Catherine and her team...were able to put together a trip with exactly the kind of experiences we were dreaming of.
A Family from Europe

Art and Culture in Chugoku: Japan's Western Delight

Chugoku, Japan’s region of mountains, is an excellent place to get a taste of the best of Japan. The area makes up the western part of Japan's main island Honshu and features a rather large selection of top-tier sites and attractions. Hiroshima, the capital of the region, is certainly the highlight of the itinerary and we are sure that you will love it. Visit Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to victims of the 1945 atomic bomb. On this tour you’ll also visit Okayama, Matsue, Kurashiki, Naoshima, and the island of Miyajima. If you’ve only got six days to spare, you’ll want to spend them in delightful Chugoku.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and learn about how the devastating atomic bomb changed Japan, and the world, forever
  • Savor Japan’s most famous drink, sake, at a local brewery 
  • Explore the Bikan Historical Quarter in Kurashiki, where you’ll see local life at its best
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Wake up in Hiroshima and begin the tour with a visit to Miyajima Island. Visit the World Heritage site of Itsukushima Shrine and enjoy a walk around the Mt Misen area. Get your first taste of Japanese food with a tasty lunch of “Hiroshima-yaki." Next, head to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, where you’ll gain a new perspective on the atomic bomb disaster. Speaking to an A-bomb survivor can be arranged by request. After an informative afternoon, head back to your Hiroshima hotel.

Day 2

Wake up and get ready for another busy day. Depart Hiroshima and head to Saijo, where you’ll have an exciting day visiting sake breweries and sampling this iconic drink of Japan. Next, you’ll go to Okayama, where you’ll see the Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s three most beautiful garden areas and also a cultural heritage site. Enjoy a restful night’s sleep at your hotel in Okayama.

Day 3

Depart Okayama for Matsue, a journey that takes around two hours and 30 minutes. Once in Matsue, you’ll get to explore the Matsue Castle and have a look around the town. There’s also a chance to take a 30 minute boat ride along the moat. Next is lunchtime, so taste the delicious local dish of Izumo soba buckwheat noodles. Then it’s time to check into your accommodation for the night, where you can relax for the evening.

Day 4

Leave early in the morning for Yasugi, where you’ll visit the Adachi Museum, known for its amazing Japanese garden. Then head to Kurashiki where you’ll visit the Ohara Art Museum, which was the first collection of Western art to be permanently exhibited in Japan. Do some local sightseeing in the Bikan Historical Quarter, where there are many historical wooden warehouses just waiting to be explored. There’s a beautiful canal framed with weeping willow trees and the whole area is full of hidden gems and beautiful buildings. This evening, we suggest staying at either Ryokan Kurashiki or Hotel Nikko Kurashiki.

Day 5

Depart Kurashiki and take the ferry to Naoshima Island. Here, explore the local delights that are the Chichu Art Museum and the Art House Project. Opened in 2004, the museum is built directly on the side of the island and is buried mostly underground. In the evening, check in at the Benesse House, which is located inside the brilliant Benesse Art Museum. A guided tour of the museum can be arranged by request.

Day 6

Today is the final day of your six day tour of Chugoku, Japan. Depart from Naoshima and head for Okayama or Takamatsu before catching your international flight.


Suggested Accommodations

Sekitei Hiroshima

Sekitei Hiroshima

Designed according to the classic Japanese principle of understated elegance, the Sekitei Hiroshima is a ryokan, or traditional hot-springs inn, located on the island of Miyajima. It boasts twelve, traditionally-designed Japanese rooms overlooking a large, well-manicured garden, and several recently renovated public baths. Each of the rooms possess a private, en-suite bathroom, views of either the garden or the Seto Inland Sea, and tasteful, wooden furniture. The Sekitei’s in-house restaurant serves a variety of delicious Japanese dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients. The Sekitei is located approximately 15 minutes from Miyajima’s pier.

Hotel Nikko Kurashiki , Ryokan Kurashiki

Hotel Nikko Kurashiki

The highest standard Western-style hotel in Kurashiki, Hotel Nikko warmly welcomes guests via its marble lobby, its simple and comfortable rooms, and its modern decor, a contrast to its location in Kurashiki’s old town. Guests may choose from 71 rooms, the best of which are found on the J floor (which we highly recommend). Free WiFi and air-conditioning come standard with every room. Meals are served at the hotel’s three restaurants: Ravenna Cafe, Hachikengura, and Kurashiki, while Heisabar bar serves up frothy Japanese beers  and tempting cocktails. Three different styles of meeting and banquet rooms are available for events, with the capacity to hold up to 120 people in one room. The airport is a 45-minute drive, while it’s possible to walk to the nearest JR Station in just over 10 minutes. 


Ryokan Kurashiki

This authentic ryokan is located in the heart of Kurashiki’s historical area, allowing for a true window into Japanese culture. The ryokan has been decorated to cater to traditional Japanese sensitivities, with tatami mat floors and clean, crisp lines, as well as elegant Japanese artwork adorning the walls. A charming Japanese garden greets guests as they enter the hotel. The entire abode has only six rooms, making it feel cozy and private. There is one restaurant, which serves up dishes in traditional kaiseki style, which may also be enjoyed in the hotel’s various private dining rooms. The hotel also has available banquet facilities for meetings and other such events. The airport is 45 minutes away, and the hotel is a 15-minute walk from JR Kurashiki station. 

Benesse House

Benesse House

Comprised of five elements - sculpture park and museum, hotel, boutique, restaurants and a spa - Benesse House is one of the most unique properties in Japan. Every room has its own individual design and artwork, with 65 guest rooms and suites across four buildings: Museum, Oval, Park and Beach, all designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. In addition to housing the property's modern art museum, Museum has a lecture room that guest speakers are often invited to. Oval is set on a hill and connected to Museum by monorail; Park is where the bulk of Benesse House's facilities, such as its French restaurant, Terrace, its spa and shop are housed; and Beach is one of Ando's few buildings constructed chiefly of wood and is generally reserved for long-term guests. Inside Museum, there are two restaurants, Issen for Japanese and a separate cafe where guests and patrons can relax between viewings. The spa has a wide array of treatment options and is open from 11:00-22:00 with last appointments taken at 20:00.

Meet An Asia Expert
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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald loves Japan's beautiful gardens, especially when covered in winter snow. Her favourite? Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.
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