Southern Japan small group tour
Description of Southern Japan small group tour
This tour gets off to the best possible start - in the lively city of Osaka, Japanís unofficial culinary capital and a place where the motto is Ďeat until you dropí - if you try one food here, make it the okonomiyaki - the traditional savoury pancake.
Heading west by train, youíll pause in Takamatsu, where you can explore the Ritsurin Garden, a beautiful, tranquil landscape dating back to the Edo period. Soak up the unique cultural atmosphere in the art galleries of Naoshima Island, before moving on to explore Japanese history and religion with a series of interesting stops.
Kotohira is Shikokuís most popular shrine, dedicated to seafaring and thronged with pilgrims - itís 785 steps up to the main hall, but the views are worth it. Youíll see a restored samurai house in the Iya Valley, along with the incredible bridges that have spanned the gorge for 800 years. Later, the tour visits Matsuyama, home to a superb castle, as well as one of the oldest onsens in Japan, where you can enjoy a relaxing soak.
Travelling through Nagasaki and Hiroshima is a time for reflection on the tragedies that occurred in these cities, but you may be surprised at how picturesque they are too, with many interesting cultural attractions worth investigating.
Finally, a few days roaming through Japanís lush natural scenery before you return to Osaka. The well-known Studio Ghibli film ĎPrincess Mononokeí is said to have drawn inspiration from the fragrant forests of Yakushima, and Nagata Inakahama beach is an absolutely dreamy spot, where turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand by moonlight. If youíre there at the right time of year, maybe you can watch.
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PlanetThe overuse of plastic bags is a major environmental issue in Japan, with the Japanese using around 30 million of them every year. Shopping in a convenience store often results in leaving with several plastic bags in tow. Excessive packaging is also adding to the size of the problem. That said, Japan has one of the highest recycling rates in the world.
On our trips our tour leader will talk openly and honestly about this issue and will hand out our Ďsay no to plasticí canvas bags to encourage travellers to take every chance to reduce their plastic use whilst travelling.
In a lot of the accommodation we stay in there are kettles available to use if passengers want to fill up their bottles with tea, coffee or water for the day. This dissuades them from buying bottled water in an attempt to decrease plastic waste further.
Our leaders will also encourage travellers to purchase their own chopsticks to avoid using instant ones. Instant chopsticks are very common in lots of Japanese eateries and the plastic consumption and waste they create is substantial. As part of learning and adapting to Japanese food culture, itís a great idea to carry a pair with you. Plus, they make a great souvenir to take back home!
In addition, Japan boasts one of the most efficient public transport systems in the world. Because of this, we travel largely on public transport during this trip, either by super-fast bullet train, local public bus or sometimes on foot or by bike. This offers a really interesting way to travel Japan and is also a main contributing factor in our efforts to minimise our carbon footprint.
PeopleIn order to treat our travellers to a proper authentic experience whilst travelling Japan our leaders will always encourage our clients to eat at local places and to explore the backstreets and local markets.
We also suggest that our passengers shop from different stores where they can purchase meaningful souvenirs that are made locally. Thereís a great culture in Japan of preserving traditional handicrafts and encouraging local artisans to keep tradition alive. Wherever possible our leaders will take our travellers to such shops that they can help keep this creativity going.
Japanese culture is intriguing, there are also a lot of cultural taboos and can be very particular in the way they like certain things to be done. Our leaders will always do their best to explain to travellers what is and isnít appropriate, which can be fascinating because there is often a deep cultural reason for it. Also, there are lots of rules to follow, such as no speaking on the phone on trains, always changing into slippers when going into the toilet, onsen etiquette and more.
Our leaders will always prepare our travellers so that they can behave in the most respectful way possible.