The Japan Tour Company was born out of a love of Japan. Our primary goal is to provide an authentic encounter with Japan that changes you forever. We want you to experience and fall in love with the same culture and people that we have! We also understand that Japan as many iconic and famous attractions that everyone wants to see.
With those 2 things in mind, we design our Japan group tours with a classic itinerary that is leans heavily towards non-touristy experiences. We don’t want you to feel like a tourist in Japan, we want you to feel like you are one of the people. We want you to be among them, and visit the same locations that other Japanese locals and Japanese tourists are visiting.
There will be times where you see many other foreigners at a particular location due to it’s popularity. While that is unavoidable at times, we strive to take you places where few foreigners are, so you can experience the country in pure Japanese fashion.
If you the kind of person who wants to experience a country and a culture in a truly meaningful way but don’t feel comfortable planning a trip in a foreign country, then we might be right for you! We take care of everything so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
However, if you like to travel solo or with just your companions, we offer self-guided vacation packages that you can find here
To accomplish the goal of authenticity with our group tours, we do not use large tour buses or private transportation of any kind. Japan is extremely well connected by a massive network of trains. You can go almost anywhere you want to go on one. They are easy to find and most operate with both English and Japanese making them extremely accessible to foreigners.
Any time a train won’t suffice, it is almost guaranteed that a bus will be available. Due to the logistics of a group tours in Japan, we do our best to stick with the trains. This can mean that we do some additional walking at times, from a quarter of a mile up to 1 mile to and from a particular train station and attraction. This much walking can make our tours a bit more strenuous than others out there, but we love it! Why? Because you get to see and experience more of the country that way! Some of the best places in Japan we have found while walking instead of taking transit.
If you used a taxi and drove to every destination, you would miss out on the authentic Japanese experience. There are so many surprises around every corner that we almost always find something new on every trip! That is what The Japan Tour Company is all about!
Speaking of living like a local, have you heard of 7-Eleven? 7-Eleven is vastly different in Japan than it is in the USA, it isn’t the dirty gas station on the corner. These stores are clean and full of useful products and fresh food, yes, it’s made fresh! In fact, if the store runs out of something they receive their fresh products within 12 hours! You’ll find that a breakfast at 7-Eleven or Family Mart is cheaper and even better quality than many hotel breakfasts.
So, we join the locals and shop local! Saving you money and providing you with even more close encounters with Japan!
We do our best to ensure that our group tours to Japan are as affordable as possible. As a small company with limited overhead we are committed to passing those savings on to you. In additional our founder leads all of the tours so that we don’t have to pay for third-party guides or contractors.
The price we list, is the price you pay, period! Let’s say there is a Japan group tour that you want to go on that costs $4000 (airfare included). When it is finally time to book your flight, we discover that airfare has gone up $200 higher than expected. We don’t pass that cost along to you. We absorb it and make less money. We do this because we want you to feel secure in the service you are purchasing. The world of travel can be unpredictable, but you shouldn’t have to be the one to worry.
Designing a Japan group tour that appeals to everyone can be tough. Especially when you consider that veteran travelers to Japan have probably already seen the standard iconic sights.
That is why we focus mostly on first time travelers. We want to bring Japan to those who haven’t yet tasted it’s rich culture. Our group tours specifically cover well known areas that are both accessible and popular. We do our best not to herd you from location to location. Instead, we craft each day to allow for meaningful and exciting encounters with the people and the culture. We strive to take you on non-standard routes, away from other tourists and into the heart of the land.
Tokyo is one of those hustling and bustling cities that never seems to sleep. But watch out for those trains, they stop running at midnight; miss one and you’ll be spending your early hours in a bar to pass the time!
When we visit Tokyo we really focus on 2 major things: Japanese City Culture and Food.
Riding bustling trains and subways, moving with the flow of the people is your move about the city. Walk the streets in the quiet morning or late at night when the city is lit up in neon. We will stop the tour at times and let the group disperse to each find their own corner of Tokyo to discover for themselves. When we come back together, there is always a buzz of conversation and excitable sharing among our customers.
We’ll travel to areas such as Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho where the locals drink after work or perhaps Hoppy Street in Asakusa where traditional Izakayas line the streets, their tables flowing into the road. Our small group tour will also sometimes offer, for an additional fee, special local tours run by local Japanese guides to introduce you to areas of Tokyo that may otherwise not be available to group tours like ours. These encounters are intimate and memorable.
