Hidden Japan holiday

“13 day holiday starting and ending in Osaka, travelling in a small group. Going off the tourist trail, be it visiting islands, staying in temple lodgings or hiking the Iya Valley.”


Kyoto | Mount Koya | Shikoku Island | Takamatsu | Naoshima island | Kotohira and Kompira-san shrine | Iya Valley | Miyajima | Stay in ryokan traditional inn with hot spring bath.

Description of Hidden Japan holiday

Starting and finishing in historic Kyoto, our Hidden Japan tour explores Japan in-depth. We stay in temple lodgings on sacred Mt. Koya and in a luxury hot spring ryokan at the shrine town of Kotohira. See traditional puppetry in Tokushima and Naoshima art island from Takamatsu.

The Hidden Japan tour is an odyssey through lost Japan; a journey of discovery - Imperial Kyoto, Matsuyama Castle, the vine bridges and gorges of the stunning Iya valley, traditional theatre in Tokushima, temple lodgings on Mt. Koya and fantastic art-works on the tiny island of Naoshima.

Accompanied throughout by your expert Tour Leader, the tour starts and finishes in Kyoto, Japan's Imperial capital and home to a wealth of temples, shrines and gardens, many of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sights. On the first night we have included a group meal at a local restaurant and then we have the following day to explore this fascinating city.

From Kyoto we travel by private minibus to the mysterious Mt. Koya religious complex. Here we will stay at temple lodgings and have the chance to witness traditional ceremonies as well as try some fantastic Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. We will be exploring the area including the expansive Oku-no-in cemetary with a local Japanese guide.

A ferry crossing takes us on to Shikoku Island which is the main focus of the tour and is a much more rural area of Japan than the main island of Honshu. Stays in Matsuyama, Tokushima and Takamatsu see us exploring a samurai castle, the fantastic Ritsurin Japanese gardens and visiting Naoshima 'art island'. We will also have the chance to see Awa Odori traditional dancing and Bunraku, Japanese puppet theatre.

Matsuyama is famed for Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot spring baths in Japan and you will also have a great opportunity to try Japanese style baths at our luxury ryokan stay in Kotohira. This will be a truly unique experience and the dinners are superb. Kotohira is a small pilgrimage town full of character and from here we will also do a day trip to the stunning Iya Valley where we explore vine bridges and see some beautiful scenery.

A short ferry crossing sees us arrive in Hiroshima where we will visit the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum to gain a more poignant reminder of Japan's more recent history. We spend two nights in this area allowing plenty of time to visit scenic Miyajima Island which has a truly magical atmosphere. We have a whole day strolling amongst the deer, taking in the shrines and walking through the primeval forests.

A shinkansen (bullet train) ride back to Kyoto sees us finish up with time to further explore this ancient city.

This is a unique tour and is for those who wish to see the main cities but also delve a little deeper into rural Japan. It is a great opportunity to see a Japan rarely seen by most visitors and features some excellent ryokan and hotel stays as well as numerous great meals.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Check dates, prices & availability

15 Mar 2018
£ 3875
excluding flights
10 May 2018
£ 3795
excluding flights
24 May 2018
£ 3795
excluding flights
On Request
Click here to enquire about or book the 24 May 2018 departure
26 Jul 2018
£ 3695
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 26 Jul 2018 departure
27 Sep 2018
£ 3695
excluding flights
On Request
Click here to enquire about or book the 27 Sep 2018 departure
25 Oct 2018
£ 3795
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 25 Oct 2018 departure
01 Nov 2018
£ 3795
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 01 Nov 2018 departure
15 Nov 2018
£ 3795
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 Nov 2018 departure
Our top tip:
It is a deep part of the culture to be good hosts, and engaging with Japanese people is the best way of saying thank you.
Trip type:
Small group tour. Max. 14 people.
Activity level:
3* hotels and ryokan inn.
Accomm., transfers, entrance fees, luggage forwarding.
All breakfasts, some lunches and dinners included. Budget £3 for street food, £8-10 for dinner in modest restaurant.
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for own room.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Hidden Japan holiday


We are extremely passionate about Japan and therefore try to reduce any potential negative environmental impact our holidays could have on this beautiful country.
For most journeys during the tour you will be using Japan's fantastic public transport system and will be travelling by the famous Shinkansen (bullet train), local trains and even ferry.
In order to save energy, water and detergent we will provide you with an eco-card in English and Japanese that you can leave in your room to inform hotel staff not to change your towels and sheets.
We will also give you a set of reusable chopsticks so you wonít need to go through many pairs of disposable ones.

On Mt Koya you will spend a night in a temple lodging and will get an insight into the traditional buddhist lifestyle. Showing respect and being in harmony with nature are some of the tenets of Buddhism: you will enjoy meals of local vegetarian food, and join the morning prayers with the monks.


At Mt Koya we will arrange a local Japanese guide who knows the area inside out and can give you unique insights into Buddhism, the Japanese culture and history and answer all the question about this fascinating place that you might have.

On your journey through Shikoku you will have enjoy local arts and traditions. In Tokushima you will visit the Awa Odori Kaikan museum at the foothills of Mt Bizan. The dancers here wear traditional costumes and perform their dances following a 800 years old tradition. In Takamatsu you will see authentic Bunraku, a very refined puppet-theatre that counts to one of the big Japanese arts next to Noh and Kabuki. Bunraku was once very popular, but there are only a handful of true Bunraku-masters left today.
Attending any of these local performances will help to keep this unique and beautiful arts alive, and pass this heritage on to future generations.

1 Reviews of Hidden Japan holiday

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 09 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Everything! Travelling extensively using the local transport - every type, meant we saw such a large range of places, did lots of activities, experienced historical and modern displays, interacted with the local people and tasted a big variety of

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Travel light. Prepare for lots of traditional Japanese food. Bring comfy shoes.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. We travelled by public transport most of the time which is very efficient. We engaged with many locals especially those involved with volunteering. We ate local foods.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely wonderful. Great to get away from the very big cities and engage with the people. Visiting Shikoku Island for over five days was brilliant. Our guide was excellent and the entire trip was hassle free. Such a good way to experience
Japan and it's history (old and new) and it's people.
Giving a 5 star rating which says 'I am reborn' is over the top for me so I have given the trip 4 stars but I could not fault the tour. It met our expectations in every way. Enjoy.

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