19-Day Budget Tours of Japan | The Dragon Trip

19-day Budget Japan Tour

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19 days - £2,899

Want to see even more of Japan? Our new 19-day Japan Budget Tour takes you even further off the beaten path. Whether you’re spending a peaceful night in a Buddhist temple on a scared mountain or your heart is racing while stand-up white water rafting and hiking through the breathtaking Japanese Alps- we've managed to pack in more incredible experiences than you could imagine. Any questions? Take a look at details here or contact us below :)

Itinerary

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Day 1: Tokyo

Take in the cityscape from the top of a skyscraper, then head back down to earth to experience one of Tokyo’s buzziest districts, Shinjuku. Cap off your first day with a relaxing trip to a local bathhouse before exploring the endless eating and drinking options on offer in Tokyo by night. Learn About Tokyo

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Day 2: Tokyo

Prepare your own sashimi breakfast under the watchful eye of a local sashimi master at Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji fish market. Visit Akihabara – Japan’s “electric town” and finish the day with a visit to one of area’s popular maid cafes. Learn About Tokyo

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Day 3: Tokyo

Head to Tokyo’s sumo district to see where the wrestlers live and train and check out the fascinating history of the nation at the Edo-Tokyo Museum and try your hand at Samurai. Learn About Tokyo

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Day 4: Tokyo

Head to the Imperial Palace Gardens to unwind and drop by at the the Museum of Imperial Collections. For a complete contrast, visit the quirky centre of J-Pop culture in Harajuku. Wash it all down with a beer overlooking the neon madness of Shibuya. What backpacker could refuse? Learn About Tokyo

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Day 5: Kamakura

Leave the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and take a train to Kamakura, the country’s medieval capital. Explore the town’s shrines and finish off at the Great Buddha statue at Kotoku-in temple.  Relax by the beach and even have the option to try surfing at sunset.

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Day 6: Mount Fuji, Hakone

Start your day with a trip on the Hakone cable car. On a clear day, you can gaze at Mount Fuji in all its glory while sampling eggs cooked Fuji-style – in the sulphuric water beneath you. Cap off the day crossing Lake Ashi on a pirate ship for some stunning views.

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Day 7: Kyoto

After taking in the morning’s mountain air, take the bullet train to Kyoto. Experience the timeless traditions of ancient Japan in Kyoto’s Geisha district before settling in for a cheap, authentic and delicious meal surrounded by wood panels and lanterns in Pontocho alley. Budget food is so often the best 🙂 Learn about Kyoto

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Day 8: Arashiyama

Hike through the Arashiyama bamboo forest and the Arashiyama Monkey Park where your exertions will be rewarded with great views of Kyoto. Visit the Tenryu-ji temple and relax in the pristine gardens after a rafting adventure tour down the Hozugawa River. In the evening, come and sing your heart out at one of Japan’s favorite past times – karaoke!

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Day 9: Kyoto

After an un-guided morning off (after karaoke night!), it’s time to head to Fushimi Inari where we will see shrines, shrines ,and again, more shrines. This is a truly remarkable place with a whole host of shrine-covered walkways. The day ends at the sake breweries; with both a tour and tasting experience! Learn about Kyoto

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Day 10: Kyoto

A day cycle around Kyoto is on the agenda! Bike round the imperial palace before continuing your journey on a bullet train bound for the West. Learn about Kyoto

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Day 11: Hiroshima

Learn about the Hiroshima’s tragic past, its subsequent recovery and pacifist mission at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Take a ferry to the Itsukushima shrine, built on stilts above lapping water, taking in some incredible vistas.

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Day 12: Osaka

Get immersed in another Japanese megacity, with an infinite choice for eating, drinking and entertainment. Be sure to visit Shinsaibashi and the Dotonbori riverfront in the evening. Hit the arcades and sprawling shopping malls and make sure to enjoy a dinner overlooking the water!

