2025 Ranney Japan Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2025 Ranney Japan Cultural Journey! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, is meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: June 2, 2025 - June 11, 2025
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $4,490 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,490

What to Expect

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

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
June 2, 2025USA - TokyoToday the group will depart from the USA to Tokyo, Japan.Airplane
June 3, 2025TokyoSay "konnichiwa" to your program leader, your expert on all things Japan and your travel partner for the duration of the program. At your hotel, throw on a yukata robe, pour a cup of green tea, and put your feet up to relax after a long day of travel. But don't relax too much! Before long we’ll be off to enjoy our first meal in the Land of the Rising Sun.Super Hotel Tokyo
June 4, 2025TokyoThis morning, immerse yourself in the spiritual heart of Tokyo with a visit to Sensō-ji, the famous and historical Buddhist Temple.

In the afternoon, pass through the Meiji Shrine's sacred torii, passing through its iconic torii gate, a symbolic gateway of traditional Japanese spirituality. Take time to connect with nature as you stroll through the tranquil forest surrounding the shrine, finding moments of peace and introspection amidst the bustling city.

In the colorful Harajuku District next door, explore a different kind of energy-- the vibrant spirit of Japanese culture and fashion. Explore the hidden backstreets with your guide, gaining insights into modern life in Tokyo.

In the evening, pay homage to the legendary Hachiko statue in Shibuya, symbolizing loyalty and companionship. Marvel at the iconic Tokyo skyline as you stand amidst the bustling energy of Shibuya Crossing, feeling the pulse of the city and the rhythm of its people.
Super Hotel Tokyo
June 5, 2025Tokyo -> KawaguchikoBright and early we'll embrace the harmony of nature, wellness, and cultural tradition, finding moments of tranquility and rejuvenation amidst the awe-inspiring landscapes of Mt. Fuji's foothills in Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Be surrounded by the majestic presence of Mt. Fuji, this tranquil destination promises a holistic experience of nature, relaxation, and wellness. We’ll visit Lake Ashi, basking in the beauty of our surroundings and soaking in the energy of the nature.

We will venture to Owakudani, a geological marvel within the volcanic zone of Mt. Fuji. Witnessing the raw power of nature, we'll marvel at the sulfuric vents and bubbling hot springs that fuel the region's health-promoting onsens. Here, we'll have the chance to indulge in a time-honored tradition—the tasting of Owakudani black eggs, boiled in the sulfuric waters and believed to bestow longevity and vitality. Retreat to the soothing waters of an onsen, allowing tensions to melt away into a sense of relaxation.
Super Hotel Tokyo
June 6, 2025Tokyo -> HakodateSet off bright and early for an adventure to Hokkaido aboard the high-speed bullet train! We will traverse the picturesque landscapes as we journey to Hakodate, a city renowned for its breathtaking views of the strait surrounded by ocean on both ends.

Stroll through the streets of Hakodate, where the fusion of Russian and Japanese architecure create a unique and captivating ambience and offers a glimpse into its rich cultural heritage. Take in the panoramic view and wonderful night view of this seaside town. Finally, savor some of the freshest and most delectable seafood that Japan has to offer in the evening!
APA Hotel Hakodate Ekimae
June 7, 2025Hakodate -> NisekoEmbark on a cultural journey at the Hakodate Asaichi morning market, a vibrant hub where local fishermen gather to sell their fresh catch of the day to restaurants and visitors alike. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere as you peruse the stalls filled with an array of seafood, melons, fresh dairy and Hokkaido delights. Encounter the essence of Japanese philosophy embodied in the concept of " mottainai ," the mindful appreciation and resourcefulness in avoiding waste. Experience it firsthand by participating in a unique cultural experience—engaging in calligraphy and ink painting using the ink of freshly caught squid. Discover the artistry within the seafood itself as you create intricate designs and expressions, celebrating the beauty and utility of every part of the creature. Our journey continues as we venture to Niseko, a pristine paradise nestled amidst Hokkaido's majestic landscapes. Here, we'll indulge in a variety of outdoor activities that awaken the senses and rejuvenate the spirit. From exhilarating hikes through lush forests to thrilling adventures on snow-covered slopes, Niseko offers an abundance of opportunities for exploration and adventure. As we immerse ourselves in the natural wonders of Niseko, through outdoor activities and cultural experiences, we'll forge lasting memories and deepen our appreciation for the harmony between humanity and nature.Ezo Fujiya Niseko House
June 8, 2025NisekoEmbark on an adventure-filled day in Niseko, where there is a wealth of exhilarating activitiesin in the great outdoors to invigorate both body and spirit.

