Japan
FAQ's

Our Escorted Japan tour selection are designed by ourselves and operate exclusively for our guests.

Our experienced guide will travel with you throughout the tour in Japan, including all the train transfers and on the guided sections of the itinerary. You will have their knowledge on hand to make your journey to Japan more pleasurable and informative. We only use experienced professional local Japanese guides (not unqualified tour buddies) who will provide the best quality service. The escorted tours will use private coach, bullet trains and public transport and will include Ryokan stays and other special activities.

Each detailed itinerary gives hotel and Ryokan names and details. Our superb choice of hotel and Ryokan accommodation are all well tested and in good locations. We are confident of our quality and selection and many of our Hotels & luxurious traditional Ryokans include Onsen (Hot Spring spa facilities) and all provide excellent dining experiences. Western rooms in Ryokans can be provided if requested at booking stage (Subject to availability). Hotel selection is sometimes dependent upon room availability at time of booking, particularly during festival periods.

Our tour is arranged on a small group basis, as we feel this gives our travellers more flexibility and enjoyment. By reducing the group size our experienced guide can show you the true beauty of Japan. Our itineraries are designed at a sensible pace with a combination of escorted sightseeing and some free time.

The tour price is calculated based upon a minimum of 6 travellers in 1 group. In the unlikely situation where the number is less than 6, we can still run the tour with slight modifications, or travellers will be offered an alternative tour, or the opportunity to travel on an alternative date.

Our Guided Japan tour selection, include our tour assistant meeting you at the airport upon arrival of your specific flight. Our assistant will provide you with all your train tickets, hotel & tour vouchers. Airport transfers and all transfers by train & coach between each destination are included in the tour price.

Professional English speaking local Japanese guides will meet you each day when you have a tour activity, and all entrance fees are included whilst on the guided tours, as stated in your itinerary. These day tours are generally on a coach basis (sometimes by train/public transport) and allow enough time to enjoy walking around each sightseeing spot with our tour guide. You will usually join other travellers for these day activities and this enables us to provide regular, flexible and Guaranteed Departures.

Our guided tours operate on a daily/weekly basis and we guarantee departure. Therefore, depending on your tour dates, you will be with other travellers or transferring on your own. We always provide details to help make the unaccompanied train/bus transfers straight forward and our standard hotels are within easy walking distance from the stations. We also provide free luggage transfer on majority of the tours, so you can travel light when making the transfers. Where we think it is required we will also arrange private transport to the train station and arrange tour assistants at transfer points - please refer to your specific itinerary.

Majority of our guided tours also have some free time, so you can explore on your own. Ryokan stays can also be added to the majority of our guided tours, as can optional pre-booked excursions. Emergency contact numbers are provided for your time in Japan.

Add on Ryokan stays, Guided day tours and city extensions are available for all our tours and can be included in your itinerary PRIOR TO departure. For full details of optional tours available visit our optional tour section.

Due to luggage restrictions on the bullet trains and to ensure your train transfers are relaxing and enjoyable, we include a luggage transfer services on the majority of our tours. The overland luggage transfer service takes your large luggage directly from hotel to hotel between destinations as stated in your itinerary (1 piece of luggage per person). You will leave your luggage in the designated area with the hotel porters by 7:30am on the days stated in your specific itinerary (usually day of checkout).

On some tours where you are traveling on a daily basis or to countryside areas, you may need to prepare a small overnight bag. Please refer to your detailed itinerary which will provide full details of any luggage transfers arrangements provided. If you require additional luggage transfer, or wish to include an additional bag transfer, please contact us for details/prices.

If you require international flights, as an agent for many airline consolidators, we can obtain flights from your preferred regional airport. We work with all reputable airlines such as ANA, BA, Virgin, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair etc and can provide all seat classes to suit our customers’ requirements. Full ATOL Protection is provided when purchasing international flights from the UK, with any of our tours.

Alternatively, if you wish to book your own flights, then all you need to do is tell us your flight numbers, arrival times and we can arrange airport transfers as required.

As a UK company registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), our ATOL number is 6450. All our international flight-inclusive holidays from the UK are financially protected by the ATOL scheme and you will receive an ATOL Certificate confirming the booking is ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for further information.

We provide carefully selected quality accommodation in ideal locations for all our tours, with upgrade to deluxe level available.

