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InsideJapan

Take the holiday of a lifetime with InsideJapan Tours. We are a market-leading Japan travel specialist, offering unique group tours, tailored travel and cultural experiences that few get the chance to discover. Our team has had years of experience living, working and traveling in Japan, and we offer unrivaled advice and support, whatever your budget or personal interests.

Our holidays grant you the chance to experience both the popular and little-known aspects of Japanese culture, giving you an insight into the diverse character of the country. That's why many of you travel with us again and again, demonstrating Japan's lasting appeal and the wealth of sights and experiences on offer. No matter how many times you've been - there's always something new to discover.

Featured trips & expertise

Stop in Mount Fuji on your way to Kyoto
Japan Golden Route - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary follows the path of Japan's ancient Tokaido Highway (the Golden Route) from the skyscrapers of ultra-modern Tokyo to the cultural heart of Kyoto. In between the two cities, you'll stop in the beautiful town of Hakone to soak up Mount Fuji views, hot springs, and excellent museums. Traveling by bullet train, your flexible Japan Rail Pass offers plenty of day-trips for a truly customizable adventure.

Kyoto's Higashiyama historic district
Best of Tokyo & Kyoto - 7 Days

This weeklong adventure splits its time between two of Japan's most important cities with a mix of customizable tours and free time to explore on your own. Start off in Tokyo for a taste of modern Japan with top-notch architecture, animé, modern art, high fashion, and cuisine. Then head to traditional Kyoto for beautiful temples and shrines, ancient gardens, and cultural experiences like tea ceremonies and calligraphy.

The torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto
Classic Highlights of Japan - 14 Days

On this two-week journey to the four corners of Japan's main island, Honshu, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy its unmissable attractions. You'll visit sacred temples and shrines, go bike riding through the countryside, and roam around the capital's most famous neighborhoods. From the modern cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima to the island of Miyajima, the wonders of ancient Kyoto and beyond, there is so much to see, taste, and discover.

Recent Trip Reviews for InsideJapan

Ninja trip, Japan - Mar 31 - Apr 12, 2019

Traveler: Linda O. - Local specialist: Natalie Collar

I liked working with KimKim because I always felt in control of our trip. I liked being able to add experiences which allowed us to make the trip personal. We could make decisions along the way and not have a tour guide telling us to get on the bus.
Our first tour guide in Tokyo (name?) was wonderful. She interacted with the children and they learned so much. She took the time with them and let them set the pace somewhat, making adjustments to places and time easily if needed.
The second... read more

I liked working with KimKim because I always felt in control of our trip. I liked being able to add experiences which allowed us to make the trip personal. We could make decisions along the way and not have a tour guide telling us to get on the bus.
Our first tour guide in Tokyo (name?) was wonderful. She interacted with the children and they learned so much. She took the time with them and let them set the pace somewhat, making adjustments to places and time easily if needed.
The second tour guide in Kyoto was very nice but seemed more intent on getting us through everything rather than creating an experience.
The experiences such as tea ceremony and ninja lessons, and cooking lessons were wonderful. One of the highlights of the trip.
Our only complaint was the time schedule in Hakone. We were unable to fully enjoy the area due to the bus schedule. We didn't realize how far away from the train station was the hotel. We figured we would drop off our overnight bags and then explore. But we were 25 minutes out of town. However, the inn was wonderful and the children had a great time playing in the room and attached hot spring bath.
The support team was wonderful in helping along the way with questions and suggestions.

I loved that my grandchildren were immersed in the culture and loving every minute. My grandson even asked if he could live in Japan ! We bowed at every torii gate, prayed at every shrine, admired the cherry blossoms, and became pros at public transportation.
Thanks for a wonderful trip.

Natalie Collar profile photo
Natalie Collar, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you for writing about your trip in great detail, Linda! I enjoyed reading through your travels and how everyone enjoyed them. Thank you for also sharing pictures from the trip, I can see the enjoyment in your grandkids' faces! It really sounds like you all were able to have rich, cultural experiences that will last for many years to come--how amazing that your grandson grew so fond of Japan that he wants to live there! I recommend it :)

Having a one-night stay in Hakone makes it tough... read more

Thank you for writing about your trip in great detail, Linda! I enjoyed reading through your travels and how everyone enjoyed them. Thank you for also sharing pictures from the trip, I can see the enjoyment in your grandkids' faces! It really sounds like you all were able to have rich, cultural experiences that will last for many years to come--how amazing that your grandson grew so fond of Japan that he wants to live there! I recommend it :)

Having a one-night stay in Hakone makes it tough to fit in sightseeing as well as relaxation at the ryokan accommodations. This is great feedback for future trips, and I am glad to hear you all enjoyed the hot springs.

