Destination: Japan

Small group tours Japan for seniors

Japan marries its rich past with a cutting-edge present, blending history – including the Edo period, shoguns, and the era of the last samurai – with futuristic elements like anime and Astro Boy. This curated collection of small-group Japan tours offers a unique opportunity to delve into the country’s culture. From ancient temples to the revered tea ceremony, these tours departing from Australia unveil Japan’s essence beyond the typical tourist trail. The picturesque journey from bustling Tokyo to the iconic Mt. Fuji and beyond guarantees a captivating experience on any small-group tour in Japan. Embracing Odyssey’s meticulously planned itineraries, travelers can delve into the cherry blossom season, visit ancient temples, stay in traditional inns, and explore shrines under the guidance of experienced tour leaders. These tours showcase UNESCO World Heritage sites, providing a comprehensive cultural immersion that reveals the true spirit of Japan.

Japan Tours

Tours for Mature Aged and Senior World Travellers

Specialist Escorted Small Group cultural Tours exploring Japan

12 days

Sep, Mar

Japan Odyssey - Small Group Tours for Mature Travellers

Visiting Japan

During this small group program we encounter history from ancient periods; religions such as Buddhism and Shintoism; the philosophy of the people through visits to world renowned temples and shrines; and old towns full of ancient legends of Samurai and more in Japan. Together we, as mature and senior couples or solo travellers will share some traditions which the Japanese have inherited. A variety of sites including UNESCO World Heritage sites, has been chosen for this tour, all filled with clues such as Hanami or forest bathing to understand the essence of Japan including astro boy.

From A$14,995 AUD

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Walking Japan small group tour

14 days

Oct, May

Walking Japan | Small Group Tour

Visiting Japan

Escorted small group tour, Walking Japan, for mature and senior couples and solo travellers, a walking program traces the journey of 17th century Japanese poet and haiku master, Matsuo Basho. We walk in his footsteps on this 13-day journey around the northeast Tohoku region of Japan.

From A$12,715 AUD

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contemporary Japan places of interest

21 days


Contemporary Japan | Small Group Tour

Visiting Japan

This small group tour organised by Odyssey Traveller, Contemporary Japan, will take you through modern life in this East Asian jewel. This contemporary tour for couples and solo travellers is an expedition through Japan’s major urban areas, beginning and ending in Japan’s tantalising capital, Tokyo. For the first 12 days we get our fill of Tokyo fashion, technology, culture, and sights.

From A$19,625 AUD

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Japan, renowned for its rich cultural tapestry and technological innovations, offers a diverse array of experiences for travellers. In Tokyo, the iconic Meiji Shrine stands as a symbol of tradition and spirituality, drawing visitors from around the globe. Similarly, Miyajima, a picturesque island in Hiroshima known for its stunning scenery and the iconic floating torii gate, captivates tourists on group tours organized by Odyssey Traveller, whether departing from Australia or Japan.

Beyond its modern contributions like anime and tech gadgets, Japan preserves ancient traditions with reverence. The art of the tea ceremony, the rejuvenating practice of forest bathing, soothing onsen rituals, and the daily visits to Shinto shrines exemplify a deep-rooted connection to heritage and nature among the Japanese people.

While Tokyo exemplifies futuristic marvels with its towering skyscrapers, avant-garde fashion in Ginza, and a highly efficient public transportation system, other cities like historic Kyoto with its UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Kiyomizu Temple, lively Osaka, and resilient Hiroshima offer contrasting yet equally enchanting experiences. Whether exploring the ancient temples of Kyoto or savouring the vibrant street food scene in Osaka, Japan promises a sensory adventure like no other.

A culinary paradise, Japan spoils visitors with a gastronomic journey ranging from delicate sushi and sashimi to comforting bowls of ramen. The country’s food culture is a celebration of diversity and flavours, ensuring that every meal is a delightful exploration of taste.

