Japan: Land of the Samurai

Group Tour

Overview

Journeying through the mountainous landscapes of central Japan, we discover a world of stark contrasts, autumnal colours and fascinating majesty. We’ll venture deep into the heart of a land where the past and the future come together in a dazzling fusion of colour and tradition.

Beginning in the country’s vibrant capital we then journey on to discover the UNESCO treasures of Shirakawa-go and Kyoto, where we find a stunning collection of beautifully preserved monuments to Japan’s glorious ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

12 x Breakfasts
10 x Lunches
10 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

Bullet and local trains, private minibuses, local buses, and the occasional taxi.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

Flexible booking conditions regarding transfers and cancellations

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in a mix of hotels and more traditional local accommodation (ryokans, minshukus and a shukubo). Although minimalist, with futon beds and low-rise furniture, the Japanese-style properties are of a high quality and a fine example of traditional Japanese hospitality. The night in the shukubo on Day 9 will be with shared bathrooms. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Book With Confidence

We understand that flexibility is now a key factor when booking a holiday, and we believe our Covid Promise and Covid Viable Test provide that.

We believe these terms and conditions for making a booking are amongst the most generous in the travel industry right now, and we hope they will give you the confidence, when you feel ready, to go ahead and book your next adventure.

Positive Impact of this Trip

Tree
Ten trees are planted per passenger on this trip
Community
Supports Wild Frontiers Foundation community projects
Wind Turbine
A contribution to renewable energy projects

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Japan: Land of the Samurai
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOURS STARTS IN TOKYO

DAY 1: TOURS STARTS IN TOKYO

Our tour starts in our hotel where we will meet and go for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant nearby.

Park Hotel or similar
Dinner

DAY 2: TOKYO – TAKAYAMA

DAY 2: TOKYO – TAKAYAMA

Following breakfast this morning we take the bullet train on to the small town of Takayama, located high amongst the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. After settling in to our traditional Japanese inn we’ll then explore the rambling old streets of Takayama’s San-machi district, with its century-old merchants’ houses. A relaxing soak in a traditional hot spring is then followed by a chance to try some local Hida beef and perhaps a glass or two of locally brewed sake. Please note: your luggage will be sent on ahead from Tokyo to Kanazawa, so you will need an overnight bag for tonight and tomorrow night.

Ryokan Hoshokaku or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: TAKAYAMA – SHIRAKAWA-GO

DAY 3: TAKAYAMA – SHIRAKAWA-GO

An opportunity to begin the day with a visit to Takayama’s lively riverside market provides a chance to shop for souvenirs and sarubobo dolls - good luck charms meant to absorb evil and protect loved ones. After lunch we then travel on to the village of Ogimachi in the Shirakawa-go area, home to a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its intricately designed gassho-zukuri farmhouses. This evening we stay in a traditional minshuku inn, which promises to be a quintessential Japanese experience.

Minshuku Ootayo or similar Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: SHIRIKAWA-GO – KANAZAWA

DAY 4: SHIRIKAWA-GO – KANAZAWA

An early walk around the village provides a chance to enjoy this captivating rural setting before the arrival of the tour groups, after which we depart for Kanazawa. Once a thriving centre for culture and the arts, in feudal times Kanazawa’s powerful Maeda clan rivalled those of Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). On arrival we’ll take a tour of the town’s famed Omicho Market, renowned for its sushi and fresh seafood.

Hotel Kanazawa Tokyu or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: KANAZAWA

DAY 5: KANAZAWA

After a morning walk through the tranquil neighbourhood that once boasted the homes of former samurai, our exploration of Kanazawa continues with a visit to the beautiful Kenroku-en Garden. Known as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, these ever-changing vistas are one of the highlights of Kanazawa, filled as they are with koi ponds, small teahouses and elegant stone lanterns. On its periphery lies a number of museums and historic teahouses, where the town’s geishas once entertained. This afternoon is free to explore at leisure.

Hotel Kanazawa Tokyu or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: KANAZAWA – KYOTO

DAY 6: KANAZAWA – KYOTO

Departing Kanazawa by train today our journey takes us on to Kyoto next, Japan’s cultural capital. A rich repository of shrines, gardens and temples, Kyoto can boast no fewer than 17 World Heritage Sites including the Kamo Shrines and Nijo Castle. An afternoon stroll through the historic Gion district later introduces us to Kyoto’s best known geisha area, where Geiko and Maiko (apprentice geishas) still excel in the traditional arts of Japanese dance and music. Please note: due to the variety of our transport today your luggage will be sent on ahead to Kyoto from Kanazawa.

