Japan Express

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4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment. 2- 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*)
9 days
From: $ 2,125 $ 236 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • From the ultra-modern to ancient traditions, this express adventure will introduce you to some of the many faces of Japan in a short amount of time.
  • Visit the little town of Nikko – packed with World Heritage-listed temples and picture-perfect hiking trails, and one of the best backdrops for a soak in a steaming onsen.
  • Eat your way from Tokyo to Kyoto with plenty of chances to try all kinds of delicious street food, sake, snacks and surprises – from a hearty bowl of ramen to world-class sashimi.
  • Even getting from place to place is fun in Japan! Ride the renowned Shinkansen bullet train and make use of public transport day passes to get to and from the activities you choose.
  • With a local leader to show you around, a new group of friends to explore with and plenty of free time for discovery, you’re guaranteed to get the most out of Japan’s wondrous sights.

Short Description

Home to sumo wrestling, sake, geishas, karaoke and onsens, Japan’s got a lot going for it. And on this nine-day trip to some of its most acclaimed cities, you’ll get to see the country at its best. Take in the neon nightlife of Tokyo, relax in the manicured gardens of Nikko and discover thousands of years of culture and history in Kyoto. And have you heard about the food? World-class sushi, ravishing ramen, delectable donburi – you certainly won’t be going hungry. With your local leader to point you in all the right directions and plenty of time to explore at your own pace, experience the culture and charm of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Style Small group tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Lodging Level Basic (2*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Tokyo
End City Kyoto

Destinations

Japan

Attractions & Cities Visited

Kyoto Tokyo

Activities & Interests

N/A

Age Requirement

15-99

No single supplement
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Itinerary

Day 1 Tokyo

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore, from fascinating museums and world-class shopping to neighbourhood backstreets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. Afterwards, why not head out for an optional dinner to try some local food and experience the nightlife in this amazing city. You might like to finish the night with a drink at a traditional Japanese izakaya – ask your leader for their favourites.

Day 2 Tokyo

This morning, venture out with your small group on the metro to explore the buzzing Shibuya area. Check out one of the busiest intersections in the world before heading into a depachika (underground food hall) for a mouth-watering array of tempting Japanese treats. Next, visit Meiji Shrine – enter via a massive torii (gate) and notice the sights and sounds of the city fade away as you enter the tranquil forest. Afterwards, explore the Harajuku district, the home of quirky youth pop culture. In your free time this afternoon, perhaps take in the historic Asakusa area – one of the older and more traditional parts of Tokyo. Here you can stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple, which was founded almost 1400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. This evening, you've got endless options for dinner – how about a hearty bowl of ramen, crispy tonkatsu, or snacks and beer at (another) izakaya.

Day 3 Tokyo

Enjoy a morning walk around the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, where fresh seafood from Tokyo’s wholesale fish market (recently relocated to a new site at Toyosu) is delivered daily. Wander through the narrow aisles to find all sorts of amazing food then perhaps pop in to one of the sushi restaurants for a fresh breakfast. Continue on to the famous Akihabara District – the centre of Japan's otaku culture. Shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are scattered among the electronic stores in the district. This afternoon is free for you to explore, so why not spend some time in the city’s green spaces like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden or create your own entertainment with some karaoke!

Day 4 Nikko

Say goodbye to Tokyo and take the train to Nikko (approximately 2 hours) where you’ll have a free day to explore. Nikko has been a sacred city since the middle of the eighth century and is full of shrines and temples. Perhaps visit the Tosho-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun who was one of the most powerful rulers of the country. Every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold leaf, lacquerwork, paintings and patterns. Here you can also visit the Museum of Art at the back of the temple complex. This 1920s mansion has one of the country’s most beautiful collections of sliding doors and screens decorated by the best Japanese painters of the day. You could also head to Shin-kyo bridge – one of the town’s most famous landmarks – and the Buddhist temple of Rinno-ji, home to fearsome statues and an elegant garden.

Day 5 Nikko

For those feeling energetic, join your leader for a hike around the Nikko area. Depending on the time of the year, you can climb up to the Senjogahara Plateau, where the gods of Mt Nantai and Mt Akagi are said to have battled for possession of Chuzenji Lake. You can take a six-kilometre walk following the course of the plateau or explore the various hiking trails that spread off from the lake itself. The lake area is also home to the Kegon Waterfall, and you can get the Akechidaira Ropeway (cable car) over the falls and lake. A little further on is Lake Yunoko and Yumoto, where you can soak in the natural hot springs – a great place to experience one of Japan's well-loved public onsens. In the town itself you can explore the shops along Hippari Dako, maybe tasting yuba – the skin that forms on top when making tofu. Sounds strange, but it's a delicious treat!

