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Simply Japan

Japan - Trip code QJS Discovery
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692Kg of CO²e
Average carbon footprint per person
Carbon Footprint
You deserve to know everything about your holiday, from what is included, what to expect and every kilogram of CO2 emitted on average per person along the way.

We've partnered with ecollective to measure the carbon footprint of this tour based on an average group size. Find out more about how we calculate this and why we think it's important here.

Why book this trip?

Travel from super-modern Tokyo to villages, castles and temples that remain unchanged from the times of the Shogun and Samurai. Stay in a Buddhist temple and a family-run ryokan, meet snow monkeys and tame deer, and experience the modern and the ancient in this invigorating country.

  • Tokyo - Explore modern and ancient Tokyo, with the option to visit nearby Mount Fuji
  • Kyoto - Experience traditional Japan with temples, Zen gardens and geishas
  • Kanazawa - Explore the Samurai district and discover the secrets of the Ninja Temple
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 13

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader

  • Transport




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    11 nights comfortable hotel

    1 nights simple monastery

    1 nights simple ryokan

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    Trip pace:


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    Group Size:

    10 - 16


Day 1 - Join trip in Tokyo

Arrive in Tokyo, the ultra-modern capital of Japan.

For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tokyo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour and a half from Narita. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, we recommend taking the train to Ryogoku Station to see the Edo Tokyo Museum (the museum is just outside the station, look for the massive building on stilts). This fascinating architectural structure gives a great insight in to the history of Japan's capital and it is next to the sumo stadium so there is the chance to spot a sumo wrestler in the area. Also nearby is the Hokusai Museum which displays woodblock prints of Japan's most famous artist.

Alternatively you can explore the area around Asakusa station. Aside from Senso-ji Temple, it is a joy to wander around the back streets where you will find sword shops, street food, traditional goldfish scooping stalls and rickshaws.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Experience the spectacular Fire Ceremony and discover Tokyo’s temples and frenetic city streets

We explore Tokyo on foot and using the super-efficient metro system along with the locals. Beginning in dramatic fashion, we attend the morning fire service at Fudo-do Temple. Here the esoteric Shingon sect perform a ceremony involving leaping flames and the chanting of sacred texts, accompanied by the deafening beat of huge taiko drums. The result is a truly atmospheric experience and an authentic insight into Japanese Buddhist culture. Next we discover the famed Senso-ji at Asakusa which deserves to be high on any explorer's list. The oldest temple in the city, it was originally built around a golden image of the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion and Mercy, and is entered through the imposing Thunder Gate, flanked on either side by massive fierce statues of the gods of wind and rain.

We end the morning at Tokyo's Akihabara electronic district where brightly coloured shop-fronts flashing with neon invite us to join in a frenzy of electronic entertainment, or to relax in quirky themed cafes where you can be served by vampires, butlers, maids or fantasy characters!

After lunch the afternoon is free to seek out other areas of this fascinating city such as the trendy back streets of Harajuku, the busiest crossing in the world at Shibuya, or the skyscraper district of Shinjuku and its incredible robot restaurant.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Explore Tokyo with the option to visit Hakone National Park for views of Mount Fuji

Today you are free to seek out the parts of Tokyo that you'd most like to experience, and there are plenty of exciting options to choose from in and around the city. Visiting beautiful Hakone National Park is a great way to spend the day, discovering the park's numerous hot springs, lakes, woodlands, and stunning views of towering Mount Fuji dominating the horizon. You can join the locals by eating an egg boiled in Owakudani hot sulphur pools, reputed to increase life expectancy by 7 years! The park is easy to get to and takes just over two hours by train.

Alternatively you can travel north to Nikko, again around two hours by train, and discover the park's great temples hidden among forests of giant cedar trees. Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine, Toshogu, is located here and is well worth a visit. The park's landscape of lakes, waterfalls and hot springs is inhabited by wild monkeys and deer, and has a number of easy-to-follow hiking paths through the delightful scenery.

