Pay in full discount on selected dates. Save $548 pp!

from pp Twin Share

$7,299
Typically $12,517
-42%
Book Now Select
with only a $99 deposit pp

Single Traveller
$10,091 pp
Pay in full discount on selected dates. Save $548 pp!

from pp Twin Share

$7,299
Typically $12,517
-42%
Book Now Select
with only a $99 deposit pp

Single Traveller
$10,091 pp

16 Day Unforgettable Japan Small Group Tour

16 Day Unforgettable Japan Small Group Tour

This tour is conducted at a medium-fast pace. Some long travel days may be required to complete this itinerary and you will typically spend two nights at each destination, with some one night stays required. This trip includes a mix of sightseeing and free time to explore at your own pace. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and some activities will be conducted on uneven or steep terrain. You will be required to handle your own luggage.

Pace
Moderate Pace

This tour is fully escorted by a dedicated tour leader who will accompany you throughout the tour. If your trip includes multiple countries, you will be met by a new tour leader in each country and any internal flights included will be unescorted.

Escorted Type
Fully Escorted

Take advantage of our 7 day cooling-off period. 

Cooling Off Period
7 Days

These tours are our proudest creations. They have been crafted for Inspiring Vacations travellers exclusively, with personal and unique experiences in mind. Please see the Important Information on your selected tour for exact group size. Enjoy features such as hand-picked accommodation, a sampling of the region’s best culinary delights, and a range of optional activities to choose from to best suit your travel style.

Group Size
Small Group
Small Group Tour
20,018 people have travelled to this destination
 
✓ 15 nights in accommodation, including a night in a Japanese Onsen hotel
✓ Breakfast daily and 2 dinners, including a Japanese Izakaya experience
✓ Experience the iconic Japanese bullet train
✓ Dedicated private transportation throughout
✓ Fully escorted by a dedicated tour leader 
✓ Incredible sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
✓ Small group tour with no more than 24 travellers

What we love about this tour

Discover some of Japan’s most breathtaking sights in a small group, including Mount Fuji and UNESCO sites, Shirakawa-gõ Village, White Heron Castle, Golden Pavilion and the town of Takayama. Quintessential Japanese bucket list experiences include a ride on the bullet train, an izakaya dinner, and one night at an onsen hotel.

Itinerary

Hotel
Shinjuku Washington Hotel or Similar

Upon arrival into Tokyo. Take the evening to relax after your flight and prepare for your first full day of touring tomorrow.

The easiest and most convenient way to travel from Haneda International Airport (HND) to Tokyo Central is by train or by monorail. The airport is also serviced by many 'Limousine Bus' services which offer shared shuttle bus service from around ¥1300 per person.

The best way to travel from Narita International Airport (NRT) to Tokyo Central is by the Narita Airport Express. The journey to most Tokyo stations takes approximately 1hr and the ticket costs ¥4070. The airport is also serviced by many 'Limousine Bus' services which offer shared shuttle buses from around ¥1300 per person.

Airport transfers are not included. Our transfer portal offers the option to book your airport transfers for an easier arrival experience (additional charges apply). Access to this portal will be available through your Traveller Hub once your booking is confirmed.

Hotel Check-in:
Travellers will be arriving at various times throughout the day. If arriving prior to standard check-in time, which is generally 3pm local time, you are welcome to leave your luggage with hotel reception and explore your surroundings until check-in becomes available, as there are no scheduled activities on day 1 of the itinerary. The hotel may grant early check-in, however this is strictly subject to availability and at the hotel’s discretion.

Hotel
Shinjuku Washington Hotel or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

You are scheduled to depart from your hotel this morning at 9am to begin your full-day coach tour of Japan's ultramodern capital - Tokyo! Ensure you allow enough time to enjoy your breakfast and to meet your Tour Leader in the lobby prior to 9am.

Our tour will begin with a visit to Meiji Shrine, located within a 170 acre forest in the centre of the city. Constructed of cypress wood and copper, the shrine commemorates Emperor Meiji, Japan’s 122nd emperor, who presided over Japan’s industrial revolution and emergence onto the world stage.

We will then visit the Tokyo Skytree. Open since May 2012, the Skytree is a television and radio broadcast site, and contains a restaurant and two viewing platforms. At 634m, it's among the tallest structures in the world. Our entry ticket includes access to Floor350, giving us a birdseye view over the sprawling city.

Next we visit Asakusa district, and the Sensō-ji Temple. This is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and it's dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. On the approach to Sensō-ji is Nakamise Shopping Street, a centuries-old promenade of shops selling traditional snacks and souvenirs like kimonos and bottles of saké.

We also spend some time exploring the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Here, we view the two bridges that form one of the entrances to the inner palace grounds. The current Imperial Palace is home to Japan's Imperial Family and is located in the former site of Edo Castle, surrounded by an imposing stone wall and moat system. 

Hotel
Shinjuku Washington Hotel or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today is a full free day in Tokyo. There is no end to the spectacular sightseeing and activities available to you, as Tokyo truly has something for everyone. Take as much time as you like to relax at your leisure, explore the city, shop for souvenirs and eat the delectable cuisine. Be sure to ask your guide for recommendations on more must-see spots around the city.

Optional Tour - Calligraphy Class

Today, learn the Shodo - the way of writing. Experience the traditional Japanese calligraphy - from the preparation of the ink, to the writing with a brush.

Start time approx: 10:30am
Finish time approx: 12:00pm

Optional Tour - Sushi Making

Take a closer look at the fascinating world of sushi, extending from the ocean to your plate. Learn the art of sushi-making from a sushi master, then enjoying your creations afterwards.