Day 6 Kyoto

Enjoy your last free morning in Nikko before making your way to Kyoto. Take the local train (around 2 hours) and then jump on board the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for approximately 3 hours. Originally founded as Heian-kyo ('tranquillity and peace capital') by Emperor Kammu in AD794, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, and with over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in. On arrival, head to one of the most photogenic spots in Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine – famous for the thousands of vermillion-coloured torii (gates) which straddle the paths and trails in the area. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to get acquainted with Kyoto by walking through its historic neighbourhoods.

Day 7 Kyoto

Today is free for you to explore. With its many landmarks and historical sites and an abundance of traditional arts and literature, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan. Kyoto is also a city that lends itself to walking, and there are plenty of paths available – ask your leader for their recommendations. Perhaps visit the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, also known as ‘The Golden Pavilion’, or if you’re visiting in spring, head to the theatre for a presentation of Miyako Odori (the Cherry Blossom Dance) performed by elaborately dressed maiko (apprentice geisha). In the evening, enjoy a guided walk through the Pontocho and Gion areas – the famous geisha districts. Even today you can observe the age-old tradition of geisha visiting members of the wealthy elite – this unfolds in small teahouses tucked away in tiny back streets. For those who are keen, you can also choose to attend the Gion Corner cultural centre where you can enjoy some Japanese performing arts, from flower arranging to the Lion Dance.

Day 8 Kyoto

Make the most of your day in Kyoto. If you haven’t done so already, you may like to see Japan’s largest pagoda at Toji, or you could visit the imposing and opulent Nijo Castle, home to the Tokugawa Shoguns who had power over the country during the Edo period. You can also check out the ‘nightingale floors’ of Ninomaru Palace, which squeak to warn off intruders. From the castle, it’s a short bus ride to Ryoan-ji, perhaps Japan’s most acclaimed Zen garden, where carefully placed rocks sit in an immaculately raked sea of gravel. For some local shopping there’s Kyoto’s handicraft centre, a perfect place to pick up some souvenirs with a fine selection of woodblock prints, yukata (light cotton robes), jewellery and pottery. Tonight, why not enjoy karaoke with your new friends, or maybe splash out on a kaiseki meal in a ryotei – small restaurants serving traditional multi-course cuisine. Being in Kyoto alone is definitely cause for celebration.

Day 9 Kyoto

There are no activities planned for today and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10 am, however if you’re departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you're not ready for the adventure to be over, perhaps book an Urban Adventure to experience a different side of Kyoto.

Availability

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Price From $ 2,125
Price Per Day: $ 236 per day
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4,186 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

94%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 3,164
Great 667
Average 132
Disappointing 66
Terrible 157
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Japan Express

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I had a really fun time travelling to…

4.0
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I had a really fun time travelling to Thailand last December. Intrepid made the entire trip easier because of the preparations they made beforehand. I'm definitely going to recommend Intrepid to my friends. Ciao!
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Viewing wildlife in a natural setting

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Viewing wildlife in a natural setting with an experienced naturalist is outstanding

Great trip made better by the guide.

5.0
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Great trip made better by the guide.

This trip is an excellent mix of cultural experience, adventure and nature.

5.0
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This trip is an excellent mix of cultural experience, adventure and nature. Nepal is a beautiful country and the people are so warm and approachable. Dal Bhat Power 24 hour!

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation.

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation. Andy was an exceptional leader. If you want more than just resorts when coming to Bali I highly recommend this tour

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Walk the Scenic Rim

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Had the best time! Over 5 days we hiked up hill, down dale, across creeks and through beautiful pockets of ancient Gondwana rainforest. The scenery was stunning, the company was awesome, and I can't recommend Intrepid Travel (and our tour leader, Joel) highly enough!
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Public Bus,Metro,Train,Bullet Train

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 16

Accommodations

Hotel/Ryokan (8 nts)

Guides

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional sources for employing tour leaders. As a result, our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may either be Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Hotel Gran Ms Kyoto
  • 410-3 Shimomaruya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, 京都府京都市中京区下丸屋町410-3
  • Kyoto
  • 604-8006
  • JAPAN
  • Phone: +81 752412000

Trip ID#:

intrepid-CJRB

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