Frequently Asked Questions
How many people are there on each or your tours?
Our Cultural Immersion Adventure Packages are limited to a maximum of 16 tour members plus a tour leader, with an average of 12-14 tour members. Local, licensed guides are also included where indicated on the itinerary.
What sort of people go on your tours?
Because of the way we organize our tours, and the way we travel, we tend to attract friendlier, more flexible and fun-loving people for our tours, giving our tours a congenial atmosphere. If you are interested in learning about Japan, its culture, people and want to have fun at the same time, you will fit right in.
What is included in the price of the tour?
The price of our tours include the full-time services of the tour leader, accommodations, transport between destinations in Japan, breakfast each morning and about half of the lunches and dinners (See the itinerary for details.). We also include at least one Kaiseki-style dinner on each tour. Kaiseki is considered the gourmet cooking of Japan, and is quite enjoyable.
Local transportation on subways, buses, etc. is included. We also include numerous cultural activities in our itineraries such as tea ceremonies, Maiko sessions, Zen meditation and more. Trip cancellation/interruption coverage with Travelex Insurance is also included. Please check the details of each particular tour for other inclusions.
Airfare is not included. Alcoholic drinks are included in the Welcome and Sayonara dinners only.
What standard of accommodation do you use?
The majority of our tours use traditional Japanese-style accommodations. Japan does not use the star rating system, but most of the accommodations we use would be considered 3-stars. We select ryokans and hotels for their comfort, friendly and helpful staff and convenient location for sightseeing and transportation links.
Do the ryokans have "en-suite" facilities?
All of the ryokans, with the exception of the Buddhist temple on Koya-san, have en-suite bathrooms. The bathrooms will include a bath/shower combination, sink and toilet, while the Buddhist temple has shared bath and toilet facilities "down the hall."
Who are the tour leaders?
Your tour leader will either be Japanese-speaking Americans or English-speaking Japanese, with extensive experience leading tour groups. All of our tour leaders are in their 40s and 50s, giving them the maturity to handle any situation.
Will we be met at the airport?
Yes. We will meet you at the airport on the start date of the tour. If you will be arriving before the start date, we can meet you but we do charge a $100 fee, or we can give you detailed instructions on how to get to your first accommodation.
How do I sign up for a Samurai Tours tour?
After thoroughly reading our Terms and Conditions, fill-out the tour registration form (see the Tour Registration page). We will need a $500 deposit per-person to hold a seat on the tour. All deposits are refundable within 14 days of Samurai Tours receiving the payment. Exception: Deposits received within 60 days of the tour departure are non-refundable.
What is the difference between your Fully Guided Tours and the Bed-and-Breakfast Option?
The Fully Guided Tours include the services of a full-time professional Samurai Tours guide, an English-speaking local Japanese guide where indicated in the itinerary, all group transportation, all accommodations, all breakfasts, half your lunches and dinners, and all group sightseeing. Your guide(s) will take you through tourist attractions, giving you a personal perspective on Japan.
The Bed-and-Breakfast Option is a free-spirited alternative for independent-minded travelers who want to enjoy the benefits of our fully guided tours without the regimentation and expense. You have access to the Samurai Tours guide, who can act as a consultant, but you act as your own sightseeing guide, paying your own admission fees and meals along the way. You will follow the itinerary from city-to-city and stay at the same ryokans as the tour members on the Fully Guided Tour. This option can also be appealing for someone who has been to Japan before, but wants to take advantage of our itinerary planning.
What does it mean to be on a waitlist for a sold-out tour?
We are happy to add your name to as many as three waitlists. Please provide your address, a daytime telephone number where we can reach you if something opens up, and the number in your party. There is always a chance that a seat will eventually open up on one of the tours you are interested in, as we receive cancellations or changes for a variety of reasons throughout the year. Although cancellations can happen at any time, they most often occur close to 60 days prior to departure, when the final tour payment is due. We will contact you immediately if and when something opens up.
You may also want to consider signing up for a tour with openings currently available, to guarantee you have a reservation on one of our tours. Then if a opening becomes available on your first choice tour that you have waitlisted, we will contact you and discuss your options.
Are your tours non-smoking?
All trains except the Shinkansen (bullet trains) and express trains are non-smoking. The Shinkansen and express trains have both smoking and non-smoking cars. However, the Japanese do not have separate smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants. We will try to honor any requests for non-smoking hotel rooms, however we cannot promise non-smoking rooms because some ryokans do not have non-smoking rooms.
How strenuous are Samurai Tours tours?
Our tours are physically active with a lot of walking, standing while sightseeing, and stair-climbing. Elevators and escalators can be hard to find in train stations, especially the smaller ones. Shrines and temples usually have quite a few stairs at their entrances. Age is not a concern as long as you are physically fit, and are able to carry your own luggage. It is not always convenient to take transportation everywhere, so be prepared to walk up to 10 minutes with your overnight bags. Rollerboard suitcases work fine in Japan, but keep in mind there may be times when you may need to carry them up or down stairs.
Do you charge a single supplement for solo travelers?
We do charge a single supplement for solo travelers. If you wish to avoid the supplement, we can room solo travelers (of the same gender) in a room together, usually in twos or threes. This is strictly on a volunteer basis. If there is not another solo traveler available to share a room, you will be required to pay the single supplement.
Do you have age restrictions for your tours?
Travelers must be at least 18 years-of-age to travel unaccompanied by an adult. We recommend that children be at least 12 years of age. Our tours are heavy on "adult things" (art, history, architecture, etc.) that kids often find boring. Our tours allow flexibility, so squeezing in activities for younger children is possible but can still be overwhelming.
Do you offer discounts for children?
We offer a 10% discount to children under 12, and 5% for ages 12 to 16.
Can you help plan my pre- or post-tour travel?
We offer a consulting service at Samurai Tours for your plans to start your travels before or continue your travels after the tour. Contact us as soon as possible for our recommendations.
Will I have to carry my luggage on the trains?
While traveling to and from the airports by train, you will be responsible for your luggage. The trains servicing airports do have luggage racks for suitcases. However, during the tour, we use a service called "Takkyubin" (baggage transfer). This "door-to-door" delivery service allows us to send our large suitcases ahead, traveling with overnight bags only from city-to-city, making train-travel much easier.