The beachside town of Kamakura is just over an hour's train ride away from Tokyo. One of Japan's ancient capitals, there are many temples and shrines, and a massive bronze 'Great Buddha' statue which is almost 800 years old. The statue has outlived several buildings that were erected to house it and now stands out in the open with a serene gaze seemingly appraising the surrounding countryside. The town also has several long sandy beaches which are very popular with Tokyoites taking a day away from the city.

If you prefer to spend the day in Tokyo there is plenty to keep you occupied: The Tokyo Skytree offers views over the whole city, a cruise along the Sumida River or a walk through Hamarikyu Gardens provides respite from the frenetic pace, and the busy streets have plenty to see and do, discovering any number of quirky restaurants, shops and bars.

Whatever you decide to do today your Tour Leader will help you out with first hand advice and the finer details of where to go, what to do and how to get around.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Travel by train to Matsumoto and discover the impressive Crow Castle

A beautiful train journey of just under three hours takes us north from Tokyo to the pretty town of Matsumoto, flanked on each side by the Japanese Alps. The town's 500 year-old castle is Japan's oldest, and one of its most elegant. Known as 'Crow Castle' due to its black, sombre appearance, it retains its original wooden interior which offers a very authentic atmosphere as we walk through its hallways and rooms. The design is fascinating, with a moon viewing pavilion, a hidden floor for the Samurai and various booby traps to aid its defence. After exploring the interior of the castle and its grounds we have the option to pay a visit to the nearby Ukiyo-e woodblock printing museum. Typically representing famous geisha, sumo wrestlers and kabuki dance-drama actors, the art form means 'paintings of the floating world' referring to the subjects' detachment from ordinary life.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Meet the snow monkeys of Jigokudani and spend the night in Zenkoji Temple

Travelling by train and private bus, we make our way this morning to Jigokudani Onsen, home to Japan's famous snow monkeys. Here the indigenous macaques descend from the hills to bathe and play in the hot springs, a unique behaviour not found anywhere else in the world. Despite their wintry moniker, the monkeys can be observed in and around the pool throughout the year. Our walk to the spring takes 30 minutes along a pretty forest trail which is mostly flat. Once at the spring we spend around an hour observing the monkeys before returning along the same path.

In the afternoon we make our way to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano. Founded in the 7th century, it is one of the earliest Buddhist temples in the country, and was established to house an image brought from India which was believed to lead all who saw it to a state of Nirvana. The image is said to have remained hidden somewhere in the temple since the year 654. After exploring the temple and meeting the monks we head over to the shukubo or temple lodgings. Originally created to accommodate pilgrims, they are furnished with tatami mats - a traditional floor coverings made from rice straw, futons and paper walls, giving us a very authentic Japanese experience for our overnight stay. The rooms are twins with shared toilet and bathing facilities.


Grade: Simple Monastery

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 6 - Join the monks for morning prayers and explore the samurai district of Kanazawa

We will wake at sunrise and make our way to the temple, wandering through the fragrant smoke of the temple's giant incense burner to purify us before entering. In the main hall we'll watch the monks performing their morning rituals, the mesmerising chanting of the ancient sutras echoing around us, before we receive a sacred blessing from the head monk of the temple.

Later, we travel by train to Kanazawa, a city that rivalled Kyoto and Tokyo in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was home to the powerful Maeda samurai clan. We wander around the atmospheric samurai district with its narrow lanes and earthen walls, learning about how the legendary warrior class lived. There is the option to discover the fabulous Kenrokuen Gardens, considered to be one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. The name means the 'Garden of the Six Sublimities' and was begun by the Maeda samurai clan in 1632, taking nearly 200 years to complete.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Free time in Kanazawa to try sushi at the Omichi Fish Market or discover the 'Ninja Temple'

