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

A Japanese Adventure: Volcanos, Valleys, Shrines, & Spas

How can you hit the city, the coast, the volcano and the valley in just two weeks? With this carefully-curated two-week Japan itinerary focused on the remote areas of Kyushu and Shikoku, it’s more than possible. Your trip will start and end in bustling Osaka, and bring you to the Natural World Heritage Site of Yakushima Island, the  Takachiho Gorge and Shrine, Mount Aso, an active volcano, and the incredible landscape of the Iya Valley. From city nights to mountain treks, you’ll experience the cultural charm and natural beauty of remote Japan, without surrendering luxury! 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit some of the oldest trees in the world in the Kirishima-Yaku National Park
  • Ride an aerial tramway up Mount Aso, an active volcano
  • Explore Mikurodo Cave, an ancient Buddhist site of enlightenment
  • Trek over vine bridges through the majestic Iya Valley
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Your exciting Japanese adventure begins in the cosmopolitan city of Osaka, home to 19 million people. You will arrive in the afternoon and be transferred to the Ritz Carlton hotel where you may rest for the evening or refresh yourself for a night on the town.

Day 2
Yakushima Island, Southern Kyushu

After an optional morning tour of Osaka, you will fly to Yakushima Island, located off the southern tip of the mainland. Settle into the Sankara Hotel & Spa and soak up the sea views before enjoying a delicious, authentic dinner.

Day 3
Yakushima Island, Southern Kyushu

Spend the day touring the incredible Yakushima Island, most of which is covered by the Kirishima-Yaku National Park. Enjoy a scenic drive through the rainforest, where you will see some of the oldest trees in the world, as well as a wide array of flora and fauna.

Day 4
Yakushima Island, Southern Kyushu

Enjoy one more day on Yakushima Island: today, you’ll hike through the rainforest - designated a Natural World Heritage Site – and view an incredible waterfall up-close before returning to the Sankara Hotel & Spa for one more night.

Day 5
Kurokawa Onsen, Central Kyushu

After a free morning to soak up the island, you’ll leave Yakushima and fly to Fukuoka, where you’ll be picked up and transferred to Kurokawa Onsen, a town best-known for its incredible natural hot springs. Spend the afternoon and evening exploring the town before relaxing for the night at the Satonoyu Waraku Ryokan guesthouse.

Day 6
Kurokawa Onsen, Central Kyushu

Today, enjoy a day of touring local sites, including the Takachiho Gorge, an incredible natural landscape formed by volcanic lava, the Takachiho Shrine, an ancient Shinto shrine, and Kunimi Hill, the perfect spot for mid-afternoon hike. After your full day, you’ll return to your guesthouse to relax for the evening, ahead of the second-half of your journey.

Day 7
Kurokawa Onsen, Central Kyushu

For a full day excursion, you’ll head to Mount Aso, an active volcano. If available, board the aerial tramway to ascend to the incredible volcanic vent viewing spot and take in panoramic views from several different hiking trails. If the tram is deactivated due to volcanic activity, embark on a half day hike to the cusp of the vent or visit the Kurokawa hot spring for a dip in a volcanic onsen. Tonight, you’ll stay at the Satonoyu Waraku Ryokan guesthouse once again this evening.

Day 8
Uwajima, Western Shikoku

This morning, you’ll drive to the city of Beppu, located 2 hours away in Oita Prefecture,and visit Beppu’s Eight Hells – multicolored volcanic pits filled with boiling water and mud with menacing names like Blood Pond Hell and Shaven Monkey’s Head Hell. From Beppu, you’ll enjoy a ferry ride to the city of Uwajima, where you will check into the Kiya Ryokan hotel and enjoy the afternoon at your leisure.

Day 9
Uwajima, Western Shikoku

Spend the morning exploring Uwajima, from the Warei Shrine to the Date Museum, the Uwajima Castle to the Doi Pearls. After lunch, take a hike along the coast for beautiful views. If the dates line up, you may be able to see a bullfighting event before spending an evening under the twinkling lights of the city.

Day 10
Muroto, Southern Shikoku

After a leisurely morning, you’ll drive 4.5 hours to the small city of Muroto. Check into the luxurious Hoshino UTOCO Auberge & Spa, settle in to your new surroundings, and enjoy your evening overlooking the ocean from the expansive patio.

Day 11
Muroto, Southern Shikoku

This morning you’ll explore Muroto, visiting tourist destinations such as the Ransho Promenade and Global Geopark. You’ll also venture to the Mikurodo Cave, famous for being the place where the revered Buddhist monk Kukai became enlightened. End the day with a bang by taking a thrilling hike along the coast before returning to your luxury hotel.

