Valid for all trips departing January 1st, 2014 - December 31st, 2014 Last Updated: May 19, 2014
Download PDF


Tokyo and Kyoto—the modern and imperial capitals of Japan, respectively—represent the perfect merger of the ancient and the contemporary. On this trip, you’ll thoroughly explore both and everything in between, from traditional villages and miles of rice fields to ancient temples and the stunning vistas of the Japanese Alps. Snow monkeys, geishas, the teeming pedestrian scrambles of Tokyo’s Shibuya district and the impossibly friendly staff of your traditional ryokan are just a few of the locals you’ll meet and never forget.

  • Experience the bustle of modern Tokyo
  • Visit the Zenkoji temple in the Japanese Alps
  • Discover the snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs
  • Cycle the Kibi Plains
  • Explore Kyoto's temples.
Duration: 12 days
Start/Finish City: Tokyo to Kyoto
Service Level: Standard
  • Great value, reasonable prices, quality experiences
  • Comfortable and varied tourist-class accommodations chosen for location and character
  • Mix of public and private transport for the best overall experience
  • All the top highlights included, plus plenty of time to explore on your own
Physical Grading: 3
Trips may include activities like hiking, biking, rafting or kayaking. No sweat, right?
Travel Style: Classic
The trips we've built our reputation on.

Designed for maximum variety, these trips are geared towards travellers searching for a healthy mix of active exploration, uncommon landscapes, amazing wildlife and local cultures.

Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.


Route map for Backroads of Japan (AJMS)

Day 1 Tokyo

On day 1, arrive in Tokyo at any time. As your fellow travellers will be arriving at different times, there are no planned activities during the day. Please check with reception for a message from your G Adventures leader with the details of your group meeting in the evening. At this meeting, you will be introduced to your tour leader and fellow travellers, and go over the logistics of the days ahead.

Days 2-3 Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the most modern cities in the world. It seems that every person on the streets has the latest version of everything.

Tour the vibrant modern areas of Harajuku and Shibuya at their weekend cultural climax and then spend a day at leisure exploring other areas of this enormous urban land or venture out for a Day trip to Mount Fuji.

Ginza, is full of department stores selling the latest fashions, Akihabara is the place to try the latest new gadgets before they become available in the West, and Shinjuku is the fast-paced nightclub area. However, if you look under the glossy surface, Tokyo is very traditional. Ladies still wear kimonos around town, people go to temples like Senso-ji to say a few prayers on their way to work, and couples get married in their traditional wedding gowns in the beautiful grounds around the Meiji Shrine. In spring, couples, families and friends sit beneath trees sipping sake and admiring the cherry blossoms.

Day 4 Nagano

Journey to the Japanese Alps and Nagano, host city of the 1998 winter Olympics, visit the historic 7th century Zenkoji Temple.

Day 5 Matsumoto

We will also have the opportunity to head out to the world famous Jigokudani Monkey Park, where wild snow monkeys can be seen bathing in the natural hot springs.

Matsumoto is a quaint castle town featuring one of Japan's most treasured castles maintaining it's original wooden interior and stone exterior.. Together we'll explore this castle where 16th century Samurai once roamed before venturing out to wander Matsumoto's ancient streets and or dine in a traditional storehouse.

Days 6-7 Takayama (1B, 1D)

Travel through a backdrop of mountains, rice fields and traditional homes to Takayama. Nestled in the Japan Alps, Takayama earned the nickname of ‘Little Kyoto’ because of its skilled craftspeople who built houses and temples for the Emperors in Kyoto. Home to many old wooden houses uniquely built for the harsh alpine climate, in Takayama we discover a tradition Japanese way of life staying in a family owned guesthouse, visiting the ‘Praying Hand’ houses, huge thatched homes and well preserved Edo Samurai era dwellings nestled beneath the mountain peaks. From the Hida Folk Village to saki tasting at local traditional brewery Takayama offers a great opportunity for exploration with our itinerary allowing for afternoon free time to walk a forested trail, go for a bike ride, have a nap on the Tatami mats at the Ryokan or relax in a Japanese Onsen (hot spring) before enjoying a traditional dinner together as a group.

Days 8-9 Kurasheki

A train trip brings us to Kurashiki, our next destination. An important town for trade during the Edo Period (1600–1868), Kurashiki has retained much of its old world charm and canals with beautifully preserved black and white walled merchants’ homes and storehouses, set in a picturesque area along a willow lined canal. Many of the storehouses have been converted into museums, souvenir stores, boutiques and cafes. Most famous among Kurashiki’s museums are perhaps the Ohara Museum of Art, a Western art gallery and the Museum of Folkcraft.

On Day 9 we set out by bicycle through the Kibi Plains. This amazingly scenic 15 km bicycle route takes us through rice fields, ancient burial grounds, shrines and temples.

