When traveling in Japan it becomes apparent that behind the glittering ultramodern skyscrapers and flashing neon lies an ancient culture steeped in centuries of tradition. For an immersive experience, spend a night (or several) on a tatami mat at a serene ryokan, where traditional Japanese hospitality never goes out of style. Sacred Buddhist temples and immaculate Shinto shrines lurk around every corner in the big cities and speckle the countryside. Tea ceremonies and the history of the geisha fascinate. The best Japan tours always include some time in Kyoto, home to lavish palaces from the imperial age, the Philosopher’s Path’s beloved cherry trees, and the impossibly blissful rock gardens of Ryoan-ji. Explore our City Lights & Sacred Sights, Temples, Gardens & Art or Japan Highlights.
It may not feel like it when you’re moving through a crowded Tokyo crosswalk, but nature defines Japan. Built on the back of a rugged mountain range dotted with active volcanoes and dominated by iconic Mt. Fuji, Japan’s cities are dwarfed by its epic landscapes. For the active traveler, a Japan tour presents some of the best hiking in Asia, from the geothermal vents around Fuji to enveloping forests to mountaintop abodes topped with secluded temples. Few cultures have married the great outdoors with an equally great indoors, too; a restorative onsen bath is the perfect balm to a day spent walking. Browse our Pure Japan itinerary or the Japan Grand Journey.
The neon-drenched streets of Tokyo look like storyboards for a science-fiction film just waiting to be filmed, and they hold infinite stories. (Japan anime tour, anyone?) Elsewhere, Osaka reaches for the future through space-age architecture, while elegant Kyoto remains comfortably entrenched in its rich imperial past. Urban adventurers love trips to Japan because unique experiences await around every corner, drift down every funky alley, in every captivating museum, and spill out into the street from every 24-hour bar. You can experience an entire trip’s worth of excitement within the confines of a single city block. Connecting it all is a sleek, efficient high-speed train network, ensuring that wherever your tour of Japan leads, distance and time are never an obstacle. Explore our Pop Culture, Anime & Art Scene itinerary or add additional Asian adventures with our Imperial Cities of China & Japan.
Travelling in Japan, you'll quickly see that there is a remarkable amount of culinary diversity. Fresh ingredients, regional produce, stylish presentation, and a commitment to traditional techniques with a flair for innovation are gastronomic hallmarks. One of the luxuries of tailor-made Japan tours is the ability to secure a spot at exclusive restaurants, many of which have made their names on the strength of a single dish. The food takes on a heartier character the further you get from the cities, with varying types of nabemono (Japanese hot pot) reflecting regional differences, and artistically presented sushi serving as a coastal staple. The cuisine is highly influenced by the season, ensuring that your next Japan tour will carry a distinctly unique flavor to your last. Foodies should explore our Culinary Journey Through Japan.
From the bustling cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, to the haunting past of the now beautiful Hiroshima and more intimate areas like Hakone this destination seamlessly combines ancient traditions with the ways of modern day. Step back in time and see Geishas dressed in kimonos entertaining business men in western suits. Stare up in wonder at the futuristic skyscrapers and modernized oddities of Japanese architecture in the Shiodome district in Tokyo. Get away from the bright lights and relax as with a view of the serene golden temple Kinkakuji, prosperous pagodas, and imperial palaces at World Heritage Site Nijo Castle. Stroll along the cherry blossom lined riverside on the famous “Philosopher’s Walk” and bask in the fragrant floral scents. Be whisked away by a cruise through the Japanese Seas and step foot into the Gardens of Kanazawa in the ancient Samurais district and relish in the cuisine, ancient history and culture this unique country has to offer.
Tokyo, Metropolis of Metropolises
Maybe you’ve seen a dog curled up under the table at a cafe, but have you ever eaten at one with a bird perched on your shoulder? Or, with a lizard wandering languidly by? Tokyo cafes take animal-friendly to the next level, offering up eating experiences with a wide range of fauna. At Mohumohu, owls will even perch on your shoulder as you eat.
Tokyo National Museum
There’s no shortage of things to do in Tokyo, especially for those drawn to visual beauty. Since 1872, the Tokyo National Museum has been collecting pieces that fit that description, and it currently holds more than 110,000 objects. It is the largest art museum in the country and one of the biggest in the world, with more than million visitors each year. Patrons can see works from throughout history, from 5,000-year old Jomon vessels to first-century Buddha statues to modern oil paintings.
The best Tokyo tours for fashion lovers have to include Harajuku, one of the world centers of street fashion. Originally a samurai village, the area today is full of some of the most eye-popping and creative sartorial choices you’ll find anywhere. Tens of thousands of people visit every day to shop and see the latest trends.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Part market, part sushi destination and part madhouse, Tsukiji is the world’s largest and busiest fish market. While much of the action happens before most people crawl out of bed, if you’re willing to get up before 5 a.m., you can take in the live tuna auctions firsthand. When you’re done watching, start your morning off right with a sushi breakfast from one of the many available counters.
