Taste of Shikoku Kyushu 2019 | May 7–20, 2019
$335/month • $3,645 total
Shikoku and Kyushu’s finest delicacies await!
Building upon our popular “Taste of Japan” trip series, we are packing our bags for a hot spring-visiting, one-of-a-kind, “wow, I didn’t know Japan had a place like THIS!” response-inducing journey across Japan’s less-traveled Shikoku and Kyushu islands. Our stops will carry us through every chapter of Japan’s culinary history, such as centuries-old noodle stops in the Iya Valley, Dutch-inspired cuisine in Nagasaki, and modern microbrew fare in Tokushima.
Of course, we won’t just be eating. We’ll also be traveling to whirlpools, waterfalls, and all manner of natural scenery on a creative itinerary that you won’t find anywhere else! We’ll see mountain views in Tokushima and Nagasaki, visit the abandoned “battleship island” of Gunkanjima, cross vine bridges in Iya, explore old castles in Takamatsu and Matsuyama, see natural sulphur springs in Beppu – and that isn’t even half of what’s planned! Need a little city with your country? Nagasaki, Fukuoka, and Kobe are sure to impress.
Seeking a little relaxation? You’ll be happy to hear that our adventure includes five (yes, five) nights at three of Japan’s most unique, breathtaking onsens (hot springs). In Iya, you’ll take a special tram car to a unique cliff bath. In Dogo, you’ll get to bathe in one of Japan’s most historical hot springs, renowned for millennia by travelers and the Emperor alike. Finally, we’ll also spend two nights in Beppu, where massive terraced baths command phenomenal views of the bay.
Go way beyond the flavors and feel of the typical Japan trip; sign up today for a journey you’ll treasure forever!TOUR IS LIMITED TO 20 PEOPLE
ALL MEALS INCLUDED: With the exception of the last day in Fukuoka, all meals on this trip are included!
Baggage: 1 carry-on sized bag
*Due to space constraints on Trains, no large “Check-in” sized bags are allowed – NO EXCEPTIONS.
Single Room: $800 additional – NO SINGLE ROOMS AT IYA ONSEN, DOGO ONSEN, and BEPPU.
Extend Your Trip: All trips can be extended! Mention your extension request during signup so we can follow up with you!
Day 1: Departure
This is the day you’ll want to leave your home country to make it to Japan. Keep this in mind when booking!
Day 2: KIXing it in Kobe
Your guide will be meeting guests in Tokyo (a day earlier), but today, meetups will happen at Kansai International Airport and Kobe Airport. Following all that, we’ll settle in to recover from jetlag and enjoy a local specialty: Kobe Beef steak!
Day 3: Whirlpooling
We leave Kansai behind and cross Awaji Island to Naruto, the home to some very famous whirlpools that inspired some very popular ninja headgear. ^_~ We’ll see the whirlpools from above and on the water (don’t worry, we won’t get sucked in!), and we’ll enjoy a fresh lunch featuring the local citrus fruit, Sudachi! Then we transfer to Shikoku’s eastern metropolis of Tokushima, where we’ll check out the history of the city’s gigantic Awaodori Festival and see the city views from the mountains. For dinner, we’ll hit a local haunt featuring the local Awa Beer microbrew as we chill by the river in the city center.
Day 4: Ritsurin, Real Soba and Raucous Restaurants
We’ll be cruising along the northern end of Shikoku today, where you’ll be treated to fantastic views of the islands and cliffs of the Seto Inland Sea. Along the way, we’ll visit Takamatsu to have the city’s famous Soba noodles at their seaside Sunport and explore the ruins of Takamatsu Castle! Need a little nature? We’re going to take in some gorgeous flowers (and some tea) at Ritsurin Gardens. Finally, we return to Tokushima for a dinner out at a local izakaya for drinks, delectable dining and maybe a little dessert too!
Day 5: Down in the Valley
Get ready for a look at Japan’s undiscovered beauty as we venture inland to the Iya Valley! To start we land in Sadamitsu, an Edo-era street lined with ornamental “Udatsu” features straight out of a historical drama. A private bus awaits to whisk us into the mountains, where we will pass the Narutaki waterfall and munch Shikoku’s most popular Udon noodles before checking out the view from Mt. Tsurugi. Next, we’ll cross vine rope bridges as we criss-cross the valley, ending at our first hot spring stop where our hosts have a huge spread prepared for our stomachs.