Visiting Shrines and parks is not out of the question either. Just because it’s the big city that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems that can’t be found tucked away between the buildings. There is a reason Central Park has such an appeal in New York, and for that same reason, you will find Yoyogi park a lovely stroll. The Meiji shrine is nearby as well. If you are there on the weekend, you may just get a chance to see a Shinto wedding ceremony!
Tokyo is full of contradictions, one minute you are in the park, admiring the cherry blossoms and the next, you are in Harajuku, the center for wild fashion in Japan. Or maybe you are in Shibya, the “Time Square” of Tokyo. The old and the new live side by side in an amazing way.
The food in Tokyo is some of the best in the world. Sushi, ramen, and curry can be found everywhere you look! With endless options it can be hard to choose. Luckily there are just a few articles out there talking about this very subject! One article in particular that I appreciate is this one from Just One Cookbook. It covers almost every category of food and offers recommendations too!
With group tours in Japan it can be hard to find places that seat everyone together. This however doesn’t subtract from the experience, but adds to it! How can someone experience Japan when their guide is doing all the ordering for them? We cannot travel inside these bubbles we create for ourselves but must step outside of them to experience all of the wonderful interactions with the local people.
The city of Kyoto is an old soul. Preserved streets stretch out across it’s face and draw you in to a time that we can now only read about. The feel is very Edo-Kyoto (Edo is the romanticized period of Japan that the samurai are associated). On our Japan group tour you can walk these ancient roads and get a sense of what the old Kyoto might have been like.
There is honestly so much to see Kyoto that you could easily spend a month here and not see it all. But since most of us don’t have that kind of time, our group tours attempt to capture it’s essence and distill it in the time that we do have.
Higashiyama and the surrounding area covers a lot of that old world feel. Many of the streets have been preserved leaving you with a sense of what it was like hundreds of years ago in the throng of the morning markets. The homes and shops exude that post WWII feel that has been so romanticized in anime and film.
The Kiyomizudera temple is a fantastic visit long your walks. Make a wish and take in the swathe of colors visible from the stage.
Philosopher’s Path is just the north of the Higashiyama area and provide a beautiful stroll through cherry blossoms in the spring. Our group tours typically explore Gion, a well preserved area that sits right along the river where geisha still work; you can even spot a a few of them as they go about their business!
Northern Kyoto is full of shrines, the Gold and Silver Pavilion are especially popular. Our tours don’t typically go into the northern parts of Kyoto due to the fact that aren’t many trains that go that high. Typically this is where buses are required and if you’ve ever tried to get a group of 16 people onto a bus in Kyoto, you’d know that it is a nearly impossible task. The buses are almost always packed!
We do however encourage our travelers to explore! If you want to go see it yourself we can help you get there!
Western Kyoto is a dream in the fall. Walk through the bamboo forest of Arashiyama; a path that leads you up to a grand view of the river and the mountainside covered in color. Walk down along the river to the town by the local train station. Enjoy a few local delicacies and snacks before heading back to the main city.
Southern Kyoto is well known for it’s singularly most popular shrine, Fushimi Inari Taisha. This Shinto shrine is worth your entire morning and then some. There is both a short hike and a longer one. I encourage anyone who is up to the climb to walk the entire loop if they can. The group tours typically only do the short hike (which is still amazing) due to time and physical diversity of the group.
Once you have finished enjoying the shrine, street food vendors can typically be seen near the entrance. Stop for some toasted mochi or grilled crab cakes on a stick!
Fushimi Inari Taishi is one of the most visited and celebrated shrines in Japan. When you go, you will quickly understand why.
As you travel even further south of Kyoto you’ll run into Nara. Nara is well known for it’s temple, shrines, and deer filled park. It’s a great place to take it slow and just enjoy your surroundings. It is also an extremely popular visit. Our group tours don’t always go to Nara park, it really depends on the itinerary. If you have a chance to see it, we recommend it!
Let’s talk food. One aspect of our group tour is the eating and sharing of food and there is no place better for that than Osaka. Street food is common in various arcades and shopping streets. Osaka castle is filled with vendors in the spring, and a great place to spend your sakura season.
Dotonbori deserves it’s own subheading. Yes, it is so full of food that you couldn’t try it all even if you spent an entire month in this neighborhood. Crab legs, sushi, curry, ramen, ice cream filled melon pan. If it’s edible, it can be found here. At night the entire area is lit up by neon signs and is a great place to spend an evening and maybe even do some karaoke!