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Tailor-made Tour 14 days from £6000 per person

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  Places Visited: Kyoto, Nara, Kobe City, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Onomichi, Ehime, Kagawa, Tokushima, Kyoto

A wonderfully relaxed and experienctial tour of Japan highlighting the nature, sites and cultural traditions of the Setouchi region.

Holiday Types

Cultural Tours

 

Suggested itinerary

Day 1
Kyoto

You will be met on arrival in Kyoto at the airport or railways station and transferred to your hotel by an English speaking assistant by private car. The remainder of your day is at leisure to absorb your surroundings. Stay at The Mitsui, Kyoto for 4 nights Adjacent to Nijo-jo Castle this 250-year-old former home of the Kitake, the executive branch of the Mitsui Family is a sea of tranquillity and storied history in a modern reimagining of the traditional Japanese tearoom. Each of the 161 guest rooms features carefully chosen pieces of magnificent art fashioned from locally sourced natural materials elevated using artisanal skills indigenous to the region.

Day 2
Kyoto

Your guide will collect you from the lobby of your hotel for a full day of exploration of Kyoto by public transport. The first visit of the day is the Kinkakuji Temple. Kinkakuji is a Zen temple in the northern part of Kyoto, also known as the 'Golden Temple' because the top two floors are decorated in gold leaf. In complete contrast, our next visit is to the simple serenity of Ryoanji, also known as the Rock Gardens where the focal point of the temple is a structure comprising of 15 stones that visitors and worshipers can use to centre their thoughts in quiet contemplation. We continue onto Arashiyama to explore the old district some of the city, some of which date back to the Heian Period (794-1185) when nobles would flock here to enjoy the region's natural beauty. We make a point of visiting Arashiyama's famous bamboo groves and The Togetsukyo Bridge. Restaurants here are particularly good, and we recommend enjoying an elegant traditional lunch here. Please note: A private, chauffeur driven car can be arranged for this visit at a supplement.

Day 3
Nara

Once again, you meet your guide in the lobby for today's excursion to Nara. The first permanent capital of Japan Nara was established during the Heijo Period in around 710 AD, with its principal attraction, The Todaiji Temple, constructed soon after. Historically this temple is the most significant of all Buddhist temples in Japan and acts as the principal seat of the Buddhist religion in the country. We first visit the magnificent Todaji Temple and go onto the nearby Kasuga Taisha, the temple dedicated to the deity responsible for protecting the city. Following a short stop for lunch, you will have free time in Nara Park to observe and feed the deer that roam free. Later you make tracks back to Kyoto, visiting The Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails into the wooded forest at the peak of the sacred Mount Inari. This is an ideal place for observing local families relaxing midst beautiful and culturally rich surroundings. Afterwards, return to your hotel with the evening free at your leisure.

Day 4
Kobe City (Hyogo)

You will have a slightly more leisurely start today as you head for the Arima Onsen district, travelling by Bullet train to Shin-Kobe and completing the journey by private car. On arrival you check-in at your and enjoy a traditional lunch. In the afternoon you enjoy an escorted walking tour of the old parts of the old town. One of Japan's oldest and most famous hot spring districts with a thousand-year-old history beautifully preserved midst its narrow lanes and small wooden houses. You also visit several hot spring sources and some rather special shrines before wandering into Zuihoji Park, with a backdrop of Mount Rokko. While walking your guide will acquaint you with the etiquette of bathing in the hot spring, and the manners of visiting temples and shrines while walking around the hot spring resort with a guide. This region is famous for “Wagyu Beef” and we recommend enjoying the delicacy this evening at your hotel. Accommodation: Arima Sanzou Gosho Bessho A small and charming traditional Onsen Ryokan tucked away midst beautiful grounds with fabulous food and great service. Each room has a private hot-spiring bath for you to use at your leisure.

Day 5
Kobe City - Okayama

After breakfast you travel by private car to the small town of Hemeji to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hemeji Castle. Widely considered as Japan's most spectacular of all Shogun not only for its imposing size but also the beauty of its fortifications. Often referred to as the White Heron Castle (or Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance. You also visit the nearby Kokoen Gardens, one of Japan's most beautiful gardens to experience the concept of 'Borrowed Landscapes' and how external landscapes can influence the size and shape and ambiance of the garden. We recommend lunch at the 'Room on the Harima' this afternoon with panoramic views of Himeji city before continuing your journey by Bullet train onto Okayama. Accommodation: the Hotel Limani. Setouchi City This stylish resort hotel is located at Ushimado beach , overlooking the sea and Maejima Island. The hotel facilitates early morning and sunset Yoga.

Day 6
Okayama-Hiroshima

We recommend starting the day today with yoga at sunrise either by the hotel's beautiful pool or if the season is right, on the sands of Maejima Island, accompanied by an English speaking-instructor. After breakfast, you head for Okayama station on your own to take a bullet train to Hiroshima. Upon arrival at Hiroshima station, met by an English speaking guide who will escort you on a visit walking tour of the city starting with The Peace Memorial Park and museum. Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park is one of the most prominent features of the city. Its trees, lawns, and walking paths are in stark contrast to the surrounding downtown area. The museum. preserves the history of Hiroshima including personal accounts that serve to remind us of the fragile nature of peace and that it should not be taken for granted. You will also visit the Bomb Dome a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Dome. When the bomb exploded, it was one of the few buildings to remain standing and remains so today. Early evening you proceed to your hotel where we recommend a tasting "Okonomiyaki”, the region's local cuisine at Okasta restaurant. Accommodation: Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima city.

