Explore Japan by taking an uncommon route on this 11-day luxury itinerary, exploring lesser-visited cities on the country’s southwestern shores. Launching from Kyoto, you’ll head west to Matsue and Izumo, taking in scenic ocean views, visiting ancient shrines and temples and wandering old castle towns. Also during this trip you’ll spend time on the sacred island of Itsukushima before looping back to Osaka, Japan’s third most populous city. During your journey, you’ll have the chance to stay in Japanese guesthouses - ryokans - modern yet traditional boutique properties with private onsen baths.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
• Kyoto: The ancient capital and "capital of culture" is host to an impressive 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including serene Buddhist temples and picturesque Shinto shrines.
• Shrine Island: Walk around Itsukushima (Shrine Island) to see the iconic "floating" red torii gate and encounter free-roaming sika deer.
• Outdoor Adventures: The Akiyoshido-Dai karst plateau, the highest concentration of karst formations in Japan and home to the largest and longest limestone cave in the country, was once a coral reef some 300 millions years ago.
Arrive in Kyoto today, where you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Kyoto is Japan's former imperial capital and much of its historic sites are still intact. We recommend staying in a luxury hotel within the historic area, such as the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, or in a ryokan guesthouse where you can experience traditional Japanese hospitality, sleeping in suites with sliding door partitions and futon mattresses rolled out on tatami floors.
Kyoto is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites and no matter how modernized it becomes, there’s seemingly a remnant of its past on every corner. Today you have a full day of sightseeing with your guide to explore the city’s attractions, whether it’s a 6th-century landmark such as Shimogamo Shrine, or a futuristic structure like Kyoto Tower. Return to your hotel or ryokan in Kyoto tonight.
Kyoto is a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture, such as ikebana - flower arranging, noodle making, sushi preparation or calligraphy. Today you can spend some time delving into the Japanese tradition of your choosing before heading to Nara. In Nara you’ll find spectacular examples of imperial architecture, such as the 8th-century Kasuga Grand Shrine - and have the chance for a close-up look at another of Japan’s national treasures - the sika deer. Check into a traditional ryokan guesthouse in Nara tonight, we recommend the secluded Tsukihi-tei located within a primeval forest.
Today you’ll fly to Izumo, located on the coastline of Shimane Prefecture. The city is home to a collection of significant historic sites, the most important of which is the ancient Izumo Taisha Shrine. No official documentation states the shrine’s date of construction, though there are records of it being down-sized in 1200 AD. One of the shrine’s major features is a towering gate festooned with straw, and its halls and museums house many more important local artefacts. Tonight, check into an onsen guesthouse and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of Japan’s famous hot springs.
Today you’ll spend a full day touring the neighboring cities of Matsue and Yasugi, accompanied by a private guide. Matsue is the capital of the prefecture and its lake and canals have earned it the nickname of “water city.” Here, you’ll enjoy far-reaching city and ocean views from the castle and visit the Adachi Museum of Art, famous for its beautifully-designed grounds. These gardens are considered Japan’s best and have been awarded three stars by Michelin Travel. Return to your ryokan tonight.
Travel further along Japan’s western coastline to Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Far from the urban frisson that electrifies Japan’s big cities, in Nagato, travelers can relax in a serene mountain atmosphere, capitalizing on the location’s natural hot springs. The best way to do this is by checking into an onsen ryokan - Nagato has a premium selection of modern, design-savvy ryokans that combine traditional hospitality with sleek bathing facilities and unobtrusive technology.
Spend the day sightseeing in Hagi today - a quiet city whose claim to fame is hagi-yaki, a form of pottery known for its simple forms and transparent glaze. You can visit a kiln in Hagi, take a cruise on Hashimoto River or explore the castle town’s “bent key” streets - twisted alleys built in feudal times to confuse invading armies. Return to your ryokan in Nagato tonight.
