Southern Japan Experience

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4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. 3- Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
12 days
From: $ 4,780 $ 398 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Explore the unique island of Naoshima, transformed from a sleepy fishing community into a world class art destination, with sleek and stylish museums and artworks that sit in harmony with the landscape.
  • Join locals hiking along trails to hidden temples, being awed at some of the country's impressive castles or in one of Japan's oldest hot spring baths - Dogo Onsen.
  • Feel like Indiana Jones as you cross the kazurabashi (vine bridges) of the hidden Iya Valley, a remote retreat of deep gorges and lush mountains on Shikoku island.
  • Uncover the different characters of the cities of Nagasaki and Osaka, from the former’s thought-provoking Peace Park and Museum to the latter’s busy streets where the motto is ‘eat until you drop’.
  • Venture into the thick and mysterious cedar forests on Yakushima, encounter Yakushika deer or Yakuzaru monkey, or relax at the seaside onsen.

Short Description

One of Japan’s greatest attractions is its ability to offer up both the modern and traditional versions of itself. Alongside future-focused cities like Osaka and Nagasaki, there are places that have kept to its traditions for hundreds of years, often to stunning effect. Set off on a journey of discovery into the Japan that lies south-west of Osaka, a ‘lost Japan’. Travel to Takamatsu and Naoshima Islands and be amazed at the contrast between the traditional beauty of the Ritsurin garden and the local avant-garde art exhibits.

Style Small group tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Osaka
End City Osaka

Destinations

Japan

Attractions & Cities Visited

Hiroshima Nagasaki Osaka

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing

Age Requirement

15-99

N/A
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Itinerary

Day 1 Osaka

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Osaka, Japan. Ever-vibrant Osaka is also the country’s unofficial culinary capital, where the motto is 'Kuidaore' ('eat until you drop'). Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour guide and fellow travellers. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. Have your insurance and emergency contact details on hand as we'll be checking them at this meeting. After the meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2 Takamatsu

Depart Osaka this morning and begin the journey west. Take the train across the bridge spanning the stunning Inland Sea and onto Takamatsu (approximately approx 3-4 hours). This may be the largest city on the island of Shikoku (the smallest of Japan’s four main islands), but it's a beautifully unpretentious town full of history, top-notch food and interesting local art. Here you'll visit Ritsurin Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in the country. Dating back to the Edo period, it comprises several ponds and arched bridges designed around strolling paths, tea pavilions and historic trees, with a western garden an addition to the Japanese one. The garden also houses the Sanuki Folkcraft Museum which displays a variety of ceramics and basket-work dating from the time of the Tokugawa shoguns.

Day 3 Naoshima - Takamatsu

Take the ferry (around 1 hour) for a day-trip to the island of Naoshima, located in the Inland Sea between Takamatsu and the mainland, which is famous worldwide for its modern art galleries, museums, avante-garde architecture and lovely natural setting. Explore the island by public bus or bicycle to take you between the different galleries and installations. Wander between artworks, hear the sound of waves lapping at quiet coves, and stumble unexpectedly upon outdoor sculptures. Return to Takayama after a full day on the island.

Day 4 Kotohira

It's back on the train this morning and off to the small town of Kotohira (around 90 mins), which is famous for Kompira-san, Shikoku's most celebrated shrine. Popular with pilgrims, Kompira-san is dedicated to seafaring, and although the approach to the shrine is not particularly straightforward, it's well worth the effort. Passing some historical landmarks on the way, climb the 785 steps to the main hall and take in views overlooking Kotohira Town and the Inland Sea far below and check out a real submarine on display. For those interested, just to the east of the entrance to Kompira-san you can also find Kanamaru-za, said to be one of the oldest kabuki theatres in Japan. You can go backstage and see how they ingeniously worked the revolving stage and trapdoor hundreds of years ago. Stay overnight in a small guesthouse tonight.

Day 5 Iya Valley - Matsuyama

Before heading west by train along the Inland Sea coast to the attractive castle-town of Matsuyama, we make a day trip to the secluded Iya Valley by local train and private coach. Traverse the winding passes and head to the atmospheric Kazura-bashi (which translates as ‘vine bridge’) located in a remote part of Oku-Iya (known as ‘deep Iya’). When the Heike clan fled here some 800 years ago, they built these bridges as the only way to span the gorges and Iya River; if they were attacked then they could cut the vines at a moment’s notice. Only three of these bridges remain, and they look like something out of Indiana Jones. You'll also visit the Nagoro ‘scarecrow village’, where a local artist 'repopulated' the dwindlling village by positioning life size scarecrows through the village, and Buke Yashiki, a restored thatched-roof samurai house which lies at the top of a steep valley slope and towering cedar trees. This was once the home of village leaders, and now offers displays of samurai armour and superb views over the valley.

