GEC Trip Type: GROUP TOUR
*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! We provide free roommate matching - unless you'd prefer to purchase a single room.
The group will travel: August 31 - September 6, 2020 (August 31 - September 8 with the optional Mt. Fuji post-trip hike)
Explore historic and modern Japan with a group of fun, like-minded people. Explore beautiful Kyoto, travel to Tokyo via Japan’s ultra-highspeed bullet train, and visit the cosmopolitan city of Tokyo.. And we’ll even end this trip with an optional 3 day/2 night post-trip Mt Fuji hike, which includes 2 days on the mountain with 1 night in a mountain hut & 1 in our Tokyo hotel.
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Japan Group Tour, Tokyo, Kyoto, optional Mt Fuji group hike.
B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner
Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto. Afternoon Group Trip Orientation
Day 2: Optional Tour to Historic Nara (B)
Day 3: AM Walking Tour of Kyoto. PM Walking Tour of Gion (B)
Day 4: Leisure Day. Informal Bamboo Forest Visit (B)
Day 5: High-Speed Bullet Train Kyoto to Tokyo (B)
Day 6: Day Tour of Tokyo & Tokyo Bay Cruise (B)
Day 7: Trip ends. (B) Start of OPTIONAL 3d/2n Mt. Fuji Hike Extension
Day 1: Depart for Mt Fuji. 6.5 Hours Hike. Mt Hut (B, D)
Day 2: Pre-Dawn Night Hike for Summit Sunrise. 3 Hour Descent. Optional Hot Springs. Return to Tokyo (B)
Day 3: Trip Ends. (B)
Arrive in Kyoto. Afternoon Group Trip Orientation
Arrive in Kyoto and meet at the designated hotel located in the city center (details on airport transfers, as well as hotel details, trip orientation meeting info, an example packing list, and other important information will be emailed to you before departure).
The trip officially begins in the late afternoon with the official Trip Orientation in the lobby of the hotel (complete details provided before departure). At the Orientation you will get a chance to meet your fellow GEC travel mates, as well as the GEC Trip Leader who will provide an overview of the trip and answer any last minute questions.
The evening is then free to relax and adjust to the jet lag OR you can venture out with the Trip Leader and your fellow club members and enjoy an optional group dinner.
Optional Tour to Historic Nara (B)
Today the AM is free. After lunch starts the optional tour of historic Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. For those who don’t choose this optional trip, then this afternoon is also a leisure day to relax, explore Kyoto more, or spend as you wish.
Located outside of Kyoto and founded in 710, the city of Nara was the country’s first permanent capital. Nara, or Heijo as it was known back then, was home to many of the most important Buddhist monasteries, which made it a key center of political and religious power. As Nara’s power and influence grew, the city became a threat to the government, leading the country’s rulers to move the capital to Nagaoka in 784. Despite this shift in fortunes, Nara retains a wealth of important historical sites, including the Todaji Temple where we’ll start your trip. This magnificent edifice, constructed in the 8th century, is among the country’s most important religious buildings. During this trip you’ll also explore the temple’s Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, along with its immense bronze Buddha statue, which are just some of the treasures to be found in this incredible attraction. You’ll continue your Nara trip with a visit to its famous deer park, a unique 1,250-acre preserve where more than 1,000 tame deer freely roam. You’ll finish your tour of Nara at the Shinto shrine of Kasuga, a serene site that features a collection of more than 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. From Kasuga, you’ll return to Kyoto.
AM Walking Tour of Kyoto. PM Walking Tour of Gion (B)
Today we explore Kyoto with two unique walking tours lead by 2 separate expert local guides. The morning finds us walking off the beaten path, visiting hidden Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, traditional Japanese handicrafts ateliers and shops, etc., which are not open to the public. Our guide will provide detailed information and stories about life and traditions of Kyoto, for example, what is the lifestyle of Kyoto people, what the annual events are like, how Buddhism or Shintoism is incorporated into their daily lives, and also the culture and tradition of Japan in general. Walking distance is about 2 miles (3 km) including a tea break on the way. The tour concludes near the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
From the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, we’ll leave our AM guide and walk over to the Gion district. The walk takes about 25 minutes without stops, but we’ll have about 2.5 hours until our evening tour, so we’ll enjoy the walk, stopping for optional dinner and/or a tea shop stop.
At 6:00pm, we’ll meet our evening guide in Gion, Kyoto’s most traditional district. During this 1.5 hour tour, our guide will explain the history of Kagai, the lives of maiko and geiko, and will lead us down the hidden street of the Geisha district. The walk will also take us down the classic cobblestone streets next to the Shirakawa River, the scenery of which was featured in the novel and movie, "Memoirs of a Geisha." While you walk along this beautiful stream, the guide will also tell you the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules and what their daily life is like. Our tour ends in Gion where you can choose to stay with other group members or take a taxi or subway back to our hotel.