Today you’ll enjoy a half-day private tour of Akiyoshido-Dai Quasi-National Park, home to a remarkable limestone cave and beautiful karst pinnacles dotted in green meadows. This is the largest limestone plateau in the country and the biggest limestone cavern in Asia - you can hike the area along trails or enjoy the views from a cable car. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure before returning to your ryokan in Nagato for the night.
Enjoy a leisurely morning before being chauffeur-driven to the train station where you’ll catch the shinkansen - bullet train - to your next destination, Iwakuni. In this former castle town, you’ll enjoy some sightseeing, visiting the famous five-arched Kintai Bridge. Next, it’s on to Itsukushima - also known as Miyajima Island - just off the coast of Hiroshima. The island is a tranquil mountain destination renowned for its lush maple forests, shrines, and protected sika deer. Check into a ryokan on the island for a truly immersive experience.
Explore the island of Miyajima today, wandering its forest trails and enjoying the famous view of Itsukushima Shrine. Take the ferry to Hiroshima before transferring via shinkansen to the port city of Osaka. A modern metropolis in every sense, Osaka is a great destination to enjoy the best of Japan’s urban offerings, including fine dining, nightlife and shopping. For more history, there’s Osaka Castle, moated on 15 acres of land and one of Japan’s most iconic buildings. Check into luxury accommodation tonight - the Ritz-Carlton and the St Regis are both excellent hotels in Osaka.
Enjoy your final morning in Japan with a leisurely breakfast before being chauffeur-driven to Kansai airport in time for your departure flight.
Just steps away from the popular streets of Gion, Kawaramachi and Pontocho, the Ritz-Carlton hotel is the perfect gateway for seeing Kyoto’s famous sights. Respecting the ancient traditions and culture of Kyoto, the extravagant space is inspired by the natural surroundings and traditional architecture. Famous for Zen Temples, palaces and gardens, Kyoto's atmosphere is incorporated in the Ritz-Carlton’s design. Built in the style of a traditional Meiji House and courtyard, a stay here is truly a cultural experience. A four-story waterfall is featured in the hotel entrance amidst patterned motifs. Luxury Ritz-Carlton touches include high-thread count linens, plush Japanese “IMABARI” robes and towels, Kyoto soap and seasonal bath salts, LED TVs and touch-panel environmental controls for automatic drape closure. Accommodation amenities include a concierge service, swimming pool, banquet room, babysitting service, sophisticated dining and drinking options, as well as an indulgent spa for any pampering needs.
Inspired by the tranquility and contemplative calm of the region’s many temples and Zen gardens, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto features 110 standard rooms, 12 suites, 57 condos and a Presidential Suite, which at over 2,600 square feet, is the largest hotel suite in Kyoto. The restrained chic of designer Agnes Ng’s modern ideas, allied with traditional design elements such as bamboo groves and shoji paper-walls, create an extraordinary set of contemporary, yet classic, accommodations – with a peaceful vibe, enhanced and completed by the gentle crash of water from the Waterfall Garden. The hotel features two restaurants, bar, lounge and even a tea house where guests can find a range of tantalizing treats and refreshments to expedite their relaxation – set off to perfection by a team of expertly trained, confident and multilingual service staff.
The highly anticipated Aman Kyoto brings an even higher level of luxury to the historic and cultural ancient capital. A blend of authentic, traditional ryokan hospitality and contemporary spaces, the Aman Kyoto offers travelers a respite in the heart of one of Japan's most visited cities. The secluded 80-acre property is situated in a hidden garden close to the Golden Pavilion at the foot of the Mountain of Hidari Daimonji, within easy reach of Kyoto's impressive collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Scattered among the grounds is a series of standalone pavilions. The four guest pavilions house 24 guest rooms (choose between garden or stream views) and a pair of two-bedroom villas overlooking the forest canopy. Each room captures a contemporary, minimalistic style with nod to the quintessential ryokan feel; walls of windows bringing the outside in to spacious, light-filled interiors. Facilities include separate Arrival, Living and Spa pavilions. The signature restaurant, Taka-An, showcases Japanese haute cuisine in the form of the kaiseki banquet - a multi-course dining experience made using the season’s finest local produce. The Living Pavilion offers an inviting spaces with a central fireplace for guests to enjoy home-cooked Kyoto obanzai-style cuisine and afternoon tea. The Spa Pavilion’s onsen bathing facilities use water from a local spring and the range of treatments highlight local, natural ingredients such as green tea, black beans, sake and cold-pressed camellia oil.
