10 nights (Self-guided)
Kobe, Kurashiki, Matsuyama, Kotohira, Takamatsu, Iya Valley, Tokushima & Osaka
From £1,475 pp
Experience the rich culture, history, and nature on offer in Shikoku and surrounding areas with this itinerary, designed for those who want to delve deeper into this fascinating country.
Start off in Kobe, a glittering port town that stretches out between the sea and the mountains, before heading to the delightful town of Kurashiki, rich in tradition and craft. Your first destination on Shikoku is Matsuyama, home to one of Japan's oldest and most famous hot springs.
Next on your trip is Kotohira, where you will explore the beautiful Konpira-san shrine. Move on to the city of Takamatsu, and encounter feudal Japan in the castle and traditional gardens. Venture deep into the heart of the Iya Valley, which offers great hiking routes with dramatic natural scenery.
Tokushima is your next destination, a city that marks the beginning of the 88 temple pilgrimage around Shikoku and is also home to the most famous dance festival in Japan.
At the end of your trip, enjoy the last night of your adventure in the buzzing modern city of Osaka.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN JAPAN, MEET & GREET AT KANSAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (OSAKA)
Welcome to Japan! Our friendly Meet & Greet service representative will be waiting in the Arrivals lobby and holding a sign with your name on. The Meet & Greet will direct you to the express train to Kobe. Check in to your clean and comfortable hotel in central Kobe for 1 night.
DAY 2: KOBE TO KURASHIKI
Considered one of Japan's most attractive cities, Kobe is sandwiched between the sea and the Rokko Mountain range, where you can take a cable car to the top for a panoramic view of the city. You may wish to take the opportunity to dine on world-famous Kobe beef. Later, head to the attractive town of Kurashiki by Bullet train and check into your hotel for 2 nights.
DAY 3: KURASHIKI
Wake up in the picturesque town of Kurashiki. Take a stroll along Kurashiki's beautiful canals and visit a selection of traditional, feudal-era warehouses that have been converted into an eclectic collection of museums, the finest of which is the Ohara Museum. Historically known for its textile production, Kurashiki is now known as Japan's denim capital, and you will find many shops selling locally produced denim garments, plus 'denim ice cream'.
DAY 4: MATSUYAMA
Today's destination is the city of Matsuyama, on the western side of Shikoku. See the sights of the city from aboard the Botchan miniature steam train. The train terminates at Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. After taking a soak, visit Isaniwa Shrine, which is just a short walk away. The shrine buildings are considered Important Cultural Properties, and the warrior Empress Jingu is enshrined here. Other sites of interest include several impressive temples on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Route, including Joruri-ji, founded in the 8th century, and Sairin-ji, with its tranquil stream and koi pond. Check into your hotel here for one night.
DAY 5: KOTOHIRA
Check out of your hotel after breakfast and take the train to Kotohira, where you will stay tonight. Make the pilgrimage to Shikoku’s most popular shrine, Konpira-san. You will encounter beautiful shrine buildings and museums as you climb the steps to the Inner Shrine. Take a quick rest at one of the many viewpoints along the way, and enjoy a bird's-eye view of Kotohira town and the surrounding countryside. Kotohira's Kanamaruza kabuki theatre, a designated Important Cultural Property built in 1835, is also worth visiting.
DAY 6: TAKAMATSU
Travel by train to the port city of Takamatsu. Take a stroll in the beautiful Ritsurin Park, a landscape garden built for the lords of the region in feudal times. Now listed as a Japanese National Treasure, the gardens also include a Folk Craft Museum, restaurant and three Tea Houses, where visitors can enjoy a tea ceremony. The ruins of Takamatsu's Castle, in Tamamo Park, and the Yakuri-ji and Yashima-ji temples are also worth seeing. Sample the local delicacy, sanuki udon noodles, in one of the city's numerous restaurants. Check in to your hotel here for one night.
DAY 7: IYA VALLEY
After checking out of your hotel, we recommend you hire a rental vehicle to drive to the remote Iya Valley in the heart of Shikoku. The area's most famous attraction are the kazura-bashi, or vine bridges, that cross from one side of the valley to the other. In this secluded region of the countryside, you can gain a sense of traditional rural life with a visit to Ochiai Hamlet's old farmhouses. Check in to your hotel (with private hot spring) for 2 nights. Dinner is included tonight.