Start time approx: 11:00am
Finish time approx: 1:00pm

Optional Tour - Tokyo Izakaya Night Tour

Tonight, enjoy your experience of an Izakaya - a typical Japanese casual pub where Japanese people go for 'after work drinks'. You will be picked up from your hotel and will head to a local Izakaya to experience the lifestyle of a local while enjoying different types of alcohol and traditional Japanese 'pub' food.

Start time approx: 7:00pm

Hotel
Route Inn Kawaguchiko (Onsen Hotel) or Similar
Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Leaving Tokyo this morning we head to the national park region of Hakone.

On arrival, we'll take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi. The lake sits within the caldera of Mount Hakone, and is famed for its views of Mount Fuji. Boats inspired by western warships cruise the scenic lake, and the picturesque, forested region has been popular with hikers and sightseers for centuries.

We then transfer to Lake Kawaguchiko, an absolutely stunning area that's home to the second largest of the Fuji Five Lakes and promises more fabulous views of Mount Fuji.

Later we'll arrive at the hotel and prepare for a lovely dinner with our fellow travellers.

Hotel
hotel around TAKAYAMA or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today, after departing Kawaguchiko, we travel by coach to visit Mount Fuji's 5th Station (weather permitting), which is halfway up the active volcano. Mount Fuji is the country’s tallest peak and it is considered one of Japan’s three holy mountains. Here, above the clouds, we'll view the mountain’s enormous summit if weather permits.

Next we transfer to Matsumoto, where we’ll visit Matsumoto Castle, also known as the 'Crow Castle' due to its dramatic black exterior. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan and was built in the 1500s.

Following this we'll continue on to our final destination today, the city of Takayama. 

Note, today is a long travel day and we will arrive at our hotel at approximately 7pm. 

Hotel
hotel around TAKAYAMA or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today is a full free day in Takayama. Be sure to ask your guide for their recommendations on must-see spots around the city.

Optional Tour - Kimono Fitting - Takayama

Kimonos are a traditional Japanese garment that were first introduced in Japan in the Heian period. You will be able to rent a Kimono and walk around the traditional streets of Takayama to take iconic photos. Your guide will be able to provide you with directions to the venue.

**Please note your shirt size and height in the Special Requests field during the booking process**

Hotel
Kanazawa Manten Hotel Ekimae or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Before leaving Takayama this morning we'll tour Kamisannomachi Street in Takayama’s Old Town, a wonderfully well-preserved slice of old Japan, with houses and shops dating back to the Edo period (1600-1868). As well as the charming architecture, there are several quaint cafés and a number of old saké breweries to explore.

We'll then travel to Shirakawa-gō Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has more than 100 'Gassho-style' houses, which feature steeply-pitched roofs. Built many hundreds of years ago, these historic houses stand together in a beautiful natural setting. Enjoy exploring this unique village with its thatched-roof houses sitting among gorgeous mountain scenery. Following this we will transfer to Kanazawa. On arrival we will take a brief tour around Higashi Chaya District, a beautifully preserved and picturesque historical area of Kanazawa.

Hotel
Hotel Keihan Kyoto Grande or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

This morning we’ll visit the stunning Kenrokuen Garden – one of the most beautiful in Japan. Developed over more than 200 years, starting in 1620, the garden contains almost 9000 trees and 200 plant species.

We also visit Nomura Samurai House, the historic residence of the Nomura Samurai clan. The intriguing house and grounds provide an insight into the lifestyle of the samurai, or military nobility, during the 16-19th centuries. The residence features beautiful architecture, gardens and décor, such as intricately painted screen doors.

After a break for lunch, we’ll transfer by coach from Kanazawa to Kyoto. Upon arrival in Kyoto, the rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure.

Hotel
Hotel Keihan Kyoto Grande or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today is a full free day to spend in Kyoto. This golden city was once the capital of Japan and sits on the island of Honshu. It's famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. Beautiful Geisha are often found in the Gion district.

Optional Tour - Green Tea Ceremony

Also called Chado, "the way of tea" is the traditional and ceremonial preparation and presentation of Matcha. You will be shown how to prepare the tea and be able to experience preparing it as well. Your guide will be able to provide you with directions to the venue.

Start time approx: 3:00pm
Finish time approx: 4:00pm

Optional Tour - Flower Arranging in Kyoto

Today, experience Ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arrangement that dates back to the 7th century. The tradition believes that by arranging the flowers you give a new life to the flowers - Ike (live) Hana (flower). Head to a master's classroom where you will be able to try hands-on the art of flower arrangement in Japan

Start time approx: 4:00pm
Finish time approx: 5:00pm

Hotel
Hotel Keihan Kyoto Grande or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

This morning, we travel the short distance to Nara by bus, and visit Tōdai-ji (Great Eastern Temple), famed for its Great Buddha Hall, which remains one of the largest wooden buildings in the world. This impressive building houses a 15m-tall bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Following this we'll wander through gorgeous Nara Park, where more than 1200 tame sika deer roam freely. 

After lunch, we return to Kyoto and visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion. This is a Zen temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with two floors covered entirely in thin layers of pure gold. The site is set within a beautiful classical Zen garden. The detailed architecture of Kinkaku-ji incorporates three distinct architectural styles – Shinden, Samurai, and Zen.

Afterwards we visit Heian-jingū (Heian Shinto Shrine), a replica of an ancient imperial palace, and a symbol of the rebirth of Kyoto after World War II. The enormous vermillion Shinto torii (a traditional Japanese gate) is unforgettable.

Hotel
Osaka Garden Palace or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

This morning we begin a full-day coach tour of Kyoto. Our first stop will be Arashiyama, a stunning area known for its thick bamboo forest, which is also designated by the Japanese government as a Place of Scenic Beauty. 