Day 6 Matsuyama

This morning, visit hill-top Matsuyama Castle, one of Japan's finest surviving castles and located right in the middle of this lovely provincial capital with its old trams and refined feel. Unlike most castles in Japan, this one has an interesting collection of artefacts inside, so take the chance to check them out and learn a little more about Matsuyama's feudal history. With free time in the afternoon, maybe relax and unwind at the beautiful Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest bath houses in Japan, or visit Ishiteji Temple which is the 51st of the 88 temples that make up Shikoku’s ‘88 Sacred Temples’ circuit, Japan’s most famous pilgrimage route.

Day 7 Nagasaki

We have a long day of train travel ahead of us today (around 8 hours in total) as we leave Shikoku and head further west to Kyushu, the third largest of Japan’s four main islands. We arrive in Nagasaki in the afternoon and have an orientation walk with our leader to stretch our legs after our journey. Though its name has strong connotations of bombs and war – and the military history sites are important to visit – Nagasaki is a delight to explore, with its hills and harbour, shrines and temples, churches and other remnants from its long involvement with Asian and European traders.

Day 8 Nagasaki

This morning, visit the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum for a sobering reminder on what happened on that dreadful day of 9 August 1945. If you wish to reflect and explore further, there are other interesting museums nearby worth visiting. With a tram pass at your disposal, take the time to explore other parts of Nagasaki in the afternoon. Consider heading over to Dejima. This fascinating artificial island, once a Dutch trading post in the 17-19th centuries (and the sole foreign presence in the whole country at one point) is well worth exploring. The 26 Martyrs Memorial, Oura Catholic Church, Glover Garden and Dutch Slopes also give you a glimpse into the life of the early Christians and European traders in Japan. Then in the evening, perhaps slurp on some champon noodles – ramen Nagasaki-style!

Day 9 Yakushima

From Nagasaki we take a limited express and shinkansen bullet train through Kyushu’s attractive hinterland to its southern-most point. Here jump on a hydrofoil to travel a few hours to the island of Yakushima, arriving in the afternoon. A remote island even by Japanese standards, the journey is well worth the effort. Much of Yakushima’s adundant natural resources have been preserved without exploitation, making it particularly picturesque. It was justifiably added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1993. The forests of Yakushima are said to have inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki's film ‘Princess Mononoke’, and it's easy to see why. Its ancient cedar trees and shady green splendour are a delight to behold, and at times give the feeling of walking through another world. Your stay in Yakushima will most certainly be one full of magic. Tonight we enjoy a dinner of local Yakushima cuisine.

Day 10 Yakushima

Set off on a hike today through the lush green forests of Shiratani Unsuikyo (approximately 3-3.5 hours). Shiratani Unsuikyo is a beautiful national park that inspired the famous animated movie 'Princess Mononoke' with its magical mossy forests. Since the Island is home to the amazing Yuku sugi cedar trees, you'll be able to find yourself among theses magnificent ancient trees which are over 1000 years old (some are as old as 3000 years!). If you’re lucky along the way you might encounter a Yakushika deer or Yakuzaru monkey. After your hike, kick back and relax. You may want to spend some free time soaking in the natural onsen baths by Yakushima’s shoreline.

Day 11 Osaka

Say goodbye to the magical forests of Yakushima and jump back on the hydrofoil and head back by shinkansen through Kyushu to Osaka. Tonight you have the option to join your leader and travel companions for a final celebration of your time in Japan.

Day 12 Osaka

The trip comes to an end this morning. There are no planned activities today.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 4,780
Price Per Day: $ 398 per day
Checking price
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4,186 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

94%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 3,164
Great 667
Average 132
Disappointing 66
Terrible 157
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Southern Japan Experience

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I had a really fun time travelling to…

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I had a really fun time travelling to Thailand last December. Intrepid made the entire trip easier because of the preparations they made beforehand. I'm definitely going to recommend Intrepid to my friends. Ciao!
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Viewing wildlife in a natural setting

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Viewing wildlife in a natural setting with an experienced naturalist is outstanding

Great trip made better by the guide.

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Great trip made better by the guide.

This trip is an excellent mix of cultural experience, adventure and nature.

5.0
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This trip is an excellent mix of cultural experience, adventure and nature. Nepal is a beautiful country and the people are so warm and approachable. Dal Bhat Power 24 hour!

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation.

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation. Andy was an exceptional leader. If you want more than just resorts when coming to Bali I highly recommend this tour

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Walk the Scenic Rim

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Had the best time! Over 5 days we hiked up hill, down dale, across creeks and through beautiful pockets of ancient Gondwana rainforest. The scenery was stunning, the company was awesome, and I can't recommend Intrepid Travel (and our tour leader, Joel) highly enough!
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Train,Ferry,Public Bus,Private bus,Metro,Bullet Train

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Accommodations

Hotel (11nights)

Guides

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional sources for employing tour leaders. As a result, our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may either be Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi
  • 1-10-24, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 大阪府大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-10-24
  • Osaka
  • Osaka
  • 542-0086
  • JAPAN
  • Phone: +81 649636501

Trip ID#:

intrepid-CJSO

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