Again, it was a fantastic experience working with you and your family, Linda! Please don't hesitate to contact us again if you take a second trip to Japan.

Naomi

Sadie's bat mitzvah trip, Japan - Apr 14 - Apr 24, 2019

Traveler: Naomi B. - Local specialist: Nicole Rhoden

My granddaughter became a Bat Mitzvah and my gift to her was a trip anywhere in the world. She picked Japan. Nicole Rhoden helped me plan the most spectacular adventure I could have imagined. My granddaughter loves anime and manga and we were able to include a visit to the Ghibli museum on our first day (tickets are hard to get, but Inside Japan Tours was able to secure them for just the right day and time) and an amazing full day tour in Tokyo with Chantel Furbert in Akihabara, Harajuki... read more

My granddaughter became a Bat Mitzvah and my gift to her was a trip anywhere in the world. She picked Japan. Nicole Rhoden helped me plan the most spectacular adventure I could have imagined. My granddaughter loves anime and manga and we were able to include a visit to the Ghibli museum on our first day (tickets are hard to get, but Inside Japan Tours was able to secure them for just the right day and time) and an amazing full day tour in Tokyo with Chantel Furbert in Akihabara, Harajuki and Shinjuku. If you are traveling to Japan with a teenager you should definitely ask for Chantel or if you are traveling without a teenager you should definitely ask for Chantel! After Tokyo we went to lovely ryokan in Hakone and had a lot of fun exploring all for two days including a memorable hike on the Tokaido Trail. Shipping luggage was as easy as promised so we were able to travel light to Hakone. We loved Kyoto! In addition to the International Manga museum, we fed monkeys and deer, rented bikes and best of all, toured the Nishiki Market with a guide from the Women's Association of Kyoto and bought ingredients which we used when we cooked a dinner at the WAK townhouse--one of the most delicious meals on our trip--among so many delicious meals.

Nicole was so responsive and helpful. The travel packet gave us all the information we needed. It was a trip for the memory books. I cannot recommend highly enough!

Nicole Rhoden profile photo
Nicole Rhoden, local specialist, responded to this review:

I’m thrilled that you and Sadie had such a wonderful time in Japan. You were a joy to work with, and your adventurous spirit really made this trip great! I loved hearing your stories about all of your fun encounters and the creative ways that you and Sadie spent your free time. I’m happy that we could share some of our favorite hotels and activities with you. I’m glad you enjoyed the food too, and I hope you have fun recreating the recipes at home! I hope you and Sadie always treasure the... read more

I’m thrilled that you and Sadie had such a wonderful time in Japan. You were a joy to work with, and your adventurous spirit really made this trip great! I loved hearing your stories about all of your fun encounters and the creative ways that you and Sadie spent your free time. I’m happy that we could share some of our favorite hotels and activities with you. I’m glad you enjoyed the food too, and I hope you have fun recreating the recipes at home! I hope you and Sadie always treasure the memories that you made together.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to go to Japan again! Our company also works with other countries in Asia, so I’d be happy to introduce you to one of our Asia specialists should you ever like to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or Myanmar.

I sent Chantel your review and pictures—she was thrilled to see them!

Cultural and scenic honshu, Japan - Oct 21 - Nov 4, 2018

Traveler: Julian H. - Local specialist: Kana Van Sandt

Firstly, Kana (who you've asked us to rate above) initially handled our booking but we were then changed to Shakira when Kana went on maternity leave and then had no one specifically for the last week when Shakira went to Japan herself. These changes did not cause any problems but were a bit disconcerting. Obviously dealing with one consultant all the way through would be preferable.

And certainly one of the things we really liked was your responsiveness when we had a query, including one... read more

Firstly, Kana (who you've asked us to rate above) initially handled our booking but we were then changed to Shakira when Kana went on maternity leave and then had no one specifically for the last week when Shakira went to Japan herself. These changes did not cause any problems but were a bit disconcerting. Obviously dealing with one consultant all the way through would be preferable.

And certainly one of the things we really liked was your responsiveness when we had a query, including one when we were in Japan. This was excellent.

Overall the trip was great and everything went very smoothly. The only hiccup was on Day 20. Because of flooding our train from Kii-Katsuura was 4 hrs late getting to Nagoya which meant we well and truly missed our connecting train to Tokyo. However JR were very efficient in getting us on to another train once we had arrived in Nagoya.

Your organisation was excellent. All of our train and bus journeys, our accommodation and pre-arranged guides and events happened exactly as planned. The accommodation you booked for us included traditional ryokans as we had requested and these were a great experience. Your advice re on-forwarding of luggage proved to be spot on and we ended up really appreciating not having to lug it all around all the time. All our guides and pre-arranged experiences (e.g. tea ceremony, Kyoto bike ride) were excellent.