For people on a budget, or single travellers, we can also provide Business class hotels on a number of our shorter guided tours. Business class hotel rooms are generally smaller than those of our standard hotels and the hotel have less facilities for international clients. However, they are good standard and in central locations. Budget accommodation may require guests to make their own travel arrangements to the nearest tour pickup point, which departs from the lobby of our Standard hotel. Details will be provided for your assistance.

Due to the guided tours operating on such a regular basis, please note that Nijo Castle (Kyoto) is closed (every Tuesday in Jan, July, Aug & Dec), therefore if your tour falls on these dates, we will visit Ryoanji Temple instead. Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed at weekends and on national holidays, we will visit Kitano Tenmangu instead. Hiroshima & Miyajima optional tour usually operates Mon - Wed, Friday -Sunday.

Our tour itineraries are is designed according to the most up to date information available at the time and the online itineraries highlights the main attractions that are to be visited each day. In regards to expected transfer times and train times these may vary as they are subject to schedules and availability controlled by the various railway companies. It is extremely rare that itineraries ever need changes and we will always act in your best interest to handle any amendments if this did occur. However, we reserve the right to change, amend or alter the itinerary if required, for example occasionally the tour sequence and duration of time spent in each city can change due to local conditions which are out of our control or due to heavy traffic conditions or bad weather. Please refer to our terms & conditions for further details.

To experience the essential essence of ancient Japanese culture, a stay at a Ryokan (Japanese inn) is a highly recommended experience. All our escorted small group tours, we include a stay in a luxury Ryokans and many of our guided tours have Ryokan stay. A number of our Guided tours also have Ryokan stays included and some hotels have Onsen facilities. We can also provide a Ryokan experience (Japanese guest house) in Hakone or on the last day in Kyoto on the majority of our guided tours. The supplement starts from £160 per person for 1 night and includes breakfast & a beautiful Japanese Dinner prepared with fresh seasonable ingredients.

Ryokans can be both of traditional and modern style of buildings externally. However internally they all provide a traditional Japanese Inn experience, with high standards of service and efficiency. Bedrooms are usually a large single room with traditional rice-straw 'tatami' matting and en-suite toilet facilities. Furniture within the room does vary from establishment to establishment, however the rooms furnishings are usually 'minimal' with often only a single low table in the room.

Doors into your room are usually sliding 'Shoji' screens and guests sleep on Futon bedding laid out in the evening by maids. Your stay usually includes two meals per day, invariably a simple breakfast and evening Japanese style feast with many wonderful locally found ingredients. Meals are generally served in your room by the maid. (Check itinerary for meal arrangements).

There are a few traditions and rules that must be followed when staying in a Ryokan. These ancient Japanese customs are part of the experience and charm of staying in these traditional style Inns. The key rules are that guests remove their shoes at the threshold of the inn and don slippers (provided) whilst in the hallways. These slippers are then left outside your guest room and only barefoot or stocking feet are allowed on the tatami straw mats for obvious reasons. Guest also usually wear a traditional 'Yukata' cotton robe, which is provided by the Inn during their stay.

Rooms in a Ryokan are not usually provided with a private bath, as most Ryokans have public bathing facilities, which are separated for men and Women. If the establishment has an Onsen, it generally means that it has been built on the site with a natural volcanic hot spring. Therefore, the bathing water is volcanic hot spring water, which some establishments claim have various unique therapeutic qualities. Many different styles of Onsen exist and specialise in providing a relaxing environment centered around a indoor and sometimes outdoor hot spring.

Onsen bathing, is a great experience and much recommended. However, the protocol differs from western style bathing. First you must wash yourself with soap and rinse thoroughly in the individual washing cubicles prior to entering the bath water. Small towels are provided for your modesty, as you will be nude in the hot indoor and outdoor steam baths where you can relax, soak and chat to fellow same sex bathers.

After bathing, you go to the cubicles to wash and rinse again, before leaving the baths. Most people use the Ryokans Yakata (robe) to go to the baths and early morning or late at night is the best times. Some establishments do not allow tattoos, therefore if you have a smallest tattoo, you can cover it with a bandage etc.