Leisure Day. Optional Bamboo Forest Visit (B)
Today is a leisure day to relax, explore Kyoto more, or spend as you wish OR why not join the GEC Trip Leader for a very informal visit out to the famous Sagano Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama. After a short 15 minute train ride out to Sago-Arashiyama, you’ll take a leisurely walk to the famed bamboo forest. Here you’ll enjoy a beautiful walk through the waving and towering giant bamboo grove. After, take a walk down the river-side path, past the famous bridge, and into town. Here you can explore the quaint village and grab lunch before taking the train back to Kyoto. Note: train tickets (about $2.5) and other expense are at your own cost.
High-Speed Bullet Train Kyoto to Tokyo (B)
In the morning after breakfast, we will head over to Kyoto station and board Japan’s world famous Bullet Train for our exciting 2.5 hour high-speed train ride. Rated as one of the world’s fastest train, the ride itself is a big part of the adventure and a highlight of the day. Arriving in the beautiful city of Tokyo just adds to the excitement of the day. The remainder of the day is free. Tomorrow we spend a full day exploring wonderful Tokyo.
Day Tour of Tokyo & Tokyo Bay Cruise (B)
Today we’ll enjoy a full day tour of Tokyo. With an English speaking local guide, we’ll join others on a larger tour to explore Tokyo’s best gardens, temples, shopping areas, etc. We’ll even take a cruise of Tokyo Bay. We’ll check out Meiji Temple, the city’s most famous Shinto site before visiting the Imperial Palace and Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist site, Asakusa Kannon Temple (Senso-ji). You’ll also get to do some shopping in Tokyo’s Nakamise and Ginza districts before enjoying a 50-minute cruise on Tokyo Bay.
Trip ends. (B)
Trip ends after breakfast. You'll make your own way to the airport (we’ll provide airport transfer information before departure, including information about the direct train to Tokyo (NRT) Airport). OR today also starts Day 1 of the optional 3d/2n Mt. Fuji Post-Trip Hike Extension! At 12,388 feet (3,775m), Mt Fuji is the most climbed mountain in the world. And for good reasons... the views are amazing, it can be done in two days, and even beginners can make it to the top! For those of you who have always wanted to summit Mt Fuji (or just found a new challenge in this), now is your chance with this optional post-trip extension!
Post-Trip Hike Day 1:
Depart for Mt Fuji. 6.5 Hours Hike. Mt Hut (B, D)
Getting a very early start, we depart the hotel and travel about 45 minutes via subway to meet the bus and other hikers we’ll be traveling with at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. We depart Shinjuku at 7:30am and travel by bus arriving 3 hours later at the 5th Station up the side of Mt Fuji (7,550f / 2,300m). Here we begin the final prep for our hike with our English speaking mountain guide.
After lunch (on your own at 5th Station), we begin the hike with our local English speaking mountain guide, hiking from the 5th Station 6.5 hours up to the 8th Station (11,023f / 3,360m). The trails are wide, well maintained and vary from flat inclines to constant rugged stairs. While certainly challenging, the hike doesn’t require any technical skills and is thus suitable for anyone in decent shape, beginner to expert.
Tonight you will relax at the 8th Station, have an included dinner, and grab some sleep in the communal, co-ed and often crowded dorm style hut before our pre-dawn departure for the summit of Mt. Fuji.
Overnight in Mountain Hut high up at 8th Station on Mt Fuji (11,023f / 3,360m)
Post-Trip Hike Day 2:
Pre-Dawn Night Hike for Sunrise on Summit. 3 Hour Descent. Optional Hot Springs. Return to Tokyo (B)
Dressed in the warm layers with a water/windproof outer layer, hat, gloves and headlamp that you brought with you from home, we wake well before dawn (usually around 2:30am) and begin our exciting nighttime ascent to the summit to await the spectacular sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji (12,338f / 3,776m).
Following a beautiful sunrise, you’ll descend back down to the 8th Station (about 1 hour) for an included breakfast. From the 8th Station you’ll then descend 3-4 hours back down to the 5th Station starting point. After lunch at the 5th Station (own cost), we’ll get back on the bus around 12:00 noon to head back to Tokyo. Along the way, we’ll make a much-anticipated stop at the Benifuji no Yu Hot Springs Baths (optional entry cost about JPY 800 (or US $8). We’ll arrive back in Tokyo around 6:00pm, getting to our hotel around 7:00pm or so.
Overnight Tokyo Hotel.
Post-Trip Hike Day 3:
Trip Ends. (B)
This morning our Mt Fuji extension ends after breakfast. You'll make your own way to the airport (we’ll provide airport transfer information before departure, including information about the direct train to Tokyo (NRT) Airport).
This is a GEC small group trip that is open for anyone to join. You can sign up as a solo traveler* OR join with a spouse, friends or other family members. All are welcome!