Cross Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: KYOTO

DAY 7: KYOTO

Today has been left free for us to enjoy this exquisite city at your own pace. You might like to take a walk from the Silver Temple, along the Path of Philosophy to the 400-year-old Sanmon Gate. Or perhaps pay a visit to Nijo Castle, to explore one of Japan’s most spectacular historic monuments. Other options include the Zen Buddhist temples of Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji or the scenic splendour of Arashiyama, famed for its bamboo forest, huge temples and lively shops.

Cross Hotel or similar
Breakfast

DAY 8: KYOTO – NARA

DAY 8: KYOTO – NARA

Today we move on to nearby Nara, Japan’s historic capital between the years of 710 and 784 AD. Many of the temples and shrines built during that period still remain and the rambling streets of the old merchant district of Nara-machi present an enthralling place to wander and soak up the character and history of the town. We’ll visit the Todai-ji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building, and also the celebrated Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

Piazza Nara Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: NARA – MOUNT KOYA

DAY 9: NARA – MOUNT KOYA

Leaving Nara this morning, we travel on the scenic Nankai Railway line to Mount Koya today, entering a bowl-shaped valley filled with cedars and surrounded by the mountainous landscapes of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony, and today it is still home to more than 100 monasteries. We spend the evening enjoying the hospitality of one of the area’s traditional pilgrims’ lodgings, dining on Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and exploring the vast Okuna-in cemetery. Please note: your luggage will be sent on ahead to Kumano Kodo from Kyoto, so you will need an overnight bag for tonight.

Fudion (Pilgrims’ Lodgings) or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: MOUNT KOYA – KUMANO KODO

DAY 10: MOUNT KOYA – KUMANO KODO

Starting early we join the monks for morning prayers, before leaving behind the tranquility of Koyasan and boarding a bus for the journey on to Kumano Kodo. Popular since the 11th century as a place of pilgrimage, this ancient trail meanders across the sacred landscapes of the Kii Peninsula, long considered a gateway into the mythical land of Yomi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll be staying along the Nakahechi section of the trail, at a hot spring ryokan located beside the river.

Fujiya Ryokan or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: KUMANO KODO

DAY 11: KUMANO KODO

Beginning with a short bus journey we’ll travel on to Hosshinmon-oji this morning, where we will meet up with our Yamabushi guide. An ascetic priest of the Shugendo faith, and our companion will take us to the Grand Hongu Taisha, one of the three main shrines located along the Kumano Kodo. A light lunch is then followed by a visit to Oyunohara, this immense torii gate that marked the original site of Grand Hongu Taisha, before returning to our ryokan for another chance to enjoy the hot springs.

Fujiya Ryokan or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: KUMANO KODO – OSAKA

DAY 12: KUMANO KODO – OSAKA

Departing after breakfast we will travel by bus to the bustling setting of Osaka, a city long known as the 'nation’s kitchen'. The very essence of modern Japan and the country’s commercial hub, Osaka provides us with a rich contrast from the serenity of the past few days, affording an opportunity to enjoy the bustle of the central Dotonbori district, and the shrines and markets that lie amongst the side streets close to the Ebisu Bridge.

Hotel Royal Classic or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: TOUR ENDS IN OSAKA

DAY 13: TOUR ENDS IN OSAKA

The tour ends after breakfast.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

With local people, culture and eco-systems in mind, responsible travel and sustainable tourism are at the core of Wild Frontiers. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our travellers but also benefits the people and places we visit.

When designing our tours, we actively seek out experiences that have a positive impact on the communities and precious environments we visit - from supporting social enterprises; resting our heads in rural homestays; and eating at locally owned restaurants; to helping fund conservation projects that protect wildlife and their habitats. 

Visit the Responsible Travel area of our website to read more, including the work of the Wild Frontiers Foundation through which we fundraise to aid community empowerment and education projects.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
BA 4600 London Heathrow (LHR) 19:00 Haneda Airport (HND) 15:15
JL 112 Itami Airport Osaka (ITM) 10:35 Haneda Airport (HND) 11:40
BA 006 Haneda Airport (HND) 13:15 London Heathrow (LHR) 18:55

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact a reputable visa agency. More details can be found here - www.wildfrontierstravel.com/visa 

For this tour UK passport holders currently do not require a visa for Japan.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

November in central Honshu brings cool, crisp average temperatures of between 12 and 13°C and magnificent fall colours ranging from crimson to gold. This is the time of harvest, as rice is cut, baled and stacked in neat rows.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Mostly travelling by public train means our itinerary will be more time-sensitive and we need to be more minimalist with our packing! For those nights that we stay in traditional lodgings as opposed to a hotel, you will need to be happy with sleeping on futons and getting in and out of low-rise furniture (which will also often be the norm in many local restaurants we visit).

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking. In addition, due to the particular nature of this trip, an interim deposit of £1000 (or equivalent) per person will be required within 30 days of booking a guaranteed departure, or subsequently within 30 days of receiving confirmation from us that the trip has been guaranteed.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 11912 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.