Japan small group vacation, Japan unmasked

“Our best value two week tour guided small group tour of Japan, with budget accommodation that includes traditional stays, such as temple lodgings and ryokan inn.”

Highlights

Tokyo | Nagano | Bullet train travel | Takayama in Japanese Alps | Matsumoto and hot springs | Stay in traditional ryokan | Kenrokuen Gardens | Kurashiki canals | Kyoto | Hiroshima and Peace Museum.

Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
06 Feb 2017
£ 1790
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 06 Feb 2017 departure
20 Feb 2017
£ 1790
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 20 Feb 2017 departure
27 Feb 2017
£ 1790
excluding flights
On Request
Click here to enquire about or book the 27 Feb 2017 departure
06 Mar 2017
£ 2080
excluding flights
On Request
Click here to enquire about or book the 06 Mar 2017 departure
27 Mar 2017
£ 2080
excluding flights
Full
 
08 May 2017
£ 1890
excluding flights
Full
 
15 May 2017
£ 1890
excluding flights
Full
 
12 Jun 2017
£ 1890
excluding flights
On Request
Click here to enquire about or book the 12 Jun 2017 departure
03 Jul 2017
£ 1790
excluding flights
Full
 
31 Jul 2017
£ 1790
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 31 Jul 2017 departure
11 Sep 2017
£ 1890
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 Sep 2017 departure
09 Oct 2017
£ 2080
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 09 Oct 2017 departure
23 Oct 2017
£ 2080
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 23 Oct 2017 departure
30 Oct 2017
£ 2080
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 30 Oct 2017 departure
13 Nov 2017
£ 1890
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 13 Nov 2017 departure
Our top tip:
Don't be afraid of language barrier. The Japanese have an innate ability to welcome guests, and it brings great pleasure when you return the compliment.
Trip type:
Small group, max 14 people.
Solos:
Solo travelers have single room with NO surcharge, except in traditional accommodation.
Accomm:
Modest hotels with ensuites. 3 nights in traditional lodgings with shared bathrooms.
Included:
Accomm., tour guide, transport passes, some activities.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 1 dinner included. Budget £3 for street food, £8-10 for dinner in modest restaurant.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Japan small group vacation, Japan unmasked

Environment

Traveling in Japan is a joy thanks to the fantastic public transport system. During this whistle stop two week tour, you’ll travel by Shinkansen bullet train, local trains, highway buses, subway and even ferry if you make an optional day trip to Miyajima Island.

We highly recommend hiring a bike when in Kurashiki to ride across the Kibi Plains with the tour leader. Here’s you’ll pass villages and rice paddies, tiny little Shinto shrines and Buddhist cemeteries. Getting out into the countryside like this broadens the visitor’s understanding of Japan’s natural resources and why they must be protected.

It’s not difficult to be green in Japan and the tour leader will make lots of suggestions to help you, such as pointing out recycling bins, suggesting your turn down the hotel room air conditioning and asking accommodation staff not to replace towels and bed linens, and providing reusable chopsticks for the duration of the tour.

Community

The Japan Unmasked tour includes two highlight stays in traditional Japanese accommodation. In Nagano we’ll stay in a shukubo, simple lodgings that were built for pilgrim’s visiting Zenko-ji Temple. As part of our stay we will be taken on a tour around Zenko-ji with an English speaking local guide who will explain the temple’s history stretching back to the 7th Century. The shukubo is just a stone’s throw from the temple which makes it easy for us to join the hall for the monks’ morning prayer service featuring chanting and meditation. Breakfast is shojin ryori – austere Buddhist fare that is strictly vegetarian.

In Takayama we stay in a minshuku, another traditional inn where we will again sleep on futon bedding on tatami mat floors. The rooms are not en-suite, instead we’ll bathe Japanese style in the communal hot spring baths (men and women separately). Dinner is included on the first night: a seasonal, locally grown, homecooked feast!

These inns offer a real insight into Japanese life helping us to better understand the communities we are traveling through.

