A deep-dive into cultural experiences
Our Discovery tours provide up-and-close encounters with traditional life and natural landscapes through an itinerary which takes you beyond the tourist hotspots into the more remote regions of Japan.
Through these soft-adventure trips you will stay at atmospheric local inns, use local transport, and explore traditional towns, idyllic backroads, and pristine national parks.
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Discovery tours suit those travellers who are adventurous-minded, have above average fitness levels, and enjoy being outdoors exploring a destination by foot. They are also suited to people who prefer an itinerary which includes some free time so they can pursue their own interests and make their own discoveries.
Discovery tours stay at locally-owned accommodation (typically 3-4 star) offering traditional Japanese-style hospitality. Travellers will experience a mixture of western style hotels, traditional Japanese inns (ryokan), rustic guesthouses (minshuku) and temple lodgings (shukubo), allowing you to enjoy Japanese-style hospitality at its most authentic – futon bedding on tatami mats and communal spa baths. Discovery tours journey to some remote parts of Japan where the local accommodation does not always offer western-style facilities (such as private room WiFi and ensuite bathrooms), but the accommodation is always scrupulously clean, atmospheric and consistent with the deep-dive focus of our Discovery tours.
All breakfasts are included (including the savoury traditional-style Japanese breakfast) and some specially selected lunches and dinners so you can sample Japan’s unique regional cuisines. Our guides are always happy to provide restaurant recommendations if needed, or you can choose to seek out your own special food experiences. Each of our itineraries specify which meals are included on a daily basis.
Please be aware it is commonly accepted in restaurants (particularly at lunch and dinner) that some raw seafood (sashimi) is included with the meal. It is frequently served as an entree. If you feel you have had your fill of raw seafood it is not offensive to put it aside.
Public transport (ranging from bullet trains to subway and commuter trains) is extensively used on Discovery tours to give you real insights into local life. It’s often the most efficient way to get around too.
Fitness and Pace
Travellers who participate in our Discovery tours should be of above average fitness levels and comfortable spending most of the day on their feet. Discovery tours include some day-walks (8-10 klms) in national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites (these are not strenuous hikes requiring backpacks and special equipment). Discovery tours also tend to stay longer in any one destination, engaging at a more involved level before travelling to the next.
Luggage and Handling
While we use a luggage-forwarding service between cities, travellers need to be able to manage their own luggage within hotels and at transit points. Porter services are not always available in hotels.
Our Discovery tours offer travellers free time (typically amounting to around two days of an average-length tour) to explore at their own pace and follow personal interests.
Our guides will accompany the group on all included activities and meals and will be available to provide assistance or recommendations if needed prior to your free time. As our guides are local experts and residents of the city or region you’re visiting, they do not always accompany the group at night and when it transits between cities.