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Day 13: Mt. Koya

After a free morning in Osaka, arrive at Mt. Koya, one of the most sacred places in Japan. Sleep in a Buddhist temple and savour a traditional dinner of shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine).

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Day 14: Shirakawa-go

Wake up early to watch the monk’s morning prayer. After, enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian breakfast. Head to Ogimachi Village, a UNESCO world heritage site where you will spend the night inside of a historic gassho-zukuri farmhouse.

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Day 15: Kanazawa

Wake up to a traditional Japanese breakfast and explore more of the beautiful Ogimachi Village before heading to Kanazawa.

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Day 16: Kanazawa

Spend the day on a bike and cycle through the streets of Kanazawa. Along the way, you’ll visit Kenrokuen, Japan’s most celebrated landscape garden, as well as Kanazawa Castle, Higashi Chaya and a former Samurai District.

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Day 17: Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route

Spend the full day crossing this magnificent mountain sightseeing route. See the highest dam in all Japan as well as Shomyo Falls; a large waterfall that boasts Japan’s furthest drop of 350 meters. Enjoy mesmerizing views along Japan’s longest one-span ropeway.

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Day 18: Yamanouchi

Enjoy stand-up paddleboarding and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds the lake. After, go for a hike in the nearby hills. You will have free time in the afternoon to explore some of the local activities before the final group dinner.

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Day 19: Return to Tokyo

Say goodbye to your fellow Dragon Trippers and catch your train back to Tokyo to finish up or continue on your travels!

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Extend your trip: Snow Sports

Travelling this winter? Add 7 days of ski adventure onto your trip! Winter Ski Season runs from 15 Dec 2017 – 31 Mar 2018.  Check out our 7-day Ski Japan tour here. 

 

 

 

Day 1: Tokyo

  • Arrive in Tokyo and meet your Adventure Leader in the lobby of the hostel. Listen to your Japan briefing and hear about the itinerary and introduce yourself to the group. You will be able to drop off your bag at this point as well.
  • Take in the cityscape with an incredible view from atop the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
  • After lunch in Shinjuku, head to Asakusa to visit Sensō-Ji temple and explore its charming streets.
  • Optional: You can either kick back with a drink on a nearby Hoppy Street or relax with the locals at a nearby bathhouse. (460 JPY)
  • Experience one of Japan’s national obsessions – baseball, at a local batting cage.

Day 2: Tokyo

  • Breakfast is the freshest sashimi you’ve ever eaten at Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji fish market. Marvel at the variety of fish and shellfish on offer, and catch a glimpse of the Tokyo fleet’s latest haul of prized blue-fin tuna.
  • Discover how to make it all yourself with a lesson from a sushi chef, and then sample your produce.
  • In the afternoon, visit Akihabara – Japan’s “electric town” and hub of Anime and Manga, and also home to Japan’s most famous J-pop group, AKB48.
  • Have a “Made in Tokyo” experience at one of Akihabara’s maid cafes. The cost of entry and an order of food and drink is likely to be around 2000 JPY.
  • Optional: Real-life Mario Kart! Choose a costume and race through the streets of Tokyo! (7,000 JPY) (PLEASE NOTE: to participate, you must secure an international drivers permit valid in Japan BEFORE the start of the trip).

Day 3: Tokyo

  • First thing in the morning, head to Ryōgoku to discover Tokyo’s fascinating history at Edo-Tokyo Museum.
  • Ryōgoku is known as Tokyo’s Sumo district; you may have a chance witness a Sumo wrestling training session. If training is not taking place on the day, you will still have a chance to see Japan’s National Sumo Stadium.
  • Optional: For lunch, enjoy cooking a typical Sumo wrestler’s meal, called Chanko Nabe, from raw ingredients.
  • In the afternoon, learn the ancient art of samurai and have the chance to see a live sword demonstration in Tokyo’s Samurai Museum.
  • Optional: Robot Show experience in the evening. (7000 JPY)

