyoto and Osaka
  • Walk along the pilgrim’s trail towards the sacred peak of Omine in Nara
Visits:
Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
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Japan Express

Topdeck
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
7 days
$ 190 / day
$ 1,334
From : $ 1,801
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit Harajuku
  • Kyoto city tour
  • Visit Akihabara
  • Visit the Sensō-ji Temple
  • Walk the Shibuya crossing
  • Visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Day trip to Hakone
Visits:
Hakone, Kyoto, Mount Fuji, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
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Japan Explorer

Indus Travels
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
15 days
$ 293 / day
$ 4,499
From : $ 5,933
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • See the modern skyscrapers, including the Tokyo Skytree tower in Tokyo’s downtown
  • See the majestic Mt. Fuji from many vantage points
  • Take-in cultural experiences like a traditional tea ceremony, historic Samurai house and many more
  • Visit various UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Nijo-jo Castle and Kinkakuji Temple 
Visits:
Hakone, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan
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Japan Biking

Butterfield & Robinson
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 1,037 / day
$ 9,495
From : $ 10,824
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • Visit the Asaichi
  • Drive through the awakening streets of Nanao to the island of Noto
  • Ride back in time through sleepy fishing villages and past lush forests
  • Explore the beautiful gardens of Kanazawa
  • Experience fabulous Bike ride through the winding mountains before exploring an amazing Buddhist temple.
Visits:
Kanazawa, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan
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Japan Discovery Summer 2019 - CostSaver

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
10 days
$ 388 / day
$ 3,875
From : $ 5,231
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Hakone
  • Himeji
  • Hiroshima
  • Kurashiki
  • Kyoto
  • Mt. Fuji
  • Tokyo
Visits:
Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
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Mt Fuji & the Japanese Alps

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
15 days
$ 326 / day
$ 4,899
From : $ 6,595
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : N/A
  • N/A
  • Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Hike up Mt Fuji for sunrise over the Japanese Alps
    • Explore the beautiful and fascinating Kyoto
    • Climb the Japanese Matterhorn, Mt Yarigatake
    • Sleep in a traditional Japanese Ryokan
    • Free time to explore the delights of Tokyo
    Visits:
    Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan
    View Trip

    Japan Hike, Bike & Kayak

    G Adventures
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    13 days
    $ 283 / day
    $ 3,909
    From : $ 4,967
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Hike along the kumano kodo pilgrimage route
    • Cycle between islands in rural japan
    • Visit the fushimi inari shrine in kyoto
    • Explore wakayama castle
    • Kayak to the famous floating torii gate at miyajima
    Visits:
    Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
    View Trip

    Traditional Japan

    20 days
    $ 124 / day
    $ 2,478
    From : $ 3,469
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
    Highlights
    • Learn and practice japanese
    • Discover the daibutsu of kamakura
    • Enjoy tour zen buddhist temples in kyoto
    • Have fun at hanabi
    Visits:
    Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan
    View Trip

    Highlights of Tokyo and Seoul for Family Vacation

    9 days
    $ 367 / day
    $ 3,299
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Minimal walking. Motor vehicles for all major parts of trip. Wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Most cruises. Very Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Take a glimpse of the culture of East Asia by visiting Tokyo and Seoul;
    • Cooking class for Japanese and Korean cuisine;
    • Enjoy hotspring in Hakone;
    • Shopping in Seoul
    Visits:
    Seoul, Japan, South Korea
    View Trip

    Discover Japan

    13 days
    $ 599 / day
    $ 7,790
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Witness the fusion of modernity and tradition on a Tokyo city tour
    • Ascend the iconic and inspirational Mount Fuji
    • Wander through the thatched-roof village of Shirakawago
    • Stop in amazement at the dramatic flair of the Matsumoto Castle
    • Lose yourself amongst the Sika Deer in colourful Nara Park
    • Withdraw from the hustle and bustle at the tranquil Kenroku-en Garden
    • Spend a night at a traditional Buddhist Shikubo lodging
    • Meander through the red arches of the Fushimi torri shrines
    Visits:
    Imperial Palace, Kyoto, Mount Fuji, Nara, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
    View Trip

