AJT 8D/9D Charms of Southern Japan
Discover the culture, national parks, countrysides, gardens and "must see" sights of Southern Japan.
Himeji - Kurashiki - Takamatsu - Shimanami Kaido - Hiroshima - Kitsuki - Beppu - Takachiho - Nagasaki
- Explore the southern cities of Japan and enjoy its countryside and unique culture.
- Visit historical sites in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Takachiho, a place of myths and legends.
- Experience a traditional Japanese onsen ryokan (inn) and unwind in a natural spa bath.
- Ride a high-speed shinkansen bullet train and enjoy a ferry ride to Miyajima Island.
- Enjoy a Yokagura Dance Performance as performers reenact the legend of Amaterasu, the Shinto Sun Goddess.
- Savour the world-famous Wagyu Beef in the popular city of Fukuoka.
- Select itineraries include one night at a temple lodging in Koyasan for first-hand experience of a monk lifestyle.
- Opportunities to see cherry blossoms in spring or autumn leaves in fall.
- 6 nights Western style and 1 night Japanese style accommodation
- Meet and greet upon arrival at Osaka Kansai Airport
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Private coach transfers between destinations in Japan
- Comprehensive escorted with AJT professional English speaking tour
- Meals: Daily breakfast, 3 lunches and 4 dinners
- Admission fees and activities: All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the
Tour Dates: Mar | Apr| May | Sep | Oct | Nov 2020 – 2022
Selected departures are operated in reverse between 8 to 9 days.
Itinerary In Brief
Day 1: Arrive in Osaka
Day 2: Himeji - Kurashiki
Day 3: Takamatsu
Day 4: Shimanami Kaido - Hiroshima
Day 5: Bullet Train Ride - Kitsuki - Beppu - Takachiho
Day 6: Takachiho
Day 7: Nagasaki
Day 8: Tour ends
Day 1 - Osaka Kansai Airport
Welcome to Osaka! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an "All Japan Tours" sign.
Day 2 - Himeji (Himeji Castle), Kurashiki (Canal Area)
Today we take a 2 hour ride on a luxury coach to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle. It is known as "White Egret Castle" and "White Heron Castle" because of its brilliant white exterior, resembling a bird taking flight. Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. This splendid example of traditional architecture was declared one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Next is a visit to Kurashiki. In merchant days, this scenic town thrived as a port for rice shipments. Several old rice granaries and examples of historic architecture still remain, in addition to the stone lined canal. Tonight, we will stay in a spa hotel in Kurashiki, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath and feast on a buffet dinner.
Day 3 - Seto Ohashi Bridge, Takamatsu (Shikoku Mura Village / Ritsurin Park)
After your Japanese breakfast at the hotel, we will cross the inland sea through the Seto-ohashi Bridge to Shikoku Island. Seto-ohashi Bridge is a collective term for the six bridges that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. These beautiful bridges took 40 years and a tremendous amount of money to build. They are the essence of all available bridge-building technologies. Proceed to Takamatsu with a visit to the Shikoku Mura Village. Shikoku Mura (Shikoku Village) is an open air museum situated at the base of Yashima. This pleasant hillside park preserves and exhibits traditional buildings and structures that have been relocated here from all over Shikoku Island. Then visit Ritsurin Park, a masterpiece of Japanese landscape 100 years in the making. This sprawling park features beautiful ponds and pavilions with Mt. Shiun as the perfect backdrop.
Day 4 - Shimanami Kaido (Scenic Driving), Hiroshima (Peace Memorial Park - A-Bomb Museum / Miyajima - Itsukushima Shrine)
In the morning, we will drive through the Shimanami Kaido to Honshu Island. The Shimanami Kaido is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Shikoku to the island of Honshu, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway. In Hiroshima, we will visit the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. Then take a short ferry ride to the island of Miyajima, considered sacred by many. At high tide, the famed vermilion torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine looks like it's floating in the middle of the sea. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Miyajima has been selected as one of Japan's three most scenic places (nihon sankei).
Day 5 - Shinkansen to Kokura, then board the "Sonic" express train to Kitsuki, Kitsuki (Kitsuki Samurai Districts - Ohara Residence), Beppu (Beppu Hells / Mt. Takasaki Monkey Park), Takachiho (Takachiho Shrine - Yokagura Performance)
This morning, we will take a ride on the top speed Shinkansen bullet train to Kokura, then board the "Sonic" express train to Kitsuki where we will visit the Kitsuki Samurai Districts. From Kitsuki, we proceed to a bather's paradise - the celebrated hot spring resort of Beppu. Marvel at one of Beppu's most celebrated attractions, the Jigoku Meguri, or "Boiling Hells" hot springs. View two of the nine hot springs or “hells” of Beppu. These hot springs are ideal for viewing rather than bathing. The springs earned their name because it was said that these mysterious, steamy attractions resembled a scene from hell ("jigoku" means "hell"). Then we will enjoy a scenic drive to Mt. Takasaki Monkey Park where we will take a monorail up to the observation area. Mt. Takasaki is a forested mountain just outside of Beppu and home to over 1,500 wild Japanese monkeys. Within this natural habitat, the monkeys have been fed regularly in order to keep them living on the mountain and prevent conflicts with local fruit farmers. The monkeys are quite accustomed to human visitors, and it is possible to get very close in order to take their pictures! From here, we drive west to Takachiho, a town in northern Miyazaki Prefecture that is steeped in Japanese mythology. It is the supposed site of legend where Amaterasu, the Shinto Sun Goddess, disturbed by her brother's cruel pranks, hid herself in a cave, prompting the other gods and goddesses to try and lure her out. Another legend suggests that this is where Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi-no- Mikoto descended to earth to establish Japan's imperial family. Takachiho is also known as a "power spot", a place of profound religious importance and natural beauty, which radiates spiritual energy. After a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner, we have a special treat- a Yokagura Dance Performance. An outrageously ribald dance that supposedly caused Amaterasu to leave the cave to see what all the fun was about, and in doing so she returned her light to the world.