Today is a free day to make the most of Kanazawa. As the town was not targeted during World War II, much of Kanazawa consists of old buildings and gives a sense of what Japan was like in the 19th century. There is plenty to do and see, and a great option is to spend some time wandering around the colourful stalls at the town's Omicho market, where fresh fish and crab are brought daily from the Sea of Japan along with vegetables from the surrounding countryside. A great dish to try here, particular to the region, is chirashi-zushi, which consists of pieces of sushi piled on the top of rice and often garnished with shredded egg. You can also visit a 'chaya', or teahouse in the the Higashi Chaya or Kazuemachi Chaya areas. While Kanazawa's surviving geisha establishments remain off limits to tourists, a number of elegant tea houses are open to the public - sadly without the presence of a geisha though! Another highlight is the Myoryuji Temple, commonly known as the 'Ninja Temple' due to its ingenious defensive devices which include secret rooms, hidden tunnels, traps, and a labyrinth of corridors and staircases.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Try sake in the old town of Takayama and stay in a family-run ryokan

This morning we take the local train to Takayama, a city that retains an authentic, traditional feel like few others in Japan. During feudal times the city was a source of highly-skilled carpenters and therefore controlled directly by the shogun, leading to a thriving and prosperous trading community. The narrow streets of the Sanmachi Suji district are lined with dark wooden merchants' houses, many of which are 300 to 400 years old. There are several traditional sake distilleries in the old town and we'll try some of the city's famous brew, considered to be among the best in Japan due to the region's pure mountain water and cold winter months.

On the outskirts of the town is the fascinating Hida No Sato thatched roof village. This open air museum is made of original houses from the Edo period (1603 to 1867), and if you choose to visit you will gain an insight into the rural life of the region during this period. Alternatively you can spend the day exploring more of the town.

This evening is spent in a family run minshuku. A type of ryokan usually found in the countryside, they offer a very traditional Japanese experience, sleeping in twin rooms with tatami mats, futon beds, shared bathroom facilities and meals cooked and served by the host family.


Grade: Simple Ryokan

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 9 - Travel by train to Hiroshima and experience the poignant Peace Park and Peace Museum

Two wonderful train journeys will take us to Hiroshima this morning. The first is a picturesque route that follows an icy blue Hida River past shrines, bamboo groves and traditional fishermen before arriving in Nagoya. Here we change to the famous Shinkansen bullet train, covering the 400 kms to Hiroshima in around two and a half hours, travelling at speeds of up to 320 kmh and arriving early afternoon.

Largely destroyed on 6th August 1945, when it was the target of the first atomic bomb to be used in wartime, Hiroshima has literally risen from the ashes, and is now a thriving, friendly city. We visit the moving Peace Memorial Park and museum on the site of the 1945 A-bomb hypocentre. Whilst serving as poignant reminders of the nuclear holocaust, their over-whelming message that such horrors should never occur again.

In the evening we can try an okonomiyaki meal, a type of savoury pancake which is stuffed and cooked on a hot plate in front of the diner. The dish is particularly famous in Hiroshima where a local variation sees the ingredients layered rather than mixed.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 10 - Take the ferry to Miyajima Island, meet the tame deer and see the floating torii gate

After breakfast this morning we take a small ferry to Miyajima, just off the coast of Hiroshima. This tiny island has a very relaxed feel which is enhanced by the deer that roam freely through the streets. As we arrive we get a great view of the floating torii gate. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan, the red gate appears to float on the water at high tide with the hills of the island forming a spectacular backdrop.

For those who are keen, there is a 1.5 to 2 hour hike to the top of Mt. Misen for views out across the Inland Sea and a chance of seeing the monkeys that live on the mountain. For those not wanting to walk, a cable car will whisk you to the top. The name of the island translates as 'shrine island' and we will visit one of the most important, the Buddhist Daisho-in Temple where we can climb the steps to the temple and spin the prayer wheels, believed to bestow the same blessing as actually reading the texts. There is also the opportunity to take in the 16th century Shinto Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is built over the sea and has a stage where key events in Shinto mythology are enacted. After exploring the island we take the ferry back to Hiroshima.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 11 - Take the Bullet train to Kyoto and explore Nijo Castle

After breakfast we make our way back to the train station for the journey to Kyoto, which takes around two hours. The imperial capital for more than 1000 years has more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in perfectly manicured landscaped, tranquil gardens.