Your documentation was really excellent, very comprehensive. The key Itinerary document was comprehensive, well laid out and very useful. The booklets for each location (Tokyo, Kyoto etc) were also really comprehensive and useful.

There are a few comments etc we would like to make, not necessarily in any order.

Your book said the Daiwa Roynet in Kanazawa might not want to assist with filling out of Takkyubin forms. In fact they could not have been more helpful. Maybe they have had a change of attitude.

Your documentation suggests tipping in Ryokans. This seems to be at odds with other advice, e.g. from Japan Tourism who say no. This needs some clarification.

The map and location description for our Minshuku in Tsumago were hopelessly inadequate. A much more detailed map and description are needed. Noting that it is very close to the Tourist Information Centre would be a good start. We only found it after enquiring there.

The itinerary said to get to our hotel in Kyoto to take exit 22 from Shijo station. There is no exit 22. This should read exit 2.

The itinerary says the train from Shin-Osaka to Kii-Tanabe is "as scenic ride along the coast for nearly the whole route". That's a bit misleading. In fact it is nowhere near the coast for most of the journey and you really only get the odd glimpse of coast.

The information on Shirakawago is a bit misleading if you take the public bus from Kanazawa as we did. The Shirakawago booklet implies that the public bus stops adjacent to the open air museum at the south end of town and talks about immediately crossing the suspension bridge. This is where all the tourist buses stop but not the public bus which stops at the information centre at the north end of town, nowhere near the suspension bridge.

We would suggest changing how you organise the Nakasendo walk section - days 9 and 10 of our itinerary. You had us taking a limited express train from Matsumoto to Nakatsugawa then a local train back up the line to Nagiso then walking from Nagiso to Tsumago that afternoon. Next day walking to Magome and catching a bus to Nakatsugawa. After reviewing this a day or so before day 9 I decided we would do it the other way around. Thus on day 9 we took the train to Nakatsugawa, then took the bus to Magome (there was a bus essentially immediately) and then walked to Tsumago. On Day 10 we walked Tsumago to Nagiso, took a local train to Nakatsugawa and then continued on as originally planned. I think this works better for a couple of reasons. Firstly it gives you all afternoon to walk to Tsumago without any time pressure due to having to catch a bus. The other way around you are under time pressure to get to the Magome bus in time, and in fact we met another couple organised by Inside Japan Australia who did it the way you planned and due to reasons associated with their accommodation had to really hurry to get the Magome bus. Secondly, doing it Magome to Tsumago is easier in that it is more downhill than uphill. Doing it this way then makes for a very leisurely walk to Nagiso on the second day and plenty of time to explore Tsumago if needed and Nagiso. There is a bit of wait in Nagiso to catch a local train to Nakatsugawa but there are things to see there - the historic wooden suspension bridge, impressive river and an excellent park on the other side of the river. Overall I was very happy that we switched this around and would recommend that you consider doing so yourselves in future.

Having the pre-organised shuttle bus to get from Narita to our hotel on arrival was a good thing but for the return journey to Narita on departure I would suggest that you offer catching the train as an option. By this stage we were very familiar with how the trains worked etc and this would have been an easy and quicker (and presumably less expensive) option than the shuttle bus.

So what did we really like? Everything! The Japanese people are so friendly, efficient and helpful. The food was a great experience although Japanese food for breakfast was not really to our liking! The language was challenging but we always coped with a mix of Google translate (having a translate app on our phone was very useful), signs and what little language each of us had. The autumn colours up around Takayama and Matsumoto and other places were spectacular. We loved all the gardens and the temples, shrines and castles are amazing. We thought Kanazawa was fabulous with so many and varied things to do, We thought that Arashiyama was a better place than Nara - we did the Hozu River boat ride and that was a real highlight - thoroughly recommend it. Although you did not organise it, the five day trek along the Kumano Kodo trail was also a highlight for us. We loved it. We don't know if you offer that as an option but if not we would highly recommend that you do for appropriate (fit and healthy - it's quite challenging!) clients.

Would we recommend Inside Japan to others? Absolutely.

