Off the beaten track walking tour Kyoto, Asuka & Kyushu 14 Nights

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Start the journey in Kyoto, seeing the former imperial capital and repositories of much of Japan’s cultural heritage. Visits to grand temples and shrines will be balanced with a visit to Asuka, Japan’s first permanent capital, and also a beautiful village at the southern end of the Yamato plain, before continuing to Japan’s southern island of Kyushu for some walking in the national parks. Kyushu is considered the cradle of Japanese civilization, and several locations connected with the Japanese creation myths feature on your journey. Kyushu is also known for its numerous active volcanoes. Visit spectacular Mount Aso, where you will see steam rising from the vents, as well as the spectacular island of Yakushima to the south, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. A natural by-product of the volcanoes are ‘onsen’, or hot springs, and we will enjoy many relaxing dips in their soothing waters, as well as the unforgettable hot sand baths at Yamakawa where you will be buried in sand heated by the naturally-occurring hot spring water.

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  • 14 nights accommodation
  • All transfers and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Daily breakfasts, 8 dinners (including welcome and farewell dinner)
  • English speaking local guide throughout


Terms and Conditions
  • We require a copy of your passport, travel insurance and your emergency contact upon booking
  • We highly recommend you purchase travel insurance prior to travel. We offer 30% discount if you book online
  • Minimum of 4 participants are required for the tour package to go ahead
  • Please advise upon enquiry if you require special attention due to chronic disease, general ill-health, pregnancy or physical handicap. We may refuse an application if the client’s age, qualifications, skills and other conditions are not suitable for tour participation. If we are not advised of your condition upon enquiry and this results in tour cancellation, all cancellation costs shall be borne by the client.
  • Tour includes easy city and countryside sightseeing on foot up to 2 – 3 hours a day as well as short hiking on Yakushima Island up to 4 hours per day.
  • Airfare is not included. Please enquire for the latest specials
  • Deposit is required within 7 days of booking confirmation
  • Full payment is required 90 days prior to tour departure
  • Credit card fees apply
  • Amendment fees apply
  • Cancellation fees apply
Day 1 (Dinner included)

Meet your guide at the hotel. There will be a welcome dinner at a restaurant in the centre of the city.

2 nights at a 4 star hotel in a Western room


Day 2  Kyoto (Breakfast included)

A full day to discover the ancient capital of Kyoto. Begin with a walk along the Philosopher’s Path to Nanzen-ji Temple and then continue to Nijo Castle, originally the Kyoto residence for the Tokugawa Shoguns in the 17th century. Built in the ‘momoyama’ style, the wooden floors creak when walked on, apparently a security measure against intruders. After lunch, visit Nishiki market, to see the fish, crab, pickles, tea, sweets and other foodstuffs on display.


Day 3 Asuka & ferry through the Inland Sea (Breakfast included)

Take a short train ride from Kyoto south to Asuka, Japan’s first permanent capital. Sitting at the southern edge of the Yamato Plain, Asuka is home to some of the first Buddhist temples in Japan, built by Prince Shotoku in the 6th century. The small town is also dotted with burial mounds, said to be those of the first Emperors. As well as its historical legacy, Asuka also has a beautiful landscape of terraced rice fields and we will rent bicycles here to explore. From Asuka, make our way to Osaka port, and catch the overnight ferry through the Seto Inland Sea to Beppu. On board you will have private cabins and you can even enjoy a Japanese bath!

1 night in a private ferry cabin


Day 4 Beppu & Kurokawa Hot Spring (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Arriving in Beppu by sea is a dramatic and memorable experience. The city is surrounded by mountains, and steam from the abundant hot springs rises skyward to give it an otherworldly feel. After disembarking, have breakfast at a local restaurant. Board a bus for the 90 minute journey to Kurokawa Onsen, a hot spring village. Check in to a traditional ryokan, and enjoy a soak in one of the many hot spring baths in the village. Dinner will be another Japanese feast, prepared by the ryokan chef and presented as a multi-course banquet.

1 night at a traditional Japanese inn (Ryokan) with hot spring


Day 5 Mount Aso & Takachiho (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Continue by bus to the Aso area. Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan, and one of the largest in the world. The caldera, which was formed around 300,000 years ago in a cataclysmic eruption, is around 25km in diameter. The peaks of Taka-dake and Naka-dake punctuate this massive highland area and dominate the skyline. Take a bus to the top of Naka-dake peak, then a gondola ride to the summit, to see the crater itself. From Aso, travel by train then bus ride to Takachiho, where you will stay for two nights. Dinner and overnight at ryokan. 2 nights at a traditional Japanese inn (Ryokan)


Day 6 Takachiho gorge, cycling and Yokagura dances (Breakfast and Dinner included)

After breakfast at the ryokan, we will rent bicycles, and take a leisurely ride along small lanes in the nearby countryside, to the shrine of Amanoiwado shrine, literally the ‘Shrine of the Sun God. From there, visit Takachiho gorge, which the town of Takachiho sits astride. It features a number of strange rock formations created by volcanic activity, which have become part of local folklore and the Japanese national creation myth. You will take a short walk along the gorge, and have a lunch at a small teahouse of sansai (mountain vegetables), grilled rainbow trout and grilled chicken, accompanied by shochu, a spirit made from sweet potato heated inside bamboo.You will have dinner at the ryokan, and then visit Takachiho shrine to see the Yokagura, sacred dances which tell the mythical story of Japan’s creation.