Day 6: Let’s (Do)go Crazy
Take one last dip in the Iya Onsen; it’s time for us to venture to Ehime Prefecture! Snack on a fresh train bento as we cruise past the Seto Inland Sea on one of Japan’s most scenic train lines. After checking in at Dogo Onsen, we’ll wander the lanes of the Hi-Kara Street, a kitschy collection of local shops that tempt visitors to the springs. Picture yourself as a samurai as we visit the local bukeyashiki samurai homes and learn about the history of the city. Finally, it’s back to our hotel for a huge dinner of Ehime specialties and time to relax.
Day 7: Hype for History
For our second day in Dogo/Matsuyama, we take the tram to the city’s vibrant Okaido area to hop a literal chair in the sky to ascend to Matsuyama Castle. This legendary fortress is extremely well preserved, and you’ll definitely be envious of the rulers who used to have this kind of a view! When we’re done gazing over the city and sea, we’ll hit the Okaido again for lunch at a local haunt and a little bit of shopping time. After all that wandering, we will visit and tour Dogo’s main bathing area to see the Emperor’s former private quarters – and to bathe in the waters of Dogo ourselves.
Day 8: Shikoku to Kyushu!
Welcome to the sea! Our first adventure takes us to the western town of Yawatahama, where we’ll hang with the locals and enjoy some of the fresh catch of the day at Shikoku’s most acclaimed fish market. Then we board a ferry for a scenic, fancy trip across the bay to Beppu! On board, you can take in the view, enjoy a drink from the cafe, or just rest. When we arrive in Beppu, we’ll transfer to our hotel to get acquainted with the hot spring baths, the numerous amenities of our resort, and a giant buffet dinner.
Day 9: Beppu Relaxation
Today is a full day to relax and take in the majesty of the hot springs in Beppu! We’ll take a trip to some of the hells/natural hot springs of the city in the morning before a very special lunch of steamed meats and veggies cooked by the hot spring itself! The afternoon is yours, so take advantage of the goodies our hot spring resort affords, explore the hells of Beppu more, or just kick back and relax. Your guide will be on hand to help with directions and pointers on other stuff to see.
Day 10: Back to the Big City
After a breakfast spread at the onsen, we’ll head straight to Kyushu’s largest city, Fukuoka! We’ll eat some Kyushu specialties in the glittering Canal City by Hakata Station before we see the city from its cross-pond parkway. Then we dive into Tenjin, the place where the city goes to have fun. Hungry? For Dinner, we’ll stop at some of the many food stalls in the city, where seasoned chefs dish out bowls of the area’s world famous Hakata ramen noodle soups.
Day 11: Foreign influence and Flavor
We’re off to our last city on the trip: Nagasaki. First up, LUNCH! We’ll enjoy a plate of the city’s famous Champon noodles, inspired by the settlers from China. Fittingly, our next stop is the old western part of town for a visit to the iconic Glover Garden and a Confucian Shrine built by Chinese residents of the city. After taking in the combination of east-meets-west that makes the city such a popular backdrop for writers and creators, we’ll try some of the cuisine inspired by the Dutch traders of Dejima. As a nightcap, we’ll head up to the Insayama Lookout to appreciate one of the three best “night views” in Japan!
Day 12: Ruins and Royal Traders
The day begins with a guided tour to a place the locals call Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island, a deserted mining island that has inspired post-apocalyptic video games and the Bond film Skyfall. After the island, we head to a former island – the old Dutch trading camp of Dejima – which was Japan’s de facto connection to the outside world for over 250 years during the Tokugawa period. For dinner, we get back to basics and honor Nagasaki’s history as a fishing town with a massive sushi dinner!
Day 13: Free Day!
After an early train ride, we return to Fukuoka, where you’re free to explore the city and eat whatever you like. Today is the only day where meals are not included so you can sample whatever you desire. <3
Day 14: Return home
Return home to tell your friends all about the amazing experiences they missed!
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