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 14 reviews submitted.
USD $4,963
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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.


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 14 reviews submitted.
While we try our best to display all reviews, removal may be due to the following: privacy concerns, profanity/inappropriate content or it is unrelated to this trip. We welcome honest feedback and will directly respond to negative reviews.

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Linda Abigail · Traveled August 2023
For those who want to see Japan beyond Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, this is a great trip. Southern Japan’s role in Japan’s history overall is fascinating. The variety of culture is wonderful as well as getting away from the big cities. And if you like art, Naoshima is a delight! And if you like nature, Yakushima will be another hightlight.
Review submitted 07 Sep 2023

Vic · Traveled August 2023
We thoroughly enjoyed our South Japan tour and experienced an interesting array of activities. At all times we felt very safe and the tour was well managed every day.
Review submitted 06 Sep 2023

Liliana · Traveled July 2023
I can only recommend the Ultimate Japan tour with Intrepid. Travelling by train, ferry, tram, cable car, etc. felt smooth and stressless with our two successive tour leaders, Seiji and Eiko. They took care of everything and we only had to make sure we were on time. It would have been a very different story having to organise all of that on my own. The accommodation was great: we stayed in comfortable hotels and also had several opportunities to stay in the traditional ryokans, sleep on a tatami mat and taste the traditinal breakfast and dinner, which is something I enjoyed a lot. Both our successive tour leaders, Seiji and Eiko, were very helpful, generous, competent and had a great sense of humour. My experience of Japan would not have been the same without them. This will remain one of my most memorable trips!
Review submitted 16 Aug 2023

Jasmina · Traveled May 2023
Excellent trip option if you want something different or want to avoid the big cities. The trip takes you places where wouldn't be able to arrange it on your own, such as Iya Valley. For anyone looking for something different in Japan, definitely consider this trip!
Review submitted 30 May 2023

Marlee · Traveled May 2023
What a wonderful and unforgettable trip. Our tour leader Eiko was absolutely fantastic and the itinerary was something so new to me. Probably not the trip to do for your first trip to Japan, but as it was my third, I loved seeing a side of the country that most tourists don't see.
Review submitted 31 May 2023
Southern Japan Experience
USD $4,963