Japan: Gems of the Ocean

LANDS RICH IN HISTORY AND CULTURE WITHIN THE SETO INLAND SEA

Code: JGWHW

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Activity types:

  • Culture
  • Food & drink
  • History

Level

  • Easy
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £4,195.00 - 13 to 14 nights

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Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

New at HF Holidays

Trip notes will be available to download soon

Lands rich in history and culture run along the entire Seto Inland Sea, from the sacred island of Miyajima and the bustling port town of Hiroshima to the imposing Himeji Castle. Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail has welcomed walkers for 1200 years, while vine bridges and thatched farmhouses in the breathtaking Iya Valley provide a view of Old Japan.

Holiday highlights

  • Discover the fourth largest island of Japan, Shikoku
  • Enjoy scenic temple walks on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail
  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hiroshima, Miyajima and Himeji
  • Walk along the Yamanobe no michi, one of Japan’s most historic routes

Price includes:

  • 13 nights’ accommodation in hotels, Japanese-style inns (ryokan), and shukubo (temple lodge).
  • Half Board from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure, plus 2 lunches
  • A full programme of guided walks led by an experienced local leader
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Travel by coach/minivan, train and public transport
  • Tips

In pictures...

Accommodation

On this holiday we use a mix of Western-style hotels (cities) and traditional Japanese style inns,(rural locations)  and a former Buddhist monastery. In western style hotels, the rooms are generally smaller than equivalent hotels in the West. Please note that twin rooms are more commonly available than double rooms in Japan and tend to be more generous in size than doubles so we do reserve twins as standard. Double rooms may be requested but are subject to availability. Our city hotels have en-suite facilities, air-conditioning and TV; most have fridges in rooms. Single rooms are only available in the cities.

Yukata and slippers provided by regular hotels are normally only used in the private rooms. This will allow you to pack lightly for the walking sections. Soap and shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a towel are always available at any accommodations. Hairdryers are provided in the regular hotels and in the public bathrooms in Ryokan. 

Osaka hotel

Hotel Monterey Grasmere Osaka

In Osaka we stay in Hotel Monterey Grasmere (2 nights), a modern hotel, centrally located. Bedrooms are located on the higher floors of the building, and are designed in the image of a British manor house.

Shukubo

Shukubo Temple Lodging Higashihara

These are lodgings in Buddhist temples originally meant for pilgrims, now open to anyone. The rooms are similar to Ryokan, though without ensuite facilities. The food is excellent Buddhist ‘shojin-ryori’ cuisine. It is a wonderful experience to stay in a shukubo and there is also the opportunity to join the early morning religious service. (1 night)

Kotosankaku

Ryokan (Kotohira Spa)


Iya Valley accomm
Ryokan(Iya Valley)

Ryokan

Ryokan (Kotohira Spa -1 night, Iya Valley – 2 nights) Ryokan are traditional Japanese style inns. They may be in modern concrete or older wooden buildings, but the rooms in the inns are always traditional with tatami (straw) matting and futons. At the ryokan these are laid out in the evening. Many ryokan have both ensuite bathrooms and communal hot spring style baths (segregated by sex – bathing suits are not worn here ). These are the classic Japanese experience. Meals at your accommodations are set meals, usually multi-course, served in a common dining room, often showcasing regional produce and specialties. Yukata (simple cotton kimono) are provided at each accommodation, and you can wear this during your stay in the Japanese style accommodation both indoors and outdoors. They may also be worn as pajamas.

 Matsuyama hotel

ANA Hotel Matsuyama

We’ll be staying 2 nights in Matsuyama, at the ANA Intercontinental or similar, conveniently located in the heart of the city, and just a few steps away from Matsuyama Castle.

Hiroshima hotel

Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima

We'll stay 2 nights at the Sunroute Hotel, Hiroshima not far from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Atomic Bomb Dome. Wifi is available throughout the hotel. Rooms are equipped with kettle, tv, hairdryer

Himeji accomm

Hotel Nikko Himeji

We’ll spend one night at the luxury Nikko Himeji hotel, offering great views of the Himeji Castle from the sky lounge on the top floor of the hotel.

