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Japan Gap Years & Group Tours

Temple in Japan with Mount Fuji nearby
Download Japan Key Facts

Ancient meets modern in Japan, a land of amazing Asian contrasts, ranging from the ultra-modern city of Tokyo to the ancient shrines and temples of captivating Kyoto. Marvel at the mountainous, volcanic scenery of this amazing island nation, hike up iconic Mount Fuji, bathe in hot springs, see stunning ornamental gardens, take in traditional temples and pagodas galore and spot a geisha or two as you wander through the ancient streets of Gion. Take a group tour and head to the land of sake, sumo, skiing, shrines and buzzing cities on your gap year and explore the extremes of Asian experience in vibrant Japan.

Read more in our Japan Travel Guide.

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Japan Facts

Capital City

Tokyo

Currency

Japanese Yen (JPY)

Language

Japanese

Dialling Code

+81

Plug Type

A & B

Japan Highlights

Neon billboards in neon-lit Tokyo street at night

Tokyo

Tokyo is a cultural and culinary powerhouse. Encounter exciting contrasts throughout this megacity, from the swift speed of Shibuya Crossing to the serenity of Senso-ji Temple. Slurp noodles served by robots, or dine at centuries-old establishments. And if you’re an anime fan, then the Pokemon Center and Shuga Shrine stairs are calling your name.

Mount Fuji at dawn with cherry blossom trees below

Mount Fuji

Japan’s highest mountain is the source of legend. This active volcano is a sacred spirit in the Shinto faith and features in Japan’s most iconic artwork, The Great Wave. Mount Fuji’s snow-capped peaks are easily accessible on a guided hike or can be admired from the five lakes and iconic Chureito Pagoda viewpoint.

Vibrant pink cherry blossoms up-close

Cherry Blossoms

There is something special about Japan in the spring from March to May. Partake in the tradition of Hanami (“flower viewing”) during Sakura season. With live performances and picnics, Japan’s spring festivals are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travellers. If you miss out on seeing them on your trip to Japan, then it’s a good reason to go back.

Man and woman in traditional kimonos walking in village with wooden homes, Kyoto

Kyoto

Discover old-world Japan in Kyoto. From the Golden Pavilion to the Imperial Palace and Miyama Village, this destination is like stepping into another century. Learn about ancient samurai culture, enjoy a traditional tea ceremony and wear a kimono while exploring this ancient capital with a rich history.

Orange Torii gates with Japanese calligraphy and stone path

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Stepping inside the Fushimi-Inari shrine is a one-of-a-kind experience. Take in the enchanting scenery as you wander through 1000 Torii gates, each as vibrant as the next. This magical path whisks you through Mount Inariyama, with the crowds dispersing the higher you hike. You can see Kyoto at the summit and even spot Mount Fuji in the distance!

Bright green bamboo trees lining wide path with orange Torii gates in the distance

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Kyoto

Towering bamboo shoots, winding paths and captivating soundscapes make this forest one of Japan’s most magical destinations. The endless emerald scenery and tranquil atmosphere are unlike anything you have experienced before. While beautiful photos are taken here, nothing compares to visiting this natural wonder in person.

up-close shot of happy deer with a few of its deer friends in the distance surrounded by trees and dry grass

Nara Park

Befriend the locals inside Japan’s sacred deer sanctuary. Valued as sacred messengers in the Shinto faith, over a thousand Sika deer roam around this charming park. Well-accustomed to photos, the deer confidently approach visitors and are happy to bow in exchange for a rice cracker – sold at the vendors set up around the park.

Blue sky over a white traditional Japanese castle with green roofs and gold details, next to two bright green trees.

Osaka Castle

Symbolic of Japan’s samurai past, Osaka Castle’s origin story is fascinating. This majestic fortress was constructed in celebration of Japan’s unification and has been burned down and rebuilt multiple times throughout history. Today, this ivory castle embellished with gold is a mesmerising contrast to Osaka’s vibrant cityscape.

Traditional Japanese shrine in water at sunset with reflections and green hill to the left

Itsukushima Shrine - Miyajima Island

Only 45 minutes away from Hiroshima is the spectacular island of Miyajima, where you will discover the world-famous Itsukushima Shrine. Built over water, the floating Torii gates transform with the high and low tides. If you have the chance to see this awe-inspiring shrine at sunset, take it.

Japan Travel Advice

Bright landscape of blue sky, pink cherry blossom tree and snow-caped mountain with green hill and town, Mount Fuji

Climate & Weather

Japan’s climate varies depending on which area you visit, making this country an exciting all-season destination. While the East and West of Japan both have hot and humid summers, the East experiences heavy snow during the winter. Japan’s southern islands - Kyushu, Amami and Okinawa - have subtropical climates, while the northern island of Hokkaido has freezing winters and refreshing summers.

