Southern Japan Experience

Trip Code: CJSO

Why we love it

Explore the unique island of Naoshima, transformed from a sleepy fishing community into a world class art destination, with sleek and stylish museums and artworks that sit in harmony with the landscape., Join locals hiking along trails to hidden temples, being awed at some of the country's impressive castles or in one of Japan's oldest hot spring baths - Dogo Onsen., Feel like Indiana Jones as you cross the kazurabashi (vine bridges) of the hidden Iya Valley, a remote retreat of deep gorges and lush mountains on Shikoku island., Uncover the different characters of the cities of Nagasaki and Osaka, from the former’s thought-provoking Peace Park and Museum to the latter’s busy streets where the motto is ‘eat until you drop’., Venture into the thick and mysterious cedar forests on Yakushima, encounter Yakushika deer or Yakuzaru monkey, or relax at the seaside onsen.

Is this trip right for me?

Japan is best to explore on foot - in fact most travellers are surprised at how much distance they end up covering just exploring places! Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.

In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon matresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information.

Be prepared to pack light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas.

As there is not much time included here as part of your trip, we strongly advise you to plan some extra time in Osaka if you wish to see more of the city.

Important information

IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT JAPAN: it's essential that you read 'Passports, visas and entry requirements' section in Essential Trip Information first before booking your trip so that you fully understand the current requirements in place for travelling to Japan.

If you book the trip within 30 days before departure, please ensure that 1) you request a copy of the Agreement Form with your booking agent and return a signed copy within 2 business days 2) check with your local consulate and ensure that you'll have enough time to get the tourist visa for your trip. Normal booking conditions apply for any bookings within 30 days before departure. It may take 7 business days to confirm a booking and issue ERFS certificate when the trip is on request.

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
2. Please note that individual travel is still not allowed in Japan. All ground arrangements will need to be organized by a certified tour operator and will need to be reflected in your visa application. A guide is compulsory for foreign tourist’s entire stay in Japan but free time is allowed as long as the guide stays in the same overnight accommodation and is able to assist in case of emergency. Therefore, we are not able to organize any pre/post trip extensions. If you experience issues with your flights to arrive and depart as per our trip dates, please contact your booking agent and we’ll try our best to assist.
3. It is essential that you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. There are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage from 160cm to 250cm may require an additional JPY1000 oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is from 160cm to 250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.

What to bring/pack

MAIN LUGGAGE
On this trip you will need to carry your own luggage for up to 30 minutes at a time. Train stations are quite complex and usually require a lot of stair climbing, especially when doing a quick transfer from train to train. Elevators aren't always available and cannot accommodate many people at a time, so if you are choosing to bring a suitcase, please ensure you are able to lift and carry it up and down stairs yourself without difficulty. A backpack is often preferred by travellers for this reason. Our ryokans allow suitcases but you'll need to carry instead of wheeling it onto the tatami floor in the room. Japanese public transport is often quite small and cramped without large luggage racks for big suitcases (even on the shinkansen trains), so it's best to pack as light and small as possible so that you are not blocking aisles or taking up extra seats on trains. If you have a lot of luggage you may need to use luggage forwarding services. These are economical and efficient - please speak to your leader if you need to get your baggage to another destination in Japan.

DAY PACK
A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations, while on public transport as well as for any shorter overnight stays will be useful., WATER BOTTLE
Cold tap water in Japan is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by bringing your own bottle and refilling from the tap or public water fountains.

OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE
- reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys
- travel mug, cutlery, plate/bowl for preparing any self catered meals
- plastic lunch box for storing food & snacks
- slippers or flip flops
- torch/flashlight
- travel wipes
- small towel
- ear plugs & eye mask

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash, WINTER
You will need to take into consideration the below freezing temperatures you are likely to encounter travelling in Japan in the winter months and ensure that you bring appropriate clothing for spending time outside in the elements:
- Hat
- Gloves or mittens
- Scarf
- Windproof, warm jacket or coat suitable for temperatures below zero (just a fleece will not be sufficient!)
- Warm socks
- Waterproof boots suitable for walking on snow and ice
- Thermals or clothing that can be easily layered
- Snow pants may be useful if you are planning to do any outdoor activities

In the northern area especially in Tohoku or Hokkaido where there will be heavy snow, it's important to have sturdy waterproof footwear that's suitable for snowy or icy conditions. You can also bring crampons or buy them in Japan which cost around 2000JPY.

Physical rating

3

You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including while moving about busy public transport hubs to make tight connections, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes, sometimes at a fast pace and in crowds. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. Japanese cities are best explored by foot and public transport, so be prepared for a lot of walking each day you are in a destination! Many travellers are surprised how much distance they end up covering each day just seeing the sights. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet.

