This is a tour fit for those wishing to travel outside the famous areas in favor of experiencing things more unique and original. This tour will take you through a more intimate Japan, one that welcomes visitors into the workshops of skilled craftsmen and challenges you to explore and discover islands, seas, and areas not seen on postcards. It is for the adventurer, the seeker of new paths, that we have created this tour away from the masses.
- Island-hopping adventures in the Seto Inland Sea
- Leisurely drives through islands of art
- Stays at more secluded and traditional ryokan inns and island resorts
- Cycling along the Shimanami Kaido island road
- A small-town temple pilgrimage all but forgotten
- Adventures in Japan free of the typical crowds
*Highlight availability varies season to season and is subject to change.
The following tour is an example of what we can offer you as a trip through a Japan less-traveled. 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 Osaka City
After arriving in Japan, you will transfer to your accommodation in Osaka City. When you arrive to your accommodation, you will receive the custom guidebook we will make just for you and your journey. Feel free to look through it, orienting yourself with the wonderful adventure that awaits. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Day 2 Away from the Masses to a Feudal-Era TownOvernight in Kurashiki
Leaving the bustling city of Osaka behind, you begin your adventure off the beaten path. Today you head to the small city of Kurashiki. Once a town of merchants and once used as main holding area for goods and treasures, Kurashiki has kept the past alive and well. The city boasts structures well preserved from the feudal era, which now house modern galleries, cafes, quaint shops, studios, and more. After touring these lovely areas and perhaps taking a relaxing boat ride along the city’s willow tree-lined canal, you will have the night to relax in the fabulous Ryokan Kurashiki, which will bring the day to a delightful close.
Days 3 and 4 Islands of ArtOvernights on Naoshima Island
Watching the sunrise, turning the canal into a sparkling wonder, you prepare for your journey through islands. After breakfast, your driver will meet you at your ryokan and escort you to the car that will take you to the port where you will get your first glimpse of what awaits you over the sea. Taking a ferry to Naoshima Island, you will disembark, setting foot on the shores of an island that has gone from being a mere fisherman village to a work of art. Naoshima is home to numerous art installations, all highly-acclaimed, all fascinating. Getting up-close looks at artworks and works of architecture, you will see pieces made by foreign and Japanese artists, as well as dream-like structures made by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. The day of art will give way to a pleasant night spent at the Benesse House Hotel, itself a museum and accommodation combined into one amazing experience with food to tantalize any palate.
Awakening at Benesse House the next day, you will prepare for another day of sparkling blue waters and art. Taking the ferry from Naoshima Island to its neighbor Inujima Island, you will have another day to take in artworks at leisure while also taking in relaxing island scenes. Inujima Island is also home to some fascinating works, artfully placed into what once was a large and impressive factory, which will make for a great day for the senses. Heading back to Naoshima Island in the late afternoon, you may wish to relax in Naoshima’s own very unique bath house — a work of art that requires you to go all-in.
Days 5 and 6 Japan’s MediterraneanOvernights on Shodoshima Island
One last Benesse House breakfast and it’s off by ferry to the unique island of Teshima. Here there are more art installments for you to enjoy, but what’s great is taking the time to cycle through the island breeze while going point to point, perhaps grabbing lunch at one of the artworks that doubles as a fine restaurant. Then it will be off by ferry once more, this time to Shodoshima Island. One of the larger islands of the Seto Inland Sea, this island will be your space to relax while enjoying beaches and orchards under the golden sun. One story suggests this island received its name, meaning small bean due to the fact that it has for a long time been a producer of soy and olives. An island of bounty with much to discover, this island is also said to be the first crafted by the gods when they set out to create Japan. This island will be yours to roam via rental car. With our guidebook with you to show you the way, you can choose from natural gorges to sculpted parks. The days are yours.
Day 7 Island to IslandOvernight in Takamatsu City
After your resort-like days on Shodoshima, you will be off by ferry once again, but this time to the garden and castle town of Takamatsu located on the rural but much larger island of Shikoku. It is here that you may stroll through the palatial garden paths and walk the halls of the city’s ancient castle while visiting any number of other fascinating finds in this old fortress city. The custom guidebook we will make for you will show you the way.
Day 8 Island Fairy TalesOvernight in Takamatsu City
The Seto Inland Sea is full of wonders, and today you will visit two more, called Ogijima and Megijima. One of these islands boasts a cute storybook village, while one was actually the setting for one of Japan’s most famous and treasured fairy tales. Touring the quaint town of Ogijima, you will then venture to Megijima where ogres are said to roam. You can choose here to wander the streets of the historical island town, or you can head to the mountains to see the caves that are said to once be the home to ferocious monsters. The choices are yours as you explore. Making sure to make the last ferry back to Takamatsu City, look forward to a night of whimsical dreams inspired by the day’s adventures.
Days 9 to 11 Island Trails and Pilgrimage PathsOvernights on Islands and in Onomichi City
These next few days will see you cycling and trekking through wide island roads and small, spiraling paths between temples and shrines. Taking a train from Takamatsu City to Imabari City, you will begin your cycling journey over the Shimanami Kaido island road of the Seto Inland Sea back toward the main island of Japan, Honshu. These ride will give you the freedom to explore these little-traveled islands at your leisure. Depending on your cycling level, you can do the trip in one day, or stay a few nights at quaint minshuku bed-and-breakfasts on any one of the islands you venture through. The islands of the Shimanami Kaido boast unique museums, villages, temples and more, and we will be sure to show you the way.
Once back on the mainland, you will find yourself in a city called Onomichi. Rumored to be so beautiful that it has inspired filmmakers and artists alike, this small city challenges you to complete its small pilgrimage of about thirty temples located within its borders. Friendly locals, hidden alleys of art and posh cafes in the mountainsides await you here in this seaside gem.
Day 12 A City Reborn and a City of VibranceOvernight in Osaka City
Making your way back toward more popular civilization, you will take a train to the city of hope, Hiroshima. You will find yourself in a city that has impressively recovered from the trauma of war to become a bustling metropolis. Taking time to see for yourself some of the city’s most striking historical remnants, you may also make a stop at near by Miyajima for the inspiring floating sea shrine before making your way to the city of Osaka. Osaka is a perfect place to spend your last night in Japan even for those who prefer places less traveled. The welcoming neon lights and friendly shopkeepers who keep their businesses running well into the night, creating one of the liveliest nightlife areas in the country, will invite you for chats and snacks before you prepare for your journey back home.
Day 13 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.