Day 12
Iya Valley, Northern Shikoku

Today, you’ll spend a full day touring: first driving to Iya Valley, deep between the mountains of the Tokushima Prefecture. Here, you’ll board a cable car to ascend into the mountains for some hiking before retiring to the Iya Onsen Hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 13
Iya Valley, Northern Shikoku

After a hearty breakfast, set out to explore Iya Valley: trek through the incredible landscape, over historic vine bridges and traditional mountainside villages for a true glimpse into valley life. Return to the Iya Onsen Hotel for your last night.

Day 14

Today, your Japanese adventure comes to an end – but not before one last bout of sightseeing. You’ll drive to Takamatsu where you can squeeze in a visit to the Ritsurin Garden & Tea House and the Yashima-ji temple, and perhaps even a hike in Shikoku Mura Park. Afterward, you’ll board a train for Osaka, where you’ll catch your flight home or onto your next destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

This luxury hotel is an oasis in the vibrant and bustling city that is Osaka. The Ritz-Carlton Osaka is a business hotel that aims to provide its guests with a soothing and serene atmosphere in the heart of Osaka�s business and shopping district. With nearly 300 rooms, including a selection of Executive Suites, Club rooms, and more, each providing stunning views of the city below, as well as exclusive amenities, the options for comfort are bountiful. Egyptian cotton linens, down comforters, designer tea, a bathroom flat screen TV, fully-stocked refreshment cabinets, and complimentary newspaper and overnight shoe-shine are just a few of the exceptional surprises that await guests at this top-end hotel. Furthermore, two of its fine dining restaurants, La Baie, and Xiang Tao, are recipients of Michelin stars.

Sankara Hotel & Spa

Sankara Hotel & Spa

Yakushima Island, on the southernmost tip of Japan’s toes, is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. Nestled between its mountains and cedar forests, still within close proximity of the ocean, is the Sankara Hotel & Spa. The ideal secluded retreat for nature lovers, the hotel is surrounded by stunning, rugged scenery and hiking trails which lead intrepid explorers to ravines and waterfalls and through forests filled with exotic flora and fauna. Guests seeking a more relaxing experience will be delighted with the cozy on-site library, a perfect spot to curl up with a good book. What’s more, the resort boasts the first Asia Herb Association spa in Japan, where a range of Thai herbal treatments are available. The auberge-style hotel pays homage to French style and elegance, with delicious French cuisine cooked in an open kitchen and served in Okas Restaurant. Meanwhile, the 29 suites and villas are warm and sumptuous, clad with deep cedar wood, yet maintaining a sense of space and light with their high ceilings.

Kiya Ryokan

Kiya Ryokan

This traditional Japanese-style ryokan in Uwajima is a beautifully presented two-story wooden building providing comfortable accommodation, delicious local cuisine and luxurious natural hot spring baths. After closing in 1995, it was left untouched for several years before being brought back to life in the spring of 2012, thanks to a makeover by the famous Japanese architect Yuko Nakayama. She combined modern technology with traditional Japanese furnishings and it is this mix of contemporary and classic styles that makes Kiya Ryokan so unique. With just one room, which sleeps between two and 10 guests, you can enjoy a peaceful stay here with the utmost freedom while you take advantage of the ryokan’s many facilities, including massages and beauty treatments.  In the room you will discover an air conditioner, an LCD television, dining table and safe, as well as an audio system with bluetooth connection.

UTOCO Auberge & Spa

UTOCO Auberge & Spa

On the very tip of Muroto in Kochi, surrounded by the rugged and dramatic landscape on the very edge of the ‘black sea’,  the UTOCO Auberge is a truly unique retreat. The super-modern resort resembles a sleek, white, circular spaceship, amidst the craggy rocks of Muroto geopark and its mysterious caves. And from the black current, the bubbles from the seabed provide health-giving benefits available in the hotel spa. Guests can unwind in the pool or indulge in deep sea therapies designed to relax and re-invigorate the whole body and spirit. Meanwhile, the hotel restaurant, Italian Kuroshio serves a smorgasbord of flavorful dishes made from the freshest seafood and local ingredients and inspired by the Mediterranean. The 17 guest rooms are arranged so that each enjoys a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean; decorated with a simple and sleek style, not a single detail has been overlooked, and the accommodation at UTOCO is perfectly designed to conduce to a restful stay. At sunset guests can take to the fresh air on the Typhoon Terrace for unforgettable views of sea and sky.

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Our co-founder Jay Tindall finds Japan both a challenging and rewarding travel destination, which requires several visits to truly understand. It's also his favourite food destination in Asia.
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