Japan is a diverse and alluring country, full of surprises at every turn. In true Japanese fashion, our tours combine the traditional and the modern. From exploring the grand temples and meeting a Geisha to taking a super-fast bullet train, our Japan holidays have it all.
From the ultramodern cityscape of Tokyo to the ancient temples of Kyoto, our small group tours to Japan will take you on an all-encompassing trip of discovery. Our expert tour leaders will show you the cultural highlights as well as some lesser-known hidden treasures.
Get into the heart of Japanese culture with a stay in a Buddhist temple and family-run ryokan, observe snow monkey bathing in the hot springs of Jigokudani Onsen and whizz across the countryside on a bullet train to explore the city of Hiroshima. Or, for a Japan tour with a difference, go exploring on two wheels with our Japan cycling trips. Discover the coast of the Noto Peninsula, feel the salty breeze rush past as you pedal along Chirihama Beach and stay in traditional Japanese accommodation with futon mattresses and tatami-mat floors.
Considering a trip to Japan but new to Explore? We've answered some of the most-asked questions about our small group tours.
A country of vast contrasts, Japan’s facets offer something for every kind of traveller. Be wowed by the immense skyscrapers and blaring neon lights of always-bustling Tokyo, find serenity in the peaceful gardens of Geisha city Kyoto, look out at the perfectly conical tip of Mount Fuji, and unwind in the warm waters of a traditional hot spring.
From navigating bustling cities to taking time out in sacred temples, wandering around idyllic gardens or sampling the magnificent local dishes, our Japan holidays encompass the country’s most thrilling facets. Take a look at some of our favourite highlights of Japan:
Tokyo is a fabulous city for total cultural immersion: you may spend the morning strolling along the banks of the Sumida River or museum hopping, and in the afternoon spotting sumo wrestlers and shopping for swords and every flavour of chocolate bar under the sun. At night the city comes alive – after dark is when you’ll discover just how busy and cosmopolitan the city is. More than 25% of Japan’s total population lives within 50km of Tokyo’s centre. However, dig a little deeper on our Shogun Trail tour and you’ll get to experience the ancient history of this teeming metropolis. Pay a visit to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji, the Hamarikyu Gardens – a great place for viewing the cherry blossoms in spring – and the Meiji Shrine, for your first sighting of a traditional torii gate.
Next on the list of our favourite places in Japan is the city of Kyoto, vastly different to Tokyo with its peaceful Zen gardens and charming little shops. Kyoto is the city of the elusive Geisha – you may even get to see some of the beautifully-dressed women as you walk along the quaint cobbled streets, nipping in and out of historic tea houses. Our Simply Japan trip includes two days to explore Kyoto, time to walk the path to Fushimi Inari Shrine through the thousands of red torii gates, sample weird and wonderful flavours in Nishiki Food Market, or visit a beautifully manicured bamboo grove. Many trips arrive in Kyoto by the famous bullet train, or Shinkansen, offering another once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Since the catastrophic atomic bombing in 1945 Hiroshima has transformed into a welcoming and thriving city that is well worth a visit. Whilst the poignant memorial in the Peace Memorial Park reminds us of the tragic event, it also inspires with messages of hope that such horrors should never happen again. Another reason to visit is the nearby Miyajima Island, just off the coast of the city, where tame deer roam. As you arrive on the ferry you'll take in the famous view of the floating torii gate. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan, these red gates appear to float on the water. Miyajima is included in the itinerary of our Highlights of Japan trip.
If you’re looking to travel solo, our Japan holidays are the perfect place to start. Every one of our holidays has been designed to suit solo travellers, and though it depends on the exact tour that you choose, you’ll find that about half of our customers will also be travelling solo. Not only will you get to explore a fantastic new destination, you’ll also get to meet fellow travellers who share the same interests, while we take care of the arrangements.
Japan is an all-year-round destination. The summer months tend to be hot and humid with a few rain showers, and the winters are cold and crisp with clear blue skies.
The weather is at its best during the summer season from April to May, but this is also the busiest time to visit Japan and prices are higher. If you want to escape the crowds, book a trip from June to August - it will be hotter and wetter, but you’ll have more space to appreciate Japan’s wondrous sights.
For a winter getaway with a difference, head to Japan from December to February. The days are usually crisp, cold and clear, and the Japanese Alps will be covered in a blanket of white snow. Travel in February to visit Sapporo Snow Festival and enjoy an ice-breaker cruise in the Sea of Okhotsk before spending time admiring the incredible snow sculptures at the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.
If you want to see Japan’s famous cherry blossom, it can be difficult to predict but the most likely peak period in the main tourist spots is from the middle of March until early April. Cherry blossom is a spectacular, albeit very crowded, time to visit Japan and has been celebrated locally for centuries. Every year is different and there are variations across the country from the tropical south to Hokkaido in the north. There are lots of different Sakura varieties and each of them come into flower at a slightly different time and then last for a different period (though most will stay on the trees for around one to two weeks but a brief shower or windy day can ruin the delicate petals). Or, to see the vibrant Koyo autumn leaves, aim for a trip in the autumn months of October and November.
From big wows to hidden gems, our tours leave you feeling that you've really explored.
Chosen for their great knowledge of your destination and a passion to make your trip extraordinary.
Average groups of 11; solos, couples and friends, united by a desire for authentic experiences.
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