2021 Eaglecrest Japan Program

Dear Travelers, Families, Friends  – Welcome to the 2021 Eaglecrest Japan Program! To better inform our travelers about this once in a lifetime opportunity, there are two webpages at your disposal. The first is the Pre-Enrollment page, the purpose of which is to share the itinerary, exciting highlights and important info that travelers will want to know before signing up.  Once enrolled, your family will begin using the Post-Enrollment page, which offers a greater level of detail.  Please take the time to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Japan!! 
Travel Dates: March 13, 2021 - March 22, 2021
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,000 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,694
Deadline(s): Enrollment deadline forthcoming

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.


We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

March 13USA - TokyoToday the group will depart from the US to Tokyo, Japan.Airplane
March 14TokyoSay Konnichiwa to your Walking Tree Leaders, your expert on all things Japan and your travel partner for the duration of the program. At your hotel, check-in then have your first taste of authentic Japanese cuisine at your welcome dinner.Hotel Mimaru Tokyo Nihombashi Suitengumae
March 15TokyoRise early and greet the day learning about Japanese culture that is still present and strong today. Take stroll over to Tsukiji Market , the former last stop on a fish's journey from sea to sushi mat. Tsukiji is an open window into Japan's fishing, cooking, and dining heritage. Although the fish market has been relocated many of the previous 900 vendors remain in the area. After observing the busy vendors and streets try some sushi that's guaranteed to be of hit quality and taste. Later we will visit one of Tokyo's most famous temples, Sensoji. Experience temple customs like purification and fortune telling. Enjoy some souvenir shopping on Nakamise street in front of Sensoji. Finally we'll head to Tokyo's Electronic city, Akihabara. Students can enjoy the afternoon exploring electronic shops.Hotel Mimaru Tokyo Nihombashi Suitengumae
March 16TokyoToday is all about Tokyo's metropolitan area. Start at the observatory deck on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan office. You may be able to see Mt. Fuji on a clear day. Then off to Harajuku! First stop is Meiji Shrine. Tucked away, the tranquil green surroundings will make you forget you are in a noisy concrete jungle. After exploring the grounds of the shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji we'll check out the heart of Tokyo's fashion and pop culture. Takeshita street, located across from Harajuku station, is lined with many trendy stores and boutiques on every side street. Mingle with chic teens, snap photos of Tokyo's wildest trends, and pick up a few pieces for yourself. You'll get a first-hand perspective on Japanese pop culture from a your leader as he or she guides you through Harajuku's hidden backstreets. Get a hands-on intro to Japanese food culture at a local restaurant. You'll learn to grill up perfect okonomiyaki, a tasty pancake made from eggs and cabbage, piled with your choice of toppings and sauce. Head to Shibuya station to experience the dizzying scramble and Shibuya's resident canine, Hachiko. Hotel Mimaru Tokyo Nihombashi Suitengumae
March 17KyotoAfter a long ride on the Shinkansen, we will need to stretch or legs. We will journey on the iconic Tetsugaku-no-Michi, Philosopher's Walk. Kyoto University professor, Nishida Kitaro, meditated daily on this stone path during his commute to work. Along the path there are beautiful cherry blossoms and on the side paths there are various temples and shrines. Spend time reflecting on your time in Japan and what philosophical thoughts filled Professor Nishida's mind. Start in Ginkaku-ji and end in Nanzen-ji before enjoying dinner in Nishiki Market and looking for Geisha on the traditional streets of the Gion District.Hotel WBF Kyoto Toji
March 18KyotoTake a trip into the past to explore some of the oldest and most grand temples in Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji and Fushimi-Inari. In the afternoon, we will reflect on the first half of our trip. Visit Kyoto station mall and load up on souvenirs for friends and family.Hotel WBF Kyoto Toji
March 19KyotoThe halfway point of the trip have been reached and your knowledge of Japanese culture has grown immensely. Today we will leave our tourist status behind and do things like the locals, in the kitchen. We will create bento lunches full of traditional dishes like tempura, miso soup and sushi. After eating our delicious creations we will then visit Nijo Castle. The architecture of Japanese castle-palaces are very unique and Nijo Castle is the best preserved example of these unique features. It is especially beautiful during Cherry Blossom season. Hotel WBF Kyoto Toji
March 20Kyoto-NaraTravel from Kyoto to Nara. Nara was founded in the 8th century. It was Japan's first permanent capital until 784. Its political influence was matched by its religious influence as Nara is home to the most famous Buddhist temples. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, spend the day touring the most important temples in Nara with the Nara Volunteer Guide Club. Explore Todai-ji, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Japan. The 50 ft. Daibutsu or Big Buddha is housed in the largest wooden building in the world. Kasuga-Taisha Shrine is the most important Shinto shrine in Nara. Kasuga-Taisha has forest paths, wandering deer and 3000 lanterns hung around the temple.Hotel Pagoda
March 21NaraEnjoy some last minute souvenir shopping on Higashimuki Shopping Street, Mochiidono Shopping and Sanjou Shopping street. Be sure to visit a handmade mochi store called Nakatanidou 中谷堂 on Sanjou street. They are known as the fastest mochi makers. You can learn about the mochi making process while watching two men rapidly pound the rice with large wooden mallets. Take a break in Nara Park. Here you can feed the deer Shika senbei or deer crackers. They also love selfies! Be sure to pick up some souvenirs to remind you of your trip. Finally stop by the Nara Vistor Center and Inn. Their kind staff host countless cultural experiences everyday. With expert artisans and instructors try your hand at origami, calligraphy and even take part in a tea ceremony. At the end of the visit you will be well versed in Japanese culture. South of the visitors center is Naramachi. It has many shops and restaurants that you can visit while imagining what it was like to be a merchant in the Edo Period. For our final adventure, we'll hit up a karaoke lounge which is a quintessentially Japanese experience and one that you'll remember for a lifetime!Hotel Pagoda
March 22Nara - Tokyo - USAAfter breakfast, we will leave Nara by train and head to Tokyo Narita Airport to catch our evening flight back to the USA.You own bed, eventually!

