Luxury Ryokans & the Japanese Countryside: Itinerary Details

HOSHINOYA Kyoto ryokan boat ride Japan

Arrival by boat at HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Luxury Ryokans & The Japanese Countryside (13 Days)

Day 1: Welcome to Japan! Meet-and-greet on arrival in Osaka. Transfer to your luxurious accommodations, HOSHINOYA Kyoto. Evening free to settle in.
Day 2: Private half-day tour introducing you to Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and Nishiki Market. Afternoon free to explore or relax. Private kaiseki dinner with geisha or maiko and expert interpreter.
Day 3: Travel by shinkansen (bullet train) to charming Kurashiki. Multi-course dinner at your luxurious accommodations, Ryokan Kurashiki.
Day 4: Private half-day tour of Kurashiki, famed for its well-preserved Bikan historical district, the local Bizen pottery and its top-quality textiles.
Day 5: Morning transfer by private vehicle to Uno Port and short ferry ride to Naoshima Island. Afternoon private tour of Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House and the Naoshima Art House Project, including the Ando Museum. Evening to relax at your hotel, Benesse House.
Day 6: Short ferry to nearby Teshima art island. Morning visits to Teshima Art Museum, “Les Archives du Cœur” and Teshima Yokoo House. Afternoon free on Naoshima.
Day 7: Journey by ferry, private car, bullet train and local train to remote Ise-Shima. Enjoy a relaxing soak in your private onsen (hot springs) before a magnificent dinner at your accommodations, Oyado The Earth.
Day 8: Enjoy a full day of relaxation surrounded by the natural beauty of the forest and sea, or walk in the nearby area.
Day 9: Travel to the quaint onsen village of Shuzenji. Stay at one of Japan’s most memorable ryokans, Yagyu no Sho.
Day 10: Enjoy a day of onsen and relaxation amid serene traditional surroundings.
Day 11: Travel to the Tokyo metropolis. Afternoon free to settle in and enjoy your room’s balcony at Palace Hotel Tokyo. Evening izakaya outing and sake tasting with Tokyo-based sake specialist.
Day 12: Morning sumo practice. Afternoon tour of Tokyo including Omotesando, Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées, and the historic Yanaka neighborhood. Enjoy your final evening in Tokyo.
Day 13: Morning free for optional Tsukiji Market visit. Private transfer to the airport for departure.

SEE MORE TRIP DETAILS

Day 1: Welcome to Kyoto, Japan!

Welcome to Japan! On arrival in Osaka, you will be met in the arrivals hall and transferred by private vehicle to your luxurious Kyoto hotel. Journey time is about three hours, depending on traffic.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto Japan

HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Settle into your luxurious lodgings. In Kyoto you’ll stay at HOSHINOYA Kyoto, a magical property at which to relax and rejuvenate. From the charming boat ride delivering you to the property’s dramatic entrance to the peaceful gardens and surrounding Arashiyama district, a stay at HOSHINOYA is a dazzling introduction to Japan.

Your Accommodations in Kyoto: HOSHINOYA Kyoto (Including Breakfast)

hoshinoya kyoto food japan

HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Day 2: Private half-day tour of Kyoto & private maiko dinner

This morning you’ll have a private tour of Kyoto to give you an introduction to this fascinating city.

Kyoto is what most travelers dream of when envisioning Japan. It was the capital for over one thousand years, and remains the cultural and traditional heart of Japan. Begin exploring Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and also pay a visit to the colorful Nishiki Market.

Sunset from Kiyomizudera Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple UNESCO world heritage site Kyoto Japan

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The afternoon is free to explore or relax.

This evening you will have the rare opportunity to enjoy dinner in the company of a private geisha or maiko, along with an expert interpreter. All over a sumptuous dinner at a traditional restaurant, you’ll learn about the life of a geisha in present-day Kyoto, and have the chance to ask questions via your interpreter.

geisha geiko maiko kyoto japan

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

Day 3: Travel from Kyoto to charming Kurashiki

This morning you’ll be transferred from your hotel to Kyoto Station, where you will board the shinkansen (bullet train) for the first time. You’ll be traveling from Kyoto to Okayama in the first class Green Car, a trip of about 1 hour by shinkansen. On arrival in Okayama you’ll be met and transferred by private car to Kurashiki, about 20 minutes away.

