Japan small group holiday North to South

“A truly fascinating and comprehensive journey, this small group holiday spends 20 days exploring Japan, from north to south.”


Hokkaido: Sapporo | Port city of Otaru | Jozankei hot springs resort | Shikotsu-Toya National Park | Onuma Quasi National Park | Honshu: Hakodate | Towada-Hachimantai National Park and Oirase Gorge | Hike to Lake Towada | Sendai | cruise around Matsushima Bay | Zen temple of Zuiganji | Tokyo | Matsumoto | Kiso-Fukushima | Walk the Nakasendo Way between Tsumago and Magome | Kyoto | Tea ceremony | Nara | Dinner with an apprentice Geisha | Shikoku Island | Iya Valley | Takamatsu | Ritsurin Garden | Naoshima art installations | Hiroshima | Miyajima | Kyushu: Mount Aso | Takachiho | Row through Takachiho Gorge | Kagoshima | Sakurajima Island

Description of Japan small group holiday North to South

This Japan small group holiday north to south is a truly comprehensive exploration of this beautiful, intriguing country. Spend time in each of Japan’s four main islands, from the lakes and volcanic landscapes of Hokkaido in the far north, through the ancient towns and lush landscapes of Honshu and Shikoku, before reaching the far south of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island. Travel in autumn to see hillsides blanketed in golden leaves – the famous ‘koyo’ – or in May, to enjoy warm spring weather.

This 20 day holiday is a chance to see all sides of Japan – the ancient and the fiercely modern. We will take in some of Japan’s most iconic sights, enjoy its beautiful national parks, walk ancient pilgrimage trails, explore traditional villages and soak up the culture and vibrant life of present day capital Tokyo and former capital Kyoto. Delve into Japan’s more recent history at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, and explore its contemporary culture on Naoshima Island, famous for its many art installations.

We will use a mix of transport, from the ultra fast bullet train, to rowing boats and public ferries, as we discover Japan from north to south. Relax each evening in traditional inns (ryokans), soak in hot springs (onsen) and throughout, enjoy the unique, delicious and healthy cuisine Japan is famous for. This is a really unforgettable journey, exploring almost every corner of this beguiling and beautiful country.

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18 Oct 2020
excluding flights
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to each one of our trips, and as a responsible tour operator, it is something we are careful and steadfast about promoting. Each one of our guides are trained to uphold, promote and put into practice such responsible behaviour, especially in wilderness areas or whilst traveling to UNESCO heritage sites, which this Japan trip does do. We attempt to reduce plastic bottle use wherever possible by promoting use of reusable bottles. We understand this is not always possible in countries where tap water is not safe to drink.

By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites and ecosystems we visit.
On this particular trip, we travel by train. Japan has an excellent railway system and promoting the use of more environmentally friendly means of transport not only contributes to the upkeep of such transport but also reduces greenhouse emissions to the country you we are visiting.

We will embark on train journeys from Sapporo to Otaru, Tohoku to Aomori, Oirase Gorge to Sendai, Sendai to Tokyo, Tokyo to Matsumoto to Kiso Fukushima, Kiso Fukushima to Nagiso to Kyoto, Koyo to Iya Valley, Iya Valley to Takamatsu, Takamatsu to Hiroshima, Hiroshima to Takachicho and Takachicho to Kagoshima. We will use a variety of bullet and local trains, in addition to private minibuses and local buses, as well as the occasional taxi. Using local transport systems also contributes to the economy of Japan.

We are promoting the natural beauty and ancient heritage of Japan through visiting many UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Kagoshima and Kyoto. UNESCO Sites are chosen by the UNESCO committee and must "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to civilisation", "an important interchange of human values" or be outstanding examples of major stages of Earth's history or ecological and biological processes in evolution. Visiting such sites helps sustain the ancient traditions and natural ecosystems of Japan.

The Impacts of this Trip

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that we have been committed to since our conception. It is part of our core sets of beliefs that these words are not simply scattered nonchalantly into our literature and on our website but moreover that they are central to each and every trip. Our adventures are therefore carefully curated celebrating all that is local from the people, to the culture. We believe that a successful trip delivers a unique and authentic journey for our clients, but furthermore benefits the people whose land we have the privilege of encountering.

On each Group tour we use local ground handlers. This means that all operational costs go directly into the local economy and help improve employment opportunities in remote regions. Such support can also be seen in our incorporation of homestays, locally owned hotels, family run restaurants and the services of local guides and drivers into our itineraries, which ensures that the money you spend with us goes directly into the local economy and local community.

We will stay in a traditional Japanese “Ryoken” or inn. Ryoken’s maintain the traditional way of Japanese living and are normally located in beautiful natural locations near hot springs. The architecture is beautiful with wooden buildings, sliding doors and pointed roofs. Many have gorgeous gardens and the interior houses tatami (reed) mats and low tables. Guests must follow the traditional procedures including wearing slippers indoors, dressing in a kimono and gender segregated onsens.

On Day 12, we get the opportunity to enjoy a delicious kaiseki ryori (traditional multi-course dinner) in the company of a Maiko, or apprentice Geisha. Learn more about her craft and the world of Geisha, before she performs historic dances and might even invite you to play some traditional Japanese drinking games. This promotes the ancient cultural traditions of Japan which make it such a unique country.


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