Southern Japan Experience

12 Days | Go off the path in southern Japan through steaming onsens, inspiring artworks and volcano panoramas

5 out of 5 based on 17 reviews submitted.
ZAR  82,532
View dates and book

One of Japan’s greatest attractions is its ability to offer modern and traditional versions of itself. On this 12-day trip, you’ll veer off the main island of Honshu and travel to the less-touristy southwest. Discover revived art on the island of Naoshima, wander the castle in Matsuyama and spend a night in a tranquil homestay in the village of Usuki. Steam away your worries in the onsens in Beppu and be treated to two nights in the volcanic Mt Aso, staying right in the middle of a caldera in a traditional Japanese inn surrounded by rice terraces. Remind yourself of the sobering history of Nagasaki and end it all back where it began – in thriving Osaka. This adventure is the ultimate combination of modern art, bullet trains, countryside villages, traditional inns, delicious feasts and onsens, surrounded by impressive views of rice terraces, volcano craters and deep gorges. If you’re looking for a new side of Japan – this is it!

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 35 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 harmonise with the landscape.
  • Stay in a countryside homestay, taking you off the beaten track to experience excellent Japanese hospitality. Feast on home-cooked meals over fascinating conversations with your welcoming hosts and learn about rural life in Japan.
  • Watch the steam coming out of the ‘hells’ (hot spring pools in Jigoku) of Beppu and enjoy a soak in a Michelin star onsen, followed by a unique experience for dinner – you’ll steam your food in the hot spring water, creating authentic flavours rich with healthy minerals!
  • Take in the stunning view of the five peaks of Mount Aso from the Daikanbo Observatory, then a light hike on the moon-like terrain to the largest crater of Nakadake before hopping in a rowboat to paddle through the deep gorge of Takachiho.
  • Expect the unexpected in Nagasaki, tragically famous for being one of the only two cities that were bombed during the war. Discover the unique charm of this port-side Dutch influenced city and all the history it has collected over the years.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. Donations help them provide local employment opportunities and tackle climate change one tree at a time as they restore forests across 10 different countries.

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 sturdy, and you’re fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.
  • You’ll stay in a homestay and a traditional Japanese inn on this trip. It’s a great taste of tradition and local life and you’ll sleep on the traditional tatami mat (futons and blankets on the floor mat), just like the locals do! The facilities here will be shared.
  • This trip uses mainly public transport, which means you’ll ravel the same way as the locals do. These are great opportunities to experience authentic local travel but be prepared to pack light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas.


Map of Southern Japan Experience including Japan



3 breakfasts, 4 dinners


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


Hotel (8 nights), Homestay (1 night), Japanese Inn (2 nights)

  • Takamatsu - Ritsurin Garden & Sanuki Folkcraft Museum
  • Takamatsu - Naoshima day trip (ferry, public bus & bicycle)
  • Matsuyama - Matsuyama Castle
  • Usuki - Local Sake brewery visit and tasting
  • Usuki - Japanese home-cooking experience
  • Beppu - 'Hells' of Beppu (Jigoku)
  • Beppu - local onsen
  • Beppu - Steamed dinner (Beppu style)
  • Mount Aso - Ogi Rice terraces
  • Mount Aso - Daikanbo Observatory
  • Mount Aso - Nakadake Crater
  • Mount Aso - Sunasenri trail hike
  • Takachiho - Takachiho gorge rowing boat ride
  • Takachiho - Takachiho Shrine
  • Arita - Tonbai Wall Alleys walking tour
  • Arita - Tozan Shrine
  • Nagasaki - Peace Park & Atomic Bomb Museum
Add on activities
  • Naoshima - Art House Project (combined ticket) - JPY1050
  • Naoshima - Chichu Art Museum - JPY2100
  • Naoshima - Benesse House Museum - JPY1300
  • Matsuyama - Dogo Onsen (basic entry) - JPY460
  • Matsuyama - Ishiteji Temple - Free
  • Nagasaki - Glover Garden - JPY620
  • Nagasaki - Nagasaki Museum of History & Culture - JPY630
  • Nagasaki - Dejima Historical District - JPY520
  • Nagasaki - 26 Martyrs Memorial - JPY500
  • Nagasaki - Oura Catholic Church - JPY1000

Dates and availability

Loading trip dates and availabilities...

Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at our chosen accommodation.
2 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 17 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

Diana · Traveled November 2023
The Southern Japan tour will keep you on your toes (or feet). It is an excellent (and intense) way to sample the country's southern prefectures without feeling overwhelmed nor leaving you feeling restless. Each day brings a degree of surprise and adventure for everyone. Each locations offers a variety of interests to everyone. I truly enjoyed the more off-beat locations. Be sure to read up on the trip essentials. When it says you should pack light: be sure to pack light and be able to carry your own weight. A lot of physical movements up and down stairwells, lifting of luggages for overhead bins, and being in tight spaces (trains).
Review submitted 27 Nov 2023

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

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

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

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
ZAR  82,532