Next we'll visit magnificent Fushimi Inari Shrine. Famous for its thousands of vermilion torii (shrine gates), which straddle a network of trails behind its main temples, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is incredibly photogenic. The trails lead into the forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233m and belongs to the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Following our tour we'll depart Kyoto and head to Osaka, where we'll check into our hotel and spend the evening relaxing.

Hotel
Hiroshima Grand Intelligent Hotel or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today your main luggage will remain at the hotel in Osaka to meet you upon your return in two days time. Please ensure you have an overnight bag packed for your two evenings in Hiroshima.

After breakfast we'll depart Osaka to visit the so-called 'White Heron Castle', Himeji – it's the largest surviving example of a traditional Japanese castle. Comprising 83 buildings, the white roof of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed complex is said to evoke the wings of a heron taking flight, hence the popular name Shirasagi-jō (White Heron Castle). This is the most visited castle in Japan and the site offers some wonderful views of surrounding Himeji city. After our visit here we'll transfer to our hotel in Hiroshima.

 

Hotel
Hiroshima Grand Intelligent Hotel or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

After breakfast this morning our guide will meet us in the hotel lobby. Together we'll board a ferry for the short trip to Miyajima, an island known for its forests and ancient temples. Just offshore, there's a 'floating' torii, which becomes partially submerged at high tide. It marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, which was first built in the 12th century. Nearby, the Museum of History and Folklore has cultural artifacts in a 19th-century merchant's home. We’ll take a walk along Omotesando Shopping Street where you can grab some lunch before returning to Hiroshima by ferry.

Once we're back in Hiroshima we'll visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, otherwise known as the Genbaku Dome, or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. A shell of a building that was one of very few left standing after the United States bombed Hiroshima in 1945. In Hiroshima today, locals have mixed feelings about the UNESCO World Heritage-listed structure: some see it as a reminder of war, while others consider it a tribute to the lost that ensures we'll never forget the tragic events that took place here.

Later, we'll visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which contains many poignant, yet important, exhibits. The flame in the cenotaph is intended to burn until the last nuclear weapon has been destroyed.

Hotel
Osaka Garden Palace or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

This morning we'll depart Hiroshima via the bullet train to Shin-Osaka Station. Upon arrival in Osaka we'll begin a full-day coach tour with our guide, passing Osaka Castle, which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the Azuchi-Momoyama period in the 16th century.

After arriving at the Dōtonbori area, we will have a walk through one of Japan’s typical downtowns. One of Osaka's most popular tourist destinations, this street runs parallel to the Dōtonbori canal and is a hugely popular destination for shopping, street food, bars and entertainment. At night, the streets here are illuminated by hundreds of colourful neon lights and mechanised signs, including the famous running Glico Man sign and the Kani Doraku crab sign.

 

Hotel
Osaka Garden Palace or Similar
Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Today is a full free day in Osaka to spend at your leisure. Be sure to ask your guide for recommendations on great places to see and eat.

This evening we’ll enjoy dinner as a group at a local restaurant.

Meals
Breakfast

Today marks the end of your incredible tour through Japan. 

Airport transfers are not included. Our transfer portal offers the option to book your airport transfers for an easier arrival experience (additional charges apply). Access to this portal will be available through your Traveller Hub once your booking is confirmed.

Departure and check out: There are several ways to travel from your hotel to either Osaka International Airport (ITM) or Kansai International Airport (KIX), from shuttle buses to trains and taxis. Transport to the airports can cost between 250 Yen to 21,000 Yen depending on the form of transport you choose. Your Tour Leader will be able to assist you arrange the most convenient way to the airport on the last day of the trip.

Travellers will be departing at various times throughout the day. Standard hotel check-out is from 10am-12pm. You are welcome to leave your luggage at hotel reception and spend your final moments of free time exploring the area or alternatively please speak with hotel staff if you would like to extend your check-out time. Please note this service is subject to availability and will likely come at an additional cost. 

Inclusions

✓ 15 nights in accommodation, including a night in a Japanese Onsen hotel
✓ Breakfast daily and 2 dinners, including a Japanese Izakaya experience
✓ Experience the iconic Japanese bullet train
✓ Dedicated private transportation throughout
✓ Fully escorted by a dedicated tour leader 
✓ Incredible sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
✓ Small group tour with no more than 24 travellers

To enhance your journey, we are offering guests a choice of the following optional activities (prices are per person):

  • Calligraphy Class (Day 3) - $157 per person
  • Sushi Making (Day 3) - $277 per person
  • Tokyo Izakaya Night Tour (Day 3) - $277 per person
  • Kimono Fitting - Takayama (Day 6) - $148 per person
  • Green Tea Ceremony (Day 9) - $138 per person
  • Flower Arranging in Kyoto (Day 9) - $144 per person

Optional tours can be selected once you have finalised your tour purchase and paid your deposit. When completing your Passenger Booking Form, you will be asked if you would like to add Optional Tours, where any applicable cost will be added to your final balance. If you choose not to select them at this time, you can choose to add them later by logging in to your Account online.

 

Please note that you must select your Optional Tours no later than 70 days before departure, after which you will be required to purchase them on tour. Please keep in mind that anything purchased on-tour is subject to availability and prices may vary as you will be paying in local currency. We appreciate your understanding.

Please note that transportation to and from each optional tour is not included in the price. You will be required to make your own way to the starting point of the optional tour, as well as back to your hotel. Your tour leader can provide you with the direction and guidance needed to make your own way.

 

Pre/post accommodation 
Not available 

Upgrades 
Not available  

Bedding Configuration
You will have the option to choose single, twin or double:


Single Travellers  
When booking this tour, solo travellers will be presented with three options:

1 - Single Supplement

By paying an additional $XXXX.00 per person, in addition to the twin-share price, you guarantee the privacy of your room throughout the entire trip.

