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Travel from super-modern Tokyo to villages, castles and temples that remain unchanged from the times of the Shogun and Samurai. Stay in a Buddhist temple and a family-run ryokan, meet snow monkeys and tame deer, and experience the modern and the ancient in this invigorating country.
Explore Tour Leader
11 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple monastery
1 nights simple ryokan
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Tokyo, the ultra-modern capital of Japan.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. If some of the group are arriving on later flights then the main introductory briefing will be conducted on the morning of day 2 with everybody present. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tokyo at any time. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour and a half from Narita. You will be met in the Arrivals Hall, and transferred to the start hotel by public shuttle bus or private vehicle. The shuttle bus may stop at other hotels, before dropping you at the joining hotel.
Kanzashi Tokyo Asakusa Hotel (or similar)
We explore Tokyo on foot and using the super-efficient metro system along with the locals. Starting in Asakusa district we discover Senso-ji Temple which deserves to be high on any explorer's list. The oldest temple in the city, it is entered through the imposing Thunder Gate, flanked on either side by massive fierce statues of the gods of wind and rain. Continuing in dramatic fashion, we attend the morning fire service at Fudo-do Temple. Here the esoteric Shingon sect perform a ceremony involving leaping flames and the chanting of sacred texts, accompanied by the deafening beat of huge taiko drums. The result is a truly atmospheric experience and an authentic insight into Japanese Buddhist culture.
At a convenient time in the day we will get our Japan Rail Passes validated in a nearby station. Please note that for late bookings, and people who have not provided their passport copy in time as requested, it will not be possible to issue a Japan Rail Pass and you will be provided with individual train tickets for the included journeys instead.
After some free time for lunch, we visit Meiji Jingu - an important Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of the first Emperor and Empress of modern Japan at the end of Japan's feudal era. Its forested grounds offer a peaceful haven in this densely built-up city. Our final stop is Shibuya, known for one of the busiest crossings in the world Shibuya is a hub of up and coming fashion, technology and design in Tokyo with a variety of shops, museum and galleries to explore. The rest of the afternoon is left free and it is easy to return to Asakusa by metro or continue to the skyscraper district of Shinjuku.
Today you are free to seek out the parts of Tokyo that you'd most like to experience, and there are plenty of exciting options to choose from such as the busy streets of trendy Harajuku district or quirky themed cafes in Akihabara where you can be served by vampires, butlers or fantasy characters. The Tokyo Skytree offers views over the whole city, you could take a cruise along the Sumida River or a walk through Hamarikyu Gardens.
For those interested in seeing Mount Fuji and Hakone National Park we suggest a day trip by local bus to Lake Kawaguchi - the most easily accessible of the five Fuji Lakes from Tokyo. A cable car and walking trails lead to viewpoints and there are also museums of interest. If more than six people are interested the Tour Leader will accompany. Located right at the base of Mount Fuji, the mountain views are dependent on weather which can change quickly and may be covered by clouds. Visibility tends to be best in early morning and late afternoons, and the summer months are hazier.
Alternatively you can travel north to Nikko, again around two hours by train, and discover the park's great temples hidden among forests of giant cedar trees, great for autumnal colours. Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine, Toshogu, is located here and is well worth a visit. The park's landscape of lakes, waterfalls and hot springs is inhabited by wild monkeys and deer, and has a number of easy-to-follow hiking paths through the delightful scenery. Another option is the beachside town of Kamakura, just over an hour's train ride away from Tokyo. One of Japan's ancient capitals, there are many temples and shrines, and a massive bronze 'Great Buddha' statue which is almost 800 years old. The statue has outlived several buildings that were erected to house it and now stands out in the open with a serene gaze seemingly appraising the surrounding countryside. The town also has several long sandy beaches which are very popular with Tokyoites taking a day away from the city.
Whatever you decide to do today your Tour Leader will help you out with first hand advice and the finer details of what is best for the time of year and weather, where to go, what to do and how to get around.
A beautiful express train journey of just under three hours takes us north from Tokyo to the pretty town of Matsumoto, flanked on each side by the Japanese Alps. The town's 500 year-old castle is Japan's oldest, and one of its most elegant. Known as 'Crow Castle' due to its black, sombre appearance, it retains its original wooden interior which offers a very authentic atmosphere as we walk through its hallways and rooms. The design is fascinating, with a moon viewing pavilion, a hidden floor for the Samurai and various booby traps to aid its defence. After exploring the interior of the castle and its grounds we have the option to pay a visit to the nearby Ukiyo-e woodblock printing museum. Typically representing famous geisha, sumo wrestlers and kabuki dance-drama actors, the art form means 'paintings of the floating world' referring to the subjects' detachment from ordinary life.
