Top of Japan

MONDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER 2019  – SUNDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2019

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Just visiting Japan is an adventure in its own right. Home to cat cafes, remote control toilets, sumo wrestling, geishas, sushi, capsule hotels and endless temples….there is so much to see and do!

This Love Her Wild expedition is part travel, part adventure – seeing the best sights while also attempt a summit of Mt Fuji and a special ‘women’s pilgrimage hike’.

The Plan

This is a jam-packed itinerary that will leave you with a real sense of Japan – both its modern and traditional side. Although a busy 2 weeks, there will be pockets of quiet where you can enjoy a relaxing few hours soaking in an Onsen (traditional Japanese bath) or wandering one of the many Japanese gardens.

The expedition will include a hike to the summit of Mt Fuji. This is a tough day but is manageable with a baseline fitness. Day 1 is our longest hike with a 6-7 hour climb to our overnight mountain hut. We will wake very early the next morning to cover the final 1.5-2 hours climb to reach the summit for sunrise.

We will also be making the journey to Koyasan. This really is going to be a highlight of the trip. We will be staying at an authentic temple, home to monks, and will have an opportunity to dine in an ancient hall and witness a morning prayer. The cemetery and temples in the area really do have to be seen to be believed. We will be doing a special day hike that was designed specifically for women pilgrims. This gentle trek will take us through thick silent forests and ageing shrines.

The expedition also includes time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. There are lots to see in all these places and you can adapt the trip to suit your travelling style.

Japan Rail pass

Everyone joining this trip will be advised to purchase a JR Rail Pass ahead of time. This 14-day pass (although you can extend it if you wish to stay longer) allows unlimited travel on most of Japan’s rail lines, including their famous bullet trains! And costs £316 which is great value as one ride on a bullet train alone can be as much as £100.

The efficient public transport makes it easy to travel around and we will be relying on trains a lot to allow us to see plenty in our 2-week itinerary.

The pass gives you real flexibility during your time off. You can easily fit in a Miyajima Island (and it’s famous ‘floating shrine’) or Nara (with its gigantic buddha and the famous bowing deer) or…..if you are Harry Potter mad then how about a day trip to Universal Studios with it’s Wizarding World?!

There is no need to decide this in advance as train seats can be reserved easily on the day of travel.

Itinerary

Please note that this itinerary may change but will give you a rough idea of the plan:

Day 1: depart from the UK (suggested evening flight)

Day 2: Tokyo – arrive in Tokyo late afternoon and have an evening exploring the city and acclimatising. You’ll probably be quite Jetlagged so will want to take it fairly slow.

Day 3: Tokyo – we will have our first team meeting after breakfast to run through the plan for the next few days and to ensure we are all ready for our upcoming Mt Fuji hike. You are then free to explore this exciting city. There is lots to see! Including the Shibuya crossing, cat cafes, the city lights at night. Plus you’ll probably want some time just to marvel at the number of buttons on the toilets!

Day 4Tokyo – today is a great day to visit Nikko and it’s famed temples. The afternoon could be a good chance to wander one of Tokyo’s many city parks. Make sure you get an early night so you have all the energy you need for the next day!

Day 5Tokyo to Mt Fuji – we have a big hike ahead of us to reach the mountain hut near the base of the summit. Japan is a busy place, all over, and Mt Fuji is no exception!! We will be hiking right at the end of the season so although we shouldn’t need to queue to reach the summit we will still be able to take in the atmosphere of being amongst so many like-minded hikers from all over the world. When we arrive at our mountain hut we will be served a hot meal and will find an empty futon (floor bed) to grab a few hours sleep.

Day 6: Mt Fuji to Hakoneyou have a very early start today to reach the summit of Mt Fuji before sunrise. The views above the clouds are breathtaking! It takes about 3-4 hours to hike down. We will then head to our Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) accommodation in Hakone. Soak your muscles in one of the natural hot baths and change into your kimono to have dinner Japanese style – multiple dishes eaten from a floor table.

Day 7: Hakone to Kyotowe will board our first bullet train to take us to Kyoto. This is a much-loved city and for good reason! Kyoto is jam-packed and you will be reaching for your camera on every corner as there is so much to see. A good place to start is in the Gion region where you might be lucky enough to spot a real Geisha.

Day 8: Kyoto today will be a chance to see many of Kyoto’s top sights. We will be getting around on bike’s (electric or standard – the choice is yours!). We will aim to visit the famous ‘Golden Temple’,  Fushimi (red gates), Kiyomizu-Dera and Philosophers Path.

Day 9: Kyoto – you have a few options today! You could spend the morning in Nara visiting the ‘bowing deer’ and the giant golden Buddha, followed by an afternoon in Kyoto visiting the sights that we missed. If you were feeling energetic and wanted to experience a favourite pass time for the Japanese, then Universal Studios amusement park is just an hour away (tickets to the park cost around £50 and can be brought in advance). Or maybe you’d just like a day to relax, soak in the onsen (traditional hot bath) and take a day to rest.

Day 10: Kyoto to Hiroshima – as you can imagine Hiroshima is a hard-hitting place to visit but is also a must. Many visitors prefer to visit the Atomic Dome and the Peace Museum in just a couple of hours, preferring instead to spend most of the day on the nearby island, Miyajima, which can easily be reached by a short ferry. We will be visiting both, although you can choose to stay in Hiroshima if you prefer to spend more time there.