DAY 8: IYA VALLEY
Today venture out on a hike up Mount Tsurugi, the second-highest mountain on Shikoku, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Tsurugi is considered sacred by followers of the Japanese folk religion Shugendo. You may also like to take a short drive to see the Oboke and Koboke gorges, one of Japan's top outdoor destinations, offering dramatic scenery, boat trips, and river rafting. Return to your hotel, where dinner is again included tonight.
DAY 9: TOKUSHIMA
Today you will make your way to Tokushima by car. If you are lucky enough to visit here in August, enjoy the lively festival atmosphere that takes over the city during the Obon season, as dancers and musicians parade through the streets showcasing Tokushima's main attraction, the 400-year-old Awa Odori dance. Even at other times of the year, the dance can still be enjoyed at the Awa Odori Kaikan museum. Alternatively, you may like to visit the Awa Jurobe Yashiki Bunraku Puppet Theatre, a former samurai residence where bunraku performances can be seen daily, and Tokushima castle and museum, where you can take a stroll in the 16th-century gardens. Check in to your centrally located hotel for 1 night.
DAY 10: OSAKA
Leave Shikoku and travel to Osaka, Japan's third-largest city, where you will stay tonight. Spend the day enjoying the sights of Osaka including the lively Dotonbori district for shopping, eating, and entertainment, Osaka castle, and the wonderful Osaka aquarium. On your last night in Japan, sample some of the Kansai region's culinary specialities, such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
DAY 11: RETURN HOME – KANSAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Transfer to Kansai International Airport (Osaka) for your flight home.
HOW INDEPENDENT TOURS WORK
ENJOY INDEPENDENT TRAVEL BUT NOT THE HASSLE OF PLANNING?
OUR INDEPENDENT TOURS COULD BE JUST THE TICKET!
Carefully put together by our team of specialists, our excellent collection of sample itineraries is designed to inform and inspire your next Japan adventure. Every one of our Independent Tours is fully tailor-made for you, ensuring your trip is everything you want it to be.
It's quite straightforward to travel independently in Japan. We will provide just the right amount of support and logistical planning to make you feel comfortable in a very foreign land. These itineraries are available for any departure date (with a few exclusions coinciding with Japanese National Holidays and some weekends). We'll do all the work for you and provide you with an information pack to make your trip run smoothly. You can also add guided tours as indicated and if you do want your own personal guide we can arrange this too.
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS & LOCATION GUIDE
PRICING & INCLUSIONS
3* accommodation from £1,475.00 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
4* accommodation from £1,975.00 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
5* accommodation price on request
Single Supplement: 3* from £300.00/ 4* from £350.00
7 Day Japan Rail Pass
Travel on Japan’s world-famous Bullet Train
Meet & Greet service on arrival at Kansai International Airport (Osaka)
3* Option Price INCLUDES:
8 nights’ accommodation in a Twin/Double room at 3* hotels on a bed & breakfast basis
2 nights’ accommodation in Japanese ryokan in Iya Valley, breakfast and dinner included
4* Option Price INCLUDES:
6 nights’ accommodation in a Twin/Double room at 3* hotels on a bed & breakfast basis
4 nights’ accommodation in Japanese ryokan in Matsuyama, Kotohira, and Iya Valley, breakfast and dinner included
5* Option Price INCLUDES:
3 nights’ accommodation in a Twin/Double room at 4/5* hotels on a bed & breakfast basis
7 nights’ accommodation in Japanese ryokan in Kurashiki, Matsuyama, Kotohira, Takamatsu, and Iya Valley, breakfast and dinner included
NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE
Meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
Taxi, subway, and tramway fees.
Rental vehicle hire.
Bus and train fare from Tokushima to Osaka (4,000 JPY per person).
To make a booking, a deposit of 10% of the total price is required.
The balance of the price of the trip must be made 12 weeks prior to departure.
Travel can be a great experience, but it can also be fraught with problems, so when going anywhere it is essential you are properly covered with good travel insurance. You should be protected against cancellation, curtailment, and loss or damage to your belongings as well as medical emergencies and have peace of mind if the unexpected happens.
Japan Journeys in association with Holiday Extras, is now able to offer excellent low-cost cover to their customers.