This private 13-day sample trip features a unique selection of Japan’s best off-the-beaten-path destinations, including the charming town of Kurashiki, the art island Naoshima, the scenic and remote Ise Shima National Park, quaint and relaxing Shuzenji Onsen, along with the Tokyo metropolis and the ancient capital Kyoto

Our sample Japan itineraries are here to inspire you. They are not fixed itineraries, and can be customized or altered in almost any way.

Learn more about trip planning with Boutique Japan.

13 DaysAround US ~$1,200-$1,800 per person per day for 2 or more travelers (see our pricing)Based on your preferred travel dates

Trip Highlights

  • The chance to visit beautiful off-the-beaten-path locations in Japan
  • Luxury ryokan experiences including impeccable kaiseki cuisine and rejuvenating onsen (hot springs)
  • Kyoto, the ancient capital
  • Naoshima’s art & architecture, including a stay at Benesse House
  • Tokyo, one of the world’s most exciting cities
  • Impeccable culinary experiences throughout your journey
  • Exclusive experiences including dinner with a geisha, sumo and sake tasting
  • And more!

Kaiseki Cuisine at Ryokan Kurashiki Japan

Itinerary Details

Day 1: Welcome to Kyoto, Japan!

On arrival in Osaka, you’ll be met in the arrivals hall. Our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it, and you’ll be escorted to your private vehicle for the comfortable transfer to your accommodations.

You can fly into Osaka’s Kansai (KIX) or Itami (ITM) airport; this itinerary can also be adjusted to begin in Tokyo.

Enjoy your first night in Japan and get ready for your adventure ahead!

Your Hotel in Kyoto: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, Hotel Kanra Kyoto, or similar

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

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

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 accommodations, rejuvenating private onsen (hot spring) baths, and impeccable cuisine.

This afternoon enjoy a relaxing soak in your private onsen before a luxuriant meal this evening.

Your Accommodations in Ise: Amanemu or Oyado The Earth or similar

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.

Day 9: Travel from Ise 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 in traditional luxury ryokan renowned for its kaiseki cuisine and onsen baths.

Your Ryokan in Shuzenji: Asaba or Yagyu no Sho or similar

Day 10: Enjoy your luxurious culinary onsen ryokan

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

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

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: Aman Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo, or similar

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 sumobeya. 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, Japan

You’ll be free until departure, and depending on your flight schedule you may have time for some last-minute exploration (and eating)!

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

You can depart from Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) airport; this itinerary can also be adjusted to end in Osaka/Kyoto.