50th get away, Japan - Oct 12 - Oct 21, 2018

Traveler: Tanya C. - Local specialist: Alice Volkmar

We had a lovely time in Japan and enjoyed getting to know the culture and the people. We now know the people of Japan are very polite and patient people willing to help us when we needed, even though language was not always possible they were very helpful. Our first guide was Seiichiro Hara which we knew as Hara walked our legs off for 8 hours which we have discovered was not necessary as we could have done a few taxi for some of the walks between some of the places Hara took us. We also... read more

We had a lovely time in Japan and enjoyed getting to know the culture and the people. We now know the people of Japan are very polite and patient people willing to help us when we needed, even though language was not always possible they were very helpful. Our first guide was Seiichiro Hara which we knew as Hara walked our legs off for 8 hours which we have discovered was not necessary as we could have done a few taxi for some of the walks between some of the places Hara took us. We also were a bit shocked that we had to not only pay for our tickets on one tour but we had to pay for Hara's as well maybe that was not the right thing for Hara to do. Our guide for Kyoto was Wakako Nakagawa and she was amazing she listened to us and took us to places we were interested in and even took us shopping to the right places to get the things we were looking for and told us about other places we could go to get other things. Still taking us to see all the places we wanted to see about Kyoto. Our guide for Nara was Reiko Karita who was very knowledgeable on Nara and its history and had great suggestions for us to see and wasn't worried about taking a taxi when needed. Reiko was also very easy to talk to about life in Japan. One highlight for us was speaking to school children who were learning English and wanted to ask us questions they were delightful.

Japan family vacation posner anderson family, Japan - Aug 5 - Aug 18, 2018

Traveler: karen a. - Local specialist: Van Milton

Van was wonderful- very well versed in Japan, gave us good advice about what we could do realistically with 3 kids in tow! He was very helpful in getting us to scale back on some of the more expensive things we thought about doing (like some pricey restaurants) that really would not have been fun when we were jet lagged or for the kids in general.

All our guides were very informative and great with engaging our kids.

We loved all the destinations Van chose for us- we got just the right... read more

Van was wonderful- very well versed in Japan, gave us good advice about what we could do realistically with 3 kids in tow! He was very helpful in getting us to scale back on some of the more expensive things we thought about doing (like some pricey restaurants) that really would not have been fun when we were jet lagged or for the kids in general.

All our guides were very informative and great with engaging our kids.

We loved all the destinations Van chose for us- we got just the right mix of urban Tokyo fun and rural/seaside experience. All the accommodations were wonderful, we really felt like we traveled to a foreign country, not just staying in generic hotels. We did not rent a car and felt that the train and bus travel was all fairly easy.

The only event (and this was such a minor thing) we did not really enjoy was the Monster Cafe in Tokyo- our 13 and 15 year olds thought it was kind of silly, and our 9 year old was amused for a few mintues but then bored. The food was really average and overpriced. Would not rec this.

First time japan trip, Japan - Jul 2 - Jul 17, 2018

Traveler: Jessica C. - Local specialist: John McMillen

Our experience with kimkim was smooth and easy right from the start. We filled out some simple questions with regards to what we were looking for in our trip, our travel dates, budget, etc. and they hooked us up with a local specialist that worked with us to plan our trip down to the minute! All the accommodations were beautiful, convenient and exactly what we had asked for, and we were even able to stay in some traditional lodgings including a Buddhist temple which was super cool! The whole... read more

Our experience with kimkim was smooth and easy right from the start. We filled out some simple questions with regards to what we were looking for in our trip, our travel dates, budget, etc. and they hooked us up with a local specialist that worked with us to plan our trip down to the minute! All the accommodations were beautiful, convenient and exactly what we had asked for, and we were even able to stay in some traditional lodgings including a Buddhist temple which was super cool! The whole time, we felt like we were getting to see places and experience aspects of the culture we might not have if we were planning the trip ourselves. The most amazing part though was their crisis management- while we were there, Japan had a catastrophic amount of rain, with landslides and flooding of rivers and even loss of life, it was a real tragedy. We couldn't take some of the transportation that had been planned because of the flooding, so we called Inside Japan, our kimkim specialist, and they handled EVERYTHING- they switched all our accommodations, rerouting us to different places, telling us exactly how to get there and what to do so that we could bypass any areas that were inaccessible and still have a great trip! We didn't end up feeling like we missed out on anything, which was amazing. We can't wait to take our next trip! Thanks kimkim!

John McMillen profile photo
John McMillen, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you so much for your feedback! It certainly can be tough when the unexpected happens, and I'm so glad that you had a great time despite nature not cooperating. We look forward to the next go 'round and we'll keep our fingers crossed for clear skies!

Couple exploring japan for the first time!, Japan - May 9 - May 30, 2018

Traveler: Nicola C. - Local specialist: Kana Van Sandt

Fabulous accommodation selections and great planning of all transport requirements. We did self guided option which we loved as we had all the info we needed to navigate Japan but still felt like we were adventuring ourselves. The opposite of a “group tour” which is what we were trying to avoid.

Highly recommend inside Japan!!