Day 4: Tokyo

  • Kick off the morning with a trip to the Imperial Palace’s gardens, and learn about why Japan’s Imperial Family is so unique.
  • It’s another afternoon of traditional-modern contrast in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. First stop is Harajuku, Tokyo’s fashion district. French maids, punks, goths, lolitas, technicolour hair – anything goes in Harajuku. Stand back and watch or grab some hair dye and get involved!
  • After that, go to the Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Wander through the forest until you reach the shrine to the Emperor who began Japan’s transformation from feudal to modern society in the early 20th century.
  • Walk to Shibuya to see the fruits of the transformation started by Meiji Restoration. Witness the sheer scale of one the world’s most famous people crossings – featured in Hollywood films like Lost in Translation and Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Day 5: Kamakura

  • After brunch in Tokyo, it’s time to say goodbye to the modern capital and hop on a train to Kamakura – Japan’s medieval capital and home to the first shoguns.
  • Check out some of the town’s many ancient shrines, and then hike over to Kotoku-in temple to marvel at the Great Buddha statue, which stands at nearly 45ft tall and is made of solid bronze.
  • Optional: The hostel is moments from the beach, and you can relax on the sand or try your hand at surfing. Surfboard rental options nearby. (3000 JPY for a day)
  • There are lots of beachside bars where you can watch the sun go down.

Day 6: Hakone

  • Take a series of trains and buses to the beautiful Lake Ashi, where you’ll board a pirate ship! From the deck of this triple-decker man-of-war, you’ll cross the lake’s clear blue waters and get an unforgettable view of Mt. Fuji on a cloudless day.
  • Take the Hakone Ropeway – an epic cable car journey that drops you at Oowakudani, an active volcanic zone where you can try black eggs – a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric water they’re boiled in.
  • Spend the evening soaking in the sulphuric water of a traditional Japanese outdoor bath, called an onsen (please note: those with tattoos may not be able to enter onsen in Japan).

Day 7: Kyoto

  • Next stop is the station to board your first bullet train – to Kyoto. You’ll zoom across the country, covering around 440km in little more than two hours, leaving plenty of time to experience Kyoto later in the day and at night.
  • In the afternoon, wander the hillside streets to the stunning Kiyomizu Dera temple.
  • The city is famous for its history, temples, shrines and – of course – beautiful geishas.
  • It also has a large student population and thriving music scene… Kawaramachi is an excellent place to start. There are bars, jazz clubs and plenty of Izakaya pubs.
  • Attend a live geisha performance, which also features a tea ceremony, puppet show, traditional music, flower arranging and more.
  • For something quintessentially Kyoto, you can wander through Pontocho alley, full of lanterns and intimate wood-panelled restaurants. Quietly sip on sake and look out for geishas wandering past.

Day 8: Arashiyama, Kyoto

  • Start the day with a two-hour boat trip down the Hozugawa River. In your traditional wooden raft, driven by guides, you’ll cruise through rocky ravines and experience the rush of rapids as you meander through the Arashiyama Hills (weather dependent).
  • Head across to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. It’s a tough climb up, but at the top, you can feed monkeys or simply enjoy the panorama of Kyoto below.
  • Visit Tenryu-Ji Temple, one of the most important from the areas five great Zen temples. The temple’s gardens, designed in the 14th century, are a real show-stopper.
  • After leaving the temple, hike through Arashiyama’s Bamboo Forest.
  • Optional: In the evening, sing your heart out doing one of Japan’s favourite pastimes – karaoke. As part of the price, you’re able to drink as much as you like! The karaoke comes with a twist, but you’ll have to go on the tour to find out what it is… (2100 JPY for 90 minutes)

Day 9: Kyoto

  • Take a breather and relax your vocal cords after the previous night’s exertions – You have free time all morning!
  • Suggested Independent: if you feel you have the energy we would suggest taking a look at the majestic temples that adorn the Philosopher’s path.
  • Suggested Independent: Alternatively, you could check out the International Manga Museum.
  • In the afternoon, the group gets back together and heads over to one of the oldest sake breweries in Kyoto. A tasting experience follows a short tour of the museum. You’ll even get to bring home a souvenir!
  • Next go to Fushimi Inari Shrine where you will see torii, torii and more torii. A remarkable place where a beautiful hiking trail will take you through a corridor of thousands of bright red gates.
  • Finish the day with a Calligraphy Class taught by a local master!

