17th May 2024

Plan Your Dream Getaway: Japan Group Tour Planning 101

Planning a Japan Group Tour? If so, we’ve got you covered in this blog post.

From our experience leading group trips here, we’ve learned that Japan Group Tour Planning can be an absolute adventure. 

With its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and warm-hearted locals, Japan offers a unique travel experience. Join us as we share our insights and tips to ensure your group’s journey through this magnificent land is extraordinary. Let’s embark on this exciting adventure together!

Why Visit Japan? 

Visiting Japan is an experience like no other. The Land of the Rising Sun effortlessly blends ancient traditions with cutting-edge technology. Japan’s seasons offer a diverse and breathtaking landscape from the serene beauty of cherry blossoms in spring to the vibrant foliage of autumn.

The country’s rich history is evident in its countless shrines, temples, and castles, while its futuristic cities like Tokyo showcase the latest in innovation. The culinary adventure in Japan is a journey in itself, from savoring sushi at a humble street vendor to enjoying kaiseki dining in a traditional ryokan. But beyond the tangible attractions, it’s the warm hospitality of the Japanese people and their commitment to preserving their heritage that makes a trip to Japan truly unforgettable.

In Japan, you can go from strolling through the historic streets of Kyoto, with geishas gracefully passing by, to wandering the bustling streets of Akihabara, where neon lights and pop culture reign supreme.

Whether you’re soaking in an onsen (hot spring) in the picturesque countryside or speeding on a bullet train, Japan offers a blend of serenity and excitement. In a culture that values harmony, respect, and mindfulness, the journey becomes as important as the destination, making Japan a must-visit destination for those seeking a holistic and immersive travel experience.

History and Architecture

Japan’s rich history and diverse architecture have been shaped by centuries of cultural influences. The nation’s architectural heritage can be traced back to its indigenous Jomon period, known for its characteristic clay pottery. However, Japan’s architectural evolution truly blossomed during the Asuka and Nara periods, influenced by Chinese and Korean styles.

The construction of grand Buddhist temples, such as Horyu-ji, reflects the early architectural achievements. The Heian period brought a distinctive shift to more indigenous designs, typified by the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which featured elevated wooden floors, sliding doors, and intricate roof details. The Kamakura period introduced Zen Buddhism, impacting architectural aesthetics and resulting in the construction of tranquil Zen temples and the iconic Kamakura-era Great Buddha statue.

The Edo period is renowned for its development of the feudal castle, represented by Himeji Castle, with its intricate defensive structures and stunning aesthetics. Modernization during the Meiji Restoration saw the incorporation of Western architectural elements into Japan’s cityscapes, blending with traditional designs.

Today, Japan boasts a unique blend of contemporary skyscrapers, historical temples, and traditional wooden machiya townhouses, showcasing the coexistence of architectural traditions from various eras, creating a fascinating tapestry of Japan’s architectural history.

Facts about Japan 

  • Japan is an archipelago consisting of 6,852 islands.
  • Mount Fuji, an iconic volcano, is the highest peak in Japan.
  • Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a beloved symbol of Japan and bloom in spring.
  • Japan is known for its efficient and extensive train network, including the famous Shinkansen (bullet train).
  • Sushi and ramen are popular Japanese dishes enjoyed worldwide.

Things to Do In & Around Japan

1. Tokyo Nightlife

As the sun sets, Tokyo transforms into a vibrant kaleidoscope of neon lights, offering a myriad of options for those seeking nightlife adventures. Joining a Japan group tour allows you to fully immerse yourself in the pulsating energy of this metropolis.

Explore the diverse nightlife options scattered across districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. From intimate izakayas to trendy clubs and lively karaoke bars, the city comes alive from dusk till dawn, promising a memorable experience for every nocturnal explorer.

  • Location: Various districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi
  • Opening Hours: From dusk till dawn

2. Sumo Show

Delve into the power and tradition of sumo wrestling by attending a live sumo show in Tokyo. The Ryogoku Kokugikan, a hallowed ground for sumo enthusiasts, hosts these colossal athletes in action.

The experience is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and during your Japan group tour, you can witness the intensity and skill of these formidable wrestlers. The opening hours vary according to the sumo tournament schedule, ensuring you catch the thrilling matches during your visit.

  • Location: Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo
  • Opening Hours: Depends on the sumo tournament schedule

3. Kabuki Dance

Journey into the mesmerizing world of Kabuki, a traditional Japanese dance-drama filled with elaborate costumes and intricate storytelling. The Kabukiza Theatre in Tokyo serves as your gateway to this captivating art form, and our Japan group tour ensures you witness the elegance and grandeur of Kabuki performances.

The opening hours vary according to the performance schedule, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry woven by the skilled Kabuki performers.

