Japan culture tour, Shoguns & Samurai

“A two week, guided small group tour of Japanís greatest and wonderfully eclectic highlights. An inspired itinerary. ”

Highlights

Tokyo | Senso-ji Buddhist temple | Obuse | Yudanaka Onsen | Snow monkeys | Nakasendo Trail | Narai | Tsumago | Magome | Takayama | Kyoto | Nara | Mount Koya

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2017: 25 Mar, 3 Apr, 8 May, 16 Jul, 15 Oct, 4 Nov
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Japan culture tour, Shoguns & Samurai

This tour is part of a new trend in rural tourism in Japan, supporting small, family-run inns and guesthouses, in small towns and villages that often have few work opportunities. Going against the traditional form of tourism in Japan, large concrete resort hotels catering to large groups, our tours go to destinations off the main tourist trail for foreigners in Japan, encouraging local people to conserve older, traditionally-constructed buildings and take pride in their traditions. We use public transport throughout this trip to lessen the environmental impact.

The town of Obuse is a good example of an enlightened policy towards conservation and responsible tourism, where walking between the various restored buildings is encouraged and the local sake brewery is the first in Japan to reintroduce the traditional method of barrel-brewed sake.

The presence of a Japanese-speaking foreign tour leader makes a big difference in cultural interaction, and lessens the possibility of minor cultural gaffes by foreigners that might otherwise create some nervousness on the part of the locals about hosting foreign guests.

We also make a donation for each customer to the Nature Conservation Society of Japan and the Japan National Trust, organisations which help protect the nature and also architectural heritage of Japan.

Reviews of Japan culture tour, Shoguns & Samurai

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 11 Nov 2016 by

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


The whole thing was tremendous - felt we got a real insight into Japan today and in the past.

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


Lots to fit in so its a wonderfully fast paced busy vacation.

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


Yes - loved the use of the fantastic public transport systems.

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


One of the best vacations we have been on - very well planned to give a varied taste of the Japanese culture.

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2010 by

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


We visited some great places on the Shoguns and Samurai tour but the most memorable part of the vacation was getting a bit of an insight into the people and culture of everyday Japan by traveling on local trains and buses and staying in local inns in rural areas rather than faceless hotels. Our small group of people from around the world were an interesting bunch and really added flavour to the overall experience.

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


As you're traveling with just a rucksack quite a bit of the time, whilst your main luggage is sent on, it really does make sense to pack light. As with any country, learning a few basic words of the language helps and having an open mind to new experiences is important.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, by going local and staying in local inns, often family businesses, I think we certainly helped the local economies in the smaller towns we visited.

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


A great trip - I'd recommend this to anyone who prefers a rather 'packaged' type of trip.

Reviewed on 08 May 2010 by

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


A walking trip across a mountain ridge between Tsumago and Magome.

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


Be prepared for freak weather situations in April!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

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


It was a great trip, and Andy, our tour guide, was very knowledgeable and helpful. Got to know some nice people, and the destinations were carefully chosen.

Reviewed on 26 Aug 2009 by

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


I truly enjoyed each day and the new experiences we had, every place we visited was interesting. I loved traveling on the trains and buses, seeing the surrounding countryside with the crops of rice, tea and vegetables growing. This also gave us the chance to observe people on the trains and at stations going about their everyday life and being part of the hustle and bustle. I was amazed how green and lush everywhere was and the abundance of water gushing out of wells and down the sides of streets. There were many flowers and trees growing that we have in England, which I didn't expect and it was fascinating to see how different the gardens were with the clipped shrubs and neat borders.

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


If you travel on your own, which I did for the first time on this trip, you can be assured that you will be well looked after. We had a fantastic guide and the organisation was second to none. Even when there was free time, our guide made sure that we knew where we were going and helped us with any questions. I felt quite safe walking about on my own in Japan and even though I can't speak the language people were very helpful in the street if I needed to ask directions, so long as I had a map to point to! Always carry the name and address of the accommodation you are staying at with you so that if needed you can get a taxi to take you back if you get lost. Carry the mobile phone number of your guide with you at all times. Even if you don't have a mobile phone that works in Japan, you could ask someone to ring the number for you.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, I did because we used public transport and stayed in many family run accommodations in rural areas.

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


It was a fascinating experience and everything went to plan.

Reviewed on 05 Jun 2009 by

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


For me, it was the food - tastes, presentation, new ingredients - quite different to anything I have tasted at home. It has inspired me to learn more about Japanese food.
The scenery, temples and shrines came a close second and I loved the overnight stay at the monastery on Mount Koya (wanted to stay longer). Public transport was amazing! So clean everywhere. People very helpful and friendly. I could go on and on...

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


It does involve a lot of traveling, so need to be prepared for that. Pack a very light bag and then take out some stuff and re-pack! We took far too much although we had been warned (we thought it wasn't much, but wait till you have carried a backpack around for a few days).

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Hope so! Liked the use of public transport and staying in local, family-run minshuku and ryokan.

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


Fantastic experience. We saw much more than if we had been on our own and it was great having a guide who could interpret and explain how things worked. The downside was the amount of traveling we did - some days were spent doing very little other than sitting on trains and buses. I would have liked to spend more time enjoying fewer places, I think. A bit more flexibility and choice over activities would also have been good. Tokyo was better than expected (and the hotel was excellent) but Kyoto was disappointing - I think the location and accommodation could have been better here; we were in a very busy, touristy area and I was expecting high culture!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Daniela,
Thank you very much for your review. I agree the food is excellent, particularly the local cuisine in the rural areas. I understand your point about the amount of traveling, and we'll be looking again at ways to minimize this whilst still showing visitors all these wonderful places. The Kyoto hotel on this particular tour was not our regular, and I am sorry if it didn't match your expectations. All in all I am happy that you enjoyed the trip.

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