The Golden Pavilion, top Japan attraction
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Japan - Best Tours & Trips 2019

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.
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Trip Type Trip Type Classic 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 Guided Experiences 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 Ocean 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 Tour 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.
Independent Package 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 Ocean 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.

Tour Styles

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


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


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.


Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

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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

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Japan Trip Reviews

323 Japan Tour Reviews - Summary 95% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 216
Great 90
Average 10
Disappointing 3
Terrible 4

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Very nice

Special needs at Sea Company Reviews
  • 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.

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Operator Special needs at Sea

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

Otaku course and autumn course both were fantastic

  • 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.

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An impressive country

  • 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.

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Operator SmarTours

The tour was, in a word - Fantastic

  • 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.

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Operator On The Go Tours

Splendours of Japan with Hiroshima

  • 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....

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Operator Trafalgar

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.

Top Japan Travel Companies

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.

All Japan tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.6 for all Japan trips.

186 trips from 75 tour companies with 323 reviews

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