Cash is still king in Japan, and while credit cards can be widely used for purchases in shops and some restaurants, it is important to have a supply of Yen cash for small purchases. Meals, transport, the services of all guides are included in the cost of our tours, but incendental costs such as souvenirs and personal items as well as drinks with meals are not included.
Yen cash can sometimes be obtained from larger banks in London or other major cities, though money changers often give a better rate. It is also possible to change money on arrival at Tokyo's Narita airport or Osaka's Kansai airport. Even in larger cities in Japan trying to change anything but US$ cash can be a time-consuming business. Most Japanese bank ATMs do not accept foreign bank or credit cards.
Resources (external links)
Nationals of most EU countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and some other countries only need their passport a return ticket to enter Japan as a tourist. Please see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website for more details, and a list of countries with visa exemption agreements.
There are five distinct seasons in Japan.
Mid-December - early March
Southern and western Japan: dry and sunny, from 0 to 15 celsius. In northern Japan and in the mountains the cold weather lasts until April.
March - May
Southern and western Japan: warm and sunny, from 15 to 25 celsius. Northern Japan from 10 to 20 celsius. Snow remains on the hills into April or May in northern areas.
This is the most popular time to visit
mid-June to mid-July
The rainy season in Japan spreads slowly from the south, and reaches north of Tokyo, but doesn't usually affect Tohoku or Hokkaido.. Temperatures range from 20-30 in the south-west to 15-25 in the north. Although rain can be very prevalent, there is little wind, and popular sites can be a lot quieter.
mid-July to late September
The summer in Japan is warm and often muggy, with high humidity. Temperatures in most of Kyushu and Honshu from 25 to 35 celsius. The north of Japan escapes the heat a little but still has high humidity.
Travelling to Japan in the summer is fine if you pack light, quick-drying clothes (not denim!), a hat, and travel light. It's a popular time for the Japanese to visit their home towns, and there are many festivals.
October to early-December
Southern and western Japan: Warm and sunny, one of the best times in Japan. Temperatures from 20-25 celsius, with the possibility of typhoons (Pacific Hurricanes) affecting southern Japan. Northern Japan: From 15-25 celsius, but winter starts earlier, around November.
In the countryside we use on use small, family-run inns (minshuku and ryokan) where en-suite facilities may not be available. Single rooms are usually only available in major cities. In cities we use western-style hotels.
Please look at our accommodations page for more information about traditional Japanese accommodations.
One of the highlights of the tours is to taste real, home-made Japanese food. Vegetarian food can be prepared if we give advance notice. We recommend that you try to master chopsticks (o-hashi) before you go. Be prepared for the freshest of food. Japanese food is delicious. Fish, chicken, pork, rice, miso soup, tofu and vegetables are at the heart of many meals. It is not all raw fish, but sashimi will be offered, and really is worth trying. We will mostly sit on cushions on the floor at low tables for meals. So you should be able to sit comfortably on the floor - loose clothing is highly recommended.
Pleaes view our food page for more on traditional Japanese cuisine.
VACCINATION & HEALTH
There are no specific immunisations or medications necesary for Japan. We recommend you bring along with a prescription for any medications you take so they can be obtained if necessary.
Travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and repatration to your home country is a condition of joining our trips and proof will be required at the start of your journey by your tour leader. Please make sure to bring along a copy of your policy. It is also important to make sure that your policy covers you for any activities on your trip, including mountain walking and helicopter evacation in the unlikely event of an injury while walking in the mountains.
CLOTHING & GEAR
The weather in Japan is mild/warm in May and September. It gets cooler in October. Some rain is expected during these months but they are outside the main rainy season in June. Short, tropical cyclones can hit Japan between August and October.
- rain gear
- shorts for summer walking as well as warmer layers
- comfortable walking shoes/lightweight trail boots for walking trips
- slip-ons or slippers that you can use in inns and temples at night (the plastic slippers provided are often too small and uncomfortable) - you cannot wear outdoor shoes in Japanese dwellings.
Baggage should be limited to one backpack or medium-sized suitcase and a day sack for walking or exploring cities. The one bag limit is important as our tours use both public transport and vans, and space in both is limited. Transfers through stations and to accommodation can involve a little walking, and each traveller will be responsible for carrying their own luggage. Especially in cities the Japanese transportation system, while highly efficient and reliable, can be overcrowded, making the use of easily manoeuvrable bags important.
It will add greatly to the pleasure of your trip if you can learn at least a few Japanese phrases. Especially outside the cities many hotel or restaurant staff speak no English.
The following kanji (characters) would be very useful to memorise.
|woman (onna)||man (otoko)||big (ookii)||small (chiisai)|
|exit (deguchi)||toilet (toire)|
Please read our booking conditions page