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Shinjuku in the evening

Japan vacations 2020 & 2021

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With practical guidance, our flexibility promise and inspirational tools for travel planning, you can book with confidence with Audley.

Japan’s distinct culture, futuristic cities and striking natural landscapes make it one of our most rewarding destinations. While the lifestyle may seem intimidatingly different, our specialists have spent time living, and often working, in the country and can help you navigate the cultural idiosyncrasies. With their expert guidance and help in planning your tailor-made itinerary, experiencing a culture far removed from your own is part of the country’s charm.

In one sleek bullet train journey, you can travel from the dense, neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the fresh, clean air of the Japanese Alps. Buddhist temples dot the country, and in rural areas you can stay in traditional ryokan inns for a taste of Japanese life from a bygone era. Our specialists can advise on everything from the best local festivals to attend, to which local delicacies to try during your vacation to Japan.
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Suggested tours for Japan

These tours give you a starting point for what your trip to Japan could entail. They cover routes we've found work particularly well and feature some of our favorite places to stay. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.

Why travel with Audley?

  • 100% tailor-made journeys
  • Fully protected travel
  • Established for 20 years
  • 98% of our clients would recommend us to a friend

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Our detailed brochures feature trip ideas and travel experiences recommended by our specialists.

Audley Japan brochure

Useful information for planning your vacation in Japan

  • Timezone
    UTC +9

  • Flight time
    14 hours upwards dependent on airline (New York to Tokyo)

  • Japanese is the official language. Some English is spoken in major cities.

  • Japan has one of the world's most sophisticated food cultures. Some of its more well known specialities, including sushi and sashimi can be a little expensive, but it is easy to find delicious food at very reasonable prices. Noodles are an excellent lunch option in soup or fried dishes, offering a varied and filling meal. Others to look out for include bento boxed lunches, teriyaki, sukiyaki, tempura and nabe. Traditional Japanese drinks include sake and shochu, a strong aquavit, often mixed with soda or juice. Local brands of beer such as Kirin, Sapporo, Suntory and Asahi are recommended.

  • There is no culture of tipping in Japan, and nobody expects it. The only exception is in high class ryokan, where a token of ¥2000 might be left in an envelope for the room attendant. Compulsory service charges are levied in some hotels and restaurants.

  • Do not be afraid to carry cash on your person as Japan is an extremely safe and even more importantly, honest country. The local currency is the Yen. Major credit cards are accepted in most international or large hotels but it is difficult to use them to get cash advances. It's advisable to carry enough cash on you to cover the costs of eating out as not all restaurants accept credit cards. If in doubt just ask the restaurant beforehand. The Japanese Post Office ATMs in major branches accept foreign issued debit and credit cards, as do the ATMs in many branches of the ubiquitous 7Eleven convenience store.

  • Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. However, they do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but expect them to behave formally and politely. Bowing is the customary greeting. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing adults. When entering a Japanese home or restaurant it is customary to remove shoes and exchange them for indoor slippers. When entering hot-spring baths, which are normally segregated, clothes are removed and you enter the bathing area naked except for a small towel. Wash thoroughly at the showers or taps before entering the bath. Never wash in the baths themselves. The principle thing to avoid when eating, in common with most of northern Asia, is to leave your chopsticks sticking up vertically from your rice bowl.

Japan in pictures

Our expert guides to traveling in Japan

Written by our specialists from the viewpoint of their own travels, these guides will help you decide on the shape of your own trip to Japan. Aiming to inspire and inform, we share our recommendations for how to appreciate Japan at its best.

  • Snow monkeys of Yudanaka

    Visiting Japan with your children

    A futuristic and vibrant country, Japan is a destination that appeals to family members of all ages. Safe, clean and with a good infrastructure, there are plenty of ways to explore. Japan specialist, Jake, talks us through how to get the most of your family vacation in Japan.

  • Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

    Japan’s seasons: cherry blossom and beyond

    Each Japanese season brings a raft of distinct experiences, from spring’s cherry blossom to winter’s snow crab delicacies. Japan specialist Henry shares the highlights of each time of year to help you decide when to visit Japan.

  • Geisha of Japan

    What to do in Japan: our highlights guide

    Having lived and traveled across the country, our Japan Specialist Caitlin has compiled her highlights, from observing centuries-old rituals to the learning about the most modern technology.

  • Shinkansen

    Japan’s bullet trains: an all-you-need-to-know guide

    Japan has long been celebrated for its high-speed train innovations. Japan specialist Phil explains why, for him, Japan’s bullet trains are an ideal way to see the country. He shares his experiences riding the trains through Japan and how to incorporate them into your trip.

  • Yoshikawa Ryokan, Kyoto

    Stay in a ryokan

    A stay in a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, is a highlight of any trip to Japan, with wonderful hospitality, food and bathing.

  • Tokyo Bay, Japan

    Value Japan: how to make your money go further

    Japan specialist Rory explains how, by visiting his recommended places to eat and stay, and choosing the time you travel wisely, a good-value trip to Japan is more achievable than ever.

  • Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

    Gardens of Japan

    From Kenrokuen’s venerated views to gardens hidden deep in the countryside, specialist Amanda recommends her preferred gardens to visit in Japan. She also explains what makes Japan’s gardens so interesting and why gardening is an important national art form.

  • Backyard Garden, Tsumago, Japan

    Honeymoons in Japan

    Honeymoon couples looking for a cultural adventure will be spoiled for choice in Japan. Country specialist, Layla, discusses some of the highlights for those wishing to honeymoon here.

  • Hakone Ginyu Spa Resort

    Luxury vacations in Japan

    Japan is a country where historic traditions and modern living blend seamlessly, and there are a number of ways to combine luxury and culture. One of our Japan specialists, Katherine, details some of the most appealing ways to indulge in this unique destination.

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