Well balanced for seasoned travellers
Our Signature tours offer the most comprehensive cultural exposure.
Through a great mix of staying in local accommodation, eating Japanese food, bathing in onsen hot springs, using public transport and engaging directly with local experts and artisans (some of which are in private sessions exclusive to Journey to the East travellers). While our Signature tours cover Japan’s unmissable sights, they also journey to Japan’s lesser known parts, allowing you to experience the country in a deeper and personal way
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Our Signature tours suit inquisitive and open-minded travellers keen to embrace Japanese culture in all its forms. People who enjoy trying new food will love the chance to taste-test their way through a diverse daily selection of Japanese food. Being able to engage directly with experts such as tea ceremony practitioners, chefs and craftspeople will appeal to those who want to understand Japan at a deeper level. Our walking tour components will suit those who love exploring the history and present-day life of local neighbourhoods. Signature tours are also perfect for those who like an active itinerary but who also want some flexibility and time to explore on their own.
We choose to stay at locally-owned boutique hotels with authentic local character in preference to standard international hotels. Travellers on our Signature tours will experience a mixture of western-style hotels (typically 4-star) as well as traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) with private ensuite facilities. Some Signature tours may also include a night in a rustic Japanese guesthouse (minshuku) or temple lodging (shukubo) with shared bathroom facilities so our travellers can experience some unique, out-of-the-way places as well. Traditional Japanese accommodation features futon bedding on tatami-mat floors with paper-sliding doors and is a fantastic way to experience Japanese hospitality at its best. Standard western facilities, such as private room WiFi and lounge bars etc., may not be available at those smaller establishments.
Food is well and truly a key focus of our Signature tours and you will have ample opportunity to try all types of Japanese food – from elaborate kaiseki haute cuisine and Japanese fusion to regional specialities and street food. All breakfasts are covered (including the savoury traditional-style Japanese breakfast), as well as most dinners and some of the lunches, leaving you with time to seek out your own 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.
Fitness and Pace
Travellers who participate in our Signature tours should be of average fitness and used to walking on a regular basis. Signature tours typically include walking for around 2.5 hours in one morning or afternoon with breaks, and up to 4 hours per day. Japanese train stations do not always have readily accessible lifts and escalators and travellers should be comfortable going up and down stairs. Signature tours also cover a number of destinations across Japan on any one trip, sometimes stopping at a place for only one night, meaning travellers should feel comfortable with a fairly constant travel pace.
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 Signature tours offer travellers free time (typically amounting to around two days of an average-length tour) to explore at their own pace and seek out 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.