We will start exploring this fabulous city this afternoon with a visit to Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as a Shogun palace, it is a great example of the sumptuous setting in which the Shogun would have held audiences with his samurai warriors. The extensive gardens and gates are impressive, but the real ingenuity of the castle are the nightingale floors, so called because they are designed to make a chirping noise when walked upon, thus making it impossible to sneak up on the castle's inhabitants.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 12 - Free time to explore the Zen gardens, temples and geisha district of Kyoto

Getting around Kyoto is easy and there is a lot you can explore today. A good option is an early morning visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, beating the crowds to walk the path through the thousands of red torii gates that snake up the hillside.

A great place for lunch is the Nishiki Food Market where you can see, and try, an array of exotic and delicious foods such as octopus stuffed with quail eggs, green tea popcorn, cooked eel and matcha tea ice cream. You may also like to walk the Philosopher's Path, taking in the Silver Pavillion, and the Eikando and Nanzenji temples. Your Explore Leader will help you to make the most of the day, and whatever you choose to do, you'll find the city's public transport typically efficient and easy to navigate.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 13 - Continue discovering Kyoto before travelling to Osaka for a final night amongst the neon lights

We have another morning to explore Kyoto before travelling to Osaka. An early morning visit to Kiyomizu Temple (Pure Water Temple) is a great idea, especially when followed by the pleasant walk along the cobblestone streets to Kodaiji. Here you can see a perfectly groomed towering bamboo grove, a Zen rock garden, and a pair of historic tea houses. Another option is to take the train to Arashiyama and walk along the Oi River to visit the UNESCO World Heritage designated Zen Tenryuji Temple.

Leaving Kyoto, we take the local train to Osaka, arriving in the late afternoon. We'll take a walk around the Namba area, one of Osaka's most vibrant and interesting districts. Miles of covered arcades criss-crossed by canals and rivers open up to back streets filled with history and small shops. For those wanting something different your Explore Leader can show you how to get to towering Osaka Castle, or the impressive Umeda Sky Building for unobstructed 360 degree views of the whole city.

During our last night out in Japan we can try Osaka's most-loved snack, octopus balls.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 14 - Trip ends in Osaka

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Osaka.There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Osaka at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel, so you can head out for some last minute shopping or sightseeing.

Transfers to the airport will be by train, your leader will provide tickets locally and advise on the best train time to meet your flight. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Kansai International Airport (KIX) which is approximately 2 hours away, or Osaka International Airport (ITM) which takes around an hour.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information



Japan's climate is mostly temperate, with five distinct seasons. Summer is from June to September with temperatures reaching 30°c, although it can vary from warm to very hot. after mid-July. July and August can be humid. Spring and Autumn are mild throughout Japan. Winter, October to April, is cold with snowfall. The main rainy season is June. Japan can be prone to short, tropical cyclones in August to October. October / November although cooler is a great time to see the Autumn colours. For trips that visit the Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Onsen, you're very likely to see them all year around, aside from in October/November when there is enough food in the forest to prevent them coming down to the baths. You may still see some at this time but not in the numbers found during the rest of the year.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Flat


Buddhism, Christian and Shinto



Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

This trip is designed with free time in several locations so that you are able to take advantage of the huge variety of things to see and do. The list below provides an idea of approximate costs of some of the most popular activities. Please note that you will not be able to do all of the activities listed, and you may choose to do something not included. For budgeting purposes it is best to assume that you are likely to want to take part in one or two activities per area. Public transport is incredibly easy to use in Japan with signs in English and, on main tourist routes, announcements in English too. Your Tour Leader will provide very detailed instructions to ensure you get to do and see what you want to in your free time.