Hidden away in the sacred Kasugayama Primeval Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Tsukihi-tei Ryokan offers a taste of Japan’s traditional roots in serene surroundings. The small inn has only five guest rooms, outfitted with traditional tatami mats, low tables and futon mattresses. The ryokan offers Michelin-class kaiseki meals, based on a seasonal menu.
Deep in a lush, wooden area near Lake Shinji lays the tranquil Tamatsukuri Onsen hot spring. Roughly one kilometer from the spring is the KAI Izumo hotel. Its spacious rooms feature classic Japanese designs and the hotel houses outdoor hot spring baths with either cypress or Shigaraki-yaki ceramic tiles where guests can take their time enjoying the rejuvenating waters of Tamatsukuri Hot Spring. Rooms are equipped with luxury mattresses, casual kimonos, and modern amenities such as televisions and fridges. Fine-dining is offered at the hotel's restaurant with colorful sashimi platters, seasonal ingredients, and seafood. No western dishes are served. There is also a lounge room, massage center, and Japanese theater performances are held every night.
The opulent, airy rooms of Otansi Sanso have various designs with some featuring private spring baths, classical Japanese aesthetics with tatami floors, Western beds or futon beddings. All rooms afford stunning views of the lush region and such modern amenities as flat-screen televisions, mini fridges, and air conditioning. Guests can enjoy various baths at the in-house natural hot spring such as an herb bath, a Jacuzzi-whirlpool bath, a reclining bath, and our sauna. The hotel houses three restaurants. There are casual and formal restaurants along with a teppanyaki restaurant. A night lobby, karaoke studio, astronomical observatory, massage room, foot bath with drinks, and open-air swimming pool are available.
Deep in the stunning river-and-mountain-dotted landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture is Nagato-City, home to Bettei Otozure Ryokan Hotel. Five room types offer gorgeous Japanese aesthetics with wonderfully comfortable features. The rooms furnish stunning views of the surrounding nature and enchanting landscapes, some have an open-air bathtub and all afford such modern amenities as television and internet along with the essential toiletries and bathrobes required to make the most out of the relaxation geared retreat. The main, open-air bath is filled with hot spring waters and designed to allow guests to gaze at the stars from the warmth of a Japanese Cypress wooden tub. Bathing areas are gender segregated and an indoor tub is available in addition to the resort’s signature Otozure Spa. The hotel houses three restaurants. At Unyu, guests can enjoy traditional Japanese flavors while at Zuiun serves French dishes and Choshu provides the Teppanyaki experience. Guests can also immerse themselves in the hotel’s Japanese Garden. Additionally, a tea house, resplendent bar, library, and fitness gym are all on-site.
Boasting a fascinating history, Iwaso has been welcoming VIPs from every corner of the world since it first opened its doors 150 years ago. The hotel is ideally-located, near UNESCO World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shrine, while being surrounded by the eye-catching colors of nature, which change throughout the seasons. Guests may choose from three different room types, all of which exude elements of traditional Japanese design, blended with modern touches. The on-site restaurant, Momiji, serves up Japanese cuisine using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. A tea-lounge is also available for guests who’d like to experience some of Japan’s tea culture. Meeting and event facilities are provided for those organizing a gathering. The hotel is also home to three common indoor hot springs which draw water from the mild and gentle Wakamiya hot spring.
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 Osakaï¿½s 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.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
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