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Southern Japan Experience

12 Days | Experience southern Japan through its tranquil shrines, magical forests, inspiring art, steaming onsen and a lot more.

5 out of 5 based on 16 reviews submitted.
CAD $5,649
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One of Japan’s greatest attractions is its ability to offer up both the modern and traditional versions of itself. Alongside future-focused cities like Osaka and Nagasaki, there are places that have kept to its traditions for hundreds of years, often to stunning effect. Set off on a journey of discovery into the Japan that lies south-west of Osaka, a ‘lost Japan’. Travel to Takamatsu and Naoshima Islands and be amazed at the contrast between the traditional beauty of the Ritsurin garden and the local avant-garde art exhibits.

Trip overview

Map of Southern Japan Experience including Japan
Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
This trip generates 34.84 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Explore the unique island of Naoshima, transformed from a sleepy fishing community into a world class art destination, with sleek and stylish museums and artworks that sit in harmony with the landscape.
  • Join locals hiking along trails to hidden temples, being awed at some of the country's impressive castles or in one of Japan's oldest hot spring baths - Dogo Onsen.
  • Feel like Indiana Jones as you cross the kazurabashi (vine bridges) of the hidden Iya Valley, a remote retreat of deep gorges and lush mountains on Shikoku island.
  • Uncover the different characters of the cities of Nagasaki and Osaka, from the former’s thought-provoking Peace Park and Museum to the latter’s busy streets where the motto is ‘eat until you drop’.
  • Venture into the thick and mysterious cedar forests on Yakushima, encounter Yakushika deer or Yakuzaru monkey, or relax at the seaside onsen.

Is this trip right for you?
  • Japan is best to explore on foot - in fact most travellers are surprised at how much distance they end up covering just exploring places! Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.
  • In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon matresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information.
  • Be prepared to pack light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas.
  • As there is not much time included here as part of your trip, we strongly advise you to plan some extra time in Osaka if you wish to see more of the city.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2024 - 31 December 2024

Map of Southern Japan Experience including Japan



1 dinner


Train, Ferry, Public Bus, Private bus, Metro, Bullet Train


Hotel (11nights)

  • Takamatsu - Ritsurin Garden & Sanuki Folkcraft Museum
  • Takamatsu - Naoshima day trip (ferry, public bus & bicycle)
  • Kotohira - Kompira-san
  • Iya Valley - Kazura-bashi (vine bridge), Nagoro "Scarecrow" Village & Buke Yashiki samurai house
  • Matsuyama - Matsuyama Castle
  • Nagasaki - tram day pass
  • Nagasaki - Peace Park & Atomic Bomb Museum
  • Yakushima - Local dinner
  • Yakushima - Shiratani Unsuikyo National Park hiking
Add on activities
  • Naoshima - Art House Project (combined ticket) - JPY1030
  • Naoshima - Chichu Art Museum - JPY2060
  • Naoshima - Benesse House Museum - JPY1030
  • Kotohira - Kanamaru-za Kabuki Theatre - JPY500
  • Matsuyama - Ishiteji Temple - Free
  • Matsuyama - Dogo Onsen (basic entry) - JPY410
  • Nagasaki - Oura Catholic Church - JPY300
  • Nagasaki - 26 Martyrs Memorial - Free
  • Nagasaki - Glover Garden - JPY610
  • Nagasaki - Nagasaki Museum of History & Culture - JPY600
  • Nagasaki - Dejima Historical District - Free
  • Yakushima - Outdoor onsen (entry) - JPY500

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at our chosen accommodation.
32 It is essential that you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. There are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage from 160cm to 250cm may require an additional JPY1000 oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is from 160cm to 250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.
3. We are currently unable to book pre or post trip accommodation at our start and finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through your booking agent.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information


5 out of 5 based on 16 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

Filter by rating

Kenway · Traveled October 2023
It was an absolute marvelous trip. You can experience history, culture, and nature all at once. Iya Valley was my absolute favorite. And Hisa was an amazing tour leader ensuring that we made the best possible memories.
Review submitted 11 Nov 2023

Brieanne · Traveled October 2023
First time using intrepid and I was skeptical but glad I went. Amazing time and people along with tour guides
Review submitted 30 Oct 2023

Victoria · Traveled October 2023
I thoroughly enjoyed the Southern Japan Experience. The itinerary included an interesting mix of cultural activities such as visiting Naoshima art island and outdoor experiences such as the hike through Yakushima, which were outside the more frequently visited cities in Japan. Our tour leader Lulu was excellent - well organised, very friendly and knowledgable about the local areas. I would highly recommend this tour.
Review submitted 12 Nov 2023

Paula · Traveled September 2023
I highly recommend Intrepid's Southern Japan Experience tour. Hisa our guide was exceptional and worked tirelessly to ensure that all had a great trip. Nagasaki, Iya Valley, Yakashima were really amazing and Matsuyama was delightful. Takyama gardens were sublime. It would be lots of work to organise all the train transfers without a tour guide. So many wonderful food experiences! Make sure you leave time to relax at the end of the trip- it's a long journey back to Osaka from Yakashima.
Review submitted 24 Oct 2023

Helen · Traveled September 2023
This trip provided plenty of active activities and catered to a range of interests - gardens, art, historical events and destinations. The hotel accommodation was very comfortable. The train travel meant traveling light was an advantage. We were able to forward our big bags when necessary. I highly recommend this trip.
Review submitted 03 Oct 2023
Southern Japan Experience
CAD $5,649