Tokyo - return train to Nikko approx. £30, entrance fee approx. £7; trains to and from Hakone approx. £30, transport and entrance fees inside the park approx. £30; trains to and from Kamakura approx. £14; Tokyo Sky Tree approx. £14; water bus from Asakusa to Hamarikyu Gardens approx. £6.50

Matsumoto - Ukiyo-e woodblock printing museum entrance fee approx. £6.50, transport to and from the museum approx. £2

Kanazawa - One day bus pass to travel around the whole city approx. £4; Kenrokuen Gardens entrance fee approx. £2, entrance to Seisonkaku Villa in Kenrokuen Gardens approx. £4; Nomura Samurai House and Gardens entrance approx. £3; 21st Century Museum entrance approx. £6.50; Myoryuji 'Ninja' Temple entrance approx. £6.50 (requires advance booking that can be arranged by your Explore Leader); Shima Tea House in Geisha District entrance approx. £3, Nomura Samurai House approx. £3.

Takayama - Hida no Sato thatched roof village approx. £7 for transport and entrance

Miyajima Island - Itsukushima Shrine, approx. £2 entrance fee, cable car to the top of Mt Misen approx.£7 one way and £12 return

Kyoto - One day bus pass to travel around the whole city approx. £4.00; Silver Pavilion approx. £3.50; Eikando approx. £4.00; Nanzenin temple at Nanzenji £3.50; Tenryuji - £3.50; Return train to Arashiyama approx. £4; Fushimi Inari Shrine entrance free.

Osaka - Entrance to Castle approx. £4; Entrance to Umeda Sky Building Observatory approx. £6.50


Rain gear is essential all year. In fact, in Japan it is the norm to carry an umbrella, which is much preferred over wearing a wet rain jacket. You will need warm clothing from October through until April when temperatures drop, especially at night. From December to February the temperature is around 5 to 10 degrees in the day, and can approach freezing on some nights so bring extra layers if you are travelling at this time.


Comfortable shoes, and sandals for relaxing. Shoes that are easy to put on and take off are recommended for visiting temples and for your stay in a ryokan.

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and a daypack.

Japan has an excellent luggage forwarding system that makes it easy for travellers to send on heavy cases when travelling by public transport. There are two occasions when you may wish to take advantage of this service: On day 5 from Matsumoto to Kanazawa and on day 8 from Kanazawa to Hiroshima. If you choose to take advantage of this service you will be without you will need an overnight bag for nights 5 and 8. The cost ranges from around £10 to £15 and your tour leader can assist with the paperwork and formalities involved.

Japan's rail network has a policy that requires passengers with oversized baggage to reserve a specific seat in an oversized baggage area. This relates to baggage with overall dimensions of over 160cm (taken by adding the height+width+depth measurements). These overall dimensions are around the same for which oversized baggage fees are charged on international airlines, so it's unlikely that you will be bringing a suitcase of this size. However, it is worth checking the dimensions and then repacking with a smaller case if necessary. Due to the complexities of booking these seats, if you arrive with an oversized bag, our team in Japan will ship the luggage from one place to the next from the beginning to the end of the tour, at an additional cost.


Bring a water bottle to save on purchase of plastic bottles and a small torch. Hairdryers are provided at all the hotels.


Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. You may however, want to recognise a leader that's done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amount. It's a tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we'd recommend between £15 to £20 per person per week as a guideline.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
Dinner price
Beer price
Water price
£1.00 - 2.00
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Recommended Currency For Exchange
It is preferable to take money in Yen or traveller's cheques.
Where To Exchange
Most major towns - your Tour Leader will advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
All post offices have international ATMs. Some other ATMs do not accept Western bank/credit cards. Your tour leader will advise you locally.
Credit Card Acceptance
In major restaurants and stores.
Travellers Cheques
It should be noted that outside of the major cities it is difficult to change traveller's cheques. Where available it takes 30-45 minutes, the best places to exchange them is at the airport on arrival.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Ferry, Train

Accommodation notes

In several places we stay in traditional Japanese style accommodation. The rooms are twins with traditional tatami-mat (woven soft 'igusa' straw) flooring and futons to sleep on. Generally the rooms are simply decorated with a low 'kotatsu' table to sit around, a scroll or picture in an alcove and a Japanese tea set. The two futons are brought out at night. Shoes are removed in the entrance way to the room and the accommodation has shared toilets and traditional same sex communal baths and showers.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

