This IB Diploma Programme service trip has students experiencing the hustle and bustle of Japan’s cities, as well as learning about religion and culture. Here’s our volunteering tour to Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Chino at a glance:
- Days 1-3 in Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, baseball at batting cages, sushi-making class, video documentary competition in Harajuku & Shibuya, Shibuya Crossing, local school visit, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
- Day 4 in Hakone: ropeway over Owakudani, Lake Ashi luxury pirate ship cruise
- Days 5-7 in Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Dera Temple, Hozugawa River rafting, Arashiyama District, Arashiyama Monkey Park, Tenryu-Ji Temple, calligraphy lesson, Golden Pavilion, Gion District
- Days 8-10 in Chino: local farm volunteering, Venus Line, cook dinner for local farmers
Like what you see? Discover the incredible creativity, activity and service opportunities Japan has to offer in the detailed itinerary below! But remember, all our school trips are completely customisable.
*Prices based on groups of 20 students and 2 free teachers.
✓ All accommodation costs
✓ Full board meals for the entire trip
✓ All transportation costs, including airport pick-up and drop-off
✓ All activities listed in the itinerary
✓ 1 free teacher per 10 paying students
✓ 24-hour emergency contact support during the trip
✓ Detailed pre-departure summary & briefing
✓ Full financial failure protection
✓ Public liability insurance
✓ Our trips are fully risk-assessed
Day 1: Tokyo’s Views
Arrive at Tokyo’s Narita/Haneda airport, meet your Adventure Leader and board a private coach transfer to your accommodation. Once you’re settled in, listen up for a trip briefing so that you’re prepped for your Learning Adventure.
Head up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for an incredible view of the city you’re about to explore. Once back on firm ground, call in at the batting cages to experience one of the most popular sports in Japan: baseball!
Day 2: Sushi Making, Documentary Filming
Enjoy a sushi-making class led by a master sushi chef. Learn how sushi evolved from a South East Asian technique of preserving fish in fermented rice.
After you’ve had your delicious creations for lunch, take part in a video documentary competition, based on the subject of Japanese pop culture and fashion. Videos will be taken in the Harajuku and Shibuya areas, after which 2 hours will be given to edit the videos with a mobile phone app. The winner will be chosen by the group and a prize awarded.
Finish the day admiring the city lights at Shibuya Crossing. Apparently, it’s the busiest intersection in the world!
Day 3: Local School Visit
Make lifelong friends at a local school. Typically, you’ll go on a school tour, join lessons and play sports alongside the local students.
Get engaged with a Japanese language class, designed by local school students. In exchange, you’ll be asked to design an English language class.
Then, head for the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to learn about Buddhism, which is deeply interconnected with Japanese society, culture and lifestyle. In fact, whilst only 34% of the Japanese population identify as Buddhist, a huge 75% practise some form of Buddhism!
Day 4: Hakone
Go on a trip to Hakone, one of Japan’s best-known and most-loved onsen (hot spring) resort destinations. Take the ropeway over Owakudani. If you’re lucky and the skies are clear, you could even spot the magnificent Mount Fuji. Swap blue skies for pristine waters, as you hop on a luxury pirate ship and enjoy the stunning views across Lake Ashi. Today, you can also sample black eggs, a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric spring waters they’re cooked in.
Day 5: Discover Kyoto
You’ve heard about them – now it’s time to experience the Japanese bullet train as you travel from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Get a better understand of Shinto and Buddhism, the two biggest religions in Japan. Visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a major Shinto shrine complex in wooded hills. To get onto the beautiful walking trails at the back of the complex, you’ll pass through corridors of thousands of bright red gates.
Later, walk through quaint city side streets to the 1,200-year-old Kiyomizu Dera Temple. Enjoy Instagram-worthy views over Kyoto.
Day 6: Hozugawa River Rafting & Arashiyama Monkey Park
Enjoy a two-hour boat trip down the Hozugawa River in a traditional wooden raft driven by trained specialists. Cruise through rocky ravines and experience the rush of rapids as you meander through the Arashiyama Hills.
Visit the Arashiyama district on the Western outskirts of Kyoto. Navigate through the lush bamboo forests, before embarking on the 30-minute climb up to Arashiyama Monkey Park. Feed mischievous monkeys and enjoy the panoramic view.
Next, head to the Tenryu-Ji Temple. Designed in the 14th century, it has survived the fires and wars that damaged the buildings and has remained in pristine condition for centuries. Whilst there, make sure to look into the Dharma Hall to see the dragon’s eyes on the mural – they’ll follow you as you walk past.
Day 7: Calligraphy Lesson & Golden Pavilion
Experience Japanese culture with a calligraphy lesson, led by a Japanese master of this ancient art.
Then, head for one of the most iconic sites in Kyoto, the Golden Pavilion at the Kinkaku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple. Walk around the lake and prepare to be mesmerized by the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion on the water.
Explore the Gion district to learn more about geishas. If you’re lucky, you might spot some professional geishas there!
Day 8: Chino Volunteering
Transfer from Kyoto station to Chino station in the Nagano prefecture. Upon arrival, get to know the local community and agricultural industry.
Volunteer at a local farm. Learn how rice is planted and cultivated from a local farmer.
Day 9: Cook Dinner for the Farmers
Make your way to the Venus Line, a sightseeing road and popular free driving course connecting Chino to the Utsukushigahara Highlands. If you’re here during summer, you can see the beautiful flowers in bloom.
Spend the rest of the day continuing your volunteer work at the local farm.
Invite the local farmers back to the community centre, where you’ll cook them dinner and eat it together.
Day 10: Sayonara!
It might be home time, but it’s not over. Japan’s incredible opportunities for creativity, activity and service will follow you home!
Creativity: Make sushi, film a documentary and learn the ancient art of calligraphy.
Activity: Play baseball at the batting cages, go river rafting and hike in the Arashiyama bamboo forest.
Service: Create an English language class for Japanese students, take part in volunteer farm work and cook dinner for the local farmers.
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