Day 11: Hiroshima to Koyasan – it’s a bit of an adventure getting to Koyasan involving trains, a cable car and a bus, but it really is worth the effort. After checking into our temple lodging, you will have time to see the famous Okunoin cemetery. It’s beautiful! Tonight will be our first meal with the monks.

Day 12: Koyasan – we have a gentle day hike taking one of the rare women’s pilgrimage hike’s in Japan. This really is going to be a special experience for us walking in the footsteps of all those women before us. Back at Koya-san, the cemetery offers a completely different experience visiting night all lit up by lanterns. Or if you want something more relaxing, you can ease your muscles in the temple’s hot onsen.

Day 13: Koyasan to Osaka – if you are brave enough to get up at the crack of dawn you can witness the monks doing their morning prayer. Once we’ve had breakfast we will then be back on the road. Osaka couldn’t be more different to Koyasan! This bustling city has a completely different feel and is relaxed and futuristic. The best way to experience the city is to wander through the centre at night which is lite up by millions of lights. Osaka is best known for its food and there are lots of unusual dishes to try in the markets and streets. Tonight we will be staying in a futurstic capsule hotel! This really is a Japanese experience not to be missed (but don’t worry….they are more spacious than people thing. You have plenty of room to sit up and move around)

Day 14 – Osaka to Tokyo – we will board our final bullet train to take us back to Tokyo where we will be staying in a new district. This area is known for its rickshaws and is a good place to wander the markets picking up some final souvenirs or to take a river cruise if you want to see the city from a new perspective. We will be celebrating our last evening with sake and a final favourite Japanese pastime that can’t be missed….I won’t ruin the surprise!

Day 15: Departure day – our team will be saying our final goodbyes before heading home.

 

Where will we be staying

The expedition is a real mix of accommodation but will mostly be relying on traditional Japanese stays over Western options. We’ll be staying in hotels, a mountain hut on Mt Fuji, Ryokans (traditional inns), a temple and a capsule hotel.

A lot of the places we stay will involve sleeping on a futon on the floor and may only have shared or public baths avaiable.

What is included

  • 13 nights accommodation (sharing mostly twin rooms)
  • Additional transport to and from KoyaSan, Mt Fuji and Hiroshima
  • Guided mount Fuji hike including a stay at a mountain hut
  • Women’s pilgrimage hike
  • Some meals (8 breakfasts and 5 dinners)
  • Bike hire in Kyoto
  • Witnessing a morning prayer ceremony
  • Expedition leader

What is not

  • Japan Rail pass (14 days needed for this trip). This currently costs £316 and can be bought in advance (instructions will be sent to the team on how to do this!)
  • Travel to and from the start of the expedition
  • Food not in the itinerary and drink
  • Activities not on the itinerary. As the rail pass includes unlimited travel this shouldn’t be a huge additional expense unless you intend to visit Universal Studios….mostly it will be entry fees to temples and sights which are usually in the region of $2-10)
  • Additional transport not mentioned in the itinerary (i.e. using the subway in Tokyo or getting taxis or busses if you don’t want to walk between attractions)
  • Personal travel insurance

A few things to note….

…….As you’ve probably already gathered, this is quite an active itinerary! Because we will be relying on trains to get about, you will need to pack light and be comfortable carrying your bag to and from train stations and our accommodation. The easiest way to carry your gear will be in a medium sized backpack. For the hikes you will only need a day bag as the rest of your stuff can be kept back at the hotel.

…..Japan is busy! There are people everywhere, even on the hikes. Although we are travelling off-season so hopefully it won’t be at its most manic. This really is all part of the experience of Japan though.

…..Futons (Japanese floor beds) are firmer than the mattresses we are used to. And their pillows very hard! We will also be spending a night in a capsule hotel 🙂

…….In some of the traditional places we stay, the showers and baths are public. There are lots of rules in Japan and one of them is that you must be naked in the baths! Sometimes these rules are relaxed to accommodate foreigners but it’s best to go knowing this ahead of time. They can also be strict with a ‘no tattoo’ policy although usually this can be hidden discreetly…unless you have really large artwork!

………You need to have a good base fitness to complete the Mt Fuji hike. You’ve got lots of time to get in shape for this and if you are unsure then just ask me.

……if you are vegan, vegetarian or have food preferences then Japan can be tricky. It’s not impossible but does take a bit of planning and patience.

The expedition will be limited to just 9 spaces and is being led by Love Her Wild founder Bex Band. Bex is a qualified mountain leader and has led a number of UK and overseas expeditions. You can find out more about Bex on www.theOrdinaryAdventurer.com.

When: 2nd – 15th September 2019*
Where: Tokyo, Japan (start and finish)
Cost: £2,200

*departing from the UK on the 1st September

You can secure your place on this expedition with a £350 non-refundable deposit. For enquiries, please email Bex on [email protected]

 

**THIS EXPEDITION IS NOW FULLY BOOKED** 

We have partnered with Inspired Ventures who specialise in adventure travel to support social and environmental projects around the world. Inspired Ventures is a UK travel company that ensures our trip has all the necessary insurance and complies with the necessary standards and laws in the UK.

Please do not book your flights to Japan until you have received confirmation that we have received minimum numbers for this expedition to go ahead.