Region Overviews: Japan Travel Guide: Overview
From bubbling hot springs and white-sand beaches to ornate temples and metropolitan chaos, Japan is a land of almost mythic beauty and diversity.
Intricate and graceful. Handcrafted and incredibly unique. Like a beautiful origami design. Follow trails through peaceful forests of maple, pine and beech. Fold in sacred shrines, ancient temples and elegant pagodas. Vibrant pigments appear—the blues of the Sea of Japan, the red-orange hues of persimmon orchards and the pink blossoms of cosmos flowers. Timeless traditions somehow make you feel brand-new. Come as you are but let the journey shape you.
THIS ITINERARY: 9 days, 8 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Small Luxury Ship
Start Kyoto / End Osaka
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
DAY 1 Accompanied by your knowledgeable Backroads leaders, hike to the famed Fushimi Inari-Taisha | Walk through quiet forests and pass by bright orange torii, the iconic gates found at the entrance to sacred Shinto sites | Behold views of Kyoto from a summit above the city | Delight in a maiko (apprentice geisha) performance during a traditional Japanese lunch | Set sail aboard our luxurious Ponant ship.
DAYS 2-3 Venture from the beech forests of Mount Daisen toward the blue Sea of Japan | At Adachi Museum of Art, meander the award-winning Japanese gardens | Get a taste of South Korea at the impressive Jagalchi Fish Market | Guided by our local expert, discover Busan's Gamcheon Culture Village, where brightly painted buildings cling to a steep mountainside.
DAYS 4-5 Back in Japan, kayak amid the hidden coves and high cliffs of island-dotted Saikai National Park in Nagasaki | Hike along the picturesque coastline, where urban and rural scenery intermingle | Zip on a bullet train to the Izumi-fumoto Samurai Residences, where medieval warriors lived | Don a Japanese kimono for a traditional tea ceremony.
DAYS 6-7 Follow the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail on foot and visit some of the path's 88 temples. On Hiroshima's sacred island of Miyajima, trek through a misty maple forest to the top of Mount Misen | Visit Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site known for its dazzling torii gate | Discover Miyajima's winding alleys, charming shops and traditional architecture during a stroll | Witness the poignant Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.
DAYS 8-9 Art lovers rejoice! On foot, explore Naoshima, an island brimming with art studios and museums | Disembark in Osaka's vibrant metropolis, where 16th-century Osaka Castle beckons for a visit.
These luxurious and sleek vessels have an intimate French atmosphere and boast an open-air bar, three lounges and a team of master chefs crafting gourmet dishes. (pool, spa)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Please note: Due to the multiple stateroom options available on this trip, reservations can only be made by contacting one of our Trip Consultants on 800-462-2848 or via email.
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one day to the next—and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do. LEARN MORE.
Note: The terrain on this trip ranges from relatively level to rolling, with some steeper inclines. We walk primarily on dirt trails and cobblestone footpaths, as well as some paved routes through more urban areas.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
The ships we sail on are like floating luxury hotels, so you can visit a new destination each day without touching your suitcase once you've settled in. Our ships are custom‐designed with a variety of inviting spaces that offer plenty of room for both relaxing and socializing. These ships are vastly smaller than most cruise ships, with up to just 150 passengers on our river trips and up to only 250 on our ocean trips.
We sail with up to 30 Backroads guests per group. Occasionally there may be more than one Backroads group onboard and you may cross paths with the other group on routes or at restaurants. When this occurs, each group will have their own dedicated onboard Backroads leaders.
If you're new to Backroads active cruise trips, there are a few things you need to know. Although our average group size is larger than a typical Backroads tour, our ship-based trips feel smaller and much more intimate than a typical cruise.Additionally, even with an itinerary subject to fixed nautical schedules, we get out and explore far beyond the cruise norm. Although our time ashore may be shorter than an average Backroads Hotel trip, you still have the option to select a route that matches your pace. In larger cities, you can decide to shift gears and opt for less active site-seeing activities. It's important to note, our time ashore can be limited due to changes in the nautical schedule and ship tendering.Being onboard a ship provides the benefit of being able to take advantage of ship amenities: the fitness room, spa, sauna and swimming pool. In addition, there is the opportunity to relax in the inviting common spaces or the privacy of your room, complete with balcony. Your Trip Leaders will have information on the array of options to choose from.If having longer routes or more flexibility to explore is important for you, we recommend choosing one of our River Cruise or Hotel trips. If you love meeting new people and having more time to relax aboard the ship, and enjoy the ease of unpacking once, you'll love our approach to active ocean cruising. Nobody does it like we do.
On our active cruises, we seek out diversity by including regionally authentic and inventive meals for onshore lunches, picnics and the occasional onshore dinner. On-ship meals, though delightful, are meant to appeal to a wide cross section of passengers and may at times feel more conventional and less reflective of the region than on Backroads hotel trips.
In contrast to our Hotel trips, which typically have similar room categories, the Ponant ships offer a wide range of stateroom categories to choose from. The top-tier staterooms often fill fast, so book as early as possible if this is important to you.