Southern Japan small group tour

Enjoy the contrasts between ancient and modern, and between urban and natural landscapes, on this fascinating tour of southern Japan.
Osaka Takamatsu Ritsurin Garden Naoshima Island Kotohira shrine Iya Valley Matsuyama Dogo onsen Hiroshima Nagasaki Dejima Yakushima
£3995£3396To£5350£4575excluding flights
12 Days
Small group
Up to £800 off selected dates.
Late availability on upcoming trips
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Description of Southern Japan small group tour

This tour gets off to the best possible start - in the lively city of Osaka, Japan’s unofficial culinary capital and a place where the motto is ‘eat until you drop’ - if you try one food here, make it the okonomiyaki - the traditional savoury pancake.

Heading west by train, you’ll 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 Shikoku’s most popular shrine, dedicated to seafaring and thronged with pilgrims - it’s 785 steps up to the main hall, but the views are worth it. You’ll 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 Japan’s lush natural scenery before you return to Osaka. The well-known Studio Ghibli film ‘Princess Mononoke’ 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 you’re there at the right time of year, maybe you can watch.


Price information

£3995£3396To£5350£4575excluding flights
Make enquiry

Check dates, prices & availability

Travel guides

If you haven’t been there, just talk to someone who has. People get hooked on Japan. On their rituals, quirkiness, history and innate welcoming nature...
Asia is massive: a whopping great sprawl of a continent with some 4.5 billion people living across it – that’s more than the population of every other...

Holiday information

Small group tour, ideal for solos & couples:
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modeled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. For those with limited time, a small group tour will save valuable time in planning, and on holiday.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


The 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 ‘say no to plastic’ 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, it’s 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.


In 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. There’s 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 isn’t 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.

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