Nara hotel

Hotel Fujita Nara

Our final 2 nights are spent at the Hotel Fujita Nara, a perfect base for a stroll in the historically rich city of Nara.


Please note that single accommodation is not normally available in Japanese style accommodation - ryokan, ie they are not available outside the main cities, so it is normal that single travellers will be expected to share a room with another person of the same sex.

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

Trip notes will be available to download soon

A mixture of part-day walks, moderate trails and sightseeing. Walking over easy to moderate terrain, ranging from level paths to trails of up to 7.3 miles (11.7km) with a maximum of 2130ft (650m) ascent. Walking days are relaxed, with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

AsukaDays 1-3: Around Osaka

Take an overnight flight to Osaka where you will be met and transferred to our central hotel for a welcome dinner.

The following day we’ll explore two different sides of Japan. We travel by train to Asuka, one of the ancient capitals of Japan, and spend time strolling through ancient burial mounds in rural Asuka. By contrast we’ll explore the hustle and bustle of Osaka, considered to be the business and commercial hub of Japan, finding some of the surprises of the city. Osaka is also known as the culinary capital of Japan.

 

shikokuDays 4-5: Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage Route

Travel by coach to Shikoku, crossing the longest suspension bridge in the world from Honshu to Shikoku. We start our walk on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage routes visiting three of the most eye-catching temples on the whole trail. Over the next 2 days we’ll walk along different sections of the route, staying in a traditional Shukubo, and ryoken in small villages and towns along the way.

 

 

Iya ValleyDays 6-7: Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage Route and Iya Valley

We include one of the most beautiful and varied stretches between Temples 20 and 21 which offers breathtaking views of the local area, and a cable car ride gives further views over a cedarwood forest and the small town below.

The next day is spent exploring the Iya Valley, with a visit to the unique vine bridge stretching across the Iya River. We head to Tsurugi-san, the second highest peak on Shikoku. This mountain is a centre of Shugendo, a Japanese folk religion based on mountain worship. A chairlift takes us to the start of the walk, which takes us to within an hour of the summit.

 

Temple 88Days 8-9: Matsuyama and Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage Route

We travel on to Shikoku’s largest city, Matsuyama where we spend the rest of the day exploring on foot. We visit Temple 51,or the Stone Hand Temple, then on to Matsuyama Castle, which was built between 1602 and 1628 and belonged to the powerful Tokugawa Clan until the end of the feudal era. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Seto Inland Sea.

Our next day will be in the Kumakogen Highlands in central Ehime, near the border of Kochi Prefecture. We start our hike from Temple 44 Daihoji, Great Treasure Temple and walk through the forest to Temple 45, the Rock Cavern-Housed Temple, a fascinating location on the mountain with hundreds of Jizo statues.

 

MiyajimaDays 10-11: Hiroshima & Miyajima

Hiroshima is known throughout the world as the first city to bear the impact of the use of atomic weapons, and today, the city never forgets its past. We’ll visit the important memorials of the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial, which includes the Children’s Peace Monument, and the Museum.

We explore the sacred island of Miyajima and discover the island’s breathtaking vistas where deer roam freely. We visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Itsukushima Shrine, and we can either walk or take the cable car to the top of Mt Misen which offers a wonderful view over the islands of the Inland Sea.

 

HimejiDay 12: Himeji

A train ride will take us to Himeji where we discover the ‘White Heron’ Himeji Castle, a UNESCO site, and one of the finest surviving examples of early 17th century Japanese castle architecture.

 

 

 

NaraDays 13-14: Nara & Yamanobe no michi

Another train journey takes us to Nara, former capital of Japan prior to the days of Kyoto, and more recently Tokyo. Nara is home to some of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures, including the stunning Todai-ji temple, which we’ll visit. Our final full day is spent walking along the Yamanobe no michi, said to be the oldest road in Japan. The route is dotted with old shrines and burial mounds of the first emperors. We’ll also see small villages, rice and fruit fields.