Please note when choosing Single Supplement for this tour, your room will generally consist of a double or semi-double bed. Occasionally there may be a hotel that will provide a single bedded room for single travellers. All rooms provided to single travellers will be smaller than the twin rooms we recommend for two people. Unfortunately, this is typical for Japan, as the cost to solely occupy a twin-size room is incredibly high. We appreciate your understanding.

2- Shared Room with a known friend

If travelling together with a friend, you can opt to share your room with him/her and avoid paying a single supplement. 

You and your friend can create a unique booking each. Creating a unique booking, gives each of you the flexibility of making different travel arrangements (such as adding extra accommodation, flights, etc), making separate payments and having individual access to our Traveller Hub

During the purchase path, you will need to provide your friend’s booking ID (if known) or at a minimum, your friend’s full name.

3- Shared Room with a fellow traveller

In this trip you can opt to share a room with a fellow traveller of the same gender – as specified in your passport - and avoid paying a single supplement.

If you believe you may prevent your travelling companion from enjoying a peaceful night’s rest, please refrain from selecting this option.

You will meet your rooming companion at the beginning of your trip. 

Changes to room configuration during the trip must be organised by travellers directly with the hotel, subject to availability and additional charges.

This option is not available on additional accommodation booked before or after

Twin Share Bedding Configuration
At any time, bedding configuration is subject to confirmation by the hotel and based on availability. While you have the option to select either twin or double bedding at the time of booking, our recommendation when travelling to Japan is to choose twin bedding, as the rooms are often bigger than those that have a double bed. If insisting on double bedding, please note that the rooms will be smaller and more narrow. As a general expectation, we cannot always guarantee bedding at all hotel stays.

Triple Share
Not available

Child Policy
Children must be 5 years old or above and share a room with parents at all times. Children are charged the same price as adults.

Payment Information 
Secure your trip with a $99.00 deposit per person.

Once we receive your deposit, we will send you an invoice with your remaining balance and payment options.

Instalment Schedule:

  1. At the time of booking pay a $99.00 deposit per person.
  2. Pay a 1st installment of $800.00 per person within 28 days.
  3. Pay a 2nd installment of $1,600.00 per person within 90 days.
  4. You will then be invoiced for final payment 120 days prior to departure.

 

Cooling Off Period 
A refund will be available within the 7-day cooling-off period unless otherwise restricted by the purchased product. 

Where 'last minute' bookings are available within 71 days of departure, the cooling-off period does not apply and bookings are immediately non-refundable.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Please review our terms and conditions here: Terms And Conditions - Inspiring Vacations 

Fine Print

Trip Suitability

  • This Unforgettable Japan Small Group Tour is ideal for travellers who prefer a more intimate experience. With a smaller group size, you'll receive more personalized attention from your tour leader and have a chance to connect with your fellow travellers on a deeper level.
  • The tour itinerary strikes a great balance between iconic landmarks like Mount Fuji and Tokyo Skytree, and hidden gems like the serene Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. You'll get a well-rounded experience of Japan, ensuring there's something for everyone to enjoy.
  • The tour includes free days in Tokyo and Kyoto, allowing you to explore these vibrant cities at your own pace. You can choose to join optional activities like a calligraphy class or a sushi-making class, or simply wander the charming streets and soak up the atmosphere.

Visas & Entry Requirements
Many countries require a visa and obtaining the correct visa for your trip and any countries you may transit through is your responsibility. We recommend you check your visa requirements as soon as you have booked your trip. This will ensure you have time to prepare your documents and for your visa application to be processed. You can check the visa entry requirements for your nationality via our page here: 

https://inspiringvacations-8357211.hs-sites.com/visa-information 

You’ll need a valid passport to travel internationally and most countries require your passport to have a minimum of 6 months validity, so remember to check the expiry date.

We need your passport information to get everything ready for your trip so the information on your booking must match your passport exactly. Please take care to provide the correct details. We recommend carrying a copy of the photo page of your passport while traveling and leaving a copy at home with family or friends.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is strongly recommended on all our trips. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. It is also important to consider forced pre-trip cancellations and how your chosen insurance policy may cover such circumstances, so please keep this in mind when choosing your provider. 

We strongly recommend all travelers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment, and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will be asked by your tour leader for your travel insurance details if they were not already added to your Traveller Hub account pre-departure.

If you have credit card insurance your Inspiring Vacations tour leader or local guide may require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details before arriving in-country.

Before you depart, you will be asked to submit your Travel Insurance details through the booking holder's Traveller Hub account through the Inspiring Vacations website. This is to ensure that we have this information readily available should we ever need it. 

Health, Wellness & Fitness Requirements
All travelers need to be in good physical health to participate fully on this trip. For the safety and well-being of yourself and others, if you are unwell before traveling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements.

When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully to assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. If we find that you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements in their original packaging as they may not easily be obtained while traveling. If you are carrying medication, ensure you check your government's foreign travel advice for any local restrictions or requirements. For the safety and wellbeing of yourself and others, if you are unwell before traveling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements and we would be more than happy to assist you.

Important Information for Customers with Mobility Limitations
We want to ensure everyone has a fantastic and inclusive experience on our tours. If you require the use of a mobility aid, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair, please disclose this information at the time of booking.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for the entire group, our tours are designed with a specific itinerary in mind. This may involve moderate walking, uneven terrain, or stairs. While some itinerary adjustments may not be possible, we'll do our best to find alternative solutions within the planned activities whenever possible.

Open communication helps us ensure your trip is a perfect fit and it allows your local guide or tour leader to assist you where possible. 

Information for CPAP Users
If you use a CPAP machine, please let us know at the time of booking. Some portions of our itinerary, like overnight cruises or camping trips, may have limited access to power outlets. In such cases, we recommend traveling with portable battery packs. 