    Japan Highlights

    Topdeck
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    12 days
    $ 258 / day
    $ 3,649
    From : $ 4,188
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Traditional Buddhist prayer service
    • Shibuya crossing
    • Visit Harajuku
    • Visit Hiroshima Peace Museum
    • Visit Itsukushima Shrine
    • Welcome & farewell dinner
    • Stay in a ryokan
    • Visit sake brewery
    • Explore Kyoto's Gion district
    • Visit Ryōan-ji Temple
    • Visit Harajuku
    • Visit Akihabara
    • Visit the Sensō-ji Temple
    • Walk the Shibuya crossing
    • Visit the Itsukushima Shrine
    • Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum
    • Visit a sake brewery
    • Visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine
    Visits:
    Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
    View Trip
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    Top Japan Experiences and Attractions

    Top Japan Experiences

    Visiting the museum and Japanese gardens in Tokyo's Imperial Palace that exhibit traditional Japanese art and history.

    Seeing the shrines in Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple.

    Visit to Kinkaki-ji also known as the Temple of Golden Pavilion.

    Climbing Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain.

    Paying respects at Hiroshima Peace Park and museum, a tribute to the victims of Hiroshima bombing.

    Seeing to Himeji Castle, built during medieval period for defense purpose.

    Chanting with Buddhist monks in the early hours of the morning at a Monestary in Koyasan

    Walking among the many zen temples and gardens in Kyoto

    Seeing the famous Japanese cherry blossoms

    Eating traditional Ramen and sushi

    view more

    Japan Trip Reviews

    315 Japan Tour Reviews - Summary 95% Recommend

    4.6 out of 5
    Excellent 208
    Great 90
    Average 10
    Disappointing 3
    Terrible 4
    Value
    4.6
    Guide
    4.6
    Activities
    4.6
    Lodging
    4.6
    Transportation
    4.6
    Meals
    4.6

    Tour Reviews Write a Review

    Very nice

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Very nice equipment & was delivered in room & picked up as told when it was ordered.

    Read more
    Operator Special needs at Sea

    Otaku course and autumn course both were fantastic

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    I did the Otaku course and autumn course in 2017 and both were fantastic. Living in the dorm was great because I got to become friends with everyone else in the program, while home stay really improved my Japanese and gave me a better look into actual life in Tokyo. The activities were all a ton of fun and our guide, Jose, was awesome. If you're interested in having a great experience in Japan while also getting to learn some Japanese, I 100% recommend this program.

    Read more
    Operator Studytrip.com

    An impressive country

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    It is 2 weeks ago that we returned from our "Discover Japan" tour. What a great enjoyment it was, and how lucky we were! We managed to experience the cherry blossoms (Sakurai) in all the towns on the agenda.Even our guide, graceful Yoshimi Ozawa, was amazed about our great luck and exclaimed that two weeks before there was nothing to see. To add to our enjoyment, we were able to see Mount Fuji's upper cone above the clouds.Yoshi (as she wanted to be called by us) was extremely well organized and very eager to share her extensive knowledge of Japans history, customs and living conditions with us. We were duly impressed by the cleanliness of the cities, streets and people. Especially the rail road stations in Tokyo, Kanazawa and Kyoto are far and above in architecture and organization over any that we seen in Europe (let alone here in the US). The visit to the Mitsukushi department store was eye opening. The quality and quantity of the products on offer exceeded anything here in the US. Even more so were the the great number of sales clerks available to help, but not at all "pushy".The hotels were very good and the breakfasts quite sufficient. The included meals were also good. Our concerns of having to spend extensively for meals were unfounded since there were a great variety of lower costs options.Just the long and congested breakfast lines at the New Otani Hotel dimmed the outlook for the day. Having to wait up to 40 minutes, even though there were empty tables, should not be an acceptable condition.Transportation in general , be it by bus or train, was very good. However, We did not understand why the suitcases were moved from Takayama directly to Kyoto, depriving us of them in Kanazawa.We came away from this journey admiring the Japanese people that went through such dramatic changes since the middle of the last century.

    Read more
    Operator SmarTours

    The tour was, in a word - Fantastic

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Great hotels and in great locations. Also the nights stayed in each hotel was well thought out.
    Tour content was excellent. Pace was fast but that is how we like it. Cant complain about anything.