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Use the promo code FAIRFALL through the end of 2021 and save 10% off wholesale cases prices.

Learn more here.

WTT coffee


In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe. 

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Hotel Pagoda Nara

Hotel Pagoda Nara combines both traditional and modern Japanese style in one hotel. Wifi and breakfast are included. Students will be roomed in double, triple or quadruple rooms based on gender.

Hotel WBF Kyoto Toji

Hotel WBF Kyoto Toji will be home sweet home during our time in Kyoto. The hotel’s central location will allow us to move easily around Kyoto. Japanese and western style breakfast is provided along with Wifi. Students will be split by gender in double, triple or quadruple rooms.

Mimaru Tokyo Nihobashi Suitengumae

This hotel is centrally located in Tokyo and will provide a great home base for the group while in Tokyo. Rooms are simple, but have a modern Japanese feel to them. Breakfast and Wifi are provided. Students will be split between gender in either double, triple or quadruple rooms.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

Most importantly, be sure to remember your passport!

6 pairs of underwear
Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
T-shirts (some quick dry)
Long sleeve shirts
Warmer jacket
Rain jacket
Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
Nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
Durable athletic/hiking shoes
Sandals (optional)
Work gloves

Mosquito repellent
Band Aids and Neosporin
Hand Sanitizer
Medication in properly marked original container

Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Power Converter
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle
1 quick-dry towel
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
Japanese/English Dictionary

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO

Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Alicia Naruse
Alicia Naruse
Japan Country Director

Pratt Institute – Industrial Design

Alicia was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. At the age of 11, she traveled to the United States to pursue an international education. Today, Alicia resides in Tokyo, Japan with her family where she works as an entrepreneurial and furniture designer. Alicia is good at adopting to new environments and learning new languages and cultures. Outgoing and adventurous, Alicia is passionate about making new connections and helping others in any way she can. Together with her Japanese husband and daughter, Alicia travels throughout different places in Japan. Alicia and her husband both share a passion for finding local treasures and having a good time.

Kelly Lageweg
Kelly Lageweg
Program Leader

Catholic University of Leuven, Language and Region Studies. Master of Japan.

You would have to look far and wide to find someone who is as enthusiastic and passionate about Japan as Kelly is. Ever since she was a child, this Dutch girl has been fascinated by different languages and cultures and dreamt of an international future. Japan’s unique characteristics made her fall in love instantly. She carried this passion all the way to the University of Leuven in Belgium where she completed a 5 year bachelor-master program, including a year abroad in Japan. Since then she has been living and working in Japan for over 7 years and found the love of her life.  Kelly currently works as an English high school teacher and enjoys guiding people around during school holidays. As an advocate of cultural exchange and education she couldn’t be more excited about working with Walking Tree and helping people realize their dreams. Although Kelly loves to unwind in rural, traditional Japan she just as much enjoys Japanese pop culture. Talk to her about anime, manga or video games and you will find yourself a new friend.
Paul Laurie
Paul Laurie
Professional Guide

Santa Clara University – B.A. Marketing and International Business

During college, Paul spent a semester abroad studying Spanish and European Commerce in Madrid, Spain. After graduation, he embarked on a three-year journey that took him all over the world. He traveled from Times Square to Tierra del Fuego and from Siberia to Singapore, enjoying distinct cultures, great food and meeting lifelong friends every step of the way. Today, Paul leads programs all over the world and enjoys connecting travelers to local communities and helping to expand travelers’ comfort zones. He specializes in programs in Central America and Mexico and often leads treks to remote communities.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Adam Smith
  • 2 Alexander Gonzalez Martinez
  • 3 Arwen Graham
  • 4 Blakley Wallace
  • 5 Braedn Lundy
  • 6 Caden Kinderknecht
  • 7 Chloe Cortez
  • 8 Christopher Consolver
  • 9 Cody Stokes
  • 10 Edgar Cruz III
  • 11 Harley Dix
  • 12 Joshua Wallace
  • 13 Katrina Dusek
  • 14 Kyle Williams
  • 15 Laura Williams
  • 16 Madison Hayden
  • 17 Magdalene Moreno
  • 18 Marc Vidulich
  • 19 Michael Cottrell
  • 20 Tziporah Johnson
  • 21 Zeniya Jackson
  • 22 Zoe Omolanke
22 Travelers

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.


GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.


  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.


  1. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  2. Possessing weapons.
  3. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  4. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  5. Being out after curfew.
  6. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Japan website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.


While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.