Day 7 Kumamoto & Kagoshima (Breakfast included)

Leaving Takachiho, we will travel to Kumamoto, where you will have lunch and Suizen-ji Garden, a traditional landscape garden which recreates scenes from the Tokaido trail including a minituare Mount Fuji. After our visit, continue south to the city of Kagoshima, dramatically situated on Kagoshima Bay opposite Sakurajima, an active volcano. Kagoshima used to be the home of the Shimazu clan, southern Kyushu’s most powerful feudal family, and you will visit Sangen-en, their lovely villa and gardens which has Sakurajima across the bay as an impressive backdrop. The city has a culture and cuisine distinct from other parts of Japan, a result of the sub-tropical climate and long distance from Tokyo. Shochu, a spirit usually made from sweet potato is favoured over sake, and slow-baked ‘kurobuta’ (a breed of Berkshire pig) as well as grilled bonito (skipjack tuna) are two of the typical local dishes. Overnight in hotel.

2 nights at a 4 star hotel in a Western room


Day 8 Ibusuki and Hot Sand Baths (Breakfast included)

You will travel south this morning, by train along Kagoshima Bay, to the seaside town of Ibusuki, where thermally-heated mineral water bubbles up through the black volcanic sand on the beach. Locals mix the sand to ensure a steady temperature, and you will be able to wear a cotton yukata robe to sit in the warm sand and be covered. Very relaxing! Kagoshima Bay is a beautiful natural harbour, crowned at one end by Kaimondake, the ‘little-Fuji’ of Satsuma. We will then return to Kagoshima for dinner.


Day 9 Travel to Yakushima Island (Breakfast included)

From Kagoshima travel by ferry to Yakushima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The small population lives around the coast of this mountainous island, while the interior is almost totally undeveloped. Giant cedar – yakusugi – stand tall in the moss-laden forest, some of them thousands of years old. Two other endemic species are found here; the yakushika deer, and yakuzaru macaque. Around the coast are stunning beaches, and hot springs you will stay at a local guesthouse to enjoy the local hospitality and evening meals prepared from the day’s catch.

3 nights at a local guesthouse


Day 10 Yakushima Island (Breakfast included)

Full day on Yakushima. Hike into the interior, walking amongst the giant yakusugi trees, and if you are lucky spot some of the macaques. The oldest tree on Yakushima has been dated as 3,000 years old, and many of the trees have huge trunks, wider than a car. The centre of the island is a temperate rain-forest, and the highest peak on Yakushima is the tallest mountain in the south of Japan. It’s a unique ecosystem and has escaped any significant development. The stunning Shiratani Unsuikyo ravine is a beautiful world of moss-covered boulders and majestic yakusugi trees. Return by bus to our guesthouse in the evening.


Day 11 Yakushima Island (Breakfast included)

Third day on Yakushima will be spent visiting some of the lovely beaches and one of the most spectacular hot springs in Japan. The Hirauchi Kaichu hot spring is a natural hot spring bath built into the rocks lapped by the waves.


Day 12 Nagasaki (Breakfast included)

Leaving Yakushima by ferry, board the shinkansen in Kagoshima and travel to Nagasaki. Famous throughout the world as the site of the bombing by atomic weapons in 1945, Nagasaki was during the 250-year period of seclusion known as ‘sakoku’ one of the only places in Japan open to foreign trade. It’s history as an international port Nagasaki is today a vibrant, modern city. The city never forgets its passed, however, and there are important memorials to that day. Check-in to your hotel and there will be free time before dinner.

2 nights at a 4 star hotel in a Western room


Day 13 Nagasaki (Breakfast included)

Visit the Glover Gardens this morning. This mansion and gardens with its wonderful views over Nagasaki were built for Thomas Glover, a Scottish entrepreneur who helped modernize Japan’s shipbuilding and mining industries. The house and gardens, because if its reminiscense with Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ opera, have statues of Puccini and Miura Tamaki, a Japanese operatic singer famed for who role as Cio-Cio-san. You will have some free time here to relax and perhaps shop for souvenirs.


Day 14 Osaka (Breakfast and Dinner  included)

Take a leisurely sightseeing walk in the morning around central Nagasaki, and after lunch board the bullet train for our journey to Osaka. There will be free time to relax and perhaps shop for souvenirs, and in the evening there will be a farewell dinner.

1 night at a 4 star hotel in a Western room


Day 15 Osaka (Breakfast included)

On our final day we say farewell. Your guide will help you transfer to the airport for your flight home, or you may like to stay a few days longer.