For those seeking to uncover the essence of Japan in a more intimate setting, tailored small group tours designed for mature and senior travellers offer a curated experience that blends history, culture, and gastronomy seamlessly. Get in touch with us to discover Japan through the lens of seasoned explorers, immersing yourself in the soul-stirring landscapes and traditions that define this captivating nation.

Articles about Japan

10 Books on Japan | A Guide for Senior Travellers

10 Books on Japan | A Guide for Senior Travellers

Tours of Japan Visiting Japan, a land of dazzling contradictions, is an unforgettable experience. High-tech cities harbour relics of a fascinating past. Futuristic fashion and gadgets share the streets with evidence of deeply held traditions.…

5 Oct 17 · 2 mins read
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Astro boy

Japan's cultural contribution to the world is not to be underestimated. On a Small group Japan tour for mature and senior travellers for couples and singles you learn and explore much about the history, the last samurai, and the Shogun as well as about Astro boy! Enjoy exploring Tokyo in cherry blossom season, or Kyoto and Hiroshima, plus so much more to see and experience on a small group tour of upto 12 people.

7 Jul 20 · 4 mins read
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Forest Bathing in Japan

Forest Bathing in Japan

Forest Bathing in Japan Much has changed since we last wrote about shinrin-yoku or forest bathing in 2017 (you can read the original article after this introduction) as the movement has gained considerable momentum in…

7 Nov 19 · 6 mins read
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Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi with the red torii gate of Hakone Shrine, Japan

Hakone National Park, Japan

Hakone National Park, Japan The Hakone National Park is part of the sprawling Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which also includes Mount Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes (including Lake Kawaguchiko near the iconic peak), the Izu Peninsula, and…

18 Feb 20 · 3 mins read
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The floating torii gate of Itsukushima.

Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima, Japan Southwest from Kyoto on the island of Honshu is Hiroshima (“broad island”), a major urban centre in the 1870s during Japan’s imperial period, and a city destroyed in an instant in August 1945…

13 Feb 20 · 3 mins read
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Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa area, Tokyo

History of Tokyo

A Short History of Tokyo Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, the busiest intersection in the Japanese metropolis The history of Tokyo is intimately intertwined with that of Japan’s. In this article, we’ll explore Tokyo’s history from…

5 Jan 20 · 10 mins read
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Japan travel tips

Japan travel tips - a guide for mature travellers

Japan travel tips – a guide for mature travellers This article is a guide for mature leisure travellers who are considering their first visit to Japan. Visiting Japan, a land of dazzling contradictions, is an…

23 Jun 17 · 9 mins read
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Japanese tours

Japanese hanami: celebrating the cherry blossom

Japanese hanami: celebrating the cherry blossom The cherry blossoms of Japan are known to admirers the world over. But their brief, beautiful season is not just a draw for international travellers. Japanese people celebrate this…

23 Oct 17 · 5 mins read
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Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) in northern Kyoto. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan Kyoto, the “thousand-year capital”, served as Japan’s imperial capital for more than a thousand years. This long history makes it synonymous with Japanese traditional culture. A tour in Kyoto promises beautiful heritage sites–ancient…

5 Feb 20 · 3 mins read
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Matsue Castle, Matsue, Japan

Matsue, Japan

Matsue, Japan North of Hiroshima is the town of Matsue, also known as the “City of Water” as it is near the Sea of Japan, sitting between Lake Shinji (Shinjiko) and Lake Nakaumi. It is…

17 Feb 20 · 2 mins read
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Deer in Nara Park

Nara, Japan

Nara, Japan Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital, is located in the Kansai region, nestled in the hilly edge of the Nara Basin, about 40 kilometres east of Osaka. It is a popular day trip or…

5 Feb 20 · 3 mins read
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Hiroshima Japan

The last Samurai; a story for small group travellers to Japan.

Saigo Takomori, story, the last Samurai is part of the history discovered on a small group package tour to Japan for mature and senior travellers. For couples and singles a study in Japanese culture, from Shoguns to Cherry blossom to the antics of Astro boy or the tea ceremony.

