Japan tailor made tour on a shoestring

“Most people don’t realise that you can do Japan on a shoestring. And certainly not tailor made. But here it is and, in Japanese style, beautifully packaged and created with care. ”

Highlights

Tokyo | Hakone National Park | Hot spring baths | Night in traditional ryokan or inn | Kyoto | Bullet train journey

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
Our top tip:
Bathe as much as you can – it is a massive part of Japanese culture and very cheap if you seek out the public sento bathhouses.
Trip type:
Self-guided, tailor-made trip.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Surcharge for single room.
Accomm:
Budget city hotels plus one night in traditional ryokan or inn.
Included:
Accomm., airport transfers, public transport passes, Kyoto guide, Tea ceremony.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 1 dinner included. Budget £3 for fast street food, £8-10 for modest dinner.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Japan tailor made tour on a shoestring

Environment

All journeys on this trip are by public transport and you’ll be amazed at how many different forms of transport you’ll use! Train, subway, local bus, mountain railway, cable cars, funicular railway, pirate boat, tram and you could even hire bikes to explore Kyoto – details of which will be in the Info-Pack.

Hotel staff in Japan are aware of environmental issues, so do look out for recycling bins in the hotels and also outside convenience stores. We give all clients an ‘Eco-Card’ which you can leave on the hotel room bed asking staff not to replace linen and towels.

All of our customers receive a list of tips for going green in Japan. We encourage clients not to overuse the air conditioning in summer or heating in winter. Tap water is safe to drink in Japan so you can avoid buying bottles of water from the ubiquitous vending machines. Our Info-Pack provides lots of recommendations for local restaurants and shops.

Community

The Fuji Hakone Guest House has been welcoming international visitors to Hakone National Park for more than 30 years. Run by the very hospitable Takahashi family, you are sure to receive a warm welcome - as well as an introduction into traditional Japanese culture. Rooms here are Japanese-style; that means you'll need to take your shoes off before stepping on to the soft tatami mat floors. Simple instructions are provided in English to guide you through your stay in a traditional inn; where to take your shoes off, how to lay out your futon bedding and how to use the outdoor hot spring bath (hint: you have to take all your clothes off and wash thoroughly before getting in the bath!). The staff organise various cultural events including kimono wearing and Shamisen music performances. They'll also happily teach you how to make origami crane or write your name in katakana!

In July and August, the Fuji Hakone Guest House is a convenient springboard for climbing Mount Fuji. Please ask if you would like to fit this in your Price Cruncher package.

Reviews of Japan tailor made tour on a shoestring

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 25 Oct 2016 by

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


The entire vacation was a memorable experience and it is virtually impossible to choose the best. However, Matsumoto Castle and the trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima island were particular highlights. The temple visit in Nagano with the local guide and the local onsen were also fantastic and the geisha tour with a Kyoto local guide was superb.

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


Our advice would be to go Tokyo a day or so in advance of the trip to give you time to get over the traveling and to have more time in Tokyo. We didn't but wished we had.

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


Absolutely. We stayed in local inns and we were taken to local restaurants to eat. We also sought out small local providers for our meals and purchases. We used taxis and travelled predominately by public transport which reduced the environmental
impact.

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


Absolutely brilliant. We were a little anxious beforehand as we had not participated in a group tour before but we certainly do so again provided it was with your organisation! The destinations provided a superb introduction to Japan and whetted our appetite to explore further. We loved the basic nature of the tour which suited us perfectly. More basic tour options would be our preferred option rather than the Classics.

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2016 by

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


Taking a day out between the big cities to relax in a traditional style Ryokan was fantastic. Something we wouldn't have considered if we'd tried to book everything ourselves.

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


There's so much to see and do. If you can make a priority list of things to do
because no matter how much you try you can't see everything!

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


I feel much more educated on life and culture in Japan. I also know we contributed to the Japanese economy.

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


Excellent!

Reviewed on 31 May 2016 by

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


Staying in minshuku Kochinzuka after walking the Nakasendo way from Magome -what a wonderful place. Welcoming host, a fire in the hearth in the middle of the tatami, a room with a traditional balcony and sliding door open to the sound of the river and with views of the koi pond. Dinner in the evening was the best kaiseki of our trip - the fish salted and fresh with the most minimal food miles - straight from the fish ponds outside. Ito San's english was minimal but with help of translation apps and the other guests we gathered that the nuts in the dango were local and picked by his son. He shared his family photo album, sang superbly and got us all to join in the chorus.

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


The hotel bookings and train timetable options made a fast paced itinerary feel smooth and easy. 10 days moving around meant we were starting to get temple fatigue but I wouldn't have missed a one of them - most fun definitely the Ninja temple in Kanazawa

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


Paying for meals locally and opportunities to buy in small shops in small towns supported the economy. Using a local guide in Tokyo, it would have been a good idea to have done the same in Kyoto - there is so much to see a local's help would be useful. Travel by train and bus was efficient and reduced environmental impact.

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


A vacation of a lifetime

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2016 by

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


The food.

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


Take your time to research the destination and don't be afraid to ask
questions.

