If you’re looking for a tour operator that specializes in journeys to Japan, Super Value Tours offers three itineraries ranging from four to eight nights. As a booming travel destination for 2015, Japan is filled with plenty to take in—both traditional and modern—and Super Value Tours guides you through this destination.
The most popular itinerary offered is the 10-day Japan Classics agenda, which follows the “golden route” and includes unique destinations such as Atami, with a visit to an onsen, or Japanese hot spring, offering views of the Pacific Ocean. For those who don’t have much time to travel abroad, Super Value Tours also offers a shorter itinerary—the 6-day Japan Kanto tour, focusing on Tokyo, Kamakura, Atami, and Mt. Fuji.
“One amazing feature on the Japan Classics tour is the hotel in Atami. The city itself is known as a resort town and the hotel is actually built into a cliffside, overlooking the Pacific Ocean; all the rooms have ocean views and the hot spring, or onsen, also has an ocean view,” says Tara Schreiner, v.p. of sales and marketing for Super Value Tours.
The third option, the 7-day Japan Kansai tour, takes travelers from Tokyo to Kyoto aboard the bullet train and focuses on the Kyoto and Osaka areas. On this itinerary, travelers visit the must-see temples and sights in the area, and take part in experiences such as a sake tasting and a visit to the Miho Art Museum. Those who opt for the popular Japan Classics tour will get the best of both worlds, as this tour combines the Kanto and Kansai itineraries.
“Traditional and cultural experiences are endless in Japan and on our tours,” adds Schreiner.
Some of the most popular sights in Kyoto to visit are the Kiyomizu temple and the Kinkakiji Temple, also known as the “Golden Pavilion,” according to Schreiner. She also points out that a walk through the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, and a visit to the largest bronze statue of Buddha in Nara, should also be at the top of any traveler’s list. As for unique traditional experiences, “soaking in a traditional hot spring or onsen is a quintessential Japanese experience, along with tasting the delicious cuisine included on tour such as Kobe beef, shabu-shabu, kamameshi, yakiniku, sashimi, and a traditional kaiseki banquet dinner,” adds Shreiner.
For those looking to take in the modern side of Japan, there’s also plenty to see and do. Schreiner references that, “unique and hip are synonymous with Tokyo’s vibrant neighborhoods including Harajuku, Shinjuku and Ginza and many more. Everything from dining, shopping, nightlife and people-watching is widely available in these areas.” While in Osaka, guests should go the Dotonbori restaurant district, which offers a new treat every few feet, and the Shinsaibashi shopping district is a great stop for those looking to take a bit of fashion back home, notes Schreiner.
Though the anime culture is a big part of the modern side of Japan, as are the maid cafes, Super Value Tours doesn’t include these experiences as part of their planned itineraries. However, travelers do get some free time to take it in like and the guides can direct them as to where to go. As Schreiner puts it, “it’s sort of its own subculture.”
Though some tour operators target an older demographic, Super Value Tours can accommodate guests as young as 2 years old. Kids will have lots to enjoy while on these itineraries, as many of the activities are kid-friendly. “All of our itineraries are family-friendly with a balance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, fun activities and free time for families to explore their own curiosities,” says Schreiner. “Any of our tours will feature family-friendly activities such as karaoke, traditional crafts, and museum visits, as well as going to the 345th floor of Tokyo Skytree.” She also adds that kids appreciate the traditional castles visited during the tours, and while in Kyoto they also get to participate in a traditional fabric dye experience. The ricksaw rides in Kamakura are also enjoyable for kids. However, though many families travel with the tour operator over the summer, the spring and fall is more geared to retirees and baby boomers.
Schreiner also mentions that Super Value Tours does see many second time travelers to Japan, especially those who visited initially with less time to explore. She notes that many of the clients who take the Kanto tour, for example will return to experience the Kansai area. Second time travelers who have done the Japan Classics tour, often opt to visit Hokkaido and the southernmost island of Kyushu. This is perfect for those “die-hard travelers” who have visited Japan a few times. Hokkaido showcases more of an “untamed wilderness, and only about 5 percent of the Japanese population lives there,” adds Schreiner. It has lots of lakes and volcanoes, while in Kyushu travelers can take in eight different hot springs.
All of Super Value Tours’ itineraries offer an almost all-inclusive model, including four- and five-star accommodations, culinary experiences, transportation, airport transfers, and guide services. “We want people to have a real quality experience while in Japan, since most people will go once in their lifetime,” she adds.
For more on Japan, check out the Hip and Traditional Japan feature in the January 2015 issue, and the Q&A on Japan with G Adventures‘ innovation manager, Alistair Butchers.