In Kurashiki you’ll stay at the wonderful Ryokan Kurashiki, one of Japan’s most beautiful ryokans. Located on the canal in the center of Kurashiki’s famous Bikan historical district, it’s well known for its extraordinary Japanese hospitality and fantastic traditional kaiseki cuisine.

Your Ryokan in Kurashiki: Ryokan Kurashiki (Including Breakfast & Dinner)

ryokan kurashiki japan

Ryokan Kurashiki

Day 4: Private half-day tour of Kurashiki

Enjoy a half-day walking tour of this charming and well-preserved city. The Bikan historical district is full of photogenic old buildings, many of which have been converted into attractive galleries and boutiques. In addition to a collection of Western art, the Ohara Museum features beautiful examples of the local Bizen pottery.

Kurashiki is also famous for the quality of its textiles, so make sure to stop by a local crafts shop for some top-quality gifts for home.

Kaiseki japanese food ryokan kurashiki

Kaiseki cuisine at Ryokan Kurashiki

Day 5: Travel to Naoshima & private afternoon tour

Today you will travel to the art island, Naoshima. In the morning you will be picked up at your ryokan and transferred by private vehicle to Uno Port, located about one hour away. From Uno you will take the short ferry, about 20 minutes, over to Naoshima.

Naoshima is a small island famous for being home to a large collection of contemporary art museums, galleries, exhibits and installations. A stay here also offers the chance to stay in a wonderful museum-hotel – truly a unique experience.

As part of your private tour this afternoon, you’ll visit the gorgeous Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House and the Naoshima Art House Project, including the Ando Museum.

On Naoshima Island you will stay at Benesse House, a museum and hotel designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The complex, which overlooks the Inland Sea, artfully fuses a museum with boutique accommodations, so you can leisurely enjoy art amid the natural beauty and gentle pace of Naoshima.

Your Hotel in Naoshima: Benesse House (Including Breakfast)

Pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama at Benesse House Naoshima Island Japan

Yayoi Kusama’s famous and whimsical Pumpkin sculpture on Naoshima Island

Day 6: Private half-day tour of Teshima

After a day of exploring Naoshima itself, today you will make the short day trip by ferry to the neighboring island of Teshima.

Teshima is a quiet, pretty island with three major sites that form part of the greater Benesse Art Site Naoshima. At the heart of the island is the magnificent Teshima Art Museum, a stunning architectural work shaped like a drop of water. You’ll also find the impressive “Les Archives du Cœur” and Teshima Yokoo House.

You’ll have the afternoon free to see more art, enjoy art books at the hotel, or visit the spa. We recommend a visit to Naoshima’s kitschy Naoshima Bath “I♥YU” art bathhouse.

Naoshima Bath "I♥YU" japan

Naoshima Bath “I♥YU”

Day 7: From Naoshima to the remote Ise Shima

Today you’ll travel from Naoshima to the remote Shima Peninsula. The journey today – by ferry, private car, bullet train and local train – is long, but at the end you’ll be rewarded with luxurious Japanese-style rooms, rejuvenating private onsen (hot spring) baths, and Japanese cuisine paired beautifully with carefully-selected wines.

This afternoon enjoy a relaxing soak in your private onsen before a luxuriant meal this evening. In Toba you’ll stay at The Earth, a luxurious modern ryokan situated in a primeval forest with views over the sea. With only 16 guest rooms, you’ll enjoy an intimate experience surrounded by nature, with the chance to partake in the traditional Japanese delights of onsen and seasonal, local kaiseki cuisine.