*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! No mandatory single supplements. We provide free roommate matching - unless, of course, you'd prefer a single room which you can purchase during checkout.
This tour requires a total minimum group size to run. Please DO NOT purchase your airfare or any personal travel requirements until you receive a written confirmation of guaranteed departure.
This trip starts in Kyoto and ends in Tokyo. Your flight will need to arrive in Kyoto and depart from Tokyo as per the itinerary. Information on flights will be emailed after booking (or call us for details). Complete details on airport transfers, the day 1 afternoon group trip orientation, etc. will be communicated to you before departure.
IMPORTANT: Please try to ensure that your flight arrives before 2:00pm on Day 1 so that you can be at the afternoon group orientation and trip review with your Trip Leader. If your flight of choice is scheduled to come in later than 2:00pm, you can also plan to arrive a day early (an extra night hotel is available for purchase during check out).
Prices are based on double occupancy in twin rooms. If you would like your own hotel room, please choose the optional single room supplement at check out. If you do not mind being paired up with a roommate of the same gender, then the single supplement does not apply. NOTE: the mountain hut during the optional post-trip hike of Mt Fuji is communal, thus single rooms are not available that night (and is priced into the optional Mt. Fuji extension single supplement as such).
Visa are not required for Japan for citizens of the US and Canada (at time of writing), however your passport must be valid for at least 6 months following the last day of the tour
If you would like advice on how to find the best flight for you or which flights other group members are taking, please contact us.
Please note that effective October 2018 a Supplemental Tourist Room Tax applies to all visitors staying at a hotel in Japan. Hotel guests are required to pay the tax directly to each hotel in cash before checkout. Taxes are approximate JPY 500 (USD $5) per person, per night and are subject to change by the government without notice. Additionally, hotel use charges (pool use, etc.) may apply per use or as a mandatory fee imposed by the hotel per person or per room per night. These charges must be paid directly to the hotel by EACH PASSENGER, and cannot be covered or pre-paid in the taxes and fees already by the tour operator.
Trip ID: AS1257
OPTIONAL: Historic Nara Tour (day 2)
OPTIONAL: Single Room Main Trip (choose only if you want your own hotel room-hotel):
OPTIONAL: 3d/2n Mt. Fuji post-trip Hike (1 nt Mt hut & 1 nts hotel in Tokyo)
OPTIONAL: Mt. Fuji post-trip Hike Single Room (hotel only)
- Day tour of Tokyo
- Tokyo Bay Cruise
- Walking tour of Kyoto
- Evening walking tour of Gion Kyoto
- High-speed bullet train Kyoto to Tokyo
- Guided tours as mentioned in itinerary with expert English speaking local guides
- GEC English speaking Trip Leader
- Excellent mid-range hotels
- Breakfast daily
- Entrance fees to all sites as indicated in the itinerary
- All transfers and tours as indicated in modern air-conditioned vehicles
OPTIONAL 3d/2n Mt. Fuji post-trip Hike Extension (included if option is purchased):
- Guided overnight hike to summit of Mt Fuji
- 1 night mountain hut and 1 night at hotel in Tokyo
- Transportation via bus between Tokyo and Mt Fuji
- 1 night in excellent mid-range hotel in Tokyo
- English speaking local guide
- Breakfast daily. Dinner on Mt Fuji.
- Entrance fees
Price Does Not Include
- International Airfare
- Airport transfers
- Meals and beverages not indicated
- Travel medical insurance (details)
- Japan Tourist Room Tax (see "Important Information" section)
- Optional Historic Nara Tour (day 2)
- Optional tours and activities not mentioned in itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for GEC Trip Leader and Local Guides
- Local fee
OPTIONAL 3d/2n Mt. Fuji post-trip Hike Extension:
- Personal expenses
- Hot Springs entrance fee after hike (about JPY 800 (8 USD)
- Cold weather and hiking clothing
- Tips for Local Guide & GEC Trip Leader
- Meals not indicated
- GEC Club Trip Leader
- Expert English speak local guides on select tours
- 6 nights excellent mid-range hotel
OPTIONAL 3d/2n Mt. Fuji post-trip Hike Extension:
- 1-night mountain hut on Mt. Fuji
- 1-night excellent mid-range hotel
- The weather in Japan during September is typically warm, sunny and dry, with temperatures averaging in the 70-80's during the day and high 60's at night.
- Mt. Fuji Hike: Due to the altitude, there can be a significant temperature difference between the base and the mountaintop. Average temperature up top in July is about 40 degrees (5℃) during the day and can be below freezing (32f / 0℃) at night. That said, weather can vary greatly, even from hour to hour, with temperatures feeling as high as the 80’s to below freezing or more at night with wind chill. Therefore it’s important that you be prepared for all possibilities. It’s best to dress in multiple warm layers with a waterproof/windproof outer layer. An example packing list will be emailed to you about 3-4 weeks before departure.