We include the luggage forwarding service today to ship our main bags to Kanazawa. Please refer to the Trip Information; Budgeting and packing; Luggage on tour section for more information.
Tabino Hotel (or similar)
Travelling by express train and private bus, we make our way this morning to Jigokudani Onsen, home to Japan's famous snow monkeys. Here the indigenous macaques descend from the hills to bathe and play in the hot springs, a unique behaviour not found anywhere else in the world. Despite their wintry moniker, the monkeys can be observed in and around the pool throughout the year although sightings are more likely in colder months. Our walk to the spring takes 30 minutes along a pretty forest trail which is mostly flat with some steep stairs and narrow sections. Once at the spring we spend around an hour observing the monkeys before returning along the same path.
In the afternoon we make our way to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano. Founded in the 7th century, it is one of the earliest Buddhist temples in the country, and was established to house an image brought from India which was believed to lead all who saw it to a state of Nirvana. The image is said to have remained hidden somewhere in the temple since the year 654. After exploring the temple and meeting the monks we head over to the shukubo or temple lodgings. Originally created to accommodate pilgrims, they are furnished with tatami mats - a traditional floor coverings made from rice straw, futons and paper walls, giving us a very authentic Japanese experience for our overnight stay. The rooms are twins with shared toilet and bathing facilities.
Zenkoji Yakuo In (or similar)
We will wake at sunrise and make our way to the temple, wandering through the fragrant smoke of the temple's giant incense burner to purify us before entering. In the main hall we'll watch the monks performing their morning rituals, the mesmerising chanting of the ancient sutras echoing around us, before we receive a sacred blessing from the head monk of the temple.
Later this morning, we travel by express train (1.5hrs) to Kanazawa, a city that rivalled Kyoto and Tokyo in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was home to the powerful Maeda samurai clan. This afternoon we plan a wander around the atmospheric samurai district with its narrow lanes and earthen walls, learning about how the legendary warrior class lived. There is the option to visit Nomura Samurai House or discover the fabulous Kenrokuen Gardens, considered to be one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. The name means the 'Garden of the Six Sublimities' and was begun by the Maeda samurai clan in 1632, taking nearly 200 years to complete.
Hotel Amaneku Kanazawa (or similar)
Today is a free day to make the most of Kanazawa. As the town was not targeted during World War II, much of Kanazawa consists of old buildings and gives a sense of what Japan was like in the 19th century. There is plenty to do and see, and a great option is to spend some time wandering around the colourful stalls at the town's Omicho market, where fresh fish and crab are brought daily from the Sea of Japan along with vegetables from the surrounding countryside. A great dish to try here, particular to the region, is chirashi-zushi, which consists of pieces of sushi piled on the top of rice and often garnished with shredded egg. You can also visit a 'chaya', or teahouse in the the Higashi Chaya or Kazuemachi Chaya areas. While Kanazawa's surviving geisha establishments remain off limits to tourists, a number of elegant tea houses are open to the public - sadly without the presence of a geisha though! Another highlight is the Myoryuji Temple, commonly known as the 'Ninja Temple' due to its ingenious defensive devices which include secret rooms, hidden tunnels, traps, and a labyrinth of corridors and staircases.
This morning we take the local train to Takayama, a city that retains an authentic, traditional feel like few others in Japan. During feudal times the city was a source of highly-skilled carpenters and therefore controlled directly by the shogun, leading to a thriving and prosperous trading community. The narrow streets of the Sanmachi Suji district are lined with dark wooden merchants' houses, many of which are 300 to 400 years old. There are several traditional sake distilleries in the old town and we'll try some of the city's famous brew, considered to be among the best in Japan due to the region's pure mountain water and cold winter months. On the outskirts of the town is the fascinating Hida No Sato thatched roof village. This open air museum is made of original houses from the Edo period (1603 to 1867), and if you choose to visit you will gain an insight into the rural life of the region during this period. Alternatively you can spend the day exploring more of the town.
This evening is spent near to Takayama in a family run minshuku - usually found in the countryside, they offer a very traditional Japanese experience, sleeping in twin rooms with tatami mats, futon beds, shared bathroom and bathing facilities. The traditional food is part of the experience and we recommend choosing to dine here tonight and the Leader will help to pre-arrange this as prior booking is needed.
We include the luggage forwarding service today to ship our main bags to Hiroshima.
