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Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Iya Valley, Kotohira, Okayama and Osaka.
In this 9 day driving holiday, you will have the opportunity to visit some truly spectacular lesser known gems that the world hasn’t discovered -- yet. As part of this tour you will be driving across the island of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four islands and the most rural - but also the most beautiful. Full of mountains and rivers, Shikoku has been a destination for pilgrims for centuries, the 'henro' or the 88 temple pilgrimage loops around this island and it is not uncommon to see them clad in white walking this route. Shikoku is a place where the Japanese go to get back to nature -- and you can to on this fantastic driving tour.
On the way, you will be driving along some of the great scenic routes in Japan, with beautiful ocean views across the two bridges that connect Shikoku to the mainland, as well as the gorgeous Iya Valley, famous for its vine bridges and incredible scenery. On the way you will have the chance to visit one of oldest hot spring towns in Japan: Dogo Onsen which was the inspiration behind Studio Ghibli's blockbuster hit 'Spirited Away' (once you see this building, you'll know why!). Other highlights of the tour include a visit to Konpira-san shrine, a very popular destination for pilgrims, and Ritsurin koen, which is ranked among Japan's top 3 gardens.
This route is truly one of a kind and you are guaranteed to see a side of Japan you and most others have never seen before!
Welcome to Japan! Touch down in Hiroshima International Airport.
Hiroshima is well known as the site of the Peace Memorial Museum, and it is very close to the beautiful Itsukushima shrine in Miyajima, a shrine that stands in the ocean itself, and one of the most famous photo spots in Japan!
Hiroshima also boasts some farily unique cuisine including Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, an savoury egg pancake with noodles and pork (and sometimes a lot of other toppings!) that has to be tasted to be believed.
Head down to Miyajima in the morning and check out the beautiful shrine, and maybe even feed some of the friendly deer nearby. The photo you take here could be your album cover shot, but it will have some competition as you progress through this tour.
In the afternoon if you are feeling up to it, head along to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, a sombre place but a very important one.
After you check out of your hotel, pick up your car from Nippon rent-a-car office near Hiroshima station and it's time to hit the road, your driving holiday begins here!
First, you will be visiting Imabari, a city known for its beautiful castle and also, its Towel Museum, for which it is locally famous.
Take the Shimanami Kaido Highway from Onomichi, and cross the Seto Inland Sea heading towards the island of Shikoku!
Please stop by some observation points on the way to Imabari to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Seto Inland Sea and the small islands.
After you have finished exploring the Imabari area, head to Matsuyama.
Matsuyama is best known for Dogo Onsen, a magnificent building in the heart of the city that truly looks like something out of a Japanese fairytale, you can see how it inspired a film! You're welcome to pay to enter Dogo Onsen itself, but your hotel has its own hot springs, which we highly recommend you try out.
Depart your hotel around 9:30AM and explore Matsuyama if you haven't already.
We advise that you and leave for Iya Onsen (Tokushima) no later than 13:00 because it is approximately a 2 and a half hour drive to the Iya Valley!
Enjoy the sights along the Iya Valley! Check out Ochiai Village, a village hidden away on the side of a mountain. Cross some vine bridges and take some great photos. If you're really feeling adventurous, why not try the ropeway/hike up Mt. Tsurugi, the second highest peak in western Japan?
Breakfast & Dinner
Leave your Ryokan around 10AM and do any more exploring you may want to do in the Iya area in the morning.
We definitely recommend the vine bridges and there are also boat trips up the Oboke gorge.
In the afternoon, drive up to the Kotohira area. At this point we recommend you take it easy!
(Accommodation: Kotohira Kadan)
Depart Ryokan around 10am and visit Konpirasan Shrine very popular spot for pilgrims and tourists alike. If you're still feeling adventurous, why not head up the 1,368 steps to the top? (Or if you're not feeling so adventurous, just take the bus!)
After lunch, drive to Takamatsu (about an hour away) to visit one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan, the 3 star Michelin awarded Ritsurin Koen. I hope you have enough space on your camera for even more photos!
Next drive across the Seto Ohashi bridge to Okayama, which is another hour and a half. From this bridge there are even more spectacular views out across the Seto Inland Sea. After that I'm afraid it's time to give up your trusty transport, so please return the car by 20:00.
After you have checked out of the hotel, you get to tick number 2 out of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan off your list! (For number 3, you might need another trip to japan!) Visit Korakuen garden in Okayama and then it's off to the big city - one of them at least!
Take a JR train to Osaka.
Suggested times: Okayama 13:28 > Shin-Osaka 14:18
Welcome to Osaka, the busiest city in western Japan! Osaka is the main city in a region called Kansai, known in Japan as being a little less uptight and a little more wild than their Tokyo counterparts. Fantastic food, shopping, nightlife and the people are the real highlights of Osaka. After all that nature a little retail therapy and the city lights might be just what the doctor ordered.
Don't worry though, if you're still hankering for tradition, you're only a short train ride away from Kyoto or Nara!
We hope by this stage that you have enjoyed your voyage into the more spiritual and hidden world of Japan, a part that many do not get to see on a trip simply to Tokyo and Kyoto. In Japan though, there's always more to see next time!
After you check out from your hotel, please make your own way to the airport and return home. Sayonara!
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* 4 day rent a car (SS class, Hiroshima 9am – Okayama 20pm)
* Kansai WIDE Pass
* Accommodation specified in the itinerary or similar standard class hotels
* Meals specified in the itinerary
* Travel Insurance
* Travel guide and assistant
* Any meals and drinks not shown in the above itinerary
* Laundry, telephone, additional meals and drinks, and any other expenses of personal nature
* Baggage Transfer
* The price is per person based on twin share
* The prices are subject to availability
* Non Changeable and Non Refundable once confirmed
* Extension available
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Find your perfect Japan Holidays by calling or send us an enquiry