Day 7
Hiroshima-Yamaguchi

This morning you take a short one-hour journey by private car to Sandankyo Abyss, a beautiful gorge that runs through the mountain’s northwest of Hiroshima City for a day connecting with nature. The lush greens of spring and the golden hues of the autumn leaves makes this a popular spot for walkers and ramblers. There are some breath taking waterfalls and crevasses in the gorge. We recommend carrying a picnic, bento lunch box with you but you do have the option of eating a fine local lunch at the peak of the gorge. Later in the afternoon you continue onto your hotel in Nagato city. Accommodation: Otanisanso Otozure A luxurious ryokan is hidden away in a quiet setting, where all rooms are equipped with an open-air hot-spring bath.

Day 8
Yamaguchi-Nagato-Yumoto Hot spring resort

Today you have the full day at leisure to relax and unwind in your luxurious resort hotel and the ample facilities. Alternatively, you can enjoy nature at its best on a walk through Nagato-Yumoto hot spring resort, a bustling town in the mountainous and rich in nature. Accommodation: Otanisanso Otozure, Nagato City Meal inclusion: Breakfast, Dinner (Japanese Cuisine)

Day 9
Yamaguchi-Hiroshima-Onomichi

Leaving your hotel after breakfast today you head for Shin-Yamaguchi station from where you board the bullet train to Hiroshima (2hrs 30minutes). On arrival, you will take a short journey by public transport to Saijo City, a small town famous as the centre of sake-brewing in Japan. You stop for lunch first, then proceed on a walking tour through the historic districts of the town visiting some of Japan's most famous breweries. Here you learn about the Sake brewing and maturing process and get to taste some of the produce. Early evening you head for your beautiful hotel in Onomichi City. Accommodation: Bella Vista Spa & Marina Onomichi This property has an extensive programme of activities for guests for views of the Seto Inland Sea, stargazing and yoga.

Day 10
Hiroshima-Ehime

Today your head for the Shinshoji temple where you learn the practice of Zen meditation with the trainee monk. the practice of Zen aims to eliminate distractions, regulate your mind and body, and relax the mind. Here you learn to regulate each breath and practice the Heart Sutra, and enjoy a tea ceremony all in the aid of relaxation. Later you proceed by private car to Ehime to visit the undiscovered and peaceful Oyamazumi shrine on one of the islands in Setouchi. Accommodation: Bettei Oborodukiyo, Dogo Onsen Japan's famous hot spring, Dogo Onsen has been healing the body and soul of travellers since 3000 years ago Amidst the bustle of the numerous inns and hotels in the town is the quiet little haven of the Betsutei Oborozukiya. Uncompromising in its beauty and service we hope you will spend enjoy your here, like all travellers. Meal inclusion: Breakfast, Dinner (Japanese Cuisine)

Day 11
Hiroshima-Ehime

Today you head for Takamatsu City by private car, with an English speaking guide. Enroute, you stop for a short trek along some well-formed paths to the peak of the sacred Ishizuchi Mountain. Considered to be one of the 100 most scenic spots in Japan the mountain paths are covered in lush vegetation and provide a beautiful environment that has been revered since ancient times. It is said to be the birthplace of mountain worship in Japan. In the afternoon, you proceed to Takamatsu City where you check-in to your hotel. Accommodation: The Auberge de Oishi Located at the foot of the flat-topped mountain Yashima, this tiny coastal hotel has just 5-rooms, each designed to offer a holistic experience by a French chef. The Auberge de Oishi combines good living overlooking the sea with excellent food and service.

Day 12
Ehime-Kagawa-Tokushima

Today you head for Shodoshima Island by ferry. The island is famous for growing not only for growing olives but also for the highest production of olive oil. It is also renowned to be the home of the best Soy sauces and Somen noodles since ancient times. The traditional manufacturing techniques used in the production of these produce are preserved and guarded carefully for future generations. In the morning you visit the olive groves interspersed by rice terrace that spread out beautifully against the backdrop of the Seto Inland Sea. Lunch will be served at the Olive park. In the afternoon visit the Angel Road a sandy path that appears twice a day at low tide. Legend has it that if you cross this path hand in hand with your loved one, your wishes will come true. You also visit the Kankakei Gorge a breath taking ravine at the centre of Shodoshima Island. Ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful gorges it is particularly spectacular during the autumn season, when it is ablaze with autumnal colours. If inclined you can take the ropeway path close to the peak for panoramic views over the gorge, island and the Seto Inland Sea. Later you head for your hotel Accommodation: Shimayado Mari, Shodoshima

Day 13
Ehime-Kagawa-Tokushima

Today you head for Tokushima by ferry, crossing the Great Seto Bridge is a series of double deck bridges connecting Okayama and Kagawa prefectures across a series of small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. On arrival in Tokushima town at about lunch time you enjoy a traditional local meal at the Konyacho Yosgikono restaurant. You proceed on a tour of Tokushima city and if inclined take the ropeway up to Mt. Bizan, a spectacular mountain that has been featured in oldest anthology of poems called Manyoshu (8th century). Later you continue onto Nurato City and check-in at your hotel for some much earned rest. Nurato City is well known for its nightlife and you may wish to head into town for dinner and a drink to experience Japanese nightlife. Recommended accommodation: Hotel Ridge A study in perfect balance. Perched on a cliff between the whirlpools of Naruto and the expansive Shikoku sky. Blending traditional Japanese hospitality and aesthetics with modern design and technology. A wellness resort that embraces the indulgence of fine wine and delicious food.

Day 14
Kyoto

Today you bid farewell to the Shikoku region and head back to Kyoto by bullet train via Sannomiya station. The tour ends with your transfer either to a Kyoto hotel or the airport.

Tailor-made Tour 14 days from £6000 per person


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