Japan & the Scenic South
Uncover the beauty of the lesser-known island of Kyushu, renowned for its active volcanoes, hot springs and stunning beaches, before exploring the must-see sights of Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo on Japan's largest island - Honshu.
- International flights and current taxes
- 3* plus – 4* accommodation
- Touring with guides and entrance fees
- Domestic transportationAll meals
- Maximum group size 28 passengers
Day 1 & 2: Fly overnight to Fukuoka
Fly overnight to the charming city of Fukuoka, the gateway to the island of Kyushu. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 3: Explore Fukuoka
The lovely Fukuoka is at the heart of an area considered a cradle of culture – the city’s position facing Korea and China across the sea means it’s long been a channel of outside influence. This morning take a stroll to the traditional Rakusuien Garden and visit the famous Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, dedicated to the god of academic achievement. Later, take a relaxed cruise on the Yanagawa River, passing through a National Site of Scenic Beauty on a small ‘donkobune’.
Day 4: Discover Kumamoto
Transfer to Kumamoto, a city famous for its majestic castle, one of Japan’s largest and most complete. You’ll see the castle as part of your full day city tour, as well as Suizenji Garden. A traditional-style garden built in the 17th century, the garden recreates in miniature the important road that linked Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, including a mini Mount Fuji.
Day 5: Visit Mount Aso & Beppu
Travel from Kumamoto to Mount Aso, an active volcano at the centre of Kyushu island. Aso’s crater is one of the world’s largest; with a circumference of over 100km it encompasses a number of other active peaks, which you’ll be able to see (weather dependent). Continue to Beppu, one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts – your hotel for the night has onsen facilities for you to make the most of the steamy waters.
Day 6: Explore Beppu
Venture out into Beppu, starting the day with a jigoku meguri, a hell tour! Here you’ll find all sorts of volcanic features, including thermal mud and hot springs that have bubbled from the ground here for a millennium. Pop over to Yufuin, another hot spring resort that is home to a wealth of art museums, cafes and boutiques and is a delight to explore. This afternoon transfer back to Fukuoka.
Day 7: Travel to Hiroshima
Depart Fukuoka for Hiroshima. Stop en route to explore the city of Yamaguchi, spending some time at Rurikoji, a Buddhist temple that boasts a spectacular national treasure – a five-storey pagoda built in 1442. Continue to Iwakuni for a lunch stop and then to the Kintaikyo Bridge, an elegant wooden bridge that crosses the Nishiki River. Arrive in Hiroshima.
Day 8: Discover Hiroshima
Hiroshima is a vibrant, forward-thinking city that is a pleasure to explore. Take a ferry across the Seto Inland Sea to the holy island of Miyajima and visit the Itsukushima Shrine before enjoying some time at leisure. Back in the city, reflect on Hiroshima’s tragic past at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum paying homage to the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb.
Day 9: Admire Himeji Castle
Depart Hiroshima for Kyoto, stopping in Himeji en route to visit the magnificent Himeji Castle, one of Japan’s most impressive feudal era forts, and stroll through Kokoen, an Edo-style garden just across the castle moat. Drop in on a sake brewery to learn about the process of this traditional Japanese spirit and enjoy some tasters, before arriving in Kyoto.
Day 10: Explore Kyoto
Capital for 1,000 years, until 1879, today Kyoto is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. Start the day with a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, remarkable for its 10,000 vermillion torii gate-lined pathways and impressive Nijo Castle. This afternoon gaze on the famous Kinkakuji, also known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’ before a stroll around the Gion district, Kyoto’s famous geisha district and centre of the city’s traditional arts.
Day 11: Visit Hakone
Transfer to Kyoto station, board a bullet train to Atami and transfer to Hakone by road. Discover the mountainous beauty and rich culture of the Hakone area, before travelling to Lake Ashi for a cruise that will allow you to take in the spectacular panoramas of the area, including the iconic, snow-capped silhouette of Mount Fuji (weather permitting). Next, fly high over the thick forest on the Hakone Ropeway, passing the volcanic Owakudani Valley with its hot springs and steam vents. Later, continue to Tokyo, Japan’s capital city.
Day 12: Tour Tokyo
As modern as Tokyo may appear, behind the neon façade is a traditional soul that is easy to find amongst the old alleyways, temples and shrines of the Edo era. Experience both sides of the city, ascending the soaring Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower, for panoramic views, and wandering through the old district of Asakusa. Stop at Sensoji, Tokyo’s most beloved temple. You will also drive by the Imperial Palace Plaza, soak up the atmosphere at the peaceful Meiji Jingu Shrine and see the world’s most famous road crossing at Shibuya.
Day 13: Fly from Tokyo - UK
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
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