    Read more
    Operator On The Go Tours

    Splendours of Japan with Hiroshima

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Fewer shrine visits and more site visits to working areas of Japan would have been nice, ie:pottery making....

    Read more
    Operator Trafalgar

    An memorable journey around a country full of spectacular sites and hospitable people, that immerses you in a vibrant and rich culture

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    An memorable journey around a country full of spectacular sites and hospitable people, that immerses you in a vibrant and rich culture.

    Read more
    Operator G Adventures

    Japan Tours and Travel Guide

    Japan Attractions & Landmarks Guide

    A tour of Japan can swing wildly between the dazzling lights of Tokyo and the pastoral pleasures of a rural ryokan (traditional inn), the exquisite temples of Kyoto and a trip to towering Mt. Fuji. Whether it's the always intriguing Japanese culture that draws you in, or the chance to hike or sample hot springs in memorable countryside, Japan is sure to charm and surprise you at every turn. 

    What to Expect from a Japanese Cultural Tour

    Traveling in Japan you are welcomed into the fold of their ancient culture; a calm, peaceful, and minimalistic approach permeates everyday life throughout Japan. Your Japan tour guide will provide historical context and local insights throughout your tour.

    Japanese people are very welcoming, if reserved by western standards. They take hospitality seriously, and are among the more open and friendly people when it comes to offering a beverage or meal. Homestays are a very popular accommodation type on tours of Japan - as they let visitors to the country learn about the Japanese culture of hospitality on a much deeper level.

    Along with their reverence for hospitality, Japanese people also place heavy importance on politeness. The country is regularly listed as one of the most polite countries in the world. It’s important to remember this as you travel in Japan.

    How to be a polite traveler in Japan

    1. Use the correct side of the escalator!

    (Really this politeness rule really should apply around the world). But in Japan it’s a particularly funny and potentially confusing expectation. Because different sides of the escalator are used depending on what city you’re traveling in. In Tokyo, stand on the left, with the right open for passing. In Osaka and Kyoto, stand on the right side.

    2. Wash before entering an onsen

    This counter-intuitive rule must be adhered to if you don’t want to appear extremely rude and dirty! Going to an Onsen is a highlight for many travelers wishing to partake in this traditional bathing ritual. But be very cognisant that you rinse yourself off with soap before entering the Onsen waters. This is an important step and you’ll feel a much more amiable atmosphere from others in the Onsen.

    3. Remove shoes inside

    It is expected that you remove your shoes before entering homes and sometimes other establishments as well. This is a cultural expectation throughout Japan, and you’ll get used to it very quickly. Also note that slippers are not to be worn for walking over traditional Tatami mats - these should be tread on with socks only.

    Food in Japan

    Many people have a unique reverence for certain Japanese foods, which have obtained near cult status around the world. Ramen and sushi both hail from Japan originally and are adored by foodies.

    While there is certainly a never ending supply of ramen and sushi to enjoy while you travel in Japan, there are also many other foods to try.

    Especially as you travel through the Japanese countryside and smaller towns, you’ll have the opportunity to sample traditional Japanese food beyond the comfort zone of ramen and sushi.

    Japanese food is full of interesting flavors and textures. When traveling in Japan, you’ll sample a lot of vegetable based dishes, broth based dishes, noodles, and fish. Don’t expect a lot of heavy meat dishes.

    It can be difficult to adapt to Japanese food if you’re not used to it. And particularly difficult given the cultures emphasis on politeness - if you don’t want to finish your meal, it can be an uncomfortable situation. The best thing to do is approach each meal with an open mind, and try and be welcoming to new flavors.

    Top dishes to sample in Japan - beyond Ramen and Sushi

    1. Okonomiyaki - these savory fried pancakes are best enjoyed after you’ve watched them prepared right in front of you! The exacting timing and knife skills, are a joy to watch and it’s a great activity for being out with your new friends in your tour group. Okonomiyaki usually come with cabbage and beyond that several varieties of topping are available.

    2. Udon - Wheat flour noodles that can be served warm or cold. Udon noodles are very versatile and are delicious with with vegetables, in soups, or served with meat. They are also tasty on their own with just a little bit of seasoning!