 

Day 15: End of holiday

The tour ends this morning after breakfast.

General Information

Passport

A full passport is required with at least 6 months validity from date of entry into Japan.

Visas

Visas are not required for UK, Australian, Canadian & USA passport holders. Other nationalities please consult your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate.

Health advice

Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk www.traveldoctor.co.uk

Vaccines: Tetanus vaccination is recommended.

Climate

Japan lies on a similar latitude to France and Southern Canada, but has a temperate climate due to its maritime influences. Summers tend to be hot, wet and humid, with cold and clear winters. The best times to visit are spring and autumn when temperatures are usually mild with sunny days, although there can be some rain. Temperatures in the mountains are generally cooler than the cities and plains.

Money

The unit of currency in Japan is the yen (¥). Japan is very much a cash-based society and it is quite safe to carry around a lot of cash. It can be difficult to find ATM machines that accept foreign-issued credit cards, although it is becoming easier in Tokyo. The best option is to bring Japanese cash with you, which can easily be changed back if you don’t spend it all. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Tipping

Tips are included on this holiday.

Food

Most meals will be Japanese cuisine. Vegetarian options are available, but limited. Strict vegetarian diets, vegan diets, or gluten free diets may not be accommodated due to the pervasiveness of the fish-based stock dashi and the use of soy sauce and miso in Japanese cuisine. We will request special diets at all accommodations, however these must be received at the time of booking. Please note it may not be possible to offer any special meals to clients who inform us of this on arrival.

Clothing

Casual clothing would be suitable throughout for this tour, even for dining in cities. Japanese sized slippers (sometimes small for guests with larger feet) are often supplied at the inns. Guests may wish to bring comfortable socks to use inside Japanese accommodation

Yukata (simple cotton kimonos) are provided at each accommodation, and you can wear this during your stay in the Japanese style accommodation both indoors and outdoors. Yukata and slippers provided by regular hotels are normally only used in the private rooms. This will allow you to pack lightly for the walking sections.

Spring and autumn tours: Long sleeves are recommended for walking, but you will not need heavy sweaters. You should have a light windbreaker or rain jacket.

Bathing suits cannot be used in the public bathrooms or onsen. Bathing is done naked.

Baggage handling

Luggage will be sent ahead by courier on three occasions (Osaka to Iya Valley, Matsuyama to Hiroshima, and Hiroshima to Nara). This makes the journeys by bus and train much more relaxed. You will be without your main luggage on 3 nights, so please prepare an overnight daypack to carry your overnight items. You will be carrying them during the day on the walking sections so we do recommend a backpack/rucksack. Please note we only include the baggage delivery for one bag or suitcase per person. Extra bags may be sent subject to a charge payable locally for each transfer.

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
20 May 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 20 May 2018, 11:25 a.m.
  • Arrive: 21 May 2018, 8:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Osaka Kansai International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 3 Jun 2018, 10:45 a.m.
  • Arrive: 3 Jun 2018, 5:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: Osaka Kansai International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £4,945.00 Book Now
21 May 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean - Without Flights 13 £4,195.00 Book Now
7 Oct 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 7 Oct 2018, 11:25 a.m.
  • Arrive: 8 Oct 2018, 8:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Osaka Kansai International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 21 Oct 2018, 10:45 a.m.
  • Arrive: 21 Oct 2018, 5:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: Osaka Kansai International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £4,945.00 Book Now
8 Oct 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean - Without Flights 13 £4,195.00 Book Now
24 Nov 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 24 Nov 2018, 11:25 a.m.
  • Arrive: 25 Nov 2018, 8:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Osaka Kansai International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 8 Dec 2018, 10:45 a.m.
  • Arrive: 8 Dec 2018, 5:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: Osaka Kansai International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £4,945.00 Book Now
25 Nov 2018 JGWHW - Gems in the Ocean - Without Flights 13 £4,195.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room £770 (please note single rooms are only available in the cities) In traditional Japanese style accommodations we ask that solo travellers share a room with another solo traveller of the same sex.
  • Non-member associate fee £10

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