27 Jun 20 · 4 mins read
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Hiroshima Japan

The Shoguns of Japan: An Introduction to Six Centuries of Japanese Cultural Evolution

The Shoguns of Japan: An Introduction to Six Centuries of Japanese Cultural Evolution From 1192 to 1867, Japan was ruled by military dictators called the shogun. The civil government continued under the imperial court in Kyoto,…

10 Oct 18 · 17 mins read
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Mt Fuji in Autumn Japan

Understanding the history of Japan for a small group tour.

Article for mature and senior travellers seeking to Join a small group package tour of Japan with an interest in the history and culture of these islands. From tea ceremony to understanding Hanami, the cherry blossom or walking Japan's coast. These small group tours are for couples and single travellers.

26 Jun 20 · 40 mins read
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Affordable small group tours with Odyssey Alumni

Walking tours for active travellers – tips for seniors

For the active mature and senior traveller be they a couple or solo traveller this article outlines preparation for walking tours even for the over 80's. It may on the Wainwright, the lake district or a pilgrims walk across Europe or St James Way, the Camino. This artices give advice on getting fit, shoes and socks including for particular advice for women on this topic.

14 Jan 21 · 6 mins read
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Touring Japan

The need to know

Getting around

When organizing a Japan tour package, Odyssey meticulously plans travel logistics by incorporating a mix of coach rides and local transportation, such as trains and ferries. The detailed tour itinerary always delineates the specific modes of transport to be utilized. In Japan, a standout feature is its centralized and remarkably vast rail network, prominently highlighted by the Shinkansen bullet train. This high-speed rail system seamlessly connects various towns with major cities, complemented by an exceptionally efficient metro system within the urban hubs. During select Japan tours by Odyssey, the bullet train is often leveraged for intercity travel, especially when journeying towards Southern Japan or pivotal urban centres.


In bustling urban hubs, Odyssey accommodations are carefully chosen for their central locations, typically 3-4 star hotels that offer convenient proximity to public transportation. For serene getaways in quaint villages or rural landscapes, our preference leans towards charming family-operated hotels and cosy guesthouses.

Tour guides

For an Odyssey escorted tour, a team comprising a tour director and adept local guides well-versed in the region guarantees an authentic and seamless experience. This holds true for your Japan tour as well, where a tour director, backed by specialized local guides, facilitates a smooth and enriching guided tour. This setup ensures a perfect Japanese vacation, allowing you to delve deep into the history and culture of the destinations you explore in Japan.

Geography, environment & weather

Japan, spanning about 3,600 kilometres from north to south, consists of four main islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu – along with over 6,800 smaller surrounding islands, totalling a land area of 377,907 square kilometres, slightly larger than Germany. The country’s topography is predominantly mountainous, rich with volcanoes, the most iconic being Mount Fuji, towering at 3,776 meters. Although classified as an active volcano, Mount Fuji has remained dormant for over three centuries. Forests cover a significant 66.4% of Japan’s land, while farmland makes up just 13%. Japan is administratively divided into 47 prefectures, experiencing a range of climates from cool temperate in the north to sub-tropical in the south. The overall climate is temperate with distinct seasons and a pre-summer rainy period, receiving annual rainfall between 1,000 to 3,000 millimetres. Visitors to Japan should be prepared for frequent rainfall throughout the year.

World heritage sites

Japan is home to an impressive array of 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each site offers a unique and rich cultural experience that is well worth exploring if your schedule allows. Here are just a few standout highlights among these distinguished locations:

  • The Horyu-ji Area stands out with its 7th and 8th-century Buddhist monuments, showcasing a significant historical and spiritual legacy.
  • The sacred island of Okinoshima, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, presents a treasure trove of votive objects that provide a glimpse into ancient rituals practiced between the 4th and 9th centuries.
  • Yakushima, known for its exceptional temperate rainforest teeming with epiphytes, geophytes, and the legendary Japanese cedar trees, including the ancient ‘Yakusugi’ trees that have thrived for over 1000 years, captivates visitors as another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

These sites not only reflect Japan’s diverse cultural and natural heritage but also offer visitors a profound connection to its ancient traditions and stunning landscapes.