Reviews of Japan small group vacation, Japan unmasked

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 18 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The breadth of experience, from the neon lighted frantic pace of Tokyo, to
the 5am chanting of monks at a Nagano temple, all connected by the
thrill of the Shinkansen.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


A good level of fitness is required. Some group members found the pace
and the packed agenda difficult to cope with, albeit that there was
enough 'downtime' in all locations. Use this time to explore on your own-
time away from the group is important, particularly if you like your own space. The good thing is that every part of each day is optional. Our guide was excellent and this meant we had experiences and saw things that we would have missed if
we had been on our own. It's good to have some balance.

ATM machines are available at every 7-11 store and each and every town
seems to have one on every corner. Credit cards are not widely accepted.

Finally, take good walking shoes and a first aid kit. Medical supplies are
expensive in Japan- it was £8 for a small tube of antiseptic cream!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We stayed in local accommodation at times which benefits small
businesses. We used public transport and walked everwhere, reducing our
carbon footprint as much as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This wasn't so much a vacation as a travel experience. We loved the
variety and the breadth of experience that was offered.

From the initial booking with Toby at the vacation providers to dealing with Ben our guide, nothing was too much trouble and everything was handled very professionally.

We have only one constructive point to make which was that we found the
suggested restaurants quite expensive and our experience was that the
quality of some wasn't great. We understand that each offered a
different type of eating experience, hence their being chosen, however we
struck out on our own and apparently spent far less than other guests who
ate with the group every night. That was our choice, but single travelers
who want the company of a group in the evening will need to budget more.

We enjoyed the trip so much and were so impressed overall that we are
already looking at the possibility of visiting Burma in 2017 with the same
company.

Reviewed on 16 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Staying in a monastery and sleeping on the floor for the first time and going to the onsen ( traditional bath ) for the first time.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Have an open mind about food and other experiences

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Japanese people seemed to welcome tourists. They are very keen on recycling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Wonderful! One of the 3 best of my life.

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The Geisha tour in Kyoto. The guide was really knowledgable and personable.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Pack light there's lots of travel on and off trains and limited space in some of the
accommodation .

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes we used local transport and stayed in Small family run Ryokan and Japanese business hotels. We ate locally produced food .

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very enjoyable. We were a family of 3 traveling with a 17 yr old son. We all had a very memorable vacation . It was full on though with little time to rest but we knew that before we set off and it delivered the anticipated full schedule.

Reviewed on 28 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Much as we loved the temples, gardens and markets of Tokyo and Kyoto, the couple of damp days in Hakone were brilliant, staying in a ryokan with a private hot-spring bath on the balcony, beautiful meals and the 'great outdoors' on your doorstep. Although a popular tourist destination, it is possible to escape the crowds by going on even a modest hike. There is a world-class sculpture park set amongst the beautiful scenery, and the fabulous Pola Art Museum where we saw an exhibition of French Impressionists featuring all the greats. What an unexpected treat!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read up in advance on Japanese traditions and culture to get the most out of a short time. It is such a different way of life and there are many 'rules' and taboos which are good to understand.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Difficult to say. We were encouraged to use local transport, which was easy to navigate with the assistance supplied. Japan is well up on recycling so we participated.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We found it a fascinating taste of Japan, a first dip in rich waters. It was well set
up by the team and we were fully briefed but allowed a level of independence that was perfect. The vacation fully lived up to expectations!

Reviewed on 19 Oct 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


To many to identify one - from attending prayers with monks at Zenko-ji temple and being blessed to marvelling at Bullet trains; seeing snow monkeys; castle at Matsumoto; visiting Peace Garden and museum at Hiroshima to seeing red floating gates at Miyajima and amazing views from top of the island; visiting many onsens seeing a geisha I could go on and on!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Everything is taken care of for you no worries about booking or finding transportation or hotels etc. Dont take too much luggage you have to carry it! Lots of walking take comfortable shoes. Be prepared - very active vacation more of an adventure than a vacation -if possible have an extra day or so at the end to relax.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes travel is by public transport, local hotels and restaurants are used

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing vacation would definitely recommend, well organised from start to finish with lots of highlights also visited and saw many things that would not be seen traveling with a larger group. One of the best vacations I have been on and very good value for money. Great Tour Guide.

