This in-depth Japanese journey takes you to the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima; as well as the less visited areas of the Kiso valley and Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku.



Explore Japan’s cities, valleys, villages and hills. Visit vibrant Tokyo, beautiful Kyoto, and welcoming Hiroshima. Discover the less visited area of the Kiso valley and the unseen charms of Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku.

Board a boat for a cruise down the Sumida Gawa River; seeing Tokyo from the water, and see a short tea ceremony on a tiny island in the heart of the city. Journey to Nikko National Park, home to the Toshogu-shrine complex.

Leave the bustle of Tokyo for the stunning Kiso Valley region and the beautifully-preserved town of Tsumago. Stay in a traditional Japanese minshuku, indulging Japanese style with a kaiseki, a beautifully presented meal of many small courses. Hike through the countryside and past the houses and fields of local residents.

Stay in a ryokan, a more upscale version of a minshuku. Stay in a town which was once cut off from the rest of Japan due to its inaccessible location.

Enjoy another train ride through beautiful scenery to a 17th century ancient castle town. Visit Hiroshima, a vibrant, interesting metropolis with friendly, welcoming people and a thriving arts scene. See the Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima Island; one of Japan’s three most beautiful structures. Journey to Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku.

See beautiful Kyoto, home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a million photographic moments. Try out the local sake and learn how to make classic Japanese dishes.

Each of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and our destination based teams will start planning a unique and personalized trip.

The Backyard Travel Team,


Stay on Japan’s smallest main island, little-visited by tourists
Visit an Edo Period (1603-1867) town in the stunning Kiso Valley
Tour an amazing produce market and learn to make classic Japanese dishes in a cooking class
Wander through the back streets of Kyoto to a former sake brewery and sample the local product

Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

  • Start
  • Day 1: Tokyo

    Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will assist you with transferring by either train or limousine bus to your hotel. The rest of your day is free at leisure.

  • Day 2: Tokyo

    Take a full day to look at some of Tokyo’s many highlights with the aid of your guide and the convenient, efficient transport system.

    Your first stop is Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine, dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji. It’s a popular site for Japanese Weddings and if you’re lucky you may see a happy couple here dressed in traditional Shinto wedding garments.

    Next, take a walk down ‘Tokyo’s Champs Elysees’, Omotesando. This broad, tree lined avenue is filled with flagship designer shops and boutiques. It’s a short trip by underground train to the old town area of Asakusa. Asakusa is Tokyo’s oldest Geisha district and home to Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Sensoji. The streets here are a great place to wander, full of old-Japan character with many interesting stalls and shops.

    Board a boat for a cruise down the Sumida Gawa River; seeing Tokyo from the water is a must-do experience. Disembark at Hamarikyu-tien, a delightful private garden oasis surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers. There is a tiny island in the middle of the park’s lake, and we’ll go here to witness a short tea ceremony.

  • Day 3: Nikko

    Take the two hour train journey to Nikko National Park, home to the Toshogu-shrine complex. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan for more than 250 years. It consists of both Buddhist and Shinto buildings ornately decorated and set in a beautiful forest area.

    If there’s time you can visit Lake Chuzenji-ko, formed about 20,000 years ago in a volcanic eruption and located at the foot of Nikko’s sacred volcano, Mt. Nantai.

  • Day 4: Tokyo-Kiso Valley

    Board a shinkansen or ‘bullet train’ and leave the bustle of Tokyo for the small town of Tsumago in the stunning Kiso Valley region. Tsumago is beautifully-preserved from its Edo Period (1603-1867) times when it was a stopover on the trade route between Kyoto and Tokyo.

    Tonight you will stay in a traditional Japanese minshuku. This delightful, family-run accommodation includes a beautiful garden; tatami mat floors and traditional roll-out futons, as well as rice paper sliding doors and onsen baths. In the evening, indulge Japanese style with a kaiseki; a beautifully presented meal consisting of many small courses. Relax in your yukata (cotton robe) and enjoy an after dinner soak in your onsen.

  • Day 5: Kiso Valley-Takayama

    You’ll have time for breakfast and another soak in the onsen before your hike today. Hike the old Nakasendo to Magome trail which winds through the countryside and passes the houses and fields of local residents. The walk is 8km and takes about 3 hours at a leisurely pace. Magome is another beautifully-preserved town; you’ll have to time to look around before boarding your train for Takayama.

    Tonight in Takayama you’ll stay in a ryokan, a more upscale version of a minshuku. Enjoy another kaiseki, and of course there’ll be ample time to soak and unwind in your onsen.

  • Day 6: Takayama

    Takayama is a beautifully preserved town which was once cut off from the rest of Japan due to its inaccessible location. The sake of this area is especially prized due to the purity of the water used to make it.

    After breakfast head up to the Miyagawa morning market, which sells interesting local crafts and produce. Take a short bus ride to Hida No Sato Folk Village, which has over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region. The village also has an informative workshop which illustrates Japanese handicraft techniques and processes, including wood carving, weaving and lacquering.

    There is also a Takayama Float museum which displays floats from the annual festival.

    Spend another night at your ryokan with a kaiseki dinner.