Minshuku Chogoro (or similar)
Two wonderful train journeys will take us to Hiroshima this morning. The first is a picturesque route that follows an icy blue Hida River past shrines, bamboo groves and traditional fishermen before arriving in Nagoya. Here we change to the famous Shinkansen bullet train, covering the 400 kms to Hiroshima in around two and a half hours, travelling at speeds of up to 320 kmh and arriving early afternoon.
Largely destroyed on 6th August 1945, when it was the target of the first atomic bomb to be used in wartime, Hiroshima has literally risen from the ashes, and is now a thriving, friendly city. We visit the moving Peace Memorial Park and museum on the site of the 1945 A-bomb hypocentre. Whilst serving as poignant reminders of the nuclear holocaust, their over-whelming message is that such horrors should never occur again.
In the evening we can try an okonomiyaki meal, a type of savoury pancake which is stuffed and cooked on a hot plate in front of the diner. The dish is particularly famous in Hiroshima where a local variation sees the ingredients layered rather than mixed.
Hotel Mielparque Hiroshima (or similar)
After breakfast this morning we take a small ferry to Miyajima, just off the coast of Hiroshima. This tiny island has a very relaxed feel which is enhanced by the deer that roam freely through the streets. As we arrive we get a great view of the floating torii gate. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan, the red gate appears to float on the water at high tide with the hills of the island forming a spectacular backdrop.
For those who are keen, there is a 1.5 to 2 hour hike to the top of Mt. Misen for views out across the Inland Sea and a chance of seeing the monkeys that live on the mountain. For those not wanting to walk, you have the option of a cable car that you can up or down or both. The name of the island translates as 'shrine island' and we will visit one of the most important, the Buddhist Daisho-in Temple where we can climb the steps to the temple and spin the prayer wheels, believed to bestow the same blessing as actually reading the texts. There is also the opportunity to take in the 16th century Shinto Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is built over the sea and has a stage where key events in Shinto mythology are enacted. After exploring the island we take the ferry back to Hiroshima.
After breakfast we make our way by public tram back to the train station for the journey to Kyoto, which takes around two hours by bullet train. The imperial capital for more than 1000 years has more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in perfectly manicured landscaped, tranquil gardens.
We will start exploring this fabulous city this afternoon with a visit to Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as a Shogun palace, it is a great example of the sumptuous setting in which the Shogun would have held audiences with his samurai warriors. The extensive gardens and gates are impressive, but the real ingenuity of the castle are the nightingale floors, so called because they are designed to make a chirping noise when walked upon, thus making it impossible to sneak up on the castle's inhabitants.
We include the luggage forwarding service today to ship our main bags to Osaka.
Via Inn Kyoto Hachijo Guchi (or similar)
Getting around Kyoto is easy and there is a lot you can explore today. A good option is an early morning visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, beating the crowds to walk the path through the thousands of red torii gates that snake up the hillside.
A great place for lunch is the Nishiki Food Market where you can see, and try, an array of exotic and delicious foods such as octopus stuffed with quail eggs, green tea popcorn, cooked eel and matcha tea ice cream. You may also like to walk the Philosopher's Path, taking in the Silver Pavillion, and the Eikando and Nanzenji temples. Your Explore Leader will help you to make the most of the day, and whatever you choose to do, you'll find the city's public transport typically efficient and easy to navigate.
We have another morning to explore Kyoto before travelling to Osaka. An early morning visit to Kiyomizu Temple (Pure Water Temple) is a great idea, especially when followed by the pleasant walk along the cobblestone streets to Kodaiji. Here you can see a perfectly groomed towering bamboo grove, a Zen rock garden, and a pair of historic tea houses. Another option is to take the train to Arashiyama and walk along the Oi River to visit the UNESCO World Heritage designated Zen Tenryuji Temple.
Leaving Kyoto, we take the local train to Osaka, arriving in the late afternoon. We'll take a walk around the Namba area, one of Osaka's most vibrant and interesting districts. Miles of covered arcades criss-crossed by canals and rivers open up to back streets filled with history and small shops. For those wanting something different your Explore Leader can show you how to get to towering Osaka Castle, or the impressive Umeda Sky Building for unobstructed 360 degree views of the whole city. If you prefer to have more time to Explore Osaka please speak with your Tour Leader as it will be possible to travel earlier in the day by yourself, with your own luggage that you can deposit in the Osaka accommodation as an early check in is unlikely.
During our last night out in Japan we can try Osaka's most-loved snack, octopus balls.
Shin-Osaka Washington Hotel Plaza (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Osaka. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Osaka at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel, so you can head out for some last minute shopping or sightseeing.