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


The hotel's all had a focus on being low emission.

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


Reviewed on 05 Apr 2016 by

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


Experiencing Japan- a fascinating, different and wonderful country to visit. We loved Tokyo and Kyoto and all the sights there, + really enjoyed our stay in a traditional Ryokan in Hakone National Park.

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


Booking with this vacation provider made a whistle stop first visit run really smoothly- we appreciated having hotels, train passes, etc booked
for us with helpful suggestions and directions too.

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


We used local services and tried to take on the suggestions for reducing environmental impact.

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


Brilliant. All four of us (2 adults and 2 older teenagers) all really enjoyed it. We hope to visit another part of Japan before too long and will definitely use this company again.

Reviewed on 21 Apr 2015 by

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


There were so many memorable parts, it is difficult to choose. I absolutely adored Hakone... That entire leg of the journey was my favourite. I wish we'd had more time there. It was so relaxing, but at the same time there was mountain to explore! The day we arrived, it was snowing, and we were in cloud. We explored Hakone Open Air Museum, which was eerie in the mist. If you like art and sculpture, this is a must, but even if you go just for the Symphonic Tower, it is so worth it. The mist was so thick on that day, though, that we couldn't even see Mount Fuji which was only 30km away! Ichinoyu Honkan is something else... a traditional Japanese Inn that's been operating for hundreds of years with hot spring baths underneath. Although we booked the private bath, wimps that we are, we sorely regretted not using the public baths, which when we got to look at them were quite spectacular. Next time!!

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


You have a lot of fantastic information at your disposal from the operator on this vacation, and one of the books you should carry with you at all times just in case (the general itinerary). Also, you will be doing a lot of exploring yourself and Tokyo is a little difficult to navigate because there are no street names and some of the 'you are here' maps are oddly flipped', get an internet data sim so that you have google maps in an emergency - surprisingly, WIFI isn't all that readily available in Tokyo. I got one in Laox in Akihabara for fairly cheap, you won't need more than 1GB. We didn't really need it for anywhere else, but Tokyo was a bit confusing outside of the fantastic metro system.

Lastly, if you find yourself in Arashiyama (Kyoto) outside of the day your tour guide is looking after you, you should DEFINITELY visit Iwatayama Monkey Park. There are precious few places in the world where you can get close to wild monkeys in a safe environment. Not to mention the view at the top of the mountain is spectacular! Just be sure you're up for a little hike.

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


Absolutely! We used mostly small businesses for eating, and we partook in the street food available at hanami hot spots, we used public transportation (with the exception of two cabs)... Japan is very conscious of the environment in general, and I think the experience was an education in conservation for us! They mend trees rather than cut them down, there is no rubbish anywhere, all rubbish is separated for recycling, most new buildings in Tokyo have solar panels. There are so many things that the Japanese do that we really should do everywhere.

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


It was the vacation of a lifetime... I only wish it could have been longer! My partner and I plan to go back in a couple of years, but I suspect we will be extending our stay in Hakone next time. We loved every second of it, even the passing out with exhaustion parts. :P

Our tour operators were fantastic, they couldn't do enough for us.

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2015 by

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


What we both remembered as the most exciting aspect of our vacation was our
first day in Tokyo. We had the benefit of a brilliant and wise guide who, after
taking us through the Senjo-ji shrine, insisted we try some sake in the backstreets while seated on up-turned beer crates followed by a pick your own
selection of fried lunch delicacies which included prawn, fried eggplant, chicken and spring rolls. A tour around an historical graveyard was then followed up by a pre-booked visit to the notorious Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku.What a perfect day!

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


Read up on the various places you hope to visit and chose a number of things
which interest you, not necessarily those things which are recommended. Remain
open to exploring areas and events you hadn't originally planned. One of our
happiest 'finds' was the semi-finals of the World Yoyo competition in Akihabara
in Tokyo. The event was free, open to all and great fun. We also 'happened on'
an Irish pub one evening which had a Japanese traditional 'Irish' group of
musicians - they were truly inspiring and totally genuine.

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


I'm not sure about this, or indeed, how this could be judged. We abided by local
comvention and were mindful of others around us.

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


This was an excellent and memorable vacation and both my daughter and I judged it a great success. The exposure to a different culture, the sights and sounds of both ancient Japan and the modern world made a great impression on us and we enjoyed the efficiency of the public systems and the variety of the food. I applaud the advice and direction of the tour company which we sourced through Responsible Travel and won't hesitate to recommend them in the future.

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2015 by

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


What we both remembered as the most exciting aspect of our vacation was our
first day in Tokyo. We had the benefit of a brilliant and wise guide who, after
taking us through the Senjo-ji shrine, insisted we try some sake in the backstreets while seated on up-turned beer crates followed by a pick- your -own
selection of fried lunch delicacies which included prawn, fried eggplant, chicken and spring rolls. A tour around an historical graveyard was then followed up by a pre-booked visit to the notorious Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. What a perfect day!