  • Location: Kabukiza Theatre, Tokyo

4. Cherry Blossom Festival

Celebrate the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms during the Hanami season in Kyoto. The festival typically takes place in March and April, turning various parks and temples into a breathtaking sea of pink and white blooms. Your Japan group tour offers the perfect opportunity to picnic under these flowering canopies, providing a serene and picturesque backdrop for creating lasting memories in the heart of Kyoto.

  • Location: Multiple locations in Kyoto
  • Opening Hours: Typically in March and April

5. Explore Nijo Castle

Step back in time at Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto that echoes with samurai history. The castle allows you to stroll through its intricate gardens and listen to the nightingale floors.

Our Japan group tour ensures you thoroughly explore this architectural marvel, providing insights into Japan’s feudal past and the stories embedded within the castle’s walls.

  • Location: Nijo Castle, Kyoto
  • Opening Hours: 8:45 AM – 5:00 PM (seasonal variations)

6. Try Okonomiyaki

Indulge your taste buds in the savory delight of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake, at dedicated restaurants in Kyoto.

The local flavors infuse this dish with unique charm, and our Japan group tour will lead you to the perfect spot for a culinary adventure. Whether enjoyed during lunch or dinner, Okonomiyaki offers a delicious glimpse into Kyoto’s culinary heritage.

  • Location: Okonomiyaki restaurants in Kyoto
  • Opening Hours: Lunch and dinner times

7. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Soaring above Osaka’s skyline, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel offers panoramic views of the city and Osaka Bay. A highlight of your Japan group tour, this giant wheel operates from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (with potential variations), providing a breathtaking perspective of Osaka’s urban landscape.

Whether during the day or under the city lights, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel promises a memorable and enchanting experience.

  • Location: Tempozan Harbor Village, Osaka
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (may vary)

8. Ninja Museum

Step into the secretive world of the ninja at the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum. Operating from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the museum allows you to learn about covert techniques, shuriken throwing, and the history of these enigmatic warriors.

Your Japan group tour will unravel the mysteries of the ninja for you, offering a unique and immersive experience in the heart of Iga.

  • Location: Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, Iga
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

9. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Journey to Nagasaki and reflect on the harrowing events of World War II at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

The museum presents a powerful testament to the consequences of nuclear warfare. It is a sobering experience for all Japan group tour participants, fostering a deeper understanding of history and the importance of peace.

  • Location: Nagasaki Peace Park, Nagasaki
  • Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM (seasonal variations)

10. Climb Mount Fuji

For hiking enthusiasts, the opportunity to climb Japan’s iconic peak, Mount Fuji, awaits during the summer climbing season.

Your Japan group tour offers a guided climb to the summit, where you can witness a spectacular sunrise over the Land of the Rising Sun. This challenging yet rewarding experience adds a sense of adventure and accomplishment to your journey.

  • Location: Mount Fuji, near Tokyo
  • Opening Hours: Typically during the summer climbing season

11. A weekend trip to Arashiyama

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a tranquil weekend trip to Arashiyama, a charming suburb of Kyoto. Accessible throughout the year, Arashiyama offers serene bamboo groves, the Iwatayama Monkey Park, and a captivating escape into nature.

Your Japan group tour provides a perfect opportunity to explore the tranquil beauty of this enchanting Kyoto suburb.

  • Location: Arashiyama, Kyoto

12. Ise Grand Shrine

In the heart of Ise City lies the Ise Grand Shrine, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan. Operating from The shrine holds a significant place in Japanese spirituality.

Your Japan group tour will guide you through the serene precincts, introducing you to the rituals and traditions that make this shrine a cultural and spiritual treasure.

  • Location: Ise City, Mie Prefecture
  • Opening Hours: 5:00 AM – 6:00 PM (may vary)

13. Nishiki Market

Wander through the bustling streets of Kyoto’s Nishiki Market, often referred to as “Kyoto’s Kitchen.” This vibrant marketplace is a food lover’s paradise, with a multitude of stalls and shops offering an array of traditional Japanese snacks, street foods, and culinary treasures.

Our Japan group tour ensures you have the opportunity to savor the rich flavors and gastronomic wonders of Kyoto. From fresh seafood to skewered delicacies, the market is a sensory delight for all food enthusiasts.

  • Location: Nishiki Market, Kyoto
  • Opening Hours: Generally 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (may vary by shop)

14. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Your Japan group tour takes you to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel in Osaka, where you can experience the thrill of being suspended high above the city’s skyline. This gigantic observation wheel offers breathtaking views of Osaka and its magnificent bay, providing an enchanting visual feast as the city lights up after dark.

Be sure to capture the mesmerizing vistas and the dazzling cityscape from the top of the wheel, making it an unforgettable part of your journey.