Transfers to the airport will be by train or shared shuttle bus, your leader will provide tickets locally and advise on the best train time to meet your flight. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Kansai International Airport (KIX) which is approximately one hour by train, or Osaka International Airport (ITM) which takes around an hour by bus.
Japan's climate is mostly temperate, with five distinct seasons. Summer is from June to September with temperatures reaching 30°c, although it can vary from warm to very hot after mid-July with temperatures in the mid-30s. July and August can be very hot and humid. Spring and Autumn are mild throughout Japan. Winter, October to April, is cold with snowfall. The main rainy season is June. Japan can be prone to short, tropical cyclones in August to October. October / November although cooler is a great time to see the Autumn colours. For trips that visit the Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Onsen, you're very likely to see them all year around, aside from in October/November when there is enough food in the forest to prevent them coming down to the baths. You may still see some at this time but not in the numbers found during the rest of the year.
2 Pin Flat
Buddhism, Christian and Shinto
This trip is designed with free time in several locations so that you are able to take advantage of the huge variety of things to see and do. The list below provides an idea of approximate costs of some of the most popular activities. Please note that you will not be able to do all of the activities listed, and you may choose to do something not included. For budgeting purposes it is best to assume that you are likely to want to take part in one or two activities per area. Public transport is incredibly easy to use in Japan with signs in English and, on main tourist routes, announcements in English too. Your Tour Leader will provide very detailed instructions to ensure you get to do and see what you want to in your free time. Tokyo - return train to Nikko approx. £30, entrance fee approx. £7; local bus to Lake Kawaguchi/Mt Fuji with cable car approx £50-65 per person (for 6 pax and more Tour Leader will accompany and their transport costs split between group); trains to and from Kamakura approx. £14; Tokyo Sky Tree approx. £14; water bus from Asakusa to Hamarikyu Gardens approx. £6.50 Matsumoto - Ukiyo-e woodblock printing museum entrance fee approx. £6.50, transport to and from the museum approx. £2 Kanazawa - One day bus pass to travel around the whole city approx. £4; Kenrokuen Gardens entrance fee approx. £2, entrance to Seisonkaku Villa in Kenrokuen Gardens approx. £4; Nomura Samurai House and Gardens entrance approx. £3; 21st Century Museum entrance approx. £6.50; Myoryuji 'Ninja' Temple entrance approx. £6.50 (requires advance booking that can be arranged by your Explore Leader); Shima Tea House in Geisha District entrance approx. £3, Nomura Samurai House approx. £3. Takayama - Hida no Sato thatched roof village approx. £7 for transport and entrance Miyajima Island - Itsukushima Shrine, approx. £2 entrance fee, cable car to the top of Mt Misen approx.£7 one way and £12 return Kyoto - One day bus pass to travel around the whole city approx. £4.00; Silver Pavilion approx. £3.50; Eikando approx. £4.00; Nanzenin temple at Nanzenji £3.50; Tenryuji - £3.50; Return train to Arashiyama approx. £4; Fushimi Inari Shrine entrance free. Osaka - Entrance to Castle approx. £4; Entrance to Umeda Sky Building Observatory approx. £6.50
Rain gear is essential all year. In fact, in Japan it is the norm to carry an umbrella, which is much preferred over wearing a wet rain jacket. You will need warm clothing from October through until April when temperatures drop, especially at night. From December to February the temperature is around 5 to 10 degrees in the day, and can approach freezing on some nights so bring extra layers if you are travelling at this time.
Comfortable shoes, and sandals for relaxing. Shoes that are easy to put on and take off are recommended for visiting temples and for your stay in a ryokan.
You should take one main piece of baggage and a daypack. Your main luggage won't always accompany you, being forwarded on day 4 from Tokyo to Kanazawa, on day 8 from Kanazawa to Hiroshima and then from Hiroshima on day 11 to the final destination at Osaka. Your daypack should therefore have sufficient space for 2 consecutive nights in Matsumoto and Zenkoji Temple, for 1 night in Takayama and a 2 night stay in Kyoto. The reason we include this luggage forwarding service is to avoid being encumbered on the train journeys, where you will be responsible for your luggage, and this will involve train connections where you will need to change platforms in stations where there are no lifts or escalators and with a limited connection time. It is not obligatory; should you wish to keep your main bag with you throughout the trip please let the Tour Leader know upon arrival or at time of booking, and in this case we strongly recommend either a compact suitcase with wheels or a good quality rucksack, as well as packing relatively light so you can easily move your luggage from point to point and up and down stairs. Hotels in Japan frequently have excellent self-service laundry facilities with convenient washer driers that dispense detergent and softener so it is easy to travel light and wash your clothes as you go along. Japan's rail network has a policy that requires passengers with oversized baggage to reserve a specific seat in an oversized baggage area. This relates to baggage with overall dimensions of over 160cm (taken by adding the height+width+depth measurements). These overall dimensions are around the same for which oversized baggage fees are charged on international airlines, so it's unlikely that you will be bringing a suitcase of this size. However, it is worth checking the dimensions and then repacking with a smaller case if necessary. Due to the complexities of booking these seats, if you arrive with an oversized bag and wish to travel with this throughout the trip, our team in Japan will be required to ship the luggage from one place to the next from the beginning to the end of the tour, at an additional cost that you will be required to pay on tour.