    3. Gyoza Dumplings - If you travel almost anywhere in Japan, you will see a variation of Gyoza. These bright white dumplings, usually decorated on the top with brown character markings are filled with either pork, beef, chicken, beans, or vegetables. They are a great grab n go snack, often found for sale in train stations.

    4. Yakiniku - Japanese barbeque at its finest! A very popular dish in Japan, Yakiniku is small chunks of chicken served on skewers. Beware! Traditional Yakiniku is designed to use the entire chicken; comb, heart, liver, you name it.

    5. Japanese sweets - Japanese people love sweet foods and you’ll never have any trouble finding something to satisfy a sweet tooth. A lot of Japanese sweets are made with bean paste which can be a surprising taste for westerners. Green tea is also a common flavor.

    Can't Miss Attractions in Japan

    1. Tokyo

    There are some main attractions that are must sees when in Tokyo including the Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya shopping, the Royal Palace. At Shibuya Station there is a statue of a dog named Hachikoa famous meeting spot in the city. Oriental Bazarre is the one stop shop for all souvenirs and gifts from chopsticks to furniture.

    Japan also has some great department stores, and Tokyo Hands is one of the best. There are beautiful parks throughout the city, one near the Royal Palace another called Arisugawa Park, and the Ueno Zoo is also a fun activity for families. And don't miss a chance to walk across the largest crosswalk in the world!

    2. Hakkaido & Sapporo

    Mostly known for their Sapporo beer, Sapporo is the main city on the northern island of Hokkaido. The Sapporo Ice Festival is a large winter festival with massive ice and snow sculptures, sculpted in formations of cartoon characters, pagoda buildings, and fun ice slides. Hokkaido is a great place for winter activities including skiing and snowboarding and ice drifting.

    3. Kyoto

    Kyoto has the iconic Japanese pagodas, including the Golden Palace. It is a beautiful, large park area with dozens of temples and pagodas to visit. The sites here are gorgeous especially during fall and cherry blossom season.

    4. Hiroshima

    Hiroshima is infamous for being the site of bombings by America in WWII. In the center of the city is a memorial, peace bell, and one building still standing with damage. It is a place for remembrance, and for the history buffs.

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    Things to Know Before You Go

    Japan is a fascinating country - with something for everyone. It is popular among history buffs eager to learn about the ancient samurai culture, foodies who love sampling unique culinary items, and outdoorsy travelers looking to ski in some of the most pristine mountains in the world.

    The Japanese culture is complex but friendly - their customs are important to them; politeness and timeliness are heavily valued traits. Traveling with a tour can help ease some of the stress that might come with navigating the Japanese culture and language.

    When is the cherry blossom season in Japan?

    Cherry blossom season in Japan is in early April on the mainland. This is one of the most popular times of year to travel to Japan, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting to see the bright pink and red cherry blossoms.

    The season is relatively short, especially if you stay in the major towns and cities. And locals as well get very exciting about seeing the cherry blossoms - a flower commonly depicted in Japanese imagery throughout the centuries. So definitely expect some unavoidable crowds if you plan to visit Japan for the cherry blossom season.

    Where to ski in Japan

    There are several ski resort destinations in Japan, covering a wide range of “traditional” ski lodges to resorts to smaller mom and pops.

    There are two main regions for skiing in Japan, both of which hosted the Winter Olympics. Hokkaido, which hosted in 1972 offers a more “westernized” feel” when it comes to the ski resorts and ski culture.

    The other main region for skiing in Japan is Nagano, which hosted the winter olympics in 1998. Here you can expect a more traditional Japanese approach in the ski villages and lodges - many accommodations are offered in Japanese inns called “ryokans”. This would be the place to go to an Onsen for the truly unique experience of bathing in a warm outdoor pool as the snow falls.

    When is the Ski Season in Japan?

    Skiers around the world get very excited about skiing in Japan for the powdery snow. The best month for Japan’s renowned powder conditions is January. Expect pretty heavy crowds of enthusiastic skiers eager to experience some of best powder skiing in the world.

    The Japanese ski season is shorter than in the United States, plan to visit between December and late February / early march for the best snow.

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