Japan awaits you with huge variety and a host of delights. You visit trendy cities like Fukuoka and Tokyo, ancient shrines in Miyajima and Kyoto, meet apprentice geishas and sumo wrestlers and feast on delicious sushi in the trendy Harajuku. The nature lover is catered for too with beautiful walks and bike rides in the Japanese countryside. In short, this is a unique opportunity to visit Japan at a very attractive price.
Travelling with the correct travel documentation is your own responsibility. Please ensure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the finish date of your trip.
As things stand, many European citizens do not require a visa for entry into Japan. Please check this information in good time before your trip commences as this information is always subject to change. You can check this information through a site such as this one
. To arrange your visa, you should either contact your nearest Japanese embassy or use an agency such as CIBT
Accommodation and transport
From Fukuoka until reaching Kyoto, you travel with your OWN BUS which is chartered by a local bus company. The bus is only used on the days that transfers take place. It is not a luxury
coach, but it is the ideal vehicle for this trip. Keep in mind the limited storage space on the bus when packing luggage for this trip.
We have deliberately chosen to travel by private bus as it provides freedom and flexibility to see the country. 'Transfer Day' means more to us than just driving from A to B, it is a part of the adventure as you can stop as much as possible for sightseeing. So the transfer days really add something to the trip!
The use of our OWN BUS is certainly an advantage for Shoestring. Ie If you would travel by train or other forms of public transport (as various other providers of Japan travel do) you would not have the ability to stop along the way.
Only on the last transfer day between Kyoto and Tokyo do you take a so-called highway bus instead. This takes about 8 hours to make the 500 mile ride. If you don't feel like eating up the kilometers on the bus, you can elect to arrive much faster into Tokyo. For a great price we can arrange a seat on the shinkansen (bullet train
), which takes as little as two hours. This would include the sending of your luggage (1 suitcase per person) by express mail to the hotel in Tokyo.
For transfers to/from the various airports (not included) we suggest using the metro and/or train. For visiting Miyajima we take the ferry.
You stay in simple middle class hotels with private facilities. Please take into account that hotel rooms (and bathrooms) are quite compact in Japan.
Participants who register individually share a room with another participant. We keep in mind that you will want to share with someone of the same sex. It is possible when booking to reserve a single room for the tour. A single room supplement is then payable.
It is not possible to book a triple room for this trip.
GION MATSURI - KYOTO
The famous Gion Festival takes place in Kyoto and is crowned with a spectacular parade, Yamaboko Junko. On each of the three nights before the party, there are numerous food stalls with sweets and many culinary delights. Girls parade the streets dressed in a traditional kimono with paper fans and many people open their homes to the public. This is a unique opportunity to see a traditional Japanese house from the inside.
SANJA MATSURI - TOKYO
Together with the Kanda Matsuri and the Sanno Matsuri, Sanja Matsuri is one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo. Every year, during the third weekend of May, tens of thousands of people from all over Japan (and beyond) gather in the Asakusa district for a large religious festival.
The origin of the festival dates back to the beginning of the 7th century. According to tradition, in the early morning of 18 March 628, two brothers named Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari went fishing in the Sumida-gawa River. To their astonishment, rather than fish in their nets, they saw a statue of the Kannon Bodhisattva, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Their story was heard by Hajino Nakatomo, a wealthy landowner. The three were converted to Buddhism and a small shrine in honour of the Bodhisattva was built on the banks of the river: the Senso-ji Temple.
The streets and alleys in and around the temple in Asakusa provide the setting for a fantastic 3-day festival. Starting on Friday afternoon and lasting until Sunday evening, parades take place which include the parading of mikoshi (portable shrines). The taiko drum is beaten and the bamboo flute blown. Everywhere there are tents with snacks and drinks. It is also something to see the many members of the local yakuza gang showing off their tattooed torsos to the huge home crowd.
Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.
Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).
This journey is classified as Category B
The difficulty of our trips varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular journey, we have developed a classification system.
Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.
The Japan tour falls into category B. This trip is doable for anyone who prepares properly and is flexible. We stay in medium class hotels and travelling distances are sometimes long and tiring. Also, routes may be temporarily blocked because of the weather or some other reason, in which case a detour is unavoidable. A flexible and positive attitude is just as important as a good physical condition.
We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible.
Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here
Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.
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More country information about Japan
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about Japan