Summer Specials: Summer Tours to Japan

Mt. Fuji & Tokyo Night View ©Y.Shimizu

From diving and mountain climbing to festivals and anime tours, get your summer holiday off to a flying start with one of these exciting summertime adventures in Japan.

Whether it’s lazy days on the beach, adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities such as climbing Mt. Fuji or diving Japan’s underwater wrecks and wildlife, or action-packed pop culture tours in Tokyo, we’ve got something to tempt you to explore another side of Japan this summer.

Beach: Okinawa Extension 5 Days, from £995 pp (JTB)

Ishigaki Island, Okinawa

Why not add on a magical few days in Japan’s southern paradise of Okinawa to your trip? Departing from Tokyo or Osaka, this self-guided tour from JTB allows you to experience the attractions of Okinawa’s main island as well as the delights of the smaller, scenic Kerama Islands.

A separate kingdom for centuries, even today Okinawa retains a distinct atmosphere and culture, with its own unique food, architecture and handicrafts which have traditionally drawn inspiration from both China and Japan. The pace of life is also more relaxed than mainland Japan, the atmosphere more that of a tropical resort.

The extension suggests a two-centre itinerary, staying first in Naha, Okinawa’s capital on the main island, with easy access by ferry to nearby Zamami Island, before heading to the Motobu peninsula, a well-known beach area, for some total relaxation time. In Naha you can visit bright red Shuri Castle, the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and go drinking and souvenir-hunting on Kokusai-dori, the lively main drag.

On Zamami, the order of the day is diving and snorkelling, while in Motobu the top attraction is the Churaumi Aquarium, one of the largest in the world. Departures any day January-December 2018, subject to availability. Find out more or enquire at www.japanspecialist.co.uk/

Diving: Discover Japan, 11 or 15 days, poa (Dive Worldwide)

Underwater Kerama Islands

Discover Japan with Dive Worldwide on one of their tailormade diving trips, which can also be extended with a stay in Tokyo. You’ll get to explore Tokyo, relax on tropical beaches, encounter manta rays, observe hammerhead sharks, and discover an underwater city on this BIG tour of Japan! 

From Tokyo, you’ll travel south to Okinawa to begin your diving adventure, spending a couple of days diving the warm, clear waters of the Kerama Islands, including five dives around Aka Island. The adventure continues with three nights on Ishigaki Island, home to numerous majestic manta rays, before you travel onwards to Yonaguni Island, where large groups of hammerheads gather in winter, to spend three days diving the mysterious Iseki stones on seven dives.

The tour includes return flights from the UK, domestic flights within Japan between Tokyo and Okinawa, 12 nights accommodation, half-board meals at Kerama and Yonaguni, six days diving, tanks and weights, and some transfers. Daily departures throughout the year but go in December-March for hammerheads and April-October for manta rays.

Dive Worldwide also offer a shorter, 11-day version of the tour allowing you to explore Tokyo and dive Yonaguni, famous for its schools of hammerheads, awe-inspiring marine life, and mysterious Iseki stones. Find out more or enquire at: http://www.diveworldwide.com/ 

Mountain Climbing: Mt Fuji and the Japan Alps, 15 days, from £3,999 (Exodus)

Hiking in Kirigamine Highland ©Yasufumi Nishi

Rewarding hikes, majestic mountain scenery, and cultural treasures galore await on this 15-day  guided group tour from Exodus. During your stay you’ll ascend two of Japan’s most iconic peaks - the classic volcanic cone of Mt Fuji and Mt Yarigatake, known as the ‘Japanese Matterhorn’ - as well as hike a short section of the Nakasendo Way, an ancient trading route.

The tour has an Activity Rating of 5/10 Challenging , so although you won’t need to be an expert mountain climber you’ll need to be in reasonably good shape to keep up. It includes six days of walking and trekking at a moderate pace, with approximately 4-5 hours walking per day (excluding the ascent of Mt Yarigatake, which involves 6-8 hours of challenging walking) of distances of 6-20 km (5-12 miles). 

Walking and trekking are the main menu, but you’ll also enjoy days in Kyoto and Tokyo as well as some free time in Matsumoto, with its magnificent black-walled castle, and Lake Kawaguchi at the foot of Mt Fuji, before and after climbing Mt Yarigatake and Mt Fuji.

The price includes all breakfasts and four dinners, all accommodation - 8 nights in hotels, 3 nights in mountain huts, and 1 night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), all domestic transport, and all listed tour activities. View dates and prices, request a brochure or get in touch at www.exodus.co.uk/

Traditional Festival: Nebuta Matsuri, poa (InsideJapan Tours)

Nebuta Festival
 
Every summer the sleepy northern town of Aomori comes alive for the annual Nebuta Matsuri (‘matsuri’ means ‘festival’ in Japanese), one of Japan’s most famous summer festivals. This is a week-long celebration in early August (2-7 August, to be precise) in which gigantic illuminated floats take to the streets for a series of breath-taking night-time parades that’ll blow the socks off anything you’ve ever seen as Disneyland!