Your Ryokan in Toba: The Earth (Including Breakfast & Dinner)

Oyado THE Earth Maisonette room Ise Shima Toba Japan

Oyado THE Earth

Day 8: Enjoy a day of onsen surrounded by forest & sea

You’ll have a full day to relax at the ryokan. Soak in your private onsen, or head out to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Oyado THE Earth sky Ise Shima Toba Japan

Oyado THE Earth

Day 9: Travel from Toba to quaint Shuzenji

Today you will travel to the quaint onsen village of Shuzenji, famed for its hot springs and wonderful ryokans. The journey will once more be a combination including the ryokan shuttle, train and bullet train, and finally a private transfer.

In Shuzenji you’ll stay at the impeccable Yagyu no Sho, a traditional luxury ryokan renowned for its kaiseki cuisine and onsen baths.

Your Ryokan in Shuzenji: Yagyu no Sho (Including Breakfast & Dinner)

yagyu no sho onsen shuzenji japan

Onsen (hot springs) at Yagyu no Sho ryokan

Day 10: Enjoy your luxurious culinary onsen ryokan

Enjoy a day of onsen and relaxation amid serene traditional surroundings.

yagyu no sho ryokan cuisine onsen shuzenji japan

Cuisine at Yagyu no Sho

Day 11: Travel to Tokyo & evening izakaya outing with sake tasting

After breakfast at your ryokan you’ll be picked up and transferred to Mishima Station, where you will board the shinkansen bound for Tokyo. As with all your shinkansen journeys, you will be in the Green Car (first class). On arrival at Tokyo Station you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel.

tokyo imperial palace bridge marunouchi japan

The Imperial Palace, Tokyo

In Tokyo you’ll stay at Palace Hotel Tokyo, which was beautifully renovated in 2012. It features a stunning lobby, elegant rooms with modern amenities, and an incredibly central location. Enjoy the fresh air of your room’s private balcony, the perfect place for a morning coffee or evening sake.

After an afternoon to settle in, this evening you’ll meet up with a Tokyo-based sake expert who will introduce you to the fascinating world of sake, called nihonshu in Japanese. Your guide will be taking you to a wonderful locals-only izakaya (Japanese-style gastropub), where you will get a basic introduction to sake, as well as being guided through a tasting of some of the best, and hardest to acquire, premium sake in the country.

Your Hotel in Tokyo: Palace Hotel Tokyo (Including Breakfast)

sake tasting izakaya tokyo japan

Sake tasting at an izakaya in Tokyo

Day 12: Morning sumo practice & private afternoon tour of Tokyo

This morning you’ll have the unique opportunity to visit a sumo heya. Sumo is the ancient traditional sport of Japan, and the chance to visit a heya – where wrestlers live and practice – offers unique insight into a fascinating part of Japanese culture.

This afternoon you’ll have a private guide for an immersive walking tour through two distinct Tokyo neighborhoods, Omotesando and Yanaka. Omotesando is Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées, an elegant tree-lined avenue full of outstanding contemporary architecture, fashionable boutiques and brand shops, exclusive restaurants and charming cafes. Yanaka is Tokyo’s most charming historical district, full of temples and old-fashioned shops.

Enjoy your final evening in Tokyo!

Evening skyline Tokyo Japan

Evening blue skies over Tokyo’s glittering skyline

Day 13: Departure from Tokyo

Time permitting this morning you may have the chance to visit Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market.

In good time for your departing flight you’ll be picked up at the hotel for your private transfer to the airport.

Come back to Japan soon!


Ready to Plan Your Japan Trip?

If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime Japan trip, the best way to start the conversation is to send us the details below.

Please note that, at the moment, we are temporarily at capacity and focused on assisting our current clients (more on why we work with fewer clients). If you are traveling 8-12 months from now, and would be open to beginning the trip-planning process 1-2 months from now or later, we would love to hear from you.

While we wish we could help everyone who reaches out to us, we are a small team and not always able to respond to inquiries that are not related to working together on a bespoke trip. If you are seeking trip advice, please refer to our free Japan Travel Tips & Resources.
  • For more on pricing, see our trip planning page
  • Helpful details include number of travelers, occasion, where you will be traveling from, desired accommodation style, and anything else you'd like to share!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Japan National Tourist Organizaton JNTO Japan Endless Discovery