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 Japan Cultural Tours - Tailor-made holidays in Japan

A choice of destinations for Japan cultural tours and tailor made holidays in Japan.

From the mountains of Hokkaido to the islets of Okinawa, from the buzzing cities of modernity to the atmosphere of by-gone times, from walking ancient pilgrimage routes to sampling the delicacies of Japanese cuisine, we help you plan your holiday and make sure your vacation in Japan will be a success.

Below you find a selection of exemplary routes through Japan.
All routes can be altered according to your personal wishes and ambitions.
More information about the different regions of Japan you will find at the lower part of this page.

A choise of our favourite itineraries and place in Japan:

tailor made Japan - 8 to 10 days - Discover Japan on a classic route from Tokyo to Osaka with stop-overs in the valleys of the Japanese Alps, at the coast of the Japanese Sea and at the famed former Imperial city of Kyoto.

 - 13 to 15 days - Experience Japan with more options. The route is similar to the above mentioned one from Tokyo to Osaka, extended by day trips into the surroundings of Tokyo and an additional excursion  into southern Honshu/Chugoku with visits to Hiroshima and Miyajima.

cultural tours Japan- 22 to 24 days -  Enjoy Japan with more thoughtfulness. Your journey starts and ends at Tokyo. You reside in the valleys of the Japanese Alps, take part in the monastic life at sacred Mt. Koya and marvel at the Imperial grandess at Kyoto. On your way south you visit mystic sites in Shikoku island, call on Hiroshima and encounter Nagasaki. A change of scenery and you travel all the way north to Hokkaido and explore a stunning nature. On your way back to Tokyo you learn about various sites in northern Honshu.

 - 30-34 days - Explore Japan from the beaches of Okinawa to the natural beauty of Hokkaido. At Okinawa you do some islands hopping and travel north over the islands of Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido. At Kyushu you experience volcanoes, Onsen and vibrating cities. Via Hiroshima you reach the Kansai region, cultural center of Honshu for centuries, rest in the charming valleys of Chubu region and, after some pauses, reach Tokyo. You proceed further north and explore sites in Northern Honshu and finally enjoy the most beautiful regions on Hokkaido. Then you return to Tokyo.

More information about the different regions of Japan:

Hokkaido stands for hiking in relatively untouched nature, excellent skiing in winter, hot springs / Onsen and hearty food from the farms.tailor made Japan
At this northern location the cherry blossom is late, usually in early May, and it will be Japan’s first region to witness the appearance of vivid autumn colours.
Go for a hike in one of the outstanding areas like Shiretoko National Park, an untouched peninsular in the North-East, at Daisetsuzan, largest and wildest national park or on the islands of Rishiri and Rebun, off the north-western coast. Lake Toya is more on the lovely side and great for hiking, fishing and camping as well.
If you dream of skiing through powder snow in winter, the area around Niseko is the place to go. And if you happen to be there at this time of the year, do not miss the snow festival at Sapporo.
In July a stop over at the lavender fields of Furano is a must, while the local Onsen/bath houses and local beer are available all year. In case you spend a night at Hakodate, please ride up the hill for the great view in the evening.

The main island of Honshu consists of 4 regions:

japan cultural tripThe North is know as Tohoku, and many activities are similar to the ones at Hokkaido, even though it is warmer in summer. Walk through the ancient beech forest at Shirakami Sanchi and enjoy one of Japan’s best views at Matsushima Bay. Explore the entrance to the Beyond on the peninsula of Shimokita Hanto, or embark on a pilgrimage to the sacred mountains of Mt.Haguro, Mt.Gas-san und Mt.Yudono, associated with re-incarnation. Ascending to the Risshaku-ji Temple, and worldly desires with be put in right perspective.
Experience Naruko Onsen, a place where 8 out of 10 different types of Japanese hot waters are available, and be charmed by the old fashioned, wooded Onsen from past times at Ginzan Onsen.
A stunning view in late April are the several thousand cherry trees surrounding the castle of Hirosaki, and the town of Kakunodate harbours a well preserved Samurai district. If time permits, visit the Sanriku Fukko National Park along the eastern coast with the high-lights of Tanesashi Coast and Jodogahama Beach.

The region of Kanto includes Greater Tokyo and surroundings. The city of Tokyo with a vast array of attractions speaks for herself. Japan tailor made
If you have the time, visit Kamakura at the nearby Pacific coast, once the most populous town in Japan,  and a place of numerous historical treasures. For a great views of iconic Mt. Fuji, you might want to visit Hakone National Park. And Nikko has been a vicinity for centuries, where seekers went to be close to the gods of Shinto or practise the Buddhism of the mountains.

