Japan - Cultural Odyssey – Volunteer Vacations | Discover Corps

Japan – Cultural Odyssey

Explore Japanese culture from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the beautiful cities of Kyoto and Osaka.


The Place and The People

The minute you step off the plane, Tokyo will immerse you in a completely new and vibrant world. With over 9 million people living in the city alone, you’ll experience the unforgettable chaos of Shibuya Crossing by day and the breathtaking views of the skyline by night. While Tokyo may be the largest metropolitan city in the world, the rest of the country practices a serine and tranquil lifestyle.

Discover first-hand the importance of the fishing industry to Japanese lifestyle and learn more about the Shinto and Buddhist roots through guided meditation. Traditional performances from Japanese Geisha and the passion of the people will stay with you for years to come.

What You'll Do

Dig deep into the history of Japan with a guided meditation class led by a Zen Buddhist monk, a sushi-making class by a local chef where you will learn how sushi evolved, and an intricate calligraphy class.

After the rush of Shibuya Crossing, take in the scenery of Shinjuku Gyoen (marvel at the cherry blossom trees if you visit in April!) before leaving Tokyo for Kyoto on a bullet train. Get a feel for traditional Japanese culture with plenty of optional trips including Japanese hot springs, or “onsen” and traditional Geisha performances. Request a full itinerary to learn about all the locations and people you’ll meet along the way.

What You'll See

Breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji and a trip to The Golden Pavilion will leave you with a full picture of what makes Japan so magical. After experiencing a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, take a rickshaw ride through a bamboo forest to a Monkey Park where you will be greeted with 120 snow monkeys and gorgeous views of Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Mountains, and the Hozu River.

Visit Tnryu-Ji Temple, the most important of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples, gaze into the eyes of the dragon on the mural at Dharma hall, and step back into time at the International Manga Museum, an old elementary school building. In Osaka, visit Osaka Castle and explore its nine-level donjon.


Email Me a Detailed Itinerary

or call us now at 1-619-758-3030

Itinerary Overview

Japan is known for a mix of traditional and modern, and your days spent traveling with feel no different. Start your day out exploring the bustling city of Tokyo before relaxing in a scenic park overlooking the majestic Mt. Fuji. Find yourself on a series of cars and mountain railways up to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park before enjoying black eggs, a local delicacy in Japan. Experience the speed of a bullet train on your way to Kyoto before discovering your inner peace with a Zen Buddhist monk.

Throughout your experience, connect with family and friends as you get lost in the lush bamboo forests surrounded by snow monkeys. Each day will offer you an opportunity to step back into time in the country and then a quick contrast forward in time in the city.

Email Me a Detailed Itinerary

or call us now at 1-619-758-3030

Where You'll Stay

You will stay in three different cities while in Japan. Your first three nights will be spent in a 3-star hotel in the center of Tokyo, walking distance to some of the city’s most popular locales. Check out a famous cat café for lunch and walk to some of the best sushi in the city for dinner.

While in Hakone, you will stay one night in a traditional Japanese Ryokan. Guests sleep on futon beds laid over tatami mat floors, offering you a true feel for Japanese culture.

Spend your last three nights in a a 4-star hotel in Kyoto complete with wifi, air-conditioning, and 24-hour security. Relax in the spa before heading home or extending your stay to Hiroshima and Miyajima.

Karen D.

Chicago, IL

Traveler's Journal

“Tokyo has always been a bucket-list destination for me, but I got so much more from this trip. Kyoto ended up being my favorite. One minute I felt like I was stepping back in time and the next I was off on a bullet train to a new bustling city. My kids loved Monkey Park and all the excitement of Japan, and my husband and I already can’t wait to go back. Truly an unforgettable experience.”

Dates and Fees

We offer several Family Friendly dates, to help families book travel around common school vacation times

Reserve a Trip

or call us now at 1-619-758-3030

8 Days/7 Nights

Program Cost: $4,695 Adult / $3,695 Child*

These are our 2018 prices. Book now to lock them in before our annual price increase.

2018 Dates

December 23-30, 2018

2019 Dates

February 17-24, 2019

March 31-Apr 7, 2019

May 19-26, 2019

June 16-23, 2019

July 7-14, 2019

July 21-28, 2019

August 4-11, 2019

August 25-September 1, 2019

September 8-15, 2019

October 20-27, 2019

December 22-29, 2019

2020 Dates

February 9-16, 2020

March 29-April 5, 2020


  • * Double Occupancy Price. Children’s pricing applies to travelers 16 years old and younger sharing a room with an adult.
  • Single Room Supplement = $799
  • $450 Supplement charge added to trips running in April and August
  • Although unlikely, prices, dates, and accommodations subject to change with a 60 day notice from Discover Corps
  • All dates are Family Friendly

What’s Included

Our trips are inclusive of all activities, lodging, and transport to make your experience hassle-free.  Here’s a sample of what’s included:

  • 7 nights lodging
  • Loaded transportation card for the duration of your trip on bullet trains and public transport, covering the attached itinerary
  • Most meals throughout the trip (2 dinners and 1 lunch on your own)
  • Expert local guides to support and inform you throughout
  • Admissions and entrance fees to national parks, historic sites and other scheduled events unless marked as optional
  • An active daily itinerary including a sushi making, calligraphy, and meditation class
  • $50,000 emergency medical evacuation insurance
  • Trip literature and turnkey customer support from preparing for your trip to arrival back home

What’s Not Included

  • Any optional activities
  • Two free evenings for dinner and one free afternoon for lunch
  • International airfare
  • No guide provided on Day 4 and Day 8

Alumni & Family Discounts

Repeat travelers and groups are eligible for discounts and special deals.

Customized Private Trips

Let us create a custom trip for your group. Learn more about custom group travel.

Add a 3 day/2 night post-trip extension to Hiroshima and Miyajima to any Japan departure. Click here to learn more.

  • Experience the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum and learn about the tragic past and how the city recovered from the atomic bomb.
  • Explore Miyajima, an island where tame deer accompany you as you take in the stunning shrines, beaches, and waterfalls.
  • Stay overnight on the island of Miyajima and watch the sun set over the holy Torii Gate, one of Japan’s most beloved sites.

As Seen In

Los Angeles Times USA Today Road Warrior Blog International Business Times

Request a Catalog

Your adventure awaits! Use the form below to get a FREE catalog by mail or email. Or call us now at 1-619-758-3030

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Prices increase December 15th! Learn more here.