Forest therapy, mindfulness, and nature's natural majesty will enchant you during your 13-day off the beaten path Japan tour custom-tailored to your preferences. Your experience will immerse you in tradition at a ryokan, restore your senses with thermal hot springs, and delight your taste buds with customary cuisine focused on seasonal ingredients. The breathtaking scenery of tranquil waters and towering trees will reveal Japan’s treasured beauty.
Osaka – Yokoso (Welcome) to Japan!
This afternoon, your flight arrives at Kansai International Airport, just outside Osaka. Your guide meets you outside of Immigration and presents you with your specially prepared itinerary. After traveling by train to your hotel, there is time to freshen up before a welcome dinner.
Dinner this evening is at an okonomiyaki restaurant in Osaka’s bustling Dotonbori district. Okonomiyaki, meaning ‘grill what you want,’ is the Japanese take on a pancake featuring meat and vegetables cooked right into the batter. Topped with nori seaweed and Japanese special sauce, okonomiyaki is a perfect comfort food to end a long day of international travel.
Kurashiki - Stepping into the Past
Day 3 - 4
Naoshima – Islands of Art
Day 5 - 6
Shodoshima – Japan’s Mediterranean
Day 7 - 8
Takamatsu – Cat Friends and Fairytales
Day 9 - 11
The Seto Inland Sea – 43 Miles of Scenic Beauty
Osaka – Honoring History and Embracing the Future
Osaka – Farewell
- Immerse yourself in the healing practice of shinrin-yoku, forest bathing, considered a cornerstone in modern Japanese preventative healthcare
- Dine upon delectable Kaiseki ryori, traditional multi-course Japanese dinners which are composed of the freshest seasonal ingredients in the region
- Venture to Kankakei Gorge, a nationally designated "Place of Scenic Beauty," celebrated for its Japanese maple trees
- Explore one of Japan’s famous "Cat Islands," where there are more felines than human inhabitants
- Indulge in restorative onsens, thermal hot springs, which rejuvenate the mind and body
- Visit Naoshima’s "Islands of Art," which seamlessly blend nature and art within its museums and public outdoor displays
- Enjoy a breathtaking cycling tour on the famous Shimanami Kaido Bike Trail on Seto Inland Sea, where seven suspension bridges connect eight islands of Japan's most scenic waterway
- Spend the nights in a variety of premier accommodations, from traditional Japanese ryokan inns to museum hotels
Visitors to Japan tend to stick to the big cities and a handful of rural attractions. There is so much more, though, and in this handcrafted off the beaten track tour of Japan, you have the chance to see and experience that which few visitors have encountered.
Your 13-day journey begins in Osaka. A lively city of millions, you spend only one night here, heading off the next morning to Kurashiki, a city where the streets and canals are a testament to the city’s merchant past. In the city’s museum, learn about how the Japanese lived centuries ago. In the evening, check into your traditional inn, where new, but wonderful cuisine awaits you.
Naoshima and Inujima were once sleepy fishing villages on the Seto Inland Sea. Though men and women still cast their nets each morning, these two islands have undergone an amazing transformation in the past few years. Instead of only rice fields and harbors, visitors now find an assortment of stunning art museums and public art displays that seamlessly blend in with the natural environment. During your time here, your hotel is itself an art museum and features some of the finest French cuisine in Japan.
At Shodoshima, you may feel transported to the Mediterranean as you drive your rental car through olive orchards and along the stunning beaches and coastline. While there, view one of the deepest gorges in Japan and take side trips to neighboring islands.
From Shodoshima you travel to Takamatsu. Here, take in the local flavor by dining on freshly prepared udon noodles and taking a lesson in the Japanese tea ceremony. The following day, embark a day trip to two nearby islands that feature thousands of friendly felines and a famous Japanese fairytale about an ogre’s cave.
No journey would be complete without venturing out on one’s own. For three days, bicycle the Shimanami Kaido, a 43-mile stretch of bike paths that cross the Seto Inland Sea. Avoid the noise of car traffic as you wind your way through six small islands, each featuring dozens of stops for rest, relaxation, or enlightenment.
For those interested in a deeper immersion into nature, consider a visit to Yusuhara, a small town also known as "town above the clouds." Located in the Kochi prefecture, which has one of the highest forest coverage densities within Japan, it is an ideal location for shinrin-yoku, otherwise known as "forest bathing" or "forest therapy." This restorative movement began in Japan in the 1980s and has since become a keystone of preventive mental and physical health care as well as healing in modern Japanese medicine.
Your bicycle journey finished, your final day in Japan is spent reflecting on Japan’s past in Hiroshima and getting lost in Osaka’s bustling metropolis. This tour is perfect for couples or small groups. Due to the large number of outdoor activities, the tour is best taken in the fall or spring, when Japan’s weather is most comfortable.
$5,195 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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