The region of Chubu comprises large sections of central Honshu and is famed for the snow covered mountain peaks and lovely valleys of the Japanese Alps.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a spectacular route through the mountainous terrain of the northern Alps, and the lovely Kiso Valley in the southern Alps, a section of the nostalgic Nakasendo Trail, is a delightful area to spend a few days. At Takayama enjoy the beautiful old section of town, and at Shirakawago or Gokayama a night in an old farm house is a lasting experience. If you like mountain peaks, in July and August Mt. Fuji allows a climb. But explore the alpine valley of Kamikochi, ideal for hiking and a take a unforgettable ride on the slow train through Kurobe gorge.
At Yamanouchi you can argue with the snow monkeys about a place in the hot springs, and the rich cultural heritage of Kanazawa is another highlight of the region not to be missed.

Japan cultural tourThe Kansai region has been the cultural and dynamic powerhouse of Japan for centuries. Kansai definitely has the most cultural and historic relevant sites of all regions. One of the stunning highlights is Kyoto, Imperial city for 1100 years. Take enough time to visit and do not hesitate to embark in excursions into the surroundings. The village of Miyami, the view of Amanohashidate, Uji or Kinosaki, they all have different stories to tell.
Mt. Yoshinoyama is Japan’s most famous spot for cherry blossom / Sakura, and Nara, first permanent capital of Japan in the 8th century is a world on it’s own.
The southern part of Kansai is the Kii peninsular with numerous spiritual places, like the monasteries at sacred Mt. Koya or the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage path, which already has been walked by emperors a 1000 years back in search of heaven.
The spirited metropolis of Osaka is famed for delicious food and the castle at Himeji is supposed to be Japan’s most beautiful one.

tailor made JapanThe Chugoku region is southern end of Honshu. The best known places are definitely  Hiroshima and Miyajima, but also the islands of the Seto Inland Sea receive more visitors, especially since some of the islands offer a stage for modern art. In any case the island landscape radiates a stunning beauty and is perfect for cycling days.
At Kurashiki you find restored and converted old storehouses along the canals, nowadays with cafes and cultural programs and please travel into the mountains and explore lovely Takahashi with a castle. Hagi is a historic small town at the Japanese Sea, at Izumi you can visit Japan’s second most important Shinto shrine and Matsui and surroundings offer a castle, lovely parks and an excellent museum.

 

Japan cultural tourOne of the attractions, that makes the island of Shikoku is well known in Japan, is the pilgrimage trail  connecting 88 temples all over the island. The path starts at Ryozen-ji Temple (No. 1) and ends at Okubo-ji Temple (No. 88).
Some islands of the Seto Inland Sea, like Naoshima, know for great modern art museums, can easily be visited from Shikoku.
Takamatsu is the main city and a visit of the historical Ritsurin Garden as well the view over the Inland Sea from the Jashima-ji temple are the main reasons for visiting. At Shikoku village old houses were gathered from all over the island and can be marvelled at.
The most popular shrine of the island is at nearby Kotohira, with an old authentic Kabuki theatre not far.
At Matsuyama you can experience the Kingdom’s oldest Onsen as well as a beautiful castle. Another historical castle is situated at Kochi.
If you like dramatic mountain scenery and straw-covered houses, then visit the valley of Iya in the interior of the island. The daring ones might be tempted to climb the peak of Mt. Ishizuchi or Mt. Tzurugi.
Iya-no-Karura Bashi is supposedly the most beautiful spot to watch the autumn colours.

Japan tailor madeKyushu is the southern most of Japan’s 4 main islands and the metropolis of Fukuoka serves as a gateway. Nearby Dazaifu is a historic town and has been the administrative centre of Kyushu for long, which manifests in an interesting variety of museums and shrines. The famous Yutoku Inari shrine is on the way to Nagasaki, site of the 2nd nuclear bomb and Japan’s contact point with foreign ideas for long. Interesting excursions from Nagasaki are the cruise to Gunkanjima, an abandoned and dilapidated industrial island and a ride up Mt. Inasa for the stunning night view over the bay.
At the centre of Kyushu you will find the huge caldera of active volcano Mt. Aso. A trip there can be combined with visits to famed Kurokawa Onsen and the charming trendy town of Jufuin.
Takachiho Gorge is one of the energy places of Japan, woven into myths and sensational nature. Yakushima is a subtropical island with forests of antique cedar trees, some a few thousand years old.
And the tropical paradise with the best surf and grand views over the coastline, you find in the East near Miyazaki.

 

The archipelago of Okinawa is the tropical extension of Japan with ideal conditions for beach-life, diving and snorkelling. A large USA military base is situated on the main island of Okinawa.
The most beautiful beaches and coral reefs are around Ishigaki, but the islands of Miyako, Kerama und Hateruma have nice beaches and a rich marine life as well.

Remarks:
Experiencing Japan with a guide gives 3 options: A. guide accompanying the whole trip from arrival in Japan until departure, B. different guides at different locations, or C. just transfers and hotels.
Guides speak English, other languages on request.
We also joyfully accept inquiries for tours or routes, which are not mentioned here. This page has been created to give an overview of popular as well as off the beaten track travel options in Japan.

 At the moment this page is still under construction.

In case you are interested in a trip to Japan, you can either join our next group tour in November or ask for a customized travel itinerary.
In both cases please be so kind to contact us through the contact page's link on the top right of this page.


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