13 Day Japan Culture & Crafts

Women Only

Max group 12

Lifetime Deposit

Japan. Neon lights and centuries-old temples, it mixes old and new in style!

We’re inviting you to join us on this trip where you’ll wander the backstreets of Old Tokyo before styling it up at a glitzy roof-top bar.

This trip is a way to connect with Japanese culture in a way that gets you far beyond touristic sights.  Meet with local artisans and practise their ancient crafts, and travel on a spiritual journey through Shinto, Confucius, and Buddhism

Our trip leader is a world-class expert on Japanese culture, and you’ll travel by train – just as the Japanese prefer it – because the service is excellent. And, we’ve planned local guide connections along the way for a full and enchanting experience. There are must-see, iconic sites, but we’ve made sure that the journey contains magical hidden gems, including Shiga – the quieter and ancient neighbour of Kyoto, and our destination for your very own spiritual Zen experience

There are no cherry blossoms here. And that’s a good thing – no shoulder-to-shoulder tourist trails on this trip! And did we mention the food…?  

Highlights

A morning walk along the historic Nakasendo Path

4 different craft experiences with local artisans

A mix of modern-Japan and historical boutique accommodation

Overnight at an Onsen Hot Springs

Cooking experience with a Japanese chef in her private studio

A guided Zen meditation.

Trip Details

Price

$10,810 AUD (per person twin share)

  • $2,150 deposit.
  • 2 week cooling off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips. 
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private Supplement: $2,735 (4 available)
  • Tip Kitty: $150 AUD

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Trip length

13 days, 12 nights


Dates

May 2024

Starts: Tokyo, 7 May 2024

Finishes: Kyoto, 19 May 2024.

BOOKED OUT


Meeting point

Tosei Hotel Cocone Tsukiji Ginza Premier, Tokyo


Ending point

Hotel Genji, Kyoto


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section under the Participation Tab.


Included

  • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 1 cooking experience, 7 lunches, 
  • 1 pre-dinner tasters and 7 dinners
  • Comfortable public trains and private vehicle transportation throughout
  • 12 nights boutique accommodation
  • A top-rated and English-speaking Tour Leader & local specialist  guides
  • All listed activities and more!

Not included

  • International Flights, and travel insurance (required)
  • Additional hotel nights, early check-ins and late checkouts
  • Drinks and other personal expenses
  • While tipping is not appropriate in restaurants in Japan, small monetary ‘gifts’ are gratefully received by specialist guides and artisans you’ll meet along the way. We recommend budgeting $150 AUD.

What our Japan Patchies say


Why Choose This Tour?

This is Japan, the way it SHOULD be done. Yes, you will experience the highlights of the Golden Route but this trip goes so much further than that.

This trip was designed in conjunction with one of the foremost travel experts in Japan, Lauren Shannon. She has opened up her rolodex to give us unique experiences that are not available on any other itinerary.

Comfy accommodation to top it off. All our accommodation has been personally inspected by our team in Japan. We have located the best options in each town with a mix of both heritage and modern stays.

Click the tabs to find out more
DAY 1: HELLO TOKYO!

Hello, Tokyo! Welcome to Japan, a country that will stay in your heart forever. It’s always nice to arrive to a welcoming face, so one of our team members will meet you at the airport for a transfer to downtown Tokyo.

Tonight is Tokyo at its finest. We’ll kick off the trip in Shibuya – famous for its neon lights – and while it’s crowded, that’s for good reason… it’s great! Right here, you’ll join a street food tour guided by an expert who knows Shibuya’s best eating spots. That’s day one, and the fun is just beginning.

Accommodation: Tosei Hotel Cocone Tsukiji Ginza Premier (or similar)
Included: Dinner

DAY 2: SPIRITUAL TOKYO

Yesterday was about modern Tokyo. This morning, however, is a change of pace as you dive into Japan’s spiritual side with an artisan who will help you make a Goshujin, or personalised shrine passport book. In this book, you’ll document your spiritual journey through Japan by collecting stamps inside to acknowledge the spectacular temples and shrines you’ll visit – starting with Sensō-ji later today. 

We’ve also got some other fun experiences lined up, but it’s tonight that you’ll remember: a seriously spooky ghost tour with a local storyteller, set in the backstreets of Old Tokyo. Goosebumps and chuckles galore. 

Accommodation: Tosei Hotel Cocone Tsukiji Ginza Premier (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

DAY 3: TOKYO CHEF

Today, get ready for a hands-on Japanese cooking class. It’s so intimate that the group will be split into two small groups to enjoy the proper experience with our cooking teacher in her home studio.
Together you’ll create a seasonal meal to enjoy, and come away with some clever cooking skills to wow your friends at dinner parties back home.

