8 days / 7 nights
Bullet Train + Limited Express + Local Train + Private Mini-bus + Ferry
Explore the art, culture and nature of Chugoku & Shikoku
This tour is designed for those who are looking to visit the lesser-visited parts of Japan. Join us as we unveil the Chugoku region, the western part of Japan’s main island Honshu, and Shikoku region, the smallest of the four main islands of Japan.
With a focus on art and culture, we’ll visit some of the finest gardens Japan has to offer, art museums including the picturesque “art island” of Naoshima, the World-Heritage-listed Himeji Castle and the famous “floating” shrine of Itsukushima.
We’ll make one incredible leg of the journey aboard the Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari, a luxury sightseeing train. This train provides an extraordinary experience for train lovers or anyone who loves to travel in style! Indulge in the seasonal local cuisine and the natural beauty of Shikoku from the comfort of the train.
An overnight stay in the Shimane prefecture at a traditional Japanese hot spring inn caps off a trip filled with wonderful, memorable experiences.
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Witness Shikoku’s beauty in comfort on the Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari, a luxury sightseeing train. With seasonal local dishes served on board, the trip provides stunning Shikoku views. Enjoy warm hospitality from the attendants, plus local residents will greet you at each stop. A first-class experience for train lovers!
Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an architectural masterpiece. An elegant structure in pristine white, it’s often compared to a white heron. It is one of the last preserved castles in Japan, providing an authentic look into the past. The view of Himeji and the distant mountains from the top is superb!
Izumo Taisha is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, with a history of thousands of years. Since ancient times it has been said that all the gods of the world gather here. It is also renowned as a god of marriage and love, business, and friendships. Visit Izumo Taisha and be blessed with good fortune!
Just 20 minutes off the coast in the Seto Inland Sea lies Naoshima – Japan’s Art Island. Naoshima is a tiny island dotted with art museums in a picturesque, natural setting. Naoshima is a memorable destination for any nature or art lover to explore.
Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine is one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan and a World Heritage Site. Its design gives it the unique appearance of floating above the sea. The iconic floating torii gate welcomes you as you arrive at the scenic island by ferry.
Iya’s Kazura Bridge is one of the three most peculiar bridges in Japan. Made of twisted vine, the bridge is said to have been made by 12th-century warriors to cut down quickly when pursued. There are wide gaps between each wooden plank, giving you an extra thrill as you cross!
Welcome to Okayama!
We’ll call Okayama home over the next week as we explore both the city and surrounding prefectures. It’s a great base that offers easy rail access to all of the destinations on the tour.
After meeting at the hotel, our first stop is Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden – just a short ride from the hotel via private mini-bus. Okayama Castle is known for its distinctive black lacquered clapboard exterior. Just across from the castle lies Okayama Korakuen Garden, a beautiful Japanese garden where we can enjoy the seasonal scenery of autumn leaves and cherry blossoms in spring. The Lord of the Domain developed the garden for relaxation and enjoyment and is one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan. Okayama Castle soars high above the exquisite gardens, making for a great photo opportunity.
We will then make our way down to the Washuzan Observatory. Here we’ll be treated to a view of the beautiful islands of the Seto Inland Sea and the majestic Great Seto Bridge.
Your welcome dinner features local gourmet cuisine of the Seto Inland Sea and an incredible night view of the sprawling Great Seto Bridge that snakes through the islands.
To finish off the night, we’ll make a stop for the spectacular night view of the Mizushima Factory District on our return trip to the hotel.
*Okayama Castle is currently closed due to a large-scale renovation and is covered up by scaffolding and tarp. It is scheduled to reopen in November 2022.
Today we take a day trip to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s major islands, known for its natural beauty. The highlight is a trip on one of Japan’s most popular sightseeing trains, the Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari by JR Shikoku*. Enjoy delicious seasonal dishes and drinks in the train’s elegant atmosphere over a relaxing two and a half hours while watching the beautiful mountains of Shikoku go by.