Certain activities, like overnight journeys on board smaller vessels, may not be suitable for CPAP use due to space limitations or noise concerns. We can discuss these potential limitations upfront and help you make informed decisions about your trip.

Documentation
Tour documentation is typically emailed to the lead passenger or your travel agent between 14-30 days before your scheduled departure. This will include your final hotel list. 

Official Travel Advice
To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, we recommend referring to the official travel advisory website of your home country for the latest updates on your chosen destination. These websites provide valuable information on:

  • Safety and Security: Current risks and precautions for the country you'll be visiting.
  • Visa Requirements: Ensure you have all the necessary documentation for entry.
  • Entry and Exit: Up-to-date border regulations and health requirements.

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

In the unlikely event of a situation that could potentially disrupt your tour, we want to assure you of the following:

  • Local Expertise: We maintain regular communication with our trusted travel partners in your destination.
  • Constant Monitoring: We continuously monitor official travel advisories from relevant government websites.
  • Flexibility and Safety: Should it become necessary, we will make appropriate adjustments to your itinerary to prioritize your health and safety.

By staying informed and working together, we can ensure a fantastic travel experience for you. We will post our travel updates on our website here.

Connect with fellow travelers on Facebook.
During your booking journey, you might have received an email inviting you to join a special Facebook group dedicated to your chosen destination. These vibrant online communities are exclusively for Inspiring vacation travelers headed to the same incredible place. Joining this group unlocks a wealth of information and connections. Swap travel tips, share packing insights, or even see if anyone's interested in traveling together.  

We also regularly host insightful webinars featuring travel experts who share their tips and tricks for navigating your destination and maximizing your itinerary. Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to connect, learn, and get even more excited about your upcoming trip!

Starting Point
Your starting hotel may differ from the original itinerary.  Please refer to your final documentation which will be provided approximately 14-30 days before departure for your confirmed hotel list. If you need to book pre-tour accommodation independently, we suggest you do this only once you have received your final hotel list for your tour. If you would like to book something sooner, we recommend that you book using a flexible rate that can be canceled through your chosen third-party provider without penalty. 

Travelers will arrive at various times throughout the day depending on the flights booked. If arriving before standard check-in time, which is generally 3 pm, you are welcome to leave your luggage at hotel reception and explore your surroundings until check-in becomes available as there are no scheduled activities on day 1 of the itinerary.  The hotel may grant early check-in, however this is strictly subject to availability and at the hotel’s discretion. 

Note: if you need to apply for a tourist visa before departure, we recommend using the details of the suggested hotel on the tour itinerary if you wish to fulfill this before the release of your final tour documentation. Please refer to our visa section for more information on whether or not a visa is required for your destination. 

 

Arrival Details
Airport transfers are not included as part of your package. However, we trust that your journey from the airport to the hotel will be comfortable and hassle-free.

Alternatively, Japan’s public transport system is very efficient and reliable. 

To make your way to your hotel from the airport, there are various connections by express train or limousine bus. The airport information desks can provide helpful advice, too. 

If you're having any problems finding the hotel, please ring the hotel directly (you can use one of Japan's green public phones with coins of JPY10 or JPY100). Our ground operator in Japan is also available in case of emergencies.  Please refer to the emergency contact details listed on your final documentation.

Optional Airport Transfers - Transfer Portal
Depending on the package purchased, you may have the option to add airport transfers to your booking and you can do so through your Traveler Hub account. We partner with an online marketplace where travelers can compare and select the transfer of their choice. How to book information can be found on our FAQ page or by clicking here

In addition to Inspiring Vacations standard terms & conditions, any service arranged through our transfer portal service will be subject to third-party terms & conditions found HERE. Refunds may be available with no cancellation fees up to 48 hours before the pick-up time, subject to the terms of the transfer booking.

Inspiring Vacations cannot be held liable for any loss resulting from the transfer service provided by the third-party operator. It is the customer's responsibility to ensure any transfer booked meets the requirements of any other travel arrangements. Likewise, your tour leader or any of our on-ground representatives cannot be held responsible for the service of your third-party transfer nor are they in a position to assist with amending your reservation. Any transfer booking is separate from any other booking with Inspiring Vacations, regardless of whether purchased with regards to the same travel journey.

Welcome Meeting Instructions
You are welcome to arrive at any time on Day 1 of your tour and the day is at your leisure. Upon checking in at the hotel, you will receive a letter containing meeting instructions for the following morning. If you do not automatically receive these details, please ask for them. Generally, you must meet at the lobby the following morning (on the day that sightseeing commences) as early as 0815 am local time. Please ensure that you are on time. 

In Case of Emergency
Although we strive to deliver exceptional holiday experiences, unforeseen circumstances can occasionally arise during travel. If any issues arise during your trip, it's essential to promptly communicate them to your tour leader or local representative. This ensures they can take immediate action to address the problem and mitigate any negative impact on the remainder of your journey.

We understand that there may be instances where your tour leader or local representative is unable to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. In such cases, we encourage you to request that the tour leader or local representative escalate the matter to their direct manager for further assistance.

You also have the option to share details in your online feedback after the tour. However, please keep in mind that it's challenging for us to offer practical assistance once the trip is completed. Therefore, notifying us while still traveling allows us the chance to address the issue in real time and provide a timely resolution.

For general contact details please visit the Contact Us page on our website.

When your final tour documentation is released, this will include an emergency contact for our local travel partner while you are on tour. If this is not included in your documentation, you will receive this on arrival during your welcome meeting. 

Trip Pace

This trip category is 3 out of 5
Balanced exploration with walking tours: This trip offers a good mix of planned activities and free time. Expect moderate daily walking tours, so pack comfortable shoes.