Geisha and Gion
Luxury Japan tours are not complete without a visit to an Ochaya, a word which literally translates to “tea house.” At this establishment, patrons are entertained by geisha, traditional hostesses well-versed in games, dance and conversation. Fans of this sort of Japan luxury travel are encouraged to visit Gion, one of the most famous and exclusive geisha districts in the country.
Guided tours of Japan are the ideal time to take in the country’s rich religious tradition, specifically in the form of visiting temples. Many of the structures date back hundreds of years, such as Kotoku-in, which houses the Great Buddha, a bronze statue that sits more than 40 feet high and dates all the way back to 1252.
One of the most tranquil part of Japan trips are its recreational gardens, which feature rolling hills, murmuring brooks and eye-catching floral displays. Visiting one is the perfect day trip for those who love serenity, and they are welcoming to people of all ages.
For centuries, travelers and locals alike have been enthralled by Japan cherry blossoms. Eighth century imperial courtiers admired them before picnics. Poets have tried to capture their essence in the sparse lyricism of their haiku. People have and continue to travel from near and far to drink in their beauty, with not only marks the coming of spring, but also has deep ties to a long and rich cultural heritage.
Culture and More
In Japan, sumo wrestling is a strictly managed sport, with its own rules and traditions that stretch back hundreds of years. Practitioners take new names, and spend years studying in a training stable, where they are taught by former wrestlers.
Traditionally, ancient texts were written with a brush and ink. Today, calligraphy, or “shodo” is a major part of Japanese art, serving as both a link to the past and a form of an artistic expression in its own right. Visitors can learn from shodo experts, engaging in culture and creating their own keepsakes.
For more than 1,000 years, the capital of Japan was Kyoto. Tours of this region explore this vast history, which provides the perfect counterpoint to Tokyo’s sleek modernity. It has some of the most interesting things to do in Japan, such as watching a traditional tea ceremony, checking out the international Manga museum or marveling at the mystery of the Ryoan-ji Temple rock garden.
American and Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended return date in order to enter and depart the country. Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately.
Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from your original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport.
Citizens of United States of America do not require a VISA for a term up to 90 days and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Japan for temporary visits up to 3 months. A 90 day stay is not the same as three months so please be sure to clarify this with travel agent. All foreign nationals entering the country of Japan are required to have a digital photograph of their scanned index fingers upon entry.
Countries not requiring visa for 3 month term:
Singapore, Argentina, Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Suriname, Uruguay, Israel, Turkey, Lesotho, Mauritius, Tunisia, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
Countries not requiring visa for 90 term:
Hong Kong (BNO, SAR passport), Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Macau (SAR passport), U.S.A, Barbados, Australia, New Zealand, Andorra, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, Slovakia
Make sure that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your stay in Japan with a confirmed round-trip or onward airline ticket.
For more visa information please visit:
Cancelation and Medical Insurance is highly recommended as it can safeguard against the expenses associated with in-country medical emergencies, lost or delayed baggage and emergency cancelation or interruption of your trip. Please ensure your policy will provide you with upfront medical coverage so that you are not responsible for a hefty doctor’s bill while away. Insurance can be purchased through us.
No vaccinations are currently required to enter Japan, although it is strongly recommended to vaccinate against Japanese Encephalitis if visiting rural farming areas.
It is advised to consult a travel doctor 4-6 weeks before departure in regards to the recommended vaccinations below:
For all vaccinations and health requirements, you can also refer to the recommendations from:
World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://wwwnc.cdc.gov.
If there are any medical items essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage. It is also advised to take iodine tablets to purify water if bottled water is not available. It is also strongly advised to take over-the-counter diarrhea medication. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
Other recommended Items:
Completely surrounded by the ocean and consisting of four major islands with many small islands Japan’s climate varies from one region to the next however most of the country receives four seasons throughout the year. Summer begins June – August, Fall is September – November, with a winter of December – February and Spring March – May. The rainy season is short and begins in June ending in mid-July. Japan is a good place to travel during each season but the best time to view flora is in the Spring when the cherry blossom trees start to bloom.
Light weight clothes with waterproofs are recommended in spring and summer. In higher altitudes however it is best to take slightly warmer clothes, but nothing too heavy. Japan does receive a winter with snow and cold temperatures so pack warmly for the fall and winter seasons.
As a rule shoulders and knees should be covered when entering religious sites.
FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Video camera, camera with zoom lens in a dust-resistant case, sufficient memory cards, a spare camera battery and charger. Photography is not allowed in certain religious buildings, especially temples. So be sure to ask permission before you take a photo.
Generally speaking, we advise bringing US$75-100 per day, per person, for spending money. The Japanese Yen (JPY) is the local currency of Japan. Coins in circulation are as follows ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500 the following banknotes are in circulation; ¥1000, ¥5000, ¥10 000
We recommend that you get local currency from a bank machine in-country or official local bank which is much cheaper than an exchange service at the airport or in tourist areas. Many ATM machines available for foreign card holders, and Visa or MasterCard are widely accepted.
For current exchange rates please visit www.xe.com
Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
Religion: Shinto and Japanese Buddhism
Time Zone: Japan Standard Time GMT + 9
Electricity: 100 Volt, 50 Hertz (Eastern), 60 Hertz (Western)
Calling North America: 001
Emergency numbers in Japan: Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade 119