Straying from roads well-traveled, this adventure through Japan will bring you to natural wonders, countryside cultures and legends that contrast sharply and interestingly with those more well-documented.
- Attendance to a hyuga kagura shrine dance of legends
- Participation in the Awa Odori dance festival of Shikoku Island (August)
- Participation in the Kenka and Saijo festivals on Shikoku Island (October)
- Making new friends during a homestay experience
- Hiking through Kyushu’s old growth forests
- A visit to the kamikaze museum
- Exploration of volcanic landscapes
- A cruise around the Seto Inland Sea
- Relaxation in onsen hot springs
**Highlight availability varies season to season and is subject to change.
The following tour is an example of what we can offer your party as an in-depth tour of one of the great regions of Japan. If interested, feel free to contact us to find out what we can add to this schedule to make it special for you. We look forward to making a custom tour for you!
Day 1 Yokoso and Welcome to JapanOvernight in Kyoto City
After arriving in Japan, you will transfer to your accommodation in Kyoto City. In the evening you will meet your guide and group over a tour orientation and welcome dinner. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Days 2 and 3 The Inner Workings of KyotoTours in Kyoto and Nara ・ Overnights in Kyoto City
Over the next two days you will see a Kyoto beyond the sights. You will go to the places and meet the people that bring new life to old traditions as you are thoroughly introduced to the ancient capital. Of course the World Heritage Sites as well as the city’s most famed areas of beauty await you during your tour of Kyoto. It is while visiting these areas that you will get the rare chance to look beyond what’s in front of you and see what makes the city the center of Japanese arts and culture.
Days 4 to 6 Away from the MainlandTours in Awaji, Takamatsu, Matsuyama ・ Overnights on Shikoku Island
Saying goodbye to Kyoto and mainland Japan, you will make your way to places offshore. Your first adventure will be on Awaji Island with a visit to the serene Water Temple, designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, as well as a stop that will give you a sweeping view of the Seto Inland Sea. Then you will head out again, this time venturing to the peaceful and rural island of Shikoku.
Possibly known best for its pilgrimage route of eighty-eight temples, Shikoku is full of scenes not usually observed by travelers. You will visit one of the island’s most striking shrines, complete with a small pilgrimage if you will up a beautiful slope where at its summit you will be rewarded with amazing views of the area’s villages and valleys.
This part of your journey also includes wonderful highlights such as the uniquely odd kenka fighting festival, and a parade of colorful, traditional festival carts. You will also get the chance to visit one of Japan’s most renowned and beautiful landscape gardens, walk across an ancient vine bridge with history dating back to the twelfth century, stroll the same halls as the emperor and empress have during a visit to Japan’s oldest onsen hot spring inn, and overall get a view of Japan many travelers miss.
Day 7 Samurai, the Sea, and FamilyOvernight with a Homestay Family on Kyushu Island
This day starts with exploration of some of the finest remains of Japan’s feudal and samurai era. Matsuyama Castle will give you deeper insight into Japan’s bygone eras before you take your leave of Shikoku Island. Taking to the seas, a breathtaking ferry ride will take you from Shikoku to Kyushu Island. Kyushu is a land of hot springs and natural and volcanic beauty. Also known for its very friendly people, you will get the chance to enjoy true Japanese culture as it is today through a stay with a local family. Together you will share cultures, stories, and perhaps even swap recipes as you work together to make the evening meal.
Days 8 to 12 Landscapes of the GodsTours in Takachiho, Kagoshima ・ Overnights on Kyushu Island
These days will be devoted to the volcanically beautiful island of Kyushu. The island boasts a history of its own, being known for inviting the winds of change that eventually overturned shogun rule in the nineteenth century. Along with its history of welcoming foreign influence through art and spirituality, the island is also home to some of the most fascinating landscapes in Japan that are featured in local myths and legends. You will visit historically preserved districts, caves that shelter thousand-year old Buddhist statues, the world’s largest volcanic crater, a stunning gorge complete with emerald green water, the kamikaze museum located where brave soldiers once took off for their doomed missions, the scenic viewpoints of Kagoshima and more during the day, and take the night to relax in a more hidden onsen hot spring resort. This part of your journey also includes an excellent chance to participate in on of Kyushu’s local traditions: the kagura. You’ll learn more about the stories that go behind this dance to the gods during your stay.
Day 13 Vibrant Nature to Colorful NightlifeTours in Osaka ・ Overnight in Osaka City
For the next two days you will explore remote Shimane Prefecture. You will pass through small towns and scenic villages, places where people boast their connection with legends of old. The areas you will visit these days are well known for being the stages to myths that have forever been in the collective memory of the country. You will first arrive in Matsue, which is known as the pristine water city due to its numerous canals and famous Lake Shinjiko. In Matsue you will visit the old castle, wander by old samurai quarters, and travel to Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine. This shrine is the second most important, dedicated to the Shinto God of Fortune, and a nice contrast to the Ise Shrine you visited prior. You’ll note how the shrine is built in the ancient Taisha style and it will become clear to you just what characteristics make the style so special. From Izumo Taisha Shrine, you will then visit perhaps the most critically acclaimed garden in Japan – the Adachi Museum Garden.
Day 14 Farewell and SayonaraItinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
We wish you pleasant travels as you leave this land of the rising sun. We hope that you are taking with you lasting memories of the times you had here, and hope that you can return one day to discover even more. Farewell from all of us at Windows to Japan, and sayonara.