  • Day 7: Kanazawa

    Enjoy another train ride through beautiful scenery to the 17th century town of Kanazawa. This ancient castle town was once a cultural and artistic centre of Japan, and its buildings and gardens have been beautifully preserved.

    In a land of beautiful gardens, Kanazawa’s garden of Kenroku-en is ranked as one of the top three; quite an accolade!Next door, Kanazawa Castle is an interesting reminder of the town’s history. There are also temples to see and pottery and lacquer ware galleries; as well as a busy seafood market and an impressive Museum of Contemporary Art.

  • Day 8: Kanazawa-Hiroshima

    It’s another train journey today to Hiroshima. You may be surprised to find that this place, once the focus of one of the darkest days in history, has bounced back to become a vibrant, interesting metropolis with friendly, welcoming people, a thriving arts scene and, of course (this is Japan, after all!) fantastic food.

    You’re free to explore this afternoon. Visit beautiful Shukkien Garden or Hiroshima Castle, rebuilt after the bomb and offering great, panoramic views of the city.

  • Day 9: Hiroshima

    The Peace Park and Museum are of course a must-see when visiting Hiroshima. Built on ground zero and dedicated to all those killed in the atomic bomb attack, it can be a sobering, moving experience. The theme of the Museum is one of hope and peace, and you’ll find this mood reflected in the city’s inhabitants, many of whose families survived the attack. The Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima Island is well-worth a visit. Take a short ferry trip to see this 6th century shrine, designated one of Japan’s three most beautiful views. From here, you have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt. Misen, giving you spectacular views of the surrounding islands.

  • Day 10: Hiroshima-Kotohira

    Today, travel to Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku. Shikoku doesn’t attract nearly the same amount of visitors as the other, larger islands, but has amazing scenery and some real unseen gems to discover.

    Your first stop is Kotohira, a small town famous for the island’s most popular shrine, Kompirasan. It’s located on the slope of Mount Zozu and has 1,368 steps leading up to it.

    The shrine is dedicated to seafaring and exhibits a mixture of Shinto and Buddhist features. Once at the shrine there’s the option of a further 45 minute walk to the inner shrine (Okusha) along a forested path; which is definitely worth the extra effort.

    Tonight stay in a ryokan with fantastic views of Kompira from its onsen. A perfect way to relax after your walk.

  • Day 11: Kotohira-Kyoto

    This morning take a train to beautiful Kyoto, home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a million photographic moments.

    After lunch, meet your cooking guide for the day who will take you to the fascinating Nishiki covered food market. This market is a mile long with all kinds of interesting, exotic produce on display. Your guide will show you around, helping to explain the produce on offer and assisting you with choices for your cooking.

    After this, wander through the lanes and back streets of Kyoto to a former sake brewery, where you’ll receive a tour and try out the local sake. Next, head to a traditional wooden townhouse for your cooking class. Learn how to make classic rolled sushi, cooked salad and healthy miso soup, with seasonal fruit for dessert.

    Try out your dishes for dinner, after which your evening is free to explore Kyoto or head back to your hotel.

  • Day 12: Kyoto

    Discover Kyoto today with your knowledgeable local guide, who will take you to the best sites using the local form of transport, the city’s comprehensive, efficient bus system.

    First, visit Nijo Castle, famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors. The building was completed in 1603 and is set in stunning gardens. Next is the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji, originally constructed as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death and at his request it became a Buddhist Temple, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous. Before lunch we’ll go to Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, which consists of a main temple and 22 sub-temples, one of which, Daisen-in, is home to one of Japan’s best Zen rock gardens.

    After lunch, visit Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple. This beautiful, iconic temple is famous for the magnificent views of Kyoto its veranda offers; and also for the fact that the veranda, along with the Main Hall, was constructed entirely without the use of nails or joiners. We’ll end the day with a stroll through the busy little lanes of Higashiyama, whose shops sell traditional souvenirs including Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets and pickles.

    Spend another night in your ryokan.

  • Day 13: Kyoto-Nara-Kyoto

    It’s a short-hop train ride this morning to Nara. Nara was the capital of Japan in the 8th century and retains many of the temples and shrines built around this time.

    We recommend visiting Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to the largest Buddha statue in Japan.

    Deer Park, or Nara Park as it is officially known, is filled with tame deer and you’ll see many of these animals on a stroll around the park. The afternoon is free at your leisure to continue exploring in Nara or Kyoto.

  • Day 14: Kyoto

    Your day is at leisure until your transfer by train to Kansai Airport. If you’re departing from Tokyo Narita Airport (4.5 hours), your Japan Rail Pass also covers this journey.

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room in luxury accommodation. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

 Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

 Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)

Why Backyard Travel?

Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.
We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.
With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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Talk to us about Your Holiday

With in-country travel specialists based all over the continent, our advantage lies in having local expertise to create unique bespoke tours. Whether you're looking to cruise down Asia's tranquil rivers, bike the peaceful rural roads, or eat at bustling night markets, Backyard Travel can plan your ideal trip based on your personal preferences. Send us a message about your ideas, and we'll get back to you promptly with suggestions for the path you choose.



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