Day 10-11 Kyoto

Today we continue our journey with an early morning transfer to Kyoto, the cultural centre of Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in the country which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto.

Starting with a hike up Fushimi Inari through 10,000 stunning torii gates (as seen on Memoirs of a Geisha!), your CEO will help you discover Buddhism, Zen and Shinto nuances as we explore some of the most beautiful temples of the season such as Kiyomizu Temple (Love Temple) or the breathtaking Chion-in Temple where The Last Samurai was filmed.

The 2nd day provides more opportunity to explore more zen gardens, palaces and temples in Kyoto, take an independent venture to a nearby attraction or just walk around Gion and perhaps catch a glimpse of a Geisha going from teahouse to teahouse. You may even want to take train excursion to the creative, funky and bustling metropolis of Osaka or the peaceful gardens and ancient temples of Nara, home of Japan's largest Buddha and a number of cute and docile deer, sacred symbol of the Kasuga Taisha shrine.

Day 12 Kyoto

There are no planned activities today and you are free to depart at any time. Kyoto offers easy transportation direct to Kansai International Airport.

What's Included

Modern Tokyo walking tour. Zenkoji Temple visit (Nagano). Jigokudani Monkey Park visit (Matsumoto). Matsumoto Castle visit. Kibi Plains bike ride (outside Kurashiki). Japan Rail (JR) pass (7-day). All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.


Experience the bustle of modern Tokyo, visit the Zenkoji temple in the Japanese Alps, discover the snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs, cycle the Kibi Plains, explore Kyoto's temples.

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Important Notes

Please note that only foreigners traveling as a tourist are able to use a Japan Rail Pass. If you are a Japanese citizen/resident or traveling on a student/business visa please advise us at time of booking as you will not be able to take advantage of the Rail pass.

Group Leader Description

All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 dinner.


Eating is a big part of traveling. G Adventures understands the importance of breakfast to start your day, we strive to include a basic breakfast wherever possible. Included breakfasts will usually be asian style consisting of noodles or congee (rice porridge) or bread and eggs. Vegetarians will be able to find a range of different foods, although in some areas the choice maybe limited. Should breakfast not be included, your CEO can suggest some local options.

Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. While trekking in remote regions food is included, plentiful and made of fresh local ingredients.

For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.

Meal Budget

Allow USD400-500 for meals not included.


Bus, bullet train, local train, bicycle.

About our Transportation

On our tours in Japan we use public transport, making use of Japan's world famous transport system. From the super fast Shinkansen Bullet Train to Kyoto's extensive local bus network, we ride with the locals.

Solo Travellers

We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.


Hotels and traditional guesthouses/onsens (11 nts).

About Accommodation

Japan is one of the most populous countries in the world and space is at a premium. Therefore, hotels rooms are small! Additionally, many Japanese hotels do not have designating non smoking rooms. Therefore, we ask hotels to deoderise rooms before check in.

Joining Hotel

Shinagawa Prince Hotel
10-30, Takanawa 4- chome
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8611
Tel: 03-3440-1111
Fax: 03-3441-7092


Please note for the trip departing May 3rd the hotel will be the following:

Hotel Grand Palace
1-1-1,Iidabashi ,Chiyoda-ku
Tel 81-3-3264-1111

Please note for the May 17th, 2014 departure the joining hotel will be:

Hotel Villa Fontaine Shiodome
1-9-2 Higashi-shinbashi Minato-ku
Tokyo, 105-0021
Tel: 03-3569-2220 /


Joining Instructions

Airport Limousine bus
There are frequent limousine buses between Narita Airport and Shinagawa Prince Hotel. Price is 3,000yen, and takes approx. 90min.


Narita Express train
A direct airport train runs frequently from Narita Airport station to Shinagawa station. Price is 2,910yen, and takes approx. 75min.

On arrival at the station you need to use the Takanawa Exit, the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is directly across the street. The Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel is located a 10 minute walk away from the station. You can also hop on the Hotel Shuttle which picks up at Takanawa Exit every 30 minutes (weekedays 8am-1:30pm & 6pm-9pm and weekends 8am-9pm). Please note that we stay at the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel, not to be mistaken with the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa which is very close by.

If the Narita Express train is scheduled to finish at Tokyo station then you need to get off the Narita Express train and change over to one of the JR Rail trains. The easiest train line to use in Tokyo is the Yamanote Circle Line which is bright green in color. Once on the Yamanote line platform you need to get on the platform side marked for Shinagawa, Shibuya and Shinjuku stations. The trains run every 2 minutes so you will never be waiting long. Once you reach Shinagawa station use the Takanawa Exit to get to the hotel.

At first glance you will think that the Tokyo train stations are completely chaotic and always filled with people. So take your time and read the signs as they are written in English and if you get lost just ask any of the train station staff who are always happy to help you find your way.