Japanese cities are best explored by foot and public transport, so be prepared for a lot of walking each day you are on tour. Many travelers are surprised by how much distance they end up covering while sightseeing and moving from one city to the next. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your tour more enjoyable.

Group Size 
Minimum Passengers: 18
Maximum Passengers: 24

Escorted Style 
This tour is fully escorted by a dedicated tour leader who will accompany you throughout the tour. If your trip includes multiple countries, you will be met by a new tour leader in each country and any internal flights included will be unescorted.

Tour Type 
Our expertly crafted Small Group Tours take you to iconic landmarks and hidden treasures, ensuring a rich blend of must-see sights. Unwind in premium accommodations after each day filled with sightseeing alongside your dedicated tour leader, leaving you free to explore at your own pace during designated free time. Benefit from smaller group sizes, creating a truly unforgettable travel experience.

Exclusions

  • Airport transfers
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Tipping
  • Optional Activities
  • Personal expenses
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary

Optional Tours
Depending on the package, you may have the option to pre-book optional tours through your Traveler Hub account. To secure your spot pre-booking these tours in advance is highly recommended. While some tours require a minimum number of participants to operate, you'll be fully refunded if the tour is canceled at your destination for this reason. Our optional tours are typically led by your tour leader or local guide. Please note that transportation to and from the optional tours is not included, but your tour leader or local guide will be happy to assist you with navigating public transportation options like trains or taxis to reach the starting point. 

Traveling in a group
Traveling in a group means you will experience both the pleasures and perhaps at times, some of the frustrations of traveling with people you don’t know. The good news is you all have at least one thing in common: a love of travel and exploration. Your fellow travelers will probably come from different parts of the world, and fall into different age groups. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your grouppatience with your fellow travelers is sometimes required for the overall benefit of the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, please ensure that you respect this request from your tour leader or local guide. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow ttravelersbooked on your trip before departure.

Community Guidelines
Inspiring Vacations does not tolerate any kind of violence, harassment (whether physical, verbal, or sexual), or disrespect toward fellow travelers, our teams (Inspiring Vacations Tour Leaders and local expert guides), or local communities.

Romantic relationships between travelers and the Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader or local representative are not permitted while on tour.

Any behavior that prevents your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader from continuing the itinerary as planned, breaks local laws, or opposes any of these guidelines, may result in Inspiring Vacations removing you from the tour.

If something concerns you during your travels, please speak to your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader immediately. Alternatively, when you are on-tour and require immediate support you can contact our Customer Support team and select the “On-Tour” option when listening to the options. 

Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader vs. Local Guide
While both tour leaders and local guides enrich your travel experience, their roles differ. Tour leaders, who often accompany you for the entire trip, handle logistics, ensure smooth sailing of the itinerary, and act as your point of contact for any concerns. They might provide general information about destinations, but in-depth historical or cultural knowledge often comes from local guides. Local guides, frequently native to the area, lead tours at specific sites or attractions, offering a deeper understanding of the local history, art, or way of life.

Due to Japan's popularity, it has been necessary to go outside our traditional route for employing tour leaders. As a result, our passionate, professional, and trained Tour Leaders may either be Japanese or long-term foreign residents of Japan.

Coach Transportation 
The size of your coach will comfortably accommodate your group. There's usually room for some extra seats, ensuring a relaxing journey. Your luggage will be safely stored either underneath the coach or in a dedicated trailer.

While the exact coach style may vary depending on the departure, all our coaches offer comfortable seating. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi and charging outlets might not always be available. To stay connected and avoid dead batteries,  we recommend fully charging your devices beforehand or bringing a portable charger.

For longer journeys, we'll make sure to include ample restroom breaks along the way, so you can freshen up and recharge at your convenience, as facilities are not on-board the coach. 

Itinerary Changes 
Sometimes, unexpected things can happen, like unpredictable weather or higher-than-usual crowds at attractions. In these situations, your tour leader might need to adjust the itinerary slightly to improve your overall experience. For example, in Japan, if the cherry blossoms haven't bloomed yet at a planned stop, your leader might take you to a different location known for its vibrant blooms.

This flexibility ensures you get the most out of your trip! Your tour leader will always keep you informed of any changes and explain the reasoning behind them. Remember, when traveling with a group, sometimes going with the flow can lead to even more amazing experiences.

Staying Connected
If you want to stay connected and access reliable internet while on tour, there are a few options available. It is possible to purchase a virtual sim and we recommend contacting your mobile phone provider for assistance in doing so. You can add a roaming data plan to your existing phone contract is another option, albeit an expensive one. You will need to arrange this before departure. Purchasing a local SIM at the airport in Japan is the final option. For a prepaid fee, you can get data by simply swapping your current SIM with your new Japanese SIM, and depending on which package you purchase, you’ll be able to text and make phone calls, just as you would at home. 

We also recommend downloading WhatsApp and using this to communicate with other group members while on tour, and of course, after the tour if you’d like to stay in touch. Our tour leaders may also use this as a means of communicating essential trip information with you, as well as if you choose to add-on transfers to your booking, as your driver may use this to confirm arrangements with you.

Getting Around
While touring Japan, you will be traveling to each place by dedicated, private coaches and trains (where included in your selected itinerary), including riding the iconic Shinkansen, or bullet train. Expect some long travel journeys on the coach but rest assured there will be comfort stops along the way where you can freshen up, stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and often, purchase refreshments. Generally, lunch stops will be taken at rest stops as they can easily accommodate our large groups.

If you’re arriving in Japan before your tour commencing and exploring on your own, Japanese public transport is world-class and it’s simpler to get around than you may think. While there are many different lines, from regular express trains to underground metros and of course, the famous Shinkansen (bullet train), all are easy to navigate. Most train stations even have platform signage in English and Japanese, as well as symbols denoting regular or bullet trains. When in doubt, consult a staff member – if they don’t speak English, they can point you to someone who does. Alternatively, get familiar with a maps app before your trip (like Google Maps); many provide detailed transport information, right down to the platform trains will depart from.