After arriving in Shikoku, we’ll take a peaceful cruise down the stunning Oboke Gorge. As you glide across the tranquil, vivid green water, see the remarkable rock formations that were carved out by the Yoshino River over a 200-million-year period.
After the cruise, we’ll cross Kazura Bridge, one of Japan’s three most peculiar bridges. Kazura Bridge is a primitive suspension bridge made of twisted Japanese vine that spans the Iya River. At 12 meters high, it’s a thrilling experience to cross the bridge as the gaps between each plank are wider than you might expect!
After returning to Okayama by train, enjoy dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
*JR Shikoku website in English: JR Shikoku website
Today’s journey begins with a Shinkansen trip to Himeji, where we’ll visit the iconic Himeji Castle. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle sits high above the city and has been preserved in its original form for 400 years.
Upon returning to Okayama, we’ll explore the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. In the Edo period (1603-1867), Kurashiki played a significant part in transporting goods – rice in particular – across Japan. As a result, canals were created to aid the transportation from the port to the storehouses. These once-flourishing canals remain today, and this beautifully preserved area is now home to many restaurants and local shops.
After lunch, a friendly rickshaw runner will take you on a relaxing ride along the tree-lined canals while you sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Also in the area is Ohara Art Museum, Japan’s oldest private art museum. This museum boasts a rich collection of modern art with approximately 3,000 artworks on display, including masterpieces by renowned artists such as Picasso, Monet and Munch.
Indulge in a Wagyu steak at Ivy Square Restaurant for dinner tonight.
This morning, pack a small bag as we travel to the Shimane prefecture, where we’ll make an overnight stay at a hot spring ryokan – an unmissable Japanese experience! After arriving at Yonago via limited express train, we’ll begin making our way to the ryokan via private mini-bus while making a few stops along the way.
We’ll first cross the famous Eshima Bridge, also known as the “full throttle” bridge. The unusually steep design of the bridge allows ships below to pass through freely without disrupting traffic. Before moving on, we’ll stop at a great vantage point to get photos.
We will then enjoy the stunning Japanese garden and seasonal flowers at Yushien Gardens. We’ll also have a delicious Japanese lunch here as we overlook the gardens.
Our final attraction of the day is Matsue Castle, a Japan National Treasure. This castle is one of the few castles in Japan preserved in its original state. You will see it as it looked 400 years ago! From the top floor of the castle tower, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Matsue.
We arrive at the ryokan in the late afternoon. Relax in the ryokan’s natural hot spring after a long day before reviving yourself with delicious Kaiseki cuisine and Japanese hospitality.
After breakfast at the ryokan, we head to Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in Japan.
This shrine is dedicated to Okuninushi no Okami, the Shinto deity of marriage and good relationships. Hence, it is common for people here to pray for a little help on the match-making front! Join the locals and purchase an omikuji – fortune slip – to reveal what lies ahead for you.
In front of the shrine is a lively and fun street that stretches about 700 meters and is lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. Choose from one of the restaurants for lunch – we recommend trying a local delicacy such as Izumo soba noodles and zenzai, a red bean dessert.
We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon at the Adachi Museum of Art. With a vast collection modern Japanese paintings and ceramics, the museum offers an immersive look into Japanese art. The museum is also home to an award-winning Japanese garden. Spread over 16 hectares, the garden is immaculately presented and considered a “living Japanese painting”. The harmony of the Japanese garden and Japanese paintings is a must- see.
In the evening, we’ll return to Okayama via limited express train. It’s the perfect opportunity to try an ekiben (train bento box) for dinner.
After breakfast, we’ll head to the ferry terminal via our private mini-bus and depart for Naoshima. Naoshima is a small island that features several unique art museums in a stunning setting. With just a short 20 minute ferry ride, you’ll be transported to a relaxed, slower-paced atmosphere where you’ll spend a serene day exploring the museums.
Built underground to keep the beautiful vistas of the island pristine, Chichu Art Museum has a masterful design. Natural light fills the space and illuminates the breathtaking artwork within. Enjoy works by world- renowned artists like Claude Monet as they shine in the minimal design of the museum.
