Shikoku Island holiday in Japan, tailor made
Description of Shikoku Island holiday in Japan, tailor made
This itinerary takes you on a journey to Shikoku Island, the smallest of Japan's four main islands and the least visited by tourists. Shikoku is home to some of the nation's most atmospheric towns, finest gardens and picturesque gardens. Head inland and breathtaking mountain scenery awaits, complete with ancient working farmhouses and vine bridges crossing precipitous gorges.
During the trip you will have the chance to interact with local communities and stay in traditional and simple Japanese accommodation. One of the highlights of the trip will undoubtedly be the stay at a traditional guesthouse deep in the Iya Valley. The small accommodation has wonderful hot springs and views of the valley.
This trip will show you a side of Japan often overlooked by tourists and using a variety of public transportation methods, including bus, train and ferry, as well as a short period of car hire, you will be contributing to the local environment and tourism economy. Best time to go Spring and autumn offer the best weather to visit these destinations. In particular late March/ early April is the season to see the famed cherry blossom, and late October into November, though colder, are the months to see the beautiful red leaves. Visiting in the summer is hot and sticky but does provide the opportunity to see a local dance festival, the Awa Odori, in Tokushima.
PlanetThe hot spring baths at Matsuyama are some of the oldest onsen waters in Japan and the people have been visiting them for over one hundred years. The waters are communally used and replenished daily, using recycled water rich in mineral content and reviving properties, while still having a smaller impact than the hot spring use may have were the waters not refreshed and recycled. Japanese culture has a great respect for the environment so staying in traditional properties is a good way to avoid waste.
Transfers and travel is by public transport where available to minimize the additional impact to the environment of your stay. Where unavailable, we have recommended shared transfers for the same reason. Guidelines are provided before departing that indicate best practice for travelers to avoid damaging environments or communities.
Your rafting activity is with local operators who will advise on how best to enjoy the activity without impacting the surrounding area that you are spending time in.
PeopleAccommodation is Japanese run and owned throughout, with a total of 6 nights spent in traditional ryokan accommodation, guesthouses or communal properties. Food here is locally sourced, based on availability and seasonality. Expect mountain vegetables, home-made tofu and miso soup and locally reared beef and chicken, as well as regional varieties of tea and sake.
Staying at the Chiiori House in the Iya Valley gives you a chance to interact with a local community and help maintain this unique property. Guests must help to cook, clean and repair during their stay and are encouraged to keep in touch with the Chiiori Project once they return home. Chiiori House was renovated by orientalist and author of two books on Japanese society, Alex Kerr. He bought the derelict building in 1973 with the dream to save traditional construction techniques and revive an interest in cultures and traditions that had endured for centuries before being suddenly swept from the hills by Japan's 20th century industrial revolution. More recently Alex has been involved in restoring Kyoto Machiya houses and tours of the historic residences are available in Kyoto.