 

Hotel Ratings
To give you the most accurate picture possible, we don't just rely on a single source for hotel ratings. We go beyond by researching various trusted travel websites like Tripadvisor and Booking.com. This allows us to analyze a wider range of genuine customer reviews and experiences, giving you a well-rounded understanding of the hotel's typical star rating.

This means you can book with confidence, knowing the hotel has a strong track record of satisfied guests.

Accommodation Details
In Japan, hotels commonly used for group touring are known as Business hotels. These hotels offer affordable accommodation and although the rooms are typically small, averaging between 15m2 to 20m2, they are clean, well-maintained, and equipped with a private bathroom featuring a toilet, sink, and shower. Some rooms may have a shower over a small bath. Overall, a comfortable place to rest and recharge before a full day of sightseeing. 

These hotels generally provide essential amenities like soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, cotton buds, shower caps, and towels. Additionally, most rooms are furnished with a television, air conditioner, hairdryer, empty refrigerator, and a water boiler with complimentary green tea bags. However, it's important to note that not all hotels may offer these amenities, so we recommend traveling with any essentials and creature comforts you deem necessary. If there are any concerns, please speak to the hotel staff. 

On every two or three floors of these hotels, you may find a common room with vending machines, and some may have coin-operated washing machines and dryers. There might also be a clothing iron available, but if not, you can request one from the hotel reception, and if available, it will usually be brought directly to your room. It's worth noting that not all hotels provide laundry facilities. Once you receive your documentation (14-30 days before departure), to best prepare yourself, read up on the facilities available at each hotel. If you require a specific need while on tour, such as laundry facilities or money exchange service, speak to the Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader who will be able to assist you. The hotels used are conveniently located near convenience stores and transportation options, making it easy to purchase any forgotten essentials, snacks, or on-the-go lunch options. 

Generally, these Business hotels offer a buffet-style breakfast with a mix of Japanese and Western food choices. Since you'll be traveling in a foreign country, we encourage you to approach all your dining experiences with an open mind and a sense of adventure, as Western-style dining options may not always be readily available. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please consult your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader to check if your needs can be accommodated. Additionally, we suggest bringing along some of your favorite snacks from home in case the local cuisine may not align with your preferences.

Travel Tip: twin rooms are usually slightly bigger than double rooms in Japan, so if you want a little more space, we suggest requesting a twin room throughout but keep in mind these are subject to availability. We strongly recommend only traveling with one piece of luggage per person due to room sizes and you will be responsible for handling your luggage at all times. 

Packing Essentials
What you need to pack for your tour will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting, and when you are traveling. We recommend you pack as lightly as possible, ensuring that you can carry and lift your luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. 

A lockable suitcase with wheels is ideal for this trip. It is recommended that you keep your main luggage weight around 15kg and no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 liters) is another good option. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, a camera, a jacket, and your essentials while touring during the day.

In Japan, you will need to manage your luggage for the most part. Train stations are quite complex and usually require a lot of stair climbing, especially when doing a quick transfer from train to train. Elevators aren't always available and cannot accommodate many people at a time, so if you are choosing to bring a suitcase, please ensure you can lift and carry it up and down stairs by yourself without difficulty. A backpack is often preferred by ttravelers forthis reason, but the decision is yours. Our ryokans allow suitcases but you'll need to carry them, not wheel them onto the tatami floor in your room. 

Climate
Japan has four distinct seasons with a climate ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical in the south. You may notice a difference in weather conditions depending on whether you’re on the Pacific or the Sea of Japan side. Northern Japan has warm summers and very cold winters with heavy snow in mountainous areas. Eastern Japan has hot and humid summers and winters are often cold with snow in mountainous areas. Western Japan has very hot and humid summers with mild winters. Read more about Japan’s climate or watch our video here

Cherry Blossom Viewing 
Some of our selected Japan itineraries will have departures that fall over the popular Cherry Blossom season, which changes year to year depending on the forecast. The magic of cherry blossoms in Japan is undeniable, however, like all things in nature, the exact bloom times can vary depending on weather conditions.

While we can't control the whims of Mother Nature, we can embrace the spirit of Hanami (flower viewing). This philosophy celebrates the fleeting beauty of the blossoms, reminding us to cherish the present moment.

Therefore, depending on your departure date, some locations on our itinerary might not be in full bloom. The beauty of Japan extends far beyond the blossoms. We may encounter early blooms in some areas or visit breathtaking landscapes elsewhere. Let's embrace the surprise and enjoy the journey together! 

Currency and ATMs
The currency used in Japan is the Yen. Most chains and hotels will accept cards. Convenience stores are the best places to withdraw cash as almost every store is fitted with an ATM that accepts foreign cards. There are over 20,000 7-Eleven stores across the country, in addition to chains like Lawson and Family Mart.

Food and Allergies
While traveling with Inspiring Vacations you'll enjoy iconic sightseeing, as well as experience the vast array of culinary offerings in Japan. While many meals will be eaten together with your group, not all meals are included in your tour which gives you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what , and with whom to eat. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let our Customer Support Team know before departure. Your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader or local representative will also be able to give suggestions on which restaurants to try during your trip. 

The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (i.e. in flavorings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetables), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans, and coeliacs do their research about the options that might be available to them before departure. While our leaders will assist you where they can, there may be some included meals that are decided in advance and therefore cannot be altered or modified for different diets (such as those included meals at Ryokans). For those with a particular food allergy, your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader will endeavor to advise the main ingredients in the dishes consumed. It is, however, still your responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any problematic ingredients.

