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Our Journey to the East tours are divided into three tour types to suit the different travel styles and preferences of our travellers. Please see our SIGNATURE, ACTIVE and COMFORT tours descriptions below to decide which tour type most suits you.

 

SIGNATURE TOURS

• Local boutique-style accommodation (similar to 4-star) including Japanese inns
• Extensive use of public transport (bullet train, express & commuter trains, subway, ferry, bus and taxi)
• In-depth cultural immersion and exclusive experiences
• Guided walking tours – urban backstreets, country paths and nature walks
• Strong Japanese food focus
• Active pace of travel – new destination every two days
• Free time to do your own thing

 

 

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Our Signature tours offer the most comprehensive cultural exposure through a great mix of staying in local accommodation, eating Japanese food, bathing in onsen hot springs, using public transport and engaging directly with local experts and artisans (some of which are in private sessions exclusive to Journey to the East travellers). While our Signature tours cover Japan’s unmissable sights, they also journey to Japan’s lesser known parts, allowing you to experience the country in a deeper and personal way.

Our Signature tours suit inquisitive and open-minded travellers keen to embrace Japanese culture in all its forms. People who enjoy trying new food will love the chance to taste-test their way through a diverse daily selection of Japanese food. Being able to engage directly with experts such as tea ceremony practitioners, chefs and craftspeople will appeal to those who want to understand Japan at a deeper level. Our walking tour components will suit those who love exploring the history and present-day life of local neighbourhoods. Signature tours are also perfect for those who like an active itinerary but who also want some flexibility and time to explore on their own.

We choose to stay at locally-owned boutique hotels with authentic local character in preference to standard international hotels. Travellers on our Signature tours will experience a mixture of western-style hotels (typically 4-star) as well as traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) with private ensuite facilities. Some Signature tours may also include a night in a rustic Japanese guesthouse (minshuku) or temple lodging (shukubo) with shared bathroom facilities so our travellers can experience some unique, out-of-the-way places as well. Traditional Japanese accommodation features futon bedding on tatami-mat floors with paper-sliding doors and is a fantastic way to experience Japanese hospitality at its best. Standard western facilities, such as private room WiFi and lounge bars etc., may not be available at those smaller establishments.

Food is well and truly a key focus of our Signature tours and you will have ample opportunity to try all types of Japanese food – from elaborate kaiseki haute cuisine and Japanese fusion to regional specialities and street food. All breakfasts are covered (including the savoury traditional-style Japanese breakfast), as well as most dinners and some of the lunches, leaving you with time to seek out your own experiences. Each of our itineraries specify which meals are included on a daily basis

Public transport (ranging from bullet trains to subway and commuter trains) is extensively used on Signature tours to give you real insights into local life. It’s often the most efficient way to get around too. Private minivans are also used occasionally where public transport is not available or practical.

Travellers who participate in our Signature tours should be of average fitness and used to walking on a regular basis. Signature tours typically include walking for around 2.5 hours in one morning or afternoon with breaks, and up to 4 hours per day. Japanese train stations do not always have readily accessible lifts and escalators and travellers should be comfortable going up and down stairs. Signature tours also cover a number of destinations across Japan on any one trip, sometimes stopping at a place for only one night, meaning travellers should feel comfortable with a fairly constant travel pace.

While we use a luggage-forwarding service between cities, travellers need to be able to manage their own luggage within hotels and at transit points. Porter services are not always available in hotels.

Our Signature tours offer travellers free time (typically amounting to around two days of an average-length tour) to explore at their own pace and seek out personal interests.

Guide attendance: Our guides accompany the group on all included activities and meals and will be available to provide assistance or recommendations if needed prior to your free time. As our guides are local experts and residents of the city or region you’re visiting, they do not always accompany the group at night and when transiting between cities.

ACTIVE TOURS

  • Local traditional-style accommodation
  • Extensive use of public transport (bullet train, express & commuter trains, subway, ferry, bus and taxi)
  • Soft-adventure focus – natural environments and active engagement
  • Deep-dive focus – stay longer in one destination
  • Free time for your own exploring and food experiences

 

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Transport:

 

 

Fitness & Pace:

 

 

Luggage handling:

 

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Our Active tours provide up-and-close encounters with traditional life and natural landscapes through an itinerary which takes you beyond the tourist hotspots into the more remote regions of Japan. Through these soft-adventure trips you will stay at atmospheric local inns, use local transport, and explore traditional towns, idyllic backroads, and pristine national parks.

Active tours suit those travellers who are adventurous-minded, have above average fitness levels, and enjoy being outdoors exploring a destination by foot. They are also suited to people who prefer an itinerary which includes some free time so they can pursue their own interests and make their own discoveries.