Stone Torii gates with lanterns , stone statuesand bright sky with green trees, two women carrying umbrellas

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Japan’s main islands is during the spring from March until May, or in the autumn months of September to November. This is when the weather is cool and dry but still sunny. From the famous Sakura blossom in the spring to the lesser-known red foliage in autumn, Japan’s scenery is especially colourful during these times of year.

Japanese red pagoda with blue sky and golden top

Customs & Culture

Japanese culture is deeply respectful and hierarchical. It is polite to bow to greet someone and to accept gifts with both hands. Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, and try to avoid eating, blowing your nose and loud behaviour while in public. It is customary to show up to events and meetings 5-10 minutes early.

Red and blue british passports

Passports & Visas

British passport holders can stay in Japan for up to 90 days. You will receive a visa in your passport on arrival and do not need to apply for one before travelling. To stay longer, you must meet the Japanese government’s entry requirements and apply for a visa extension.

Your passport must be valid for the length of your stay. You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen. Stay up to date with FCDO advice before you arrive in Japan.

Woman wearing white dress feeding two deer in forest

Health & Safety

Check before travelling that you have any necessary vaccinations at least 8 weeks prior to arrival. Healthcare in Japan is of high quality but expensive, so travellers are highly encouraged to purchase comprehensive travel insurance. 

Natural disasters are uncommon but can happen, so travellers are recommended to familiarise themselves with safety procedures and follow the advice of local authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Flights to Japan from the UK generally take 14 hours and it is possible to find non-stop flights from London to Tokyo. There are also flight options that include one layover.

While you can generally expect to pay similar prices to the UK while in Japan, it is more than possible to travel around Japan on a budget. There are a tonne of high-quality and cheap restaurants throughout the country, and most of the country’s major attractions can be visited for free.

The cherry blossom season in Japan takes place during the spring. Sakura festivals typically begin around March and finish in May, with the specific dates changing every year with the flowers!

Japan is an extremely safe destination with low crime rates. We encourage our travellers to take general safety precautions whilst travelling.

Absolutely! Whether you’re a first-time traveller or looking to explore more of Asia, Japan is an amazing choice for gap year travel. From the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to the exciting modern cities, Japan has an exhilarating blend of activities and scenery. While this destination is worth visiting by itself, you could also add on a tour to South Korea and China for the ultimate East Asia experience!

Tipping is not customary anywhere in Japan and can be considered impolite.

@gap360official | Japan

Group travellers in Japan Tokyo
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Samurais, sushi and snow monkeys 🇯🇵 ⁠This trip will take you to all the unmissable highlights of Japan and more 🤩 ⁠...
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Group traveller in Japanese temple
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Group traveller walking through fushimi-inari shrine in Japan
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Japan Trip Reviews

5
Rating
62
Reviews

Kasia

I had an amazing experience! The food and drink we tasted were amazing, all the activities and experiences were so much fun! We stayed in some amazing places, it was worth every penny. Sammy was the best, she has an incredible…

Rose Di Gleria

This tour exceeded what I was expecting and an all round fantastic experience. It offers great value for money, with a good balance of guided activities and free time to explore the places we visit. Our guide made us feel safe and…

Lara King

I had Holly as my tour guide and she was beyond wonderful. She booked places for us to go to dinner and really brought the group together, she fit in perfectly and always got us there in good time. She was efficient and kind, and…

Alexa

Because of all the 5-star reviews I literally thought this was going to be fake. HOWEVER turns out it's just incredibly worthy of 5-stars. Hands down the best trip I've ever taken. I went alone, not knowing anyone. And I have made…

Milo Jackson

A INCREDIBLE 14 days. Seriously would recommend

Callan Macbeth

The Japan 13 day tour was incredible overall! The pacing over the trip was spot on. We had time to take everything in, in all our varying locations. The group leader was so much fun, always cheerful and made sure we were always…

Lorren Chow

It was an unforgettable experience and I couldn't recommend the trip more. If you're looking for an affordable trip that covers Japan's best spots and attractions then the 9 day trip is perfect for you. Some of my favourite moments…

Daniel Flello

Trip was incredible. Lots of recommendations provided for free time and organised activities were great.

Hannah Chapman

Gave opportunities I wouldn't have thought of doing, well organised and relaxing as given a lot of free time to do whatever.

Joe Shepherd

I've visited Japan before, but I'd never seen the variety of things I was able to see during this tour. The food was incredible! I took so many awesome videos and pictures throughout this trip! One highlight for me was the Samurai…

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