Day 10: Kyoto

  • Today we cycle all day around Kyoto like a local!
  • First, we ride over to a Zen temple where you can discover your inner peace with meditation led by a Buddhist monk.
  • After your journey of tranquillity, see an iconic image of Kyoto: the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji. Walk around the mirror pond and prepare to be mesmerised by the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion on the water.
  • After lunch, jump on your bike and cycle around to the Imperial Palace, before bidding farewell to this most magical of cities.
  • Another bullet train will see you venture further west, bound for Hiroshima.

Day 11: Hiroshima

  • At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, you will find out how this city came to suffer the consequences of the world’s first atomic bomb, but you will also learn that Hiroshima is now the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear-free world.
  • After a train ride and short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, you’ll reach the Itsukushima shrine. To avoid angering the gods on the island, the main temple buildings were built on stilts on the shores of the island.
  • Just offshore, you will see an enormous torii gate standing in the sea. At low tide, you can walk across the sand to take a closer look.
  • Take the ropeway and hike to the top of Mt. Misen. The view of the great torii gate standing within the Seto Inland Sea is considered one of the three most beautiful views in all Japan.

Day 12: Osaka

  • Another bullet train will take you to Osaka, your final destination before heading back to Tokyo.
  • You’ll arrive in time for lunch in the Shinsaibashi area. After enjoying your fill of yakitori, ramen, sushi or whatever takes your fancy, it’s a short subway ride to Osaka Castle.
  • Take a stroll around the castle that rises above the enormous moat, and then check out the nine-level donjon.
  • In the afternoon, explore more of Osaka on your own, have the ultimate Japanese shopping experience in Shinsaibashi or rest up. Shenanigans in Namba await in the evening…
  • Start the night off by seeing if you can be the Dragon Trip Arcade Challenge Champion, and then walk through the Dotonbori riverfront and prepare to be blasted by neon. The eating, drinking, gaming and clubbing options around Dotonbori and Namba are endless – fill your boots!
  • In the evening, you will sleep at a capsule hotel – small, intimate, private and quintessentially Japanese.

Day 13: Mt. Koya

  • At Mt. Koya you will explore Okunoin Cemetery, one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot. The largest in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones; many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords, are laid to rest here.
  • In the evening, enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian meal at your Shukubo Temple Lodging (dinner included).
  • Optional Activity: After dinner, return to Okunoin Cemetery for a night tour (1,500 JPY) 

Day 14: Wakayama

  • Wake up early to experience a Buddhist morning prayer before having a traditional Buddhist breakfast inside the temple lodging (breakfast included).
  • Arrive in Shirakawa-go and check-in to your gassho-zukuri farmhouse lodging just in time to explore the village as the sunsets over the valley. Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner inside the farmhouse (dinner included).
  • Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner inside the farmhouse (dinner included).

Day 15: Kanazawa

  • Wake up to a traditional Japanese breakfast inside your gassho-zukuri lodging (breakfast included).
  • Explore more of Ogimachi Village, including a visit inside a farmhouse-turned museum to learn about the history and go for a short hike to a nearby viewpoint for a breathtaking view of the valley.
  • Head to Kanazawa by bus and check-in to your hostel.
  • In the evening, enjoy the buzzing nightlife of Kanazawa at a nearby street filled with great restaurants and izakaya.