Joining your group

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi, 1-10-24, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 大阪府大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-10-24, Osaka, Osaka, 542-0086, JAPAN, Phone: +81 649636501

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi is centrally located in Osaka, just a 3-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station subway line and a 10-minute walk from the famous Glico Man advertising sign. It's a convenient location for exploring the sights of Osaka.

Joining instructions

Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from the two airports in the Kansai region (Kansai Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport) to your hotel in Osaka. Kansai Airport (KIX) is about 50km southwest of Osaka and Itami is about 12km northwest. Taxis into central Osaka from Kansai Airport (KIX) take about an hour and cost approx. JPY14,000-18,000. Please note that we are currently not able to provide any shared shuttle bus service from the two airports to your hotel in Osaka.

Public Transport
From Kansai Airport (KIX), there are numerous connections either by express train or limousine bus to Osaka Station and then by taxi or subway to the Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi. From the airport, the fastest way into the city is by express airport train (Haruka Airport Express, approx. JPY1,700-2,400 and 30-50 mins). For further transport information about KIX, please see: https://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/access
From Itami Airport, the best option is the Osaka Airport Limousine bus which connects with hubs in Osaka in around 25-35 mins for approx. JPY500-600. For transport information from Itami, please see: https://www.osaka-airport.co.jp/en/
Both airport information desks also provide helpful advice. Please also check the transport details on the hotel's website: http://bridge-h.co.jp/en/access/ If you're having any problems finding the hotel, ring the hotel directly (you can use one of Japan's green public phones with coins of JPY10 or JPY100).

For any other problems on arrival, please contact our ground team in our Kyoto office on their emergency phone at +81 70 1771 5588.

Finishing your trip

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi, 1-10-24, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 大阪府大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-10-24, Osaka, Osaka, 542-0086, JAPAN, Phone: +81 649636501

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi is centrally located in Osaka, just a 3-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station subway line and a 10-minute walk from the famous Glico Man advertising sign. It's a convenient location for exploring the sights of Osaka.

Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from your hotel to the two international airports in the Kansai region (Kansai Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport). Kansai Airport (KIX) is about 50km southwest of Osaka and Itami is about 12km northwest. Please talk with your leader or consult with the hotel's reception desk or check the hotel website for more transport details: http://bridge-h.co.jp/en/access/

Please note that we are currently not able to provide any shared shuttle bus service from the two airports to your hotel in Osaka.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 1

FOOD IN JAPAN
The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (ie. in flavourings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetable ones), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research before travelling about some of the options that might be available to them. While our leaders will assist you whenever they can, there may be some included meals that are fixed in advance and not flexible, such as those included at ryokans, and cannot be modified for different diets. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, still your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.

Food and drink are such a high part of Japanese culture. Here are some links to get your tastebuds tingling:
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-convenience-store-food/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-tokyo-alleyways-locals-guide/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/eat-and-drink-like-a-local-in-japan/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegetarian-vegan-travel-japan/

Climate & seasonal information

PEAK TRAVEL TIMES
Please be aware that while travelling during major national holidays (late Apr to early May) and peak seasons in Japan (Apr-May/Sep–Oct) are fascinating and exciting times to travel, there are also some downsides. There will be huge crowds at most tourist attractions and on all public transport. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train tickets at our usual preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic jams and changes to the itinerary without prior notice can be necessary. If you decide to travel during peak periods come with a sense of adventure and flexibility and we are sure that your experience will still be rewarding and memorable.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

Intrepid's local Operator: +81 70 1771 5588

Accommodations

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

RYOKANS
Japanese-style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons or matresses on tatami mat floors, with bedding often packed away during the day. Attached bathrooms/toilets will usually be very small and many ryokans will only have shared bathing facilities with certain hours, or times available for booking at reception. Your leader will explain etiquette involved in using the shared facilities. As this style of accommodation will often not have furniture (ie. chairs or beds) in the rooms, please consider choosing a different trip style in Japan if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues. Some ryokans may have a curfew when travellers need to be back in the accommodation - this is usually around midnight. Please also be aware that you would normally be required to change to slippers when entering into your room in a ryokan. Hotels and ryokans will charge extra fees if dirty marks are left on their beddings or towels that require professional cleaning.

Read more about ryokans here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-japanese-ryokan/

AVAILABILITY
The recent huge increase in tourism to Japan has put a lot of pressure on accommodation. On occasion, we may need to change accommodation from what is listed in the itinerary in order to operate your departure with minimal changes.

ONSENS
We like to encourage travellers to visit traditional Japanese 'onsens' while in the country as it is a quintessential local experience. In public onsens this means bathing naked with others of the same gender. While the experience can feel strange at first for some, most of our groups end up enjoying this activity. There is very specific etiquette for visiting onsens - your leader can give you some tips and instructions. Please be aware that travellers with tattoos may not be permitted to enter public onsens. Private onsens may also be available - talk to your leader for more information. See our guide to onsens here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-onsen-guide/

Transportation


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