Explore the Seto Inland Sea
Take this journey as an invitation to discover the beauty of traditional Japan and the less touristy island of Shodoshima. In Miyajima, Hiroshima, Kurashiki,… you will appreciate the Japanese culture and spirituality. To balance sightseeing days with some good rest you will stay at a hot spring ryokan in Iya Valley. You will have 3 days and 2 nights to fully enjoy Shodoshima, the Japanese Olive Island. Finally, you will have 3 days to enjoy Kyoto, the ancient capital at your pace before returning home with great memories.
This tour can be fully customized.
The below itinerary is an example of a Classical custom tour.
Price per person based on double occupancy for two travelers:
Classical: from US$5,720
Superior: from US$8,890
Luxury: from US$17,970
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Your airport pick-up will meet you at Kansai International Airport (assuming your flight arrives after 8:00 am and before 21:30) and will take you to your hotel in Osaka by public transportation. They will give you an orientation, hand you your transportation tickets, give you your rental pocket internet device, check you in to your hotel, and answer any of your questions. You will be on your own for dinner but your airport pick-up will make a few suggestions. Osaka is a huge city with down to Earth people who are very proud of their cuisine, most notably okonomiyaki (a pancake-based dish containing vegetables, meat, and/or seafood), takoyaki (octopus dumplings), and udon noodles. These dishes are not fancy but are like the people of Osaka, friendly and open. The train from Kansai Airport to Namba Station in Osaka will take about 45 minutes.
Today you will explore Osaka on your own. This city is filled with hidden gems that most tourists have no idea exist like Doguyasuji Street for restaurant owners, Kuromon Ichiba local market street, and Amemura (American Village). We can work on the sightseeing itinerary before you go to Osaka to better tailor your sightseeing plus your personalized tour organizer will contain detailed suggestions.
After breakfast, you will take a Shinkansen bullet train and ferry to Miyajima, which literally means “shrine island”, located in the Seto Inland Sea. It is considered to be a sacred place and it provides a stunning example of the ability of the Japanese people to seamlessly blend architecture with natural beauty. Deer and monkeys wander freely around Miyajima, especially on Mt. Misen, the tallest mountain on the island, where there is a good view of the Seto Sea. Here you will stay in a ryokan inn and be served a seafood kaiseki meal featuring oysters from the local sea. The train from Osaka Station to Miyajimaguchi Port will take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Hiroshima was the first city to ever experience an atomic bomb that physically destroyed it. The people of Hiroshima, however, rebuilt the city, filling it with charm and history. Hiroshima is also famous for its food, specifically, okonomiyaki which is a must-try inexpensive lunch or dinner. While in Hiroshima you can visit the Peace Museum and Park, Shukkeien Garden, or the Hondori Shopping Arcade. The ferry and train from Miyajima to Hiroshima Station will take approximately 40 minutes.
Today you will take a train to Kurashiki to discover this old merchant town. You will explore the nearby historic district, willow-lined canal area with storehouses preserved since the Edo Period (1600-1868). One of Kurashiki’s most popular attractions is the Ohara Museum of Art. It was founded by Magosaburo Ohara; a Japanese businessman in 1930 and was Japan’s first museum of Western art. The train from Hiroshima Station to Kurashiki Station will take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Located in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima is considered one of the first islands based on Japanese mythology. The name literally means “small bean island” and today it is known for soybean and olive production. The island one of the venues for the Setouchi Triennale Art Festival so there are modern art displays all over and is a popular setting for movies and TV dramas. Shodoshima is also known for Kankaei Gorge and the monkey park. The train, bus, and ferry from Kurashiki Station to Shodoshima take about 2 hours.
Today you will have free time to explore the island at your pace. Its Mediterranean-like weather makes it a perfect destination for people looking to get out of the city. It is also known for Setouchi Triennale which is a modern art festival that happens every three years. Many of the art is still on permanent display but many have limited access in the winter. Please talk to your Japan Expert to design your stay in Shodoshima more in detail.
After breakfast in Shodoshima, you will head to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. Takamatsu has long been known as the “Gate to Shikoku” because of its importance as a port city. Although it was an important castle town in the 17th century, it is now a very modern city. While in Takamatsu don’t miss the Ritsurin Koen – an outstanding Japanese-style landscape garden. For lunch we recommend you to have Udon noodles (the city’s specialty). The ferry from Shodoshima to Takamatsu will take approximately 30 minutes.
In the morning you will leave Takamatsu city and head for a part of Japan that few have seen. This unspoiled area is so remote that during the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) criminals would come her to hide from the law. You will spend 2 nights in a ryokan (Japanese inn) where you will be served dinner and breakfast. This is a great time to relax and connect to the quieter side of Japan.
Today your Private Local Guide will pick you up at your ryokan with a private car. Together you will explore the remote valley and enjoy the vine bridges that span the gorge. Due to the flexible nature of your sightseeing, we do not include entry fees or meals while you are with your guide. If you have any specific sights you want to visit with your guide please let us know.
Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, is where the traditional Japanese ‘high arts’ flourished like tea ceremony, calligraphy, poetry, philosophy, and religion. Numerous temples and shrines are located throughout the city and walking along canals, next to traditional wooden houses and through the small streets really gives you an idea of the ancient imperial culture. Kyoto is also famous for its crafts: textile, kimono, and pottery. The train ride from Iya Valley to Kyoto will take about 4 hours.
Your private local guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and will show you Kyoto. Your guide will take you to Japan’s most beautiful and historic temples and shrines, and you will walk down ancient streets where Japanese nobles strolled. There is too much to see and do but you want want to focus on Higashiyama to see Kiyomizudera, Gion to see geisha walking to their next appointment or head north to Kinkakuji. Your guide will work with you so you see the sights you are most interested in visiting. We can work on the sightseeing itinerary before you go to Kyoto to better tailor your sightseeing.
Today you will have some free time to discover more in-depth the beauties of Kyoto. If you prefer we can also arrange a day trip to Nara where you could enjoy its large park with deer and of course the Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple. Talk to your Japan Expert to design your stay in Kyoto more in detail.
Today will be your last day on this journey. The train ride from Kyoto to Kansai International Airport will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. We hope you enjoyed every second of your tour and wish to welcome you back to Japan in a near future.
It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...
Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...
I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...
Our team of Japan experts have all lived in Japan for years and know its the hidden treasures. Our team is here to answer all your questions and to build your tour just the way you want it.
Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training and teaching Aikido.
Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.
Izumi has spent most of her life in the Kansai region, except for the 10 years that she enjoyed in the UK. Living abroad has made her appreciate her own culture and local beauty even more. She currently lives in Osaka with her family, including two cats and two dogs.
Great trips don't just happen; it takes expert knowledge and years of experience to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on Rediscover Tours to make your perfect Japanese experience. Our dedication to excellence makes the difference.
Your Japan travel expert will create your trip just for you
Your interests and travel style will be front and center when designing your tour
Accommodations will be selected based on your style and we will inform them of all your special meal and physical requirements
Your Japan expert has lived in Japan or is Japanese
They know the hidden treasures of Japan that you will love and most tourists miss
Most of our team lives in Japan giving them first hand knowledge of the latest trends and experiences for you to enjoy
Private local guides add a whole new depth to your Japanese tour
We only hire the best guides and review each trip with them insuring excellent experience
Your private guide will listen to you, show you sights of interest and will make on the fly changes to match the weather and crowds
Our office in Japan is here to assist and support you
Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000
You will arrive comfortable in the knowledge that all details are taken care of and that our Japan office is just a call away