A short walk away is the Benesse House Museum, an exquisitely designed museum that blends perfectly with the island environment. At this museum, art seamlessly links with nature. Discover the art within the museum, out on the grounds, along the coastline and into the forest.
The Art House Project is another example of art integrating with the Naoshima community. The Project allows artists to demonstrate their skills by repurposing empty houses in the neighbourhood and transforming them into works of art.
The combination of inspiring artwork and the beauty of Naoshima island create an experience unlike anything else in Japan!
Upon returning to Okayama by ferry, enjoy dinner at your leisure.
Today, our journey will take us to two World Heritage Sites in Hiroshima, Itsukushima Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Dome. After arriving in Hiroshima via Shinkansen, we’ll head to Miyajima, a small island just a short ferry trip away.
As the ferry arrives, you’ll be greeted by the iconic vermilion torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine floating in the sea, one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions.* The Shinden-style Itsukushima Shrine dates back to the Heian period (794-1185) and has a 1,400-year history.
The Omotesando shopping street near the shrine offers a wide variety of food unique to Miyajima and Hiroshima – including juicy oysters caught from the surrounding waters and Momiji Manju, a maple leaf-shaped Japanese sweet that is a popular souvenir item. So take a stroll – and say hello to the friendly wild deer that roam the island! – before enjoying lunch at your leisure.
We’ll return to Hiroshima and board a private mini-bus to the A-Bomb Dome – the epicentre of the 1945 atomic bomb blast. The beautiful Peace Memorial Park surrounds the A-Bomb Dome and is dotted with colourful origami cranes symbolising hope. It is incredible to see how the city of Hiroshima has prospered despite the devastation it has faced. Take a walk through the Park and visit the moving Peace Memorial Museum if you wish.
For our final dinner, we’ll try authentic okonomiyaki – Hiroshima-style. Often described as a “Japanese savoury pancake”, okonomiyaki is a mix of diced cabbage, egg and your choice of meat or seafood toppings. The local variant – Hiroshima-yaki – adds noodles to the mix for a truly hearty dish! Fresh off the teppan grill, the taste is exceptional.
After dinner, we will return to Okayama via Shinkansen.
The tour concludes after the final breakfast.
We hope you thoroughly enjoyed the tour. See you again in Japan!
Standard Twin or Standard Double
The Granvia Okayama Hotel is conveniently connected to JR Okayama Station by a direct bridge. The 19-storey hotel offers restaurants, a bar, a 20m swimming pool with three courses, an accessories shop, a beauty salon and a convenience store. A large shopping mall is also located just next door. The guest rooms are spacious and comfortable, with attention to design and function. All rooms have free Wi-Fi access.
Japanese style room, futon bedding
A Japanese-style ryokan in Matsue city on Day 4. Please contact us for more information.
Share the fun, save the cost.
Travel in a group and get 8% off per person on selected Japan tours!
For 2024 departure
Start Date – End Date
7 March – 14 March
(TOUR CODE: YBB07034S)
in a twin-share room
Group size: Min 6 people / Max 16 people
*Please contact us for our triple-share rates.
*This tour is designed for children aged 15 years old and up.
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From sushi-making class to watching sumo wrestlers in action, a small group tour gives you access to experiences you might not otherwise see in Japan. All Kintetsu Japan tours are limited to just 20 people, ensuring you don’t miss a thing.
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Kintetsu International Express (Oceania) is an ATAS accredited travel agent in Australia, a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. In Australia, we specialise in arranging Corporate and Group Travel for businesses, schools, religious groups and cultural organisations. We have Travel Centres in Sydney serving our Australian customers and offices in Cairns, Gold Coast and Auckland handling Japanese inbound tours. We are also an authorised travel agent to sell Japan Rail Pass and Kintetsu Rail Pass in Australia
Kintetsu International belongs to the travel arm of the Kintetsu Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate which operates a major Japanese rail system, bus & freight forwarding companies, department stores, restaurants & hotel chains. We have more than 150 offices in Japan and more than 40 overseas offices worldwide. Utilising our global network, we guide our customers to every location around the globe with quality and dependable services.