Festivals & events

Japan’s calendar is brimming with vibrant festivals and events, known as matsuri, that pay homage to religious, cultural, and natural wonders. Among the standout occasions are the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, the Snow Festival, a captivating week-long extravaganza showcasing magnificent snow sculptures and intricate ice carvings, alongside entertaining shows and concerts. The Chichibu Yomatsuri, or Night Festival, is a celebration that venerates the Chichibu shrine through elaborately decorated floats adorned with colorful lamps, some even featuring plays and performances, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display with the floats parading at the City Hall.

An intriguing and unique event is the Saidaji Eyou Matsuri in Okayama, where 10,000 men don traditional loincloths, immerse themselves in cold water, and engage in a spirited competition to seize a pair of sacred sticks thrown from the temple’s pinnacle. The fortunate individual who captures the sticks is believed to be blessed with a year of good fortune and joy.

Notably, Japan’s most renowned event is the arrival of the cherry blossom season, known as sakura, which is ushered in with the beloved tradition of hanami, or flower viewing, often complemented by picnics beneath the resplendent cherry blossom trees during their brief flowering period. Initially linked to spiritual beliefs, these ethereal blossoms now symbolize the transient nature of life, encapsulating a poignant reflection on the passage of time.

Reading list

  • The Tale of Genji by Murusaki Shikibu
  • Lost Japan by Alex Kerr
  • An Introduction to Japanese Society by Yoshio Sugimoto
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Eating & drinking

Japanese cuisine holds significant allure for travelers, who quickly grasp its integral role in Japanese culture. Rooted in rice and miso, complemented by an array of fish, vegetables, pickles, and sashimi, the traditional culinary landscape captivates visitors. While Odyssey’s small group tours do not focus solely on food, their guides adeptly steer travelers clear of more adventurous Japanese dishes. What often surprises many is the diverse and seasonal nature of Japan’s culinary offerings, varying widely across regions.

Embarking on an escorted tour, participants benefit from the expertise of a tour director who unravels the nuances of Japanese cuisine beyond customary tea ceremonies, enhancing the overall travel experience in Japan. Interestingly, food stands out as a primary driving force for domestic travel among the Japanese populace. Amongst the plethora of regional delights, Okonomiyaki stands out as one of Japan’s most recognized dishes hailing from Hiroshima and Osaka. While fish features prominently in Japanese cuisine, Kobe boasts renowned locally sourced beef, appealing to connoisseurs. Notably, Kobe serves as a haven for those with sweet cravings, diversifying the culinary landscape further. However, Japanese gastronomy transcends mere sustenance, offering immersive experiences alongside delectable flavors.

Japanese dining culture encompasses various styles, from the novelty of kaiten-zushi (sushi trains) to the culinary theatrics of teppanyaki and the specialized establishments offering skewers, ramen, tempura, and sukiyaki. Restaurants in Japan, known for their welcoming ambiance, flavorsome dishes, excellent value, and impeccable cleanliness, epitomize the gastronomic journey awaiting every visitor.

Health & safety

While Japan is renowned for being one of the safest countries globally, visitors should remain vigilant and observant of any uncommon occurrences. In tourist hotspots, you may notice signs cautioning against pickpocketing, underscoring the necessity to closely monitor your belongings continuously.

It’s crucial to note that there is an existing advisory against visiting the vicinity surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant due to radiation concerns.

Regarding electrical supply, Japan boasts a robust and reliable system, ensuring a consistent power source for residents and travellers alike.

Electrical supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Japan accepts plugs of types A and B, and electricity runs at 100V/50-60Hz.