Onsens
Visiting a traditional Japanese onsen, or hot spring, is a quintessential local experience while on tour. In a public onsen, this means bathing naked with others of the same sex. While the experience may feel uncomfortable at first, most groups end up enjoying this activity and are pleased they participated. There is very specific etiquette for visiting onsens - your Tour Leader can give you some tips and instructions. Please be aware that travelers with tattoos may not be permitted to enter public onsens. Private onsens may also be available - talk to your leader for more information. 

Local Customs
It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting Japan is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip.

Please note, decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, comments about your tattoos are not common, but please endeavor to wear modest clothing and check the rules for bathing in public onsens.

Dress Code
While Japan is known for its eclectic fashion in some cities, overall it is quite a conservative country. Please remember while on tour you will visit temples, working monasteries, holy shrines, recreated villages and castles, cooking schools, and ancient gardens. While visiting such places, especially those of religious significance, it is important to be respectful to the staff and other visitors by wearing modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

Responsible Dining
We are big supporters of the protection of endangered species around the world. Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year. We do not visit places that serve whale meat on any of our trips, nor will your leader guide you to where it is offered.

Tipping Your Leader

While gratuities are not included in your tour price, tips are a welcome gesture of appreciation. Tipping is, of course, at your discretion and the amount is entirely a personal preference, however, US$8-10 per person, per day (or the equivalent in the local currency), is a good guide. 

Peak Travel Times

Please be aware that while traveling during major national holidays (late April to early May in Japan) and peak seasons in Japan (April-May/September–October) are fascinating times to travel, there are also some downsides to consider. There will be huge crowds at most tourist attractions and on all public transport. It's often difficult to secure train tickets at preferred times, and traffic jams and changes to the itinerary without prior notice can sometimes be necessary. If you decide to travel during peak periods, come with a sense of adventure and flexibility and you will still have a memorable experience. 

Safety and Security

Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your own government's advice for the most up-to-date travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. 

Your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader or local representative will accompany you on all included activities listed on the itinerary, however, you'll have some free time to explore on your own if you wish. While your Inspiring Vacations tour leader or local guide will assist you as best they can with your requests and the options available outside your itinerary, please note Inspiring Vacations makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running the activity. Please use your judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. 

Crime levels in Japan are low. The Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo has been considered a higher-risk area for crime. It is generally safe to walk around at night and to travel on public transport, but you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home and take sensible precautions. Reports of inappropriate touching or chikan of female passengers on commuter trains are fairly common. The police advise shouting at the perpetrator to attract attention and ask a fellow passenger to call the train staff. 

Please also note that your Inspiring Vacations Tour Leader or local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

Apps to Download
 

Some useful apps you may want to consider downloading before your tour include Google Translate, the lens function is especially useful when wanting to read product labels, signs, and menus. Google Maps with offline maps downloaded is great for easy navigation without being reliant on wifi. The most widely used taxi app is GO Taxi. We also recommend downloading WhatsApp before you leave and using this to communicate with other group members while on tour. For those visiting during cherry blossom season, the Sakura Navi app (developed by the Japan Meteorological Corporation) is a must—it tracks the cherry blossom forecast in real-time for the entire country. 

 

Post-Tour Feedback

Once your booking is confirmed, you will receive a link to a post-purchase survey, which is your opportunity to share your feedback with us on your booking experience and interactions with our Sales and Customer Success teams. This feedback is invaluable to ensure that we are servicing our customers to the best of our ability. 

 

Furthermore, towards the end of your travels and while you are in your destination, you will receive an email from us with a link to an in-depth trip survey. It is very important to us that we hear from our customers to ensure that we continue to meet and exceed customers' expectations, so this will be your opportunity to let us know how your trip has been, what has worked well, and potentially what could be improved. 

 

Finishing Point 

 

Your finishing hotel may differ from the original itinerary. Please refer to your final documentation which will be provided approximately 14-30 days before departure for your confirmed hotel list. If you need to book additional post-tour accommodation, please do so once you have the final hotel list. We recommend booking a flexible rate that can be changed or canceled without penalty should there be any unforeseen changes to your booking. 

 

Travelers will depart at various times throughout the day depending on the flights booked. Check-out time is generally from 10 am-12 pm. You are welcome to leave your luggage at the hotel reception and spend your final moments of free time exploring the area or please speak with hotel staff if you would like to extend your check-out time. This service is subject to availability and will likely come at an additional cost payable directly. 

 

Departure Details 

 

Airport transfers are not included as part of your package. However, we trust that your journey from the hotel to the airport will be comfortable and hassle-free.

 

As an added service, we do offer airport transfers at an additional cost which can be booked via your Traveler Hub.  We recommend you wait until you receive your final documentation to book transfers as your start and end hotels will only be confirmed at this point. Please note that if you are choosing to book an independent airport transfer service, your Tour Leader cannot be held responsible for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise, nor can they resolve any concerns that you may have with your transfer service.

 

Alternatively, Japan’s public transport system is very efficient and reliable. 

 

To make your way to the airport from the hotel, there are various connections by express train or limousine bus. The hotel concierge can provide helpful advice, too. 

This is a land-only package.

This package does not include international airfares. If you would like to add airfares to your booking our flight portal will be available via your Traveler Hub. The flight portal will allow you to search for all available airfares to your destination. The function works like most general flight search engines allowing you to select your preferred airline, book different cabin classes (eg. Business class), and view flight durations and transit times to your destination. 

The flight portal will be available via your Traveler Hub once the following criteria have been met:

  • Your booking is confirmed
  • Your departure date is within 11 months
  • You  have completed your passenger detail form

Visit our Flight Hub for more information on terms and conditions, amending your flights, and information on luggage allowances. 

Departure Dates for 16 Day Unforgettable Japan Small Group Tour

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