Destinations Destinations
Kyoto, Himeji, Takamatsu, Osaka, Hiroshima, Iya Valley
Activity Activity
Nature & Wildlife, Culture & History, Cities, Spiritual, National Parks
Physical Level Physical Level
Easy
Season Season
January - December

Fly into Osaka and head straight to the temple town of Kyoto, where office blocks jut up against hidden temples and tranquil walks take you into cherry blossom trees. Travel to Hiroshima to learn more about how the city recovered from the atomic bomb blast, before heading into rural Japan at Takamatsu, where you can see the beautiful Ritsurin Park gardens and see modern art on Naoshima Island. The villages of the mountainous Iya Valley is home to deep river gorges and forested hills. Explore the traditional villages that once gave refuge to political dissidents and fleeing armies. Stop at the 1580-built Himeji Castle before ending back in Osaka with street food and sake.

Suggested Itinerary

Recommended route & experiences

Visit Kyoto’s 2,000 temples

Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 atmospheric temples and shrines. Look for robed monks, hear prayer chants and meditate in zen gardens – Kyoto is the place to immerse yourself in Japan’s culture, traditions and religion.

Feed the deer in Nara

Feed the deer in Nara

Once the capital of Japan, Nara is known for its many temples and beautiful gardens that make it a perfect day trip from Kyoto or Osaka. However, it is the town’s resident 1,400 odd deer – seen as messengers from god after the myth of Kasuga Shrine, who came to Nara on the back of a deer – which are Nara’s quirky attraction.

See the eternal flame at Hiroshima’s Peace Park

While modern Hiroshima is a thriving, cosmopolitan city, it will always be known as the city destroyed by the world’s first atomic bomb. The city’s Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome are moving reminders of its tragic past.

See the famous torii gate on Miyajima Island

See the famous torii gate on Miyajima Island

Less than an hour from Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is best-known for its torii gate – a structure that marks the entrance to a shrine. Come at high tide when the gate seems to float on the water, before waiting for water to recede to get up close.

Relax in Takamatsu and ferry to Naoshima Island

The gardens of Ritsurin Park are one of Takamatsu main attractions and are the perfect place to relax. Originally built for the Sanuki warlords, look for the Engetsu-kyo bridge and the lotus pond.

Get arty on Naoshima Island

Get arty on Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island is home to several modern art museums, open-air sculptures and interesting architecture. Explore the Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum and look out for the Setouchi Triennale festival – the next is scheduled for 2022.

Experience rural Japan in Shikoku’s Iya Valley

The Iya Valley is a huge expanse of tree-lined mountains and deep river gorges, home to tiny villages, hot springs and great views. The region’s domineering cliffs meant the region has played a big part in Japanese history, hiding political dissidents, beaten armies and regional clan leaders.

Visit Himeji’s one-of-a-kind castle

Built in 1580, Himeji-jo has a legitimate claim to be Japan’s most magnificent castle. Its five-storey main keep is surrounded by moats and walls, with an arrow-marked route taking visitors around the castle. Look for the narrow openings where the castle defenders poured boiling oil onto attackers and – less gruesomely – the beautiful views over the city from the top.

Explore Osaka’s live music scene

Japan’s third-largest city might not be its prettiest, but it is one of its most welcoming. Osakan’s are known for their humour and the city has an extensive live music and comedy scene. A must-try local dish is takoyaki (grilled octopus dumplings), which is sold on most street corners.

Explore a mountaintop Buddhist community

Explore a mountaintop Buddhist community

Mount Koya is the centre of Shingon Buddhism, first established in 819. The town at the top is home to many temples and pagodas where you can say prayers, but for a peaceful — if slightly eerie experience — take a walk through the town’s silent cemetery surrounded by thick Japanese cedars in the snow.

Where to stay

Sample accommodation suggested by our Japan experts.

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Iwaso Ryokan
Classic

Iwaso Ryokan

Located on the small island of Miyajima in the tranquil Seto Inland Sea, Iwaso is a luxury ryokan offering Japanese-style rooms, hot-spring baths and traditional kaiseki-style meals...

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Hyatt Regency
Deluxe

Hyatt Regency

The Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a luxury hotel tucked away in the east of Kyoto, in the quiet and green district of Higashiyama Shichijo...

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The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon
Superior

The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon

The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon (also called The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic) is located in the heart of Tokyo, directly opposite the dramatic Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate) at the entrance of Sensoji Temple - the city’s oldest temple and one of Asakusa’s most famous landmarks...

How to book

All routes can be tailored to your preferences

Price guide

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £3,800pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

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