As darkness falls, enormous floats decorated with fearsome images of demons, warriors and animals crafted from coloured rice paper are man-handled through the streets by armies of local people. Hundreds of dancers follow the floats, swaying to a cacophony of bells, flutes and drums. On the final night the floats are loaded onto boats and floated out to sea against the backdrop of a spectacular fireworks display.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in attending then InsideJapan Tours can make it happen for you as part of one of their full Japan holiday packages. Don’t forget to book as early as possible if you wish to attend this incredible event, as accommodation in Aomori is at a premium during the festival and hotels get fully booked very early. Find out more or enquire at www.insidejapantours.com/
 

Modern Festival: Fuji Rock Festival, 7 nights, from £980 pp (InsideJapan Tours)

Tokyo Tower ©Yasufumi Nishi

Started in 1997, the Fuji Rock Festival is Japan’s largest outdoor music festival and is one of those magical experiences that you just have to try at least once in your life. In a day and age when you have to stump up the deposit nearly a year in advance to get your sweaty palms on a ticket for Glasto and other similar events, Japan’s Fuji Rock remains an undiscovered gem on the global music festival market.

Fantastic food at great prices, beer without the queues, all-night hot spring baths, stunning mountain scenery, friendly fellow festival-goers and, most importantly, some of the best in British, American and Japanese indie, dance and world music. Plus, the toilets are clean, littering is practically unheard of, and public showers are freely available.

InsideJapan offers a self-guided adventure to the festival which also builds some time in Tokyo into the itinerary so that you’ll also get to see something of Japan’s famous capital city. Using the included JR East Rail Pass, you’ll be able to explore the sights and sound of the glittering metropolis freely - but you’ll also be invited for dinner, drinks and karaoke with the IJT staff and other Fuji Rockers too.

The dates for Fuji Rock 2018 are 27-29 (Fri-Sun) July, with access to the campsite from 26 (Thu) July. On IJT’s package, you’ll arrive in Tokyo on 24(Tues)  July, however extensions before and after are entirely possible. This year’s line-up is set to include Kendrick Lamar, N.E.R.D., Skrillex, Vampire Weekend, Chvrches, Jack Johnson, MGMT, Years & Years and many more. Find out more, enquire or book at www.insidejapantours.com/

Japan Summer Manga Tour 2018, 7 nights, from £2,085 pp (Japan Journeys)

 Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan ©JTA
 
This is sure to be the holiday of a lifetime for fans of anime, manga and all aspects of Japanese pop culture. In Tokyo, you’ll visit the Ghibli Museum and Nakano Broadway, the retro mall in eastern Tokyo which is home to Mandarake as well as countless other manga and memorabilia stores, plus the Suginami Animation Museum in otaku paradise Akihabara. 

However, you’ll also get to see other sides of Tokyo, with visits to a manga cafe in Shinjuku, shopping in Harajuku and Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Yoyogi Park on one day, and Tokyo Tower - Godzilla’s favourite haunt - Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and a river cruise to Hamarikyu Garden on another. The tour ends with one free day to spend how you wish, with suggested options including an unescorted trip to Disneyland or a fully-guided tour to Mt Fuji and the nearby resort of Hakone, with return to Tokyo by bullet train. 

And for those for whom just one week in Tokyo isn’t enough, there is also the option of a five-night extension in Kyoto which includes an overnight stay in Hiroshima and Miyajima and day trips to Osaka and Nara. Departure dates this year are 16-23 August, 2018. To enquire about availability, or find out more visit www.japanjourneys.co.uk/
 

Tokyo Game Show Tour, 8 nights, from £1,995 pp (Japan Journeys)

Rainbow Bridge ©Mike Luk

Based around a visit to the annual Tokyo Game Show (TGS) in September, one of the world’s leading video games expos, this incredible tour has been designed with gamers and gadget lovers firmly in mind. Your stay in Japan will kick off with visits to the Square Enix Showcase in Shinjuku and Akihabara, followed by further visits to Meiji Jingu Shrine and Harajuku, including Omotesando and Takeshita Street, plus Nakano Broadway. Then enjoy a free day - choose to ride the thrilling roller-coasters at Fuji-Q Highland or join a fully-guided tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, returning to Tokyo by bullet train.

 Next enjoy a fun-packed day in futuristic Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, whiling away the hours gaming until your thumbs are sore at Sega Joypolis, the largest indoor gaming park in Japan, exploring the games arcades, bowling alleys and ninja trick house at Leisure Land, and goggling at cars of the past, present and future at Toyota Megaweb, a gigantic car showroom.

Finally, it’s the day you’ve been waiting for! Showcasing the cutting edge of the gaming world, from major titles and the hottests e-sports to indie gems, TGS is where hardcore gaming fans go to find out about the latest announcements of upcoming releases, experience pre-release demos, and more. With up to two full days spent at TGS, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to stock up on all the newest releases as well as track down those retro games and consoles missing from your collection, plus all your favourite gaming and character merch, and much, much more.

The tour price includes all accommodation in business class hotels and breakfasts, airport transfers, and the services of a knowledgeable, bilingual guide throughout. Departure dates this year are 16-24 September, 2018. If one week is not long enough then you can also extend your stay with an extension packaging giving you an extra week in Japan. To enquire about availability, or find out more visit www.japanjourneys.co.uk/

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