- Discover the stunning diversity of Japan on an escorted Japan tour in 2020 – the year of the Tokyo Olympics
- When to go and what to see, including Tokyo, Shinto Meiji, Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, and the Golden Pavilion
- What to expect from an escorted Japan tour with expert advice, accommodation guide, and local cuisine to sample
With Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympic Games, all eyes this year will be on Japan, so why not find out more about this fascinating country on an escorted Japan tour? It’s a destination unlike any other, with friendly, welcoming people, a charming culture, quirky customs, and outstanding cuisine. Here’s our insider’s guide.
Why choose an escorted Japan tour?
When travelling to a new country for the first time – especially one that’s almost twice the size of the UK – an escorted tour provides peace of mind. Not only are you in safe, professional hands, but you’ll also get to see the best a destination has to offer.
All our Japan tours have meticulously crafted itineraries, and it’s reassuring to know that experts have already tried and tested your holiday. There’s no need to worry about the logistics of visiting the most iconic sights and how to travel around, as our tour specialists do all the hard work for you. Entrance to famous landmarks is in hand; a comfortable coach is booked; and tickets for bullet trains purchased – all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the journey.
Our professionals who manage our holidays to Japan also hand-pick accommodation, arranging stays in three-, four- and five-star hotels. On our Land of the Rising Sun tour, you can even pre-book the opportunity to sleep on a rolled out futon in a ryokan, a typical Japanese inn.
Included meals vary depending on which Japan escorted tour you opt for; our tour managers know destinations inside out and can recommend suitable restaurants for lunches and dinners. Japan tours take away any hassle or uncertainty that may arise when organising independent travel.
Tokyo Olympics 2020
Our holidays to Japan 2020 will be a chance to explore a country in the limelight – book a Land of the Rising Sun tour for May or June 2020 – and you’ll likely get caught up in the nation’s excitement at hosting the Olympic Games. Imagine when you’re later watching all the action on TV, live from Tokyo – you’ll have treasured memories of being in the city.
Japan is a year-round destination, however, and incredible experiences await in both spring and autumn. Mid-September to November is the time to appreciate Japan’s breathtaking autumn leaves in full colour, with fewer crowds than August and still-warm temperatures. Sports fans will love being caught up in two national sporting events – Japan’s baseball play-offs and sumo wrestling. October has an added bonus – local food tastes incredible, as Japanese pears and persimmon fruit come into harvest.
Being in the company of like-minded adventurers is another benefit of joining an escorted Japan tour. Fellow holidaymakers will be couples, friends, families, or solo travellers who all share a love of culture, history, and a lust for life. Japan guided tours are enlightening and unique. You’ll learn about local traditions and religions, discover Japanese etiquette, and can experience activities such as a tea ceremony and bathing onsen.
What to see on an escorted tour
Tokyo and Shinto Meiji
There are so many highlights of our Japan group tour, so where do we start? Tokyo – the host city of the Olympic Games. It’s not the first time athletes from around the world have competed here – Tokyo also hosted the Games in 1964. The cosmopolitan capital is home to 13 million inhabitants, and while some landmarks appear hectic – such as the ‘Scramble’ crossing, where 3,000 or so people cross the road at any one time – other more serene spots are included on our Japan tour itinerary. For example, you will visit the famous Shinto Meiji, a shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the first modern emperor of Japan, and his wife Empress Shoken. Wander around the tranquil forest and, at the shrine itself, visitors are welcome to make offerings, or buy charms or amulets.
Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi
A trip to see one of Japan’s most instantly recognisable sights, Mount Fuji, is also on our escorted tour. Shimmering lakes fringe the iconic volcano, which is the highest in the country. Our Japan guided tour stops at Lake Kawaguchi, well-known to locals but as yet undiscovered by flocks of tourists.
Hiroshima’s Peace Park is another must-see sight and a sobering reminder of the war. Since 1945, the city itself has been completely rebuilt.
Kyoto and the Golden Pavilion
Next up is the old imperial capital of Kyoto, but en route our Japan tour visits the superb Korakuen garden at Okayama. Have your camera at the ready as it’s an idyllic spot, complete with lawns, lakes, wooden bridges, shrines, and teahouses. In Kyoto, a city with over 1,600 temples and shrines, a highlight is the Golden Pavilion – the upper floors are covered in gold leaf. The Zen Buddhist temple dates back to the classical Muromachi age and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also in Kyoto, visitors can’t help but fall in love with the Gion district. We recommend having your camera at the ready once again as it’s where you’ll see authentic geishas wearing silk kimonos walking on their wooden sandals through street after street of traditional wooden houses. If you want that iconic shot, please ask permission first.
Hokkaido and Sapporo
For those preferring to visit North Japan, our tour of Hokkaido travels across the country’s northernmost main island, an unspoilt wilderness. Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, majestic mountains, fragrant fields of flowers, pristine coastlines, and ancient forests, now home to bears, deer, and foxes.
You’ll also have the chance to discover more about the culture and history of the indigenous Ainu people, with their own unique tradition, culture, and language. The Ainu – known also as the Aynu – were native hunter-gathers on Hokkaido and were formally recognised as an indigenous group by Japan in 2008. A day visiting the Akan Mashu National Park and the Ainu settlement of Akano Ainu Kotan allows you to immerse yourself their rich culture, including watching an ancient ceremonial dance performance.
The glittering modern city of Sapporo is on this escorted tour’s itinerary, as is historic Otaru and the Abashiri Prison Museum, often referred to as the Alcatraz of Japan. Touring as part of a guided group and enjoying exceptional dining experiences – the surrounding seas offers up a bounty of the freshest seafood – this holiday to Japan really does give visitors an extraordinary insight into an engaging culture. Don’t miss out.
Explore our Japan tours
Now is a great time to visit Japan, either on our Japan: Land of the Rising Sun escorted tour and – new for 2020 – our North Japan: Scenic Wonders of Hokkaido escorted tour. The country is one of the hottest destinations for travellers in 2020, and it’s sure to be added to more bucket lists after the Olympic Games. Book a trip for spring and – while it can never be guaranteed – late-March to early-April means you’ll be travelling in cherry blossom season. Go later in the year, and you’ll witness trees turning a glorious shade of red.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.