*Please note: in the airport you can receive a free wifi card that will work for 14 days while in Japan. Just present your passport at the kiosk in the airport.

*Please note: in the airport you can receive a free wifi card that will work for 14 days while in Japan. Just present your passport at the kiosk in the airport.

Arrival Complications

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (CEO) (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

G Adventures Local Office (Japan)
During office hours, Mon-Fri 9:30-18:00 Local Time
From outside Japan: +81 3 5796 5421
From within Japan: 03 5796 5421

After office hours emergency number
Mr. Jack Kumada - Senior Sales Manager:
From outside Japan: +81 90 5495 5226
From within Japan: 090 5495 5226

Mr. Kota Yoshii - Sales Manager:
From outside Japan: +81 80-1176-3323
From within Japan: 080-1176-3323

Mr. Tomohiro Fukuda - General Manager
From outside Japan: +81 90-4733-0721
From within Japan: 090-4733-0721
G Adventures Asia Manager: Julie Fitzgerald

G Adventures Office Bangkok, Thailand
During Office hours (Weekdays, 9am-5pm Local Time)
From outside Thailand: +66 2 381 5574
From within Thailand: 02 381 5574

After hours emergency number
From outside Thailand: +66 87 049 6074
From within Thailand: 087 049 6074

If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

What to Take

We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible as you are expected to carry your own luggage. Our trips in Japan use public transport and and most transport has limited luggage storage space.
You will also be walking with your luggage in busy public train stations to catch connecting trains, so it is highly recommended that you travel light and have easy to handle luggage and capable of walking up and down the stairs with your luggage without any assistance. A large bag will be an inconvenience to you and will slow you down!
We recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 10-15kg/22-30lb. Suitcases are not recommended for G Adventures trips! Most travellers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size.
You will also need a day-pack/rucksack to carry daily essentials like water, cameras, passport, i-pods etc.


Small backpack or luggage on wheels is best for this trip as there is a lot of walking involved.
Passport (with photocopies)
Travel insurance (with photocopies)
Airline tickets (with photocopies)
Cash and debit card (see personal spending money)
G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
Day pack for daily personal items
Sun hat, Sun block, Sun glasses
Insect Repellent
Toiletries (soap and shampoo are provided in all accommodation)
Sport sandals or other easy to slip on/off shoes (for temple visits)
Money belt
Long trousers (and shorts in April - November)
Warm clothes for Nov-March
Reading/writing material
First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, aspirin, band aids, anti-histamine, imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking).

* Note: During the colder months (Oct-Apr) the mountains can be very cold, so please make sure you pack warm clothes.


Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels but this is very expensive. Your leader can show you self service coin laundries in larger cities. There will be times when you may want to or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring non-polluting/biodegradable soap.


Please note that visas are the responsibility of the individual traveler.
The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. For the most up to date information please check your governments foreign ministry website or with you travel agent as rules do change. It is important that you check for yourself.

For most travelers there will probably be a Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country.

JAPAN: Most nationalities receive A 90-DAY PERMIT ON ARRIVAL

Detailed Trip Notes

Travel in Japan is easy, clean, fast and efficient, however please be aware that English is still not widely spoken, however a lot of patience, a sense of humour and a respect for the local culture goes a long way in any Asian country and will greatly enrich your experience.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

As currency exchange rates in Asia fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: As of April 2011 the exchange rate for JAPAN was 1 USD = 80 (Japanese Yen).

Every Post Office and 7-11 Convenience store has an ATM machine that accepts Visa, Mastercard and Debit Cards. At times, Maestro/Master Card/Cirrus have been problematic at these machines, so please bring a back-up card.

Credit Cards should not be relied upon for purchases as they are not widely accepted, except in some restaurants and department stores. Money can be exchanged at Post Offices and some banks and hotels in major cities, however it can be a very slow process.

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Departure Tax

Departure Tax is included in all International and Domestic tickets.


Tipping is not practiced in Japan. Leaving money at restaurants, in taxis etc will simply cause confusion!

Also at the end of each trip if you felt your CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is highly appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $5 USD per person, per day can be used.

Optional Activities

We suggest you bring along USD 50 for additional sightseeing. Specific to this itinerary there is the freedom to do day trips out of Tokyo or Kyoto to nearby sites such as Nara or Mt. Fuji. If planning on trying one of these longer day trip options during your free time please allow USD 100 to 200.

Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility' is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at:

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation

Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of international charities, local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit

Planeterra Dollar-A-Day Program
Our Dollar-A-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar per day for the duration of their tour. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our Planeterra projects.

To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)


After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at and we will send it on to you.


Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at

Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.

Travel Forum - The Watering Hole

Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you're interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at