Day 16: Kanazawa

  • Visit Kenrokuen, Japan’s most celebrated landscape garden, as well as Kanazawa Castle, Higashi Chaya, and a former Samurai District by bike.
  • You will need to pack an overnight bag for tomorrow as luggage will be sent independently to the next hostel.
  • Optional Activity: Visit Myoryu-Ji, nicknamed Ninja Temple. The site boosts 360-years of history and gained its nickname from the vast number of defences it has set-up inside its premises. There is a 30-min guided tour available, but please note it is only offered in Japanese. An English booklet is available at the start of the tour (1,000 JPY).

Day 17: Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route

  • Spend the full day crossing this magnificent mountain sightseeing route. Along the way, you’ll see the highest dam in all Japan as well as Shomyo Falls; a large waterfall that boasts Japan’s furthest drop of 350 meters.
  • After hiking the surrounding peaks, you’ll see mesmerising views along Japan’s longest one-span ropeway.
  • If you take the trip in May, you’ll have a chance to see the snow corridor, a span of road carved through walls of snow as high as 19 meters! While in September you will have the opportunity to see beautiful Autumn colours as the foliage high in the mountains begins the change.
  • Complete the Alpine route in Nagano, a town famous for the winter Olympics and head to the nearby village of Yamanouchi.
  • Optional Activity: After a long day of travelling, relax in the atmosphere of a 200-year-old onsen with an outdoor bathing area.

    Day 18: Yamanouchi

  • Enjoy stand-up paddleboarding and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds the lake.
  • After, go for a hike in the nearby hills. You will have free time in the afternoon to explore some of the local activities before the final group dinner.
  • Optional Activities: 
    • Visit the snow monkeys in the nearby Monkey Park (900 JPY).
    • Afterwards, stop at a picturesque teahouse or a craft brewery with excellent local brews on tap.
    • Go for Miso Tasting at a local shop (free)
    • Go Sake Tasting at a local brewery (free)
    • Take the train into town and explore the city of Nagano.
  • The final group dinner will take place at a one-of-a-kind fusion restaurant. All the items on the menu feature ingredients that have been fermented in some way, an inspiration from local cuisine (dinner Included).

    Day 19: Return to Tokyo 

  • Say goodbye to your fellow Dragon Trippers and catch your train back to Tokyo to finish up or continue on your travels!

Departures 2017/2018

Departing Finishing Price Status
14th May, 2018 1st Jun, 2018 £2,899
10th Sep, 2018 28th Sep, 2018 £2,899

  • A deposit is required to make a reservation, with the balance due 60 days prior to departure (unless booking with one of our promotions, for which specific balance due dates may apply). The deposit is £200 GBP / $300 USD / $300 AUD / €300 EUR.
  • For peak season spring trips the deposit is £300 GBP / $420 USD / $450 AUD / €410 EUR.
  • Looking for assistance booking pre/post trip accommodation? Just let us know what you need!
  • Please note, if you have a different kind of visa to the standard temporary visa then you will be liable to an additional charge of £90 for your JR Pass.
  • For customers making payment from the UK: please note that when you are making a payment into our US dollar account you must request your bank to send the money directly to our US dollar account at HSBC UK. Otherwise they may use an intermediary bank resulting in an added wiring fee charged to you of $25.00.
  • If you would like to alter your trip itinerary from the one provided to you by us then please contact us more than 60 days before your trip departs so that we can make your trip the perfect one for you! When you tell us, we can relay all information to our on the ground staff and make the appropriate arrangements.
  • The group will be in sex-segregated dorms for most of the trip but may at points be in mixed dorms. In Osaka, the capsule hostel is sex-segregated even if a room upgrade is booked - all Dragon Trippers stay in individual capsules on female-only and male-only floors.
  • On Day 1 the group meets at 10am at the Tokyo House Inn - this is where the trip will start. Tokyo House Inn, 169-0072 Tokyo Prefecture, Shinjuku-ku, Okubo 1-12-27, Japan [+81 3-6205-5121]
  • Please take note if you wish to use your own camera/phone to take photos and videos that is absolutely fine. However, The Dragon Trip runs a no drone policy for our Japan trips.

To book or find out more, contact us

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