You could ascend the slopes of Mt. Yotei, and embark on a hiking expedition that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Or, test your courage and teamwork with high-ropes courses and zip-lining adventures at PURE in Niseko Village.

As the day transitions into evening, treat yourself to a cuisine that embodies the essence of Japanese cuisine—kaiseki. Indulge in a dinner featuring various meticulously crafted dishes that showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients, reflecting both health-consciousness and hospitality at its finest.

Cap off your day of adventure with a soothing soak in an onsen bath, where the healing properties of natural thermal springs await leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenateda as you gaze up at the starry night sky.
Ezo Fujiya Niseko House
June 9, 2025Niseko -> SapporoEmbark on an unforgettable day trip to Sapporo, the vibrant metropolitan hub of Hokkaido! Begin your journey at the iconic Sapporo Beer Garden to enjoy a local delicacy, Genghis Khan, a grilled lamb barbecue traditionally used to keep warm in the winter. Indulge in creamy and luscious treats crafted from the freshest milk sourced from Hokkaido's prized cows. Venture to Maruyama Park, where Hokkaido Shrine resides featuring grand torii gates and serene forests.

Or if you fancy a bike ride, go around Moerenuma Park and enjoy its harmony of art and nature with lush greenery and outdoor sculptures. Ascend a 5-story glass pyramid for a magnificent view of Sapporo's skyline.

Finish your excursion to Sapporo with a culinary dish that traces its heritage back to Hokkaido, miso ramen! A fitting local favorite to end our last night in Hokkaido.
Ezo Fujiya Niseko House
June 10, 2025Niseko -> TokyoOn our last day in Japan, start with a bullet train ride back to Tokyo.

As the day transitions into evening, immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the neon-lit wonderland of Akihabara Electric Town, a mecca for enthusiasts of electronics, video games, manga, and anime. Pick up some last souvenirs at the local Don Quijote!

Conclude your Japanese adventure with a final dinner, then channel your inner rockstar as you step into a karaoke booth for a night of music, laughter, and camaraderie. Sing your heart out to your favorite tunes, creating memories that will last a lifetime and bidding farewell to Japan in style.
Super Hotel Tokyo
June 11, 2025Tokyo - USAFly homeYour own bed!

Fundraising

Need to Raise Money? We Have You Covered.

Walking Tree Travel is proud to team up with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that distributes organic coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, chocolate bars, and more.  There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so the sooner you can start, the better!

Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Super Hotel Tokyo JR Kamata Nishiguchi

Start the day here with a traditional Japanese breakfast before setting out to explore Tokyo. This clean, three star accommodation provides modern amenities and a comfortable experience for all guests. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

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.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
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 and STUDENT ID.

CLOTHES:
6 pairs of underwear
Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
T-shirts (some quick dry)
Long sleeve shirts
Sweater
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
Hat

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Mosquito repellent
Band Aids and Neosporin
Hand Sanitizer
Medication in properly marked original container

MISCELLANEOUS:
Sunglasses
Journal and pen
Book
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
Flashlight/headlamp
Batteries
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
STUDENT ID
Spanish/English Dictionary

HOMESTAY GIFTS

Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!

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.

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.

Group Roster

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

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.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  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.
  4. 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.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. 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.

Insurance

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.

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