Tour Reviews

Loved: National Institute of traditional medicine hike to Wanyditse Goemba Punakha festival – definitely a highlight Hanging the prayer flags at the pass! The outdoor picnics! Archery competition! Dumtse Lhakhang – went to heaven!!! Dzong Drak Kha (mini tigers nest) amazing views and climb Sanga Choekor Shedra (Bhuddist College) Drakpa and his team (Nima and Karma) were just amazing. Drakpa was very knowledgeable, friendly, caring and cheerful. He went out of his way to provide us with information and experiences to help our understanding of the culture and religion, he was funny and entertaining and very professional under pressure.Nima was a very competent driver, and I have never felt in safer hands in the difficult driving conditions we were in.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

The tour was fantastic and well organised and well managed. · I have travelled expensively but have not with a travel organisation that comes anywhere near Odyssey's attention to detail and the comfort of its travellers. · The tour was fantastic and well organised and well managed. The transport provided was always very good and where the seats were a little narrow, the bus was big enough for us to 'spread out' for more comfort. · Our accommodation was excellent as was our local guide.I would highly recommend a trip to this beautiful country with many treasures to explore and learn about. Discover Myanmar Nov ‘15

Discovering Myanmar | Small Group Tour for Seniors

The local guide, Drukpa, was exceptional value. When I was ill for a couple of days his care for me, assisted by Len, was way beyond my expectation.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

I wish to sincerely thank Len for his amazing care, good cheer and flexibility ! Len has that great combination of simultaneous organisation and flexibility, which is so very necessary on a small trip such as this. In his stride, he was able to re-design the program at short notice due to weather conditions (working closely with Drakpa) and the end result was better than the original plan in my opinion!!! It was clear from day one, that Len cared and payed attention to each and every one of us at every step of the way – going out of his way to assist those who needed it. The trust and camaraderie we developed with Len made the trip that much more special! I miss our laughs.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

We did this tour in 2011. Wonderful, extraordinary experience. Loved every minute.

Rex and Maree

Journey through Mongolia and Russia small group tour

The trip to the Tang valley and the Ogyencholing museum were a highlight. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and one of the best museums I've seen. That night and all next day it snowed - what a buzz. Made everything look magical and improved the scenery for the next few days

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

Your chat-operator was informative and helpful. We have covered quite a few countries and seasons to travel. Full marks for that!

Philip Lee

Discovering Myanmar | Small Group Tour for Seniors


What time zone is Japan in?

Japan operates on a single time zone known as Japan Standard Time (JST), which is UTC/GMT+9 hours, and does not participate in Daylight Savings Time.

Is tipping customary?

Odyssey tours ensure that tipping is taken care of, freeing you from the need to consider it. When in Japan, it is crucial to demonstrate respect to your servers; however, tipping is not customary.

Any issues in accessing the internet?

Internet is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.

Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?

Ensure you contact your cell phone provider to confirm if you can make calls and use data while in Japan. Numerous providers offer a daily fee enabling you to utilize these services without incurring additional charges. It is crucial to notify your provider of your overseas travel plans to avoid any service interruptions due to flagged unusual activity, similar to how a bank might temporarily suspend a card for security reasons.

Responsible travel tips for Japan

  • When traveling to Japan, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with local greetings as a gesture to connect with the residents. While English is commonly spoken, knowing a bit of the native language can enhance your cultural experience.
  • Japanese culture is known for its adherence to laws and honesty among people. It’s advisable to carry a business card from your hotel to facilitate your return in case you get lost, reflecting the helpful and organized nature of the locals.
  • Securing travel insurance is essential for any trip. If you require guidance on this matter, feel free to reach out to Odyssey for assistance, ensuring you are well-prepared for your journey.
  • For independent travellers, it is crucial to confirm the operating hours of shops and museums to maximize your visit. Note that many museums and galleries are closed on Mondays, and be mindful of public holidays to adjust your itinerary accordingly.
  • Inform your bank in advance about your overseas purchases to prevent any disruptions in card usage. Verify the compatibility of your cards with local ATMs and banks to avoid unnecessary fees when withdrawing cash abroad.
  • Before you depart, ensure you have a variety of yen denominations on hand. While carrying large sums of cash is not recommended, having enough yen for locations that may not accept credit cards will simplify transactions and make tipping hassle-free.

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