Day 6 - Takachiho (Takachiho Gorge / Amano Iwato Shrine), Ferry from Kumamoto to Shimabara
After breakfast, we will visit Takachiho Gorge, a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River. The nearly sheer cliffs lining the gorge are made of slow forming volcanic basalt columns, which resemble the scales of a dragon where the stone twisted and flowed as it was formed. Partway along the gorge is the 17 meter high Minainotaki waterfall cascading down to the river below, and it is truly impressive to see the waterfall against a backdrop of dense green foliage and the surrounding grey cliffs. Then visit Amano Iwato Shrine and Amano Yasukawara. Amano Iwato Shrine was built near the cave where Amaterasu is said to have hid herself. A short walk down the road from Amano Iwato Shrine is a path that leads down to the river below. Eventually the path leads to a simple shrine inside a cave known as Amano Yasukawara. This is said to be the cave where the gods and goddesses met to discuss their strategy of luring Amaterasu out of hiding. The natural beauty of the cave and river lined by countless stacks of stones make Amano Yasukawara a place not to miss. After lunch, proceed to Kumamoto and take a 30 minute ferry crossing the Ariake Sea to Shimabara. Tonight we stay in a western style hotel in Nagasaki.
Day 7 - Nagasaki (Nagasaki Peace Park / Dejima / Glover Garden / Oura Church), Fukuoka (Wagyu Dinner)
After breakfast, we will visit the Nagasaki Peace Park that holds the memorial for the victims of the second bomb that hit the land. A statue of a man pointing up and holding his other arm out is symbolic of the Nagasaki Peace Park. Our next site is Dejima, an area with over 400 years of history in Dutch trade. It features historical warehouses and residences, providing insight into the former Dutch Trade Post and how they lived during Japan's two centuries of isolation. Then, visit the Glover Gardens, an open air museum where we can see a fine collection of historic mansions of former Western residents of Nagasaki. Continue to the Oura Catholic Church, the oldest standing Christian church in Japan. It was also the first Western building in Japan to be designated as a national treasure. In the afternoon, we depart from Nagasaki to Fukuoka, where we will savor the world famous Wagyu beef.
Day 8 - Tour Ends
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am, free for leisure until transfer Fukuoka Airport for departure.
Seeking an adventure to Southern Japan? Experience its beautiful countryside, ancient landmarks, and much more.
Designed for travelers wishing to visit more rural Japan, our Charms of Southern Japan Tours is a great opportunity to see a Japan rarely seen by most visitors. Visit the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku while traveling along on a private coach bus with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide at your side. Learn more about the unique culture and take in the amazing sights that Southern Japan offers. Visit main attractions incuding Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, and Beppu.
Visit Himeji Castle, also known as “White Heron Castle” for its opulent white exterior. Cherry blossoms also decorate the castle grounds during late March and early April or the fiery reds and yellows of autumn leaves can be seen in November. Cross the Seto Inland Sea on the Great Seto Ohashi Bridge which will lead you to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four major islands. Take a peaceful stroll through Ritsurin Garden, where you can admire the many ponds, hills, ancient trees and beautiful pavilions. Travel to the main island of Honshu on a scenic drive across the Shimanami Kaido, one of three roads that connects Shikoku Island to the main island.
Once on Honshu, visit Hiroshima, a city destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. Today, the city flourishes and offers shopping centers, beautiful gardens, the Memorial Peace Park, and the Atomic Bomb Museuem. A short ferry ride away lies Miyajima, a sacred city famed for its vermilion torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine, also known as the "floating" torii gate. Experience a high-speed Shinkansen bullet train to visit the Kitsuki Samurai District, marvel at the steamy “Hells of Beppu” hot springs, and meet the monkeys of Takasaki Monkey Park. Afterwards, enjoy a trip to the mythological town of Takachiho, where you can watch as performers reenact the legend of Amaterasu, the Shinto Sun Goddess.
Pay a visit to the Nagasaki Peace Park, a beautiful memorial to the lives lost in the second atomic bombing, and has around 200 cherry trees that bloom in spring. The city now holds several parks and gardens, including Glover Garden, an open air museum where the oldest Western style house in Japan stands. Also visit Japan's most famous Christian church, Oura Church. In Fukuoka, you will have the opporutnity to taste the famed Wagyu beef.
With dates in spring, summer, and autumn, each season offers something special. Select itineraries also include a night stay in Koyasan, the center of Shingon Buddhism, where you will visit some of the most sacred sites in Japan. This includes Okunoin Temple, the site where Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, was laid to rest. Stay overnight and enjoy the lifestyle of a monk, dining on vegetarian cusine, Shojin Ryori. The Charms of Southern Japan itinerary is meant for travelers searching for a deeper look into rural parts of Japan while also visiting must-see sites in Southern Japan.
Terms and Conditions:
- Prices stated are per person on twin-sharing basis and are subject to change without prior notice
- Arrival and/or departure airport transfer does not apply to guests who extend their stay before or after the main tour. Other conditions apply.
- Promotion discounts stated are subject to change without prior notice
- All arrangements are subject to availability upon booking
- Standard itinerary displayed is subject to change and may differ depending on season, duration of tour and tour dates
- Please request for details such as duration of tour and itinerary based on tour date
- Other terms and conditions apply.