Bring a water bottle to save on purchase of plastic bottles. A tote bag will help you avoid using plastic bags. Bins in public spaces are very infrequent so a bag to put any rubbish in is useful. Hairdryers are provided at all the hotels. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent.
Bus, Ferry, Train
In Nagano and Takayama we stay in traditional Japanese style accommodation. The rooms are twins with traditional tatami-mat (woven soft 'igusa' straw) flooring and futons to sleep on. Generally the rooms are simply decorated with a low 'kotatsu' table to sit around, a scroll or picture in an alcove and a Japanese tea set. The two futons are brought out at night. Shoes are removed in the entrance way to the room and the accommodation has shared toilets and traditional same sex communal baths. The communal shower in the bathing area is used to cleanse before a relaxing soak. While clean and comfortable, hotel rooms and ensuite bathrooms in Japan are often much smaller than in other destinations. This is due to the pressure on space in high density urban areas coupled with Japanese expectations about size of living spaces. It is unlikely that you will be able to keep your main luggage open at all times especially when sharing the room. For this reason and the fact we use a lot of public transport, you may consider packing light. See Luggage information also. Hotels in Japan frequently have excellent self-service laundry facilities with convenient washer driers that dispense detergent and softener so it is possible to travel light and wash your clothes as you go along.
Food in Japan is of paramount importance culturally and is often a highlight for those visitors interested in different cuisines. Options for vegetarians are limited as fish and seafood plays an important part in local cuisine and many vegetable dishes are cooked in fish broth. In Takayama we include a traditional multi-course kaiseki dinner on all 2024 departures and forwards. For people with severe allergies please note that it will be impossible to cater without risk of cross contamination, depending on the specific allergy, as the meal is prepared by one chef in a limited kitchen for all guests staying at the guesthouse. You should always advise us of any allergies but in this case please enquire at time of booking or prior to travel to see what will be possible. For others with allergies and preferences in their diet please note that we will try to accommodate but, while the meal will be plentiful, you may be offered slightly less choice than others.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
British passport holder do not require a visa to enter Japan for tourism purposes. All visa related issues for other nationalities should be confirmed with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Japan Rail Pass - A clear copy, either as a scanned photocopy or photo, of your main passport photo page is required. Please ensure that all the information is clearly visible with none of the edges missing. This is required by our local agent to issue your Japan Rail Pass and is required no later than 6 weeks prior to travel. Explore will request this from you approximately 8 weeks prior to departure. If your passport copy is not received on time this will mean we cannot issue you a Japan Rail Pass. Instead you will be issued individual rail tickets for the included journeys and you will not have the benefit of a Japan Rail Pass, which enables you to travel effectively for free on local trains and the Tokyo Monorail in your free time while the pass is valid. Similarly for late bookings it will not be possible to issue a Japan Rail Pass if the cut off date has already passed, and you will be issued single tickets instead. Although not required, by registering on the visit Japan Web website, travellers are able fill out the Disembarkation Form and Custom Declaration Form in advance. By filling out these forms online, two QR codes will be produced that can be shown during entry procedures into Japan. This may help you proceed through customs and control quicker. As this step is not required, travellers can instead fill out physical paper forms upon arrival as well. More information can be found here: https://www.digital.go.jp/enervices/visit_japan_web-en/
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory. We recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. The use or possession of Vicks inhalers and some other common prescription and over-the-counter medicines (e.g. for allergies and sinus problems or even certain mild painkillers, such as those containing certain levels of codeine) are banned under Japan's strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law. Customs officials may not be sympathetic if you claim ignorance about these medicines. If in any doubt about customs procedures for such items, you should check with the nearest Japanese Embassy before visiting Japan. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.