Accommodation: Tosei Hotel Cocone Tsukiji Ginza Premier (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

DAY 4: ONSEN IN THE SHADE OF MT FUJI

We can’t leave Tokyo without exploring the famous Tsukiji fish Market. So today, breakfast will morph into brunch during a food-laden market tour. 

It’s been an amazing few days in Tokyo. You’ve seen wall-to-wall skyscrapers, traditional neighbourhoods and eaten some of the yummiest food we can muster, all led by your expert guide. But in order to see Japan, one must actually leave Tokyo. So, reluctantly, that is what the group will do this afternoon.

You will transfer by road to Shizuoka, a small city surrounded by tea fields and dominated by views of Mt Fuji. It’s a big day, so tonight is free, yours for the taking. Slip into a zen-like state of relaxation in the Onsen of your hotel, or shop-’til-you-drop at the famous retail outlets just nearby.

Accommodation: Hotel Clad (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Brunch

DAY 5: INDIGO AND TEA

There are two important plants to Japanese culture on today’s agenda. One you’re going to love drinking. The other is a celebrated colour. Did you know that indigo is first green in colour and gradually turns blue when it comes in contact with air? 

In the afternoon transfer to Toba by train. It’s well off the tourist trail and you’ll sleep like a local tonight, on a Tatami mat and a traditional Japanese futon on the floor. Don’t worry – it’s way more comfy than it sounds – but if you’d prefer a standard height bed, that can be arranged! 

Accommodation: Local Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

TRAIN TRAVEL

Train travel in Japan will quickly become second nature to you. The efficiency and functionality of the service is world-class, and regularly quicker than road travel. Even better, no need to lug bags around… as this is all taken care of! Your luggage is couriered onto each of the major stops on this trip, while you travel with your overnight essentials in your small wheelie case.

DAY 6: SEASIDE TOBA

The islands of Toba stretch like fingers toward the Pacific Ocean. And after a crash course in Toba’s ancient fishing culture this morning, you’ll experience the lifestyle first-hand when your group takes a leisurely ferry ride to one of the islands. Meet the fisher families who’ve carved out a living for many generations. Mmm… take a moment to breathe in that seaside air!

Accommodation: Local Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

DAY 7: MYSTERY DAY

At Patch, we like to keep some things hidden up our sleeves. After all, a bit of mystery makes things more interesting, doesn’t it?

That’s why today will be our chance to surprise you. All we can say is that you’ll spend precious time bonding with some local women who will share their unique work-life experiences with you over lunch.

Finish the day in Nagoya and some sake pairings over dinner, after a scenic late afternoon transfer. 

Accommodation: Nikko Style Nagoya Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner

DAY 8: THE NAKASENDO WAY

It’s no surprise – the Nakasendo Way is a must-see and today, you’ll transfer early to the picture-perfect post-town of Magome. Step onto the centuries-old stone path and lose yourself in the memories of the Shogun and Samurai.

After a well-earned lunch, the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. Make the most of your lush hotel, or hit up your guide for some nearby dinner recommendations. 

Accommodation: Nikko Style Hotel, Nagoya (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

DAY 9: NAGOYA

It goes without saying that the delicious food encounters will keep rolling in and today you’ll meet together around noon for a local Hitsumabushi Lunch. Grilled eel on rice is a delicacy here. 

But, not before the group splits in two for alternating activities. You’ll be joining a metalwork artisan who’ll share intricate crafting skills he uses to create traditional Japan’s Buddhist home-altars.

Accommodation: Nikko Style Hotel, Nagoya (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

DAY 10: SPIRITUAL SHIGA

Day 10. Just a few days left, and your final stop before arriving in Kyoto will be the magical little town of Otsu, Shiga. Your Zen experience starts when you make your own set of prayer beads – and use them in a guided Zen meditation. Tonight’s stay is in a few converted historic houses – another step towards your transition to true Japanese immersion. NB: Speak up if you enjoyed sleeping local-style in Toba, because tonight it’s your choice to do it again!

Accommodation: Inase and Annex Otsu (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

DAY 11: KYOTO ZEN

Kyoto is well known for a very good reason, and today, the group arrives in this ancient, majestic city for a most unforgettable experience! To have a private tour of a Zen garden with a local expert doesn’t happen every day and we’re sure you’ll be thinking how you’ll incorporate some of the principles you’ve learned back at home.  Take some time for yourself after lunch. You might like to spend the afternoon collecting more stamps for your Goshujin passport by visiting the Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines in Kyoto. 

Tonight, get a little bit ‘glam’ – our hotel has a gorgeous rooftop bar and we’re going to make full use of it.