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


Read up on the various places you hope to visit and chose a number of things
which interest you, not necessarily those things which are recommended. Remain
open to exploring areas and events you hadn't originally planned. One of our
happiest 'finds' was the semi-finals of the World Yoyo competition in Akihabara
in Tokyo. The event was free, open to all and great fun. We also 'happened on'
an Irish pub one evening which had a Japanese traditional 'Irish' group of
musicians - they were truly inspiring and totally genuine.

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


I'm not sure about this, or indeed, how this could be judged. We abided by local
comvention and were mindful of others around us.

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


This was an excellent and memorable vacation and both my daughter and I judged it a great success. The exposure to a different culture, the sights and sounds of both ancient Japan and the modern world made a great impression on us and we enjoyed the efficiency of the public systems and the variety of the food. I applaud the advice and direction of the tour which we sourced through Responsible Travel and won't hesitate to recommend them in the future.

Reviewed on 14 Aug 2015 by

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


First to clarify our vacation was based on Independent travel not an organised tour. This made it very flexible in terms of dates and content and worked well. The most memorable part is hard to identify as the whole experience was fantastic. A few highlights were seeing Mt Fuji, sampling the food, trying the onsen hotspring baths. Also Hakone open air museum, Kabuki at Kabukiza in Tokyo, live outdoor jazz at Rappongi Hills. Traveling by shinkansen is great.

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


Spend time making sure the itinerary is what you want. We changed ours several times before finalising the trip and that really paid off. 7-11 convenience stores are very convenient and good for ATMs and charging IC transport cards

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

We used local guides and did everything on public transport. If you are able to walk for 15 -20 minutes then public transport is excellent and will get you everywhere you need in the main towns and cities

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


Excellent

Reviewed on 28 May 2015 by

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


To visit Hiroshima

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


Always get seats easily at the bullet train. I don't think you need to do advance booking

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


I don't think.

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


4 star

Reviewed on 12 Apr 2015 by

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


Maiko makeover was such fun!

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


I would research in advance places/temples to see of they are closed
for renovation. Other than that the information pack takes care of everything
else.

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


Possibly supported local people by pouring money into the community. Not
helping environment out supporting conservation.

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


It was great having so much information in the information pack especially
regarding travel. Japan is an interesting country with some great things to see and do. The weather was not ideal and would have been better if it was nice to enjoy the cherry blossoms.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback, Georgina! I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Japan, particularly the maiko makeover in Kyoto. It is a shame the weather wasn't the best during your trip - it has been unseasonably mild this April - but I'm pleased the personalised Info-Pack for your trip helped everything run smoothly. Many thanks for traveling with us! Vivienne

Reviewed on 09 Mar 2015 by

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


Nikko, temples and mountains Hakone, traditional inn of Ichinoyu Shinanoki, food and accommodation. Integrated transport in Hakone Natl Park

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


Travel light and be prepared for the variable climate

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


Yes, use of locally owned and operated accommodation

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


Excellent!

Reviewed on 09 Jun 2014 by

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


Hiroshima , sumo , Magome and Koyasan

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


Relax while booking , everything turns out perfectly

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


no , through no ones fault , this was japan

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


10/10

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for the review and we're delighted you enjoyed the Price Cruncher package and have wonderful memories of your time in Japan.

We tailored the Price Cruncher itinerary to add in a night in a traditional minshuku in the village of Tsumago and a stay in Buddhist temple lodgings on Mount Koya. Dinners were included at these stops; all homecooked, seasonal dishes made from local produce. All the accommodation on this trip is Japanese-run, even the nights in Western style hotels were in Japanese-owned hotels rather than international chains. All the journeys were on public transport as Japanese trains are simply world-class. In a separate comment Mr Deen mentioned that in general recycling is very well organised in Japan. We're very glad that the sumo tournament was a highlight - it's a real only-in-Japan authentic experience!

Thank you for traveling with us.

Reviewed on 27 Aug 2013 by

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


So many parts were wonderful:Kyoto is an amazing city of beauty, culture, sophistication, and great restaurants; I loved the traditional Hakone guest house and the mineral baths; Hiroshima's Memorial Museum is so well done and very memorable, and Miyajima Island is a great place to explore and do short hikes.

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


the operator was very supportive in creating a customized vacation for two. We felt having cities, hotel, and a Japan rail pass booked in advance gave us the right amount of support, but still allowed us much flexibility each day. I recommend having a half-day guide in Tokyo and Kyoto. We learned a lot about castles and temples based on the guides' expertise.

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


Yes in these ways: We stayed at a family operated guest house in Hakone region, we didn't ask for linen changes every day at hotels, we took all public transport.

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


Excellent. We had a nice mix of major cities, the Hakone National Park Region, and Miyajima Island.

Reviewed on 27 Nov 2012 by

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


We absolutely had a blast on the whole trip. It was a busy, we tried to see a much as we could but enjoyed the vacation.

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


Just show the train guard every ticket you might have when coming and going. once we didn't know we were suppose to show two tickets and they got a little annoyed with us.

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


We tried to the chopsticks provided by the tour. One of the restaurant owners was so impressed he give us another set as gift.

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


I would do this again in a heartbeat!

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