Active tours stay at locally-owned accommodation (typically 3-4 star) offering traditional Japanese-style hospitality. Travellers will experience a mixture of western style hotels, traditional Japanese inns (ryokan), rustic guesthouses (minshuku) and temple lodgings (shukubo), allowing you to enjoy Japanese-style hospitality at its most authentic - futon bedding on tatami mats and communal spa baths. Active tours journey to some remote parts of Japan where the local accommodation does not always offer western-style facilities (such as private room WiFi and ensuite bathrooms), but the accommodation is always scrupulously clean, atmospheric and consistent with the deep-dive focus of our Active tours.

All breakfasts are included (including the savoury traditional-style Japanese breakfast) and some specially selected lunches and dinners so you can sample Japan’s unique regional cuisines. Our guides are always happy to provide restaurant recommendations if needed, or you can choose to seek out your own special food experiences. Each of our itineraries specify which meals are included on a daily basis.

Public transport (ranging from bullet trains to subway and commuter trains) is extensively used on Active tours to give you real insights into local life. It’s often the most efficient way to get around too.

Travellers who participate in our Active tours should be of above average fitness levels and comfortable spending most of the day on their feet. Active tours include some day-walks in national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites, though these are not strenuous hikes requiring backpacks and special equipment. Active tours also tend to stay longer in any one destination, engaging at a more involved level before travelling to the next.

While we use a luggage-forwarding service between cities, travellers need to be able to manage their own luggage within hotels and at transit points. Porter services are not always available in hotels.

Our Active tours offer travellers free time (typically amounting to around two days of an average-length tour) to explore at their own pace and follow personal interests.

Our guides will accompany the group on all included activities and meals and will be available to provide assistance or recommendations if needed prior to your free time. As our guides are local experts and residents of the city or region you’re visiting, they do not always accompany the group at night and when it transits between cities.

COMFORT TOURS

  • Premium-level (typically 4 to 5-star) accommodation including Japanese-style hotels with western beds
  • Private transfer to hotel upon arrival
  • Extensive use of private minivan
  • Guided walking tours through urban backstreets
  • Comfortable pace of travel – stay in one destination longer
  • Most activities and meals included

 

 

Overview:

 

 

Suitable For:

 

Accommodation:

 

 

Meals:

 

 

 

Transport:

 

 

Fitness & Pace:

 

 

Luggage handling:

 

Free time:

Guide attendance:

With a focus on comfort and ease, our Comfort tours deliver the same authentic experience fundamental to any Journey to the East trip but with a few extra creature comforts to make for a more relaxed and supported trip. Comfort tours showcase the best of Japan and take you to all the must-see sights as well as some special hidden treasures for an insightful introduction to the country’s culture and landscapes.

Comfort tours suit those travellers who want to experience Japan’s culture and traditions while enjoying a more relaxed pace of travel and staying at premium-level accommodation with western-style amenities. They are appropriate for those who prefer itineraries with more included activities, more organised meals, and less free time.

Comfort tours stay at premium hotels (4 to 5-star). We also choose equivalent-level Japanese-style inns (or ryokan) with private ensuite facilities and western-style beds so that travellers can still enjoy traditional Japanese hospitality and the onsen hot springs experience, but sleep in the familiar comfort at night.

Most meals are included in our Comfort tours. While we include a variety of Japanese food from sashimi-style fish dishes to teppanyaki-style beef so travellers can sample authentic Japanese cuisine, most breakfasts and some lunches and dinners are western-style to give travellers comfort of familiar food. Each of our itineraries specify which meals are included on a daily basis.

We use a private minivan for intra-city transport and to travel between sights. Public transport (ranging from bullet trains to inter-city express trains) are used to travel between cities. Comfort tour travellers will also be picked up by private vehicle on arrival at the closest international airport or main station to our hotel on the first day of the tour.

Although our Comfort tours are not physically strenuous, travellers need to be comfortable walking within large temple and museum complexes and between transit points. At minimum, travellers will need to walk approximately 1km at any one stretch. Japanese train stations do not always have readily accessible lifts and escalators and travellers should be comfortable going up and down stairs. Our Comfort tours are designed for a relaxed pace of travel, which means that we sometimes base ourselves in one city for 3-4 nights before moving on to the next.

While we use a luggage-forwarding service between cities, travellers need to be able to manage their own luggage within hotels and at transit points. Porter services are not always available in hotels.

Although Comfort tours are designed so that the itinerary comprises fully organised activities and meals, there is some free time built into the itinerary.

Our guides accompany the group on all included activities and meals. As our guides are local experts and residents of the city or region you’re visiting, they do not always accompany the group at night and when it transits between cities.

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