The current requirements to enter Japan as a tourist are:

1. Traveller resides in a blue status country and has only been in a blue status country in the 14 days preceding entry to Japan (see blue status countries here https://www.mhlw.go.jptf/covid-19/border_category.html )
2. A valid ERFS Certificate (Entrants and Returnees Follow-up System), provided to Explore by the Japanese booking agent
3. A visa issued from a Japanese Embassy or Consulate
4. A Negative PCR test result within 72 hours of flight departure to Japan, with result certificate in format prescribed by Japan

Explore will provide the EFRS Certificate that you will require. In order to process this we need you to send the following data emailed to no later than 8 weeks before departureto Explore at time of booking:

A clear copy of the details page of your passport
Full name as per passport
Date of Birth
Passport number
Expected date of entry to Japan

Our partner in Japan will enter this information into the ERFS system, administered by the Japanese Health Ministry. This will produce a CCR = Certificate for Completion of Registration. This procedure should only take a few days and once received we will send you your copy of the ERFS CCR Certificate.

You then need to submit your visa application at an appointment in person. In the UK, there are two Japanese diplomatic missions that accept visa applications:
\\bullet Embassy of Japan in London
\\bullet Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh
An appointment is necessary; this can be obtained online on the Embassy's website and may be booked up to 3 weeks in advance. There is a cost for the visa of around £20.

For London see

For Edinburgh see

Necessary documents for visa application:
1. Valid passport
2. Passport sized photograph
3. Visa application form
4. ERFS Certificate for Completion of Registration

After a few business days, the passport with newly issued visa can be retrieved from the Embassy. This can be retrieved by a courier, please enquire directly with the Embassy for details. Once issued the visa is valid for travel in Japan for 90 days.

We advise starting this process 8 weeks before departure in case demand increases and delays the process.

All passports must have a minimum validity of 6 months and at least 1 blank/unused page at time of travel. Any visa related questions should be raised with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Please ensure that all details required are completed accurately, neatly and clearly as the Japanese requirements are stringent and any errors, mistakes or missing information will create delays and problems and most likely require you to restart the process.

Each passenger must undergo a PCR test 72 hours or less before flight departure. The facility performing the test must provide a test result certificate that contains the details prescribed by the Japanese government. See: Please discuss this with the company carrying out the PCR test before booking your test. The details required are:
Name as per passport
Date of birth
Date of issue of covid result
How the sample was collected - Nasopharyngeal Swab. Nasal Swab. Saliva. Nasopharyngeal and Oropharyngeal Swabs. NB Nasal swab is not allowed with antigen test
Testing method used - NAAT: PCR, LAMP, TMA, TRC, Smart Amp, NEAR, Next generation sequence. OR Quantitative antigen test (CLEIA/ECLIA). NB A qualitative antigen test is not allowed
Result - Negative or Positive
Specimen Collections Date and Time
Any relevant remarks
Name of Medical Institution

UK health provider 'DAM Health', which has locations all over the UK, is known to provide the results in the correct Japanese format to customers travelling to Japan.

Finally, to save time and smooth your arrival at the airport in Japan, it is strongly recommended that each traveller complete the 'Fast Track' procedure on the MySOSmobile phone app, by uploading their negative PCR test result certificate before departure. See:

Please also see the following link for how to register on MySOS system and add your details.

Please note that these details were accurate as of 14th June 2022 and while they can change at any time, we will try to keep this up to date.

For more information, this is the official FAQ regarding the requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.



Nothing compulsory. We recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. The use or possession of Vicks inhalers and some other common prescription and over-the-counter medicines (e.g. for allergies and sinus problems or even certain mild painkillers, such as those containing certain levels of codeine) are banned under Japan's strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law. Customs officials may not be sympathetic if you claim ignorance about these medicines. If in any doubt about customs procedures for such items, you should check with the nearest Japanese Embassy before visiting Japan. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

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