Reviewed on 12 Oct 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It is a difficult answer because there are a lot of exciting bits in JU! Probably my favourite stop was Nagano.
I loved the Zenko-ji Temple, a 7th century Buddhist temple that overlooks the city.
The temple lodge was the best of all the accommodation, simple but special.
I enjoyed the hot springs and last but not least the snow monkey in a park, 45 mins from Nagano.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


I am a fashionista, so I always bring too many clothes! Don't do it! You can do washing at least in 3 places, you need to carry your luggage so keep it light and also use the space for shopping!
Buying from local markets, help the community. Try all the different foods! They are amazing and always fresh

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes I did! I always shopped at the markets, I had coffee from small local place, and we used public transport that in Japan is absolutely amazing!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


My vacation was wonderful, William our tour leader, with his unique style made our vacation really special!
It was great picking the right restaurant too! We never eat the same twice, unless we wanted to!
I have already recommend to my parents and friends that asked me, seeing my pics on Instagram!
I took 2000 pictures and my boyfriend another 2000!
We will definitely pick another vacation from Responsible Travel, great CS.

Reviewed on 19 Jul 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the A Bomb Dome and Peace park & Museum in Hiroshima! It was awe inspiring.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be ready to stay in close quarters a couple of nights in one of the ryokans. The rooms are quite small for two people and the shared bath situation is tight as well. Two nights there was a bit much.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Well, we all came and spent money! Some of us bought quite a few souvenirs:)

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I loved the variety of sights. There was always something a little different to see and do. Loved the variety of restaurants! Every night we tried a new type of Japanese food. Our guide, Alain, was terrific! Very energetic and full of ideas, but also very cordial and patient with everyone. I'm giving it 4 stars, instead of 5 because of the ryokan in Takayama which I found less than comfortable.

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for traveling with us Kristin. Glad you enjoyed our Japan Unmasked group tour. And glad Alain the tour leader looked after you well. Thanks also for your comments on the Takayama accommodation. We appreciate that this involves sharing a room (for single travelers), which may not be ideal for everyone, but this is the traditional Japanese way, and allows our customers to experience a traditional Japanese accommodation stay, which they otherwise might miss. For potential future customers looking to avoid sharing a room, we would be very happy to discuss our full range of tours with them.
Thanks again for joining us on the tour. Harry, InsideJapan Tours.

Reviewed on 27 Mar 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hard to sum up so much of the trip was truly great, but would have to pick the Maiko session.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Go for it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, supported the local economy and hopefully minimal impact. Used my own chop sticks which were gifted to me at the onset, plus used the card to ask hotels to leave the washing of towels and sheets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic. Still raving about it. Thank you to David Lovejoy who looked after us and went out of his way to make our trip the best we could hope for. Great job David!!!
Thank you
Roslyn

Reviewed on 10 Nov 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It felt like every moment of each day was a new experience. A vacation of variety enhanced by the tour leader introducing us to as many different types of Japanese food as possible. Japan is fascinating, the ultra modern against a background of traditional. I loved their simplistic art, Zen gardens, efficiency and positive attitudes.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Wear slip on shoes, as you have to take them off a lot. Be prepared for a fairly fast pace and be willing to embrace Japanese life.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not really, only that we took cash into their economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I enjoyed everything that I did. The food and accommodation were as expected and mostly better as it was not an expensive tour.

The Japanese people were delightful - very polite, helpful and thoughtful and were a highlight in themselves

I particularly enjoyed visiting two excellent art galleries and would like to do more next time

The tour guide was excellent. He had a very hard task and had a difficult member of the group.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


You can get wi-fi in most accommodation so no need to buy an expensive gadget.
If you do not like sleeping on the floor or eating sitting on the floor this trip is not for you. I would not undertake it again although it was a great experience.

Keep a diary - it is really hard to remember events as you whizz round Japan.
Have a go at all the food as it is all good

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it helped local tourism but I doubt it had any other benefits

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 23 Jul 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The Japanese people are very nice and go out of their way to help you. The food is also fabulous!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Pack lightly. Sometimes the hotel is across the street from the train station and sometimes it is a good 15-20 minute walk and you are carrying/rolling your own bags.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The Japanese society is a very eco-friendly society. No napkins and a lot of excellent public transportation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Lisa, many thanks for your great feedback about our Japan Unmasked small group tour! We're delighted to hear you enjoyed your vacation. We agree that the welcoming Japanese people and fantastic food are what make a trip to Japan so memorable and on our small group tours we always try to maximise your experience of both!

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