Accommodation: Hotel Genji (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Pre-dinner tasters

DAY 12: BAMBOO FOREST

By now, you’ll know that Patch is all about mixing the finest ‘bucket list’ highlights with genuine local experiences. So, on this, your final full day, breakfast is as local as it gets at a neighbourhood Kissaten, or coffee house. Then, visit the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest before a free afternoon…  Anyone up for some last minute shopping?

Tonight is our farewell dinner, and what a vibrant food-and-culture finale we have planned for you in the Geisha districts of Gion and Pontocho!

Accommodation:  Hotel Genji (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 13: KYOTO FAREWELL

Let’s catch up for our final breakfast. It’s not goodbye, it’s until next time! Exchange phone numbers and photos before transferring to Kansai Airport for your onward travel.

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map
What about the food?

Food in Japan is not just about eating, it’s a way of life. The customs in the preparation and the service of food is an integral part of Japan’s culture, and you’ll get to experience all of this. Gohan, plain steamed rice is a constant – but it always comes with a collection of yummy dishes like soup, mains (often fresh seafood), and pickled veggies to really liven meals up. Forks and knives are out of this tour, and chopsticks are in because your leader is a Japanese food specialist who will WOW you with experiences in local restaurants.

There’s not a single boring old tourist restaurant to be found!

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:YEN exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:93.68 JPY.

A deposit of $2,150 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:

Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

Try to arrive before midday on the start day, although earlier would be recommendable. Arriving at least one night before gives time for settling in. We can assist with additional hotel nights both on arrival and departure.

Level 2 or Moderate

You’ll need a moderate level of fitness for this trip. If you can walk 3-4 hours, i.e. 7-8 km at an easy pace on undulating terrain, you’ll be fine. There will be days when you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet, while certain activities are skippable.

Contact us. There is a maximum group size of 12.

This trip begins in Tokyo, Japan, and ends in Kyoto. We ask that you fly into either Haneda or Narita International Airports. However, if you have a choice, Haneda is preferred. If you wish to go back to Tokyo upon finishing, it’s less than 3 hours by train.

No matter when you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by our friendly team, and you’ll transfer directly to your hotel via high-speed rail.  And yes – we can book additional hotel nights for you. Those who arrive early may just find a surprise activity or two organised especially for you early birds.

We can accommodate most dietary requirements, but some are a challenge, and we will do our best. Vegetarian and Pescatarian are OK. So is vegan, though there will be limited options in the countryside. Gluten-Free is a challenge. We do not recommend people with life-threatening allergies join this tour because cross-contamination is not always effectively managed in Japan.

Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a tourist visa for short stays in Japan. All travellers will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after departure.

Tourists arriving in Japan with proof of double vaccination and 1 booster for COVID-19 (3 vaccinations in total) are not required to take a COVID test on arrival. Anyone who can only show proof of double vaccination is required to take a COVID test on arrival (as long as they are not flying in from China and China territories). For now, we recommend all participants be triple vaccinated to avoid disappointment. Anyone recognised as arriving to Japan with COVID systems will be tested and required to quarantine for 7 days if they test positive. https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/bordercontrol.html

Japan has a reputation for being a cash-based society, but this is changing, and you will be able to use credit cards in big cities, hotels, and larger stores. Cash is often all that is accepted in taxis, smaller shops, and rural areas. ATMs in Japan do not always accept international cards, so check with your bank.

We recommend arranging some Japanese Yen, which includes some small denominations, before travelling to Japan and bringing Australian dollars for exchange along the way, as theft is rare in Japan. Your tour leader will guide you through cash exchanges.

We recommend bringing plenty of comfortable, breathable clothes and a light rain jacket for an occasional spring shower. Good walking shoes, insect repellent, and sun protection are also a must. There’s no need to pack the strand of pearls, but a dressy scarf might be a handy addition to dress up for a night at a Tokyo rooftop bar.

There will be times when you’re required to remove your shoes (at temples, shrines, and traditional shops). Slip-on shoes make this activity easier, and be sure your socks don’t have any holes in them. NB: It’s rude to be barefoot during these situations, so if you’re wearing sandals, have a pair of socks handy.

Japan’s train system is impressive, and rather than lugging luggage around, locals use couriers to transport it between destinations. -We’ll be using the same. So, as well as your usual luggage (single case, please), you’ll need a small backpack or overnight case (with wheels) to pack essentials for a brief overnight stay while your luggage is couriered directly to meet you at the next major destination.

In the unlikely event of a health or security related incident during a trip, we’ve engaged a local partner to assist. From our experience, there is not one framework that fits all, and every incident is unique and requires a different approach. With all trips, your guides are your day-to-day support. While behind the scenes, there is an active line of communication – between your guide, the on-ground support team, and Australian Ops.

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