  • Location: Tempozan Harbor Village, Osaka
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (may vary)

How to Get to Japan 

  • By Air: To visit Japan by air, you’ll need to book a flight to one of the major international airports, such as Narita International Airport (Tokyo), Kansai International Airport (Osaka), or Chubu Centrair International Airport (Nagoya). These airports have excellent connectivity and serve as major entry points for international travelers. Simply choose your preferred airport, book your flight, and you’ll be on your way to Japan.
  • By Road: If you’re traveling to Japan from a neighboring country, you can explore road options. Japan is connected to Russia via a ferry, and there are also road connections from neighboring countries like South Korea. However, road travel to Japan is less common and may involve a combination of ferries and border crossings. 

Best Time to Visit Japan 

  • Spring is one of the most popular times to visit Japan, especially during the cherry blossom (sakura) season, which typically occurs in late March to early April. The country’s parks and gardens burst into beautiful shades of pink and white.
  • Summer in Japan can be hot and humid, with occasional rain and typhoons in some regions.
  • Autumn is another excellent time to visit Japan, with comfortable temperatures and colorful foliage in November.
  • If you enjoy winter sports or want to experience Japan’s winter festivals, this is the time to visit. Hokkaido is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding.

Where to Stay in Japan

  1. Aman Tokyo – Located in the heart of Tokyo, Aman Tokyo offers a serene escape from the bustling city. This luxury hotel features minimalist Japanese design, spacious rooms, and breathtaking views of the city skyline. Guests can also enjoy a tranquil spa and exquisite dining options.
  2. Ryokan Tawaraya – For an authentic Japanese experience, Ryokan Tawaraya in Kyoto is a traditional Japanese inn. It offers tatami mat rooms, kaiseki cuisine, and a peaceful garden, allowing guests to immerse themselves in Japanese culture and hospitality.
  3. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Made famous by the movie “Lost in Translation,” Park Hyatt Tokyo is an iconic hotel with stunning views of the city. It combines contemporary luxury with Japanese aesthetics and features world-class dining, a tranquil spa, and a New York Bar with a jazz ambiance.

Things to Know Before Visiting Japan 

  • Japan is a cash-centric society so carry yen for most transactions.
  • Remove shoes indoors, especially in homes and traditional ryokans.
  • A slight bow is a common form of greeting and showing respect.
  • Be quiet on trains, avoid phone calls, and let passengers exit first.
  • English isn’t widely spoken, so some basic Japanese phrases can be helpful.
  • Tipping is not customary and can be considered impolite.

Things to avoid in Japan 

  • Don’t tip: It’s not a part of Japanese culture.
  • Avoid loud conversations in public places.
  • Don’t point your feet at people or sacred objects.
  • Refrain from public displays of affection.
  • Don’t engage in public phone conversations on trains or buses.
  • Avoid wearing shoes indoors; use slippers provided.
  • Don’t talk on your phone in quiet places, like temples or museums.

Conclusion – Japan Group Tour

In wrapping up our Japan Group Tour Planning, it’s evident that the journey ahead may seem intricate, given the sheer complexity of options. However, fret not, for the beauty of Japan lies in its rich tapestry of experiences, each more captivating than the last. So, embrace the adventure, savor the flavors, and relish the moments that make Japan truly unforgettable. Cheers to a fantastic voyage!

FAQs – Japan Group Tour

What’s the best time to visit Japan for a group tour?

Well, Japan is amazing year-round, but spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are popular choices. Cherry blossoms in spring and colorful foliage in autumn make for a picturesque experience. Keep in mind, though, that each season has its charm.

How do I plan an itinerary for a group tour in Japan?

Start by listing the must-visit places like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. Then, decide the duration of your tour and distribute the days among these cities. Don’t forget to include some off-the-beaten-path locations too!

What’s the best way to get around Japan with a group?

Japan boasts an excellent public transportation system. The Japan Rail Pass is a great option if you plan on traveling between cities. In cities, the subway and bus systems are efficient. Consider a mix of trains and buses to maximize convenience.

What are some must-try Japanese foods for a group tour?

Sushi, ramen, tempura, and okonomiyaki are classics. But also explore regional dishes like takoyaki in Osaka, and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. Don’t forget to try street food at local markets!

How do I book accommodations for a group in Japan?

You’ll find a wide range of options, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. Booking.com, Agoda, and Airbnb are great platforms to search for group-friendly accommodations. Be sure to book well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

What are some cultural etiquettes to follow on a group tour in Japan?

Japanese people value politeness and respect. Bowing is customary. Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or traditional tatami-mat rooms. Be mindful of local customs and try to speak a few Japanese phrases like “arigatou” (thank you).

How can we make the most of our Japan group tour on a budget?

To save money, consider getting a Japan Rail Pass for transportation. Opt for budget-friendly accommodations like hostels or guesthouses. Also, look for affordable dining options at local eateries and street vendors.

Check out our other trips