A Minshuku (Japanese version of bed & breakfast accommodation) should not be confused with a Ryokan, as the standard of service, food and décor are not comparable (many less knowledgeable travel companies confuse the two). However, in some rural areas a Minshuku may be the only choice and we will provide good quality Minshuku which includes a stay in Japanese style room with good food, and friendly service.

If your tour includes an overnight temple stay on Mount Koya, you will be staying in a 'Japanese style' room on tatami mats. The stay is an unique experience to understand Monks simple way of life and experience a Buddhist ceremony in the early morning. As standard rooms do not have private toilet and washing facilities. Public baths are available. Vegetarian breakfast and dinner is served by the Monks.

Breakfast is included on all our escorted small group tours and other meals are as specified in each detailed itinerary. 

For our guided tours, breakfast is provided when staying in Ryokans, and at hotels can be booked in advance or purchased in Japan on a daily basis. Alternatively, there are many places around the hotels where you can buy meals. Please refer to your specific itinerary for meals provided.

Vegetarian meals can be provided upon request at time of booking .

Majority of our tours do not use the Japanese Rail Pass for transfers due to the restrictions that apply. This is because the rail pass is not valid on the super-fast “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” Bullets trains and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Also, there are very long waiting times to obtain the rail pass in Japan during peak season. Therefore, we feel it’s far more convenient, quicker and cost effective without the rail pass and we use luxury air-conditioned coaches combined with express and bullet trains with pre booked reserved seats to travel around Japan, including overland luggage transfer from hotel to hotel due to luggage restrictions on the trains.

Our tours are suitable for travellers of all ages, who are reasonably fit and healthy.

Passport, Visa and Health Requirements

British travellers do not require a visa for our holidays to Japan.

Immunisations 

There are no requirements for travellers to Japan to have certificate of Vaccination. However please consult your doctor for further details.

Currency

The currency in Japan is called the yen. Traveller cheques can be exchanged in hotels, airports and Banks.

Many automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Japan do not accept international credit cards or debit cards which are issued outside of Japan. ATMs that do accept international cards can be found in the 20,000+ Post offices and 10,000+ 7-Eleven convenience stores spread across the country. These ATM machines accept most major bank credit cards such as Visa Card, Master Card, American Express Card etc. All other cards please check with your bank before travelling.

Time Difference

Japan is 9 hours ahead of GMT.

Weather and seasons (Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka)

These areas of Japan have 4 distinct seasons:
Winter (Jan) temperatures average 5.8 degrees Centigrade; winter coat, warm sweaters.
Spring (end of March, April / May) temperatures average 14.6 degrees Centigrade; lightweight jacket and sweater
Summer (July) temperatures average 26 degrees Centigrade; light clothing, tee shirt.
Autumn (Oct) temperatures average 18.5 degrees Centigrade; clothing as Spring

Cherry Blossom blooming and Autumn leaf changing periods are both natural events occurring over relatively short duration's and are affected by seasonal variations and climate. Therefore, they cannot be 100% guaranteed at time of your visit. Historically the peak cherry blossoms viewing typical in Japan is late March & early April and autumn leave changing mid to late October too early to mid-November.

Electric Voltage

It is advisable to bring along a set of international adapters. Most hotels have 2 outlet sockets for 110 volts and 220 volts suitable for two prong plugs only.

Baggage

In General, 20 kg per person maximum check-in baggage is allowed. Please check with the airline before departure.

Drinking Water

Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan. Bottled mineral water, Alcohol and soft drinks can be purchased in most hotels, shops and supermarkets.

No Tipping in Japan

Tipping in Japan is not common, as is only required for extra special service. This includes taxis.

Tax Free shopping

Short stay tourist with passport documentation who spend over 10,001 yen in one day at any licensed duty free shop, such as major department stores in large cities do not have to pay the 5% consumption tax on the items. (Excludes cosmetics, foodstuff, film, batteries, medicine, cigarettes and alcohol).

Dining out

Japan has a vast array of eating experiences on offer. From expensive luxurious dinning, traditional restaurants, to many reasonable priced restaurants, similar to UK prices. For those looking for reasonable priced food, large department stores offer excellent selection of restaurants to choose from. Also, many local restaurants, often situated around Subways and railway stations offer excellent food at reasonable prices. It is also common for restaurants to display wax replicas of their dishes in their windows, for you to point to. Others often provide a menu with colour pictures to assist you with your selection.