Sail The Setouchi Inland Sea

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Sail The Setouchi Inland Sea

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Kyoto – Okayama – Takamatsu – Matsuyama – Hiroshima (7 Days/6 Nights)

Located in western Japan, the stunning Setouchi coastal area, comprising seven individual prefectures, surrounds Japan’s largest inland sea. Setouchi’s unique beauty stems from its more than 700 islands, each of which has its own customs and traditions, dotted throughout the calm sea between two of Japan’s main islands, Honshu and Shikoku. On this 7 x Day/6 x Night journey, we look beyond the area’s incredible natural beauty and introduce four of Setouchi’s cities – Okayama, Takamatsu, Matsuyama, and Hiroshima – along with Naoshima Island, the small island between Okayama and Takamatsu, renowned for its art installations covering the island. With your local tour manager, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rich variety of culture, history, and unique foods of this region, which are lesser known by foreign visitors, yet draws growing attention from more experienced travelers to Japan.

Start

Kyoto

Finish

Hiroshima

Ages

Min. 20

Group size

Min. 2, Max. 6

Included

  • Tour manager: English/Japanese speaking tour manager
  • Accommodation: 6 x nights in western style hotels (3-4 Star)
  • Meals: Daily breakfast & dinner plus 4 x lunches
  • Transport: All transport as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees: As indicated in the itinerary
  • One luggage transfer from Kyoto to Takamatsu (one item per person)

Not Included

  • International & domestic flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Compulsory Travel Insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Personal expenses
Highlights
  • This 6-night/7-day journey will introduce you to the unique food, culture and history of the areas surrounding Setouchi inland sea in a short amount of time.
  • Visit culturally important properties – gardens, castles & shrines.
  • Boat cruise through the beautiful Setouchi inland sea
  • Experience unique local food
  • Explore the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and back streets to soak up the distinctive atmosphere of each city.
  • Travel on the renowned “Shinkansen” bullet train.
  • All of our tours at “Two Streets Back” travel have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 passengers, therefore you will receive premium attention from our friendly tour manager, and have access to smaller sites and eating venues that reflect the true local character of our destinations often not available to many larger tour groups
Gallery
Itinerary

Day 1Kyoto

Your adventure begins with the all-important “Welcome Meeting” at 5pm. Here you will meet your tour manager and fellow travelers, followed by a Night walking tour of the world-famous Gion “geisha” district before making our way to the stunning Higashiyama area lined with centuries old temples and shrines separated by original Kyoto townhouses. Our first day in Kyoto will end with a superb “Kaiseki” dinner, a highly elaborate and beautifully presented course-style meal of seasonal dishes prepared with local ingredients. This special style of cuisine grew out of 16th-century Buddhist tea ceremonies before being introduced to the Emperor’s court right here in Kyoto. The presentation of each dish is truly spectacular, offering a very unique Kyoto experience.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Kyoto)

Meal

  • Dinner (Kyoto’s signature “Kaiseki” cuisine) (Kyoto)

Activities

  • Welcome Meeting & Dinner
  • Kyoto Gion & Higashiyama night walk

Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting important insurance details, proof of Covid-19 vaccination, and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent, hotel reception or your “Two Streets Back” Japan representative know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Day 2Kyoto – Okayama & Kurashiki

This morning, after forwarding your suitcase on to Takamatsu, we will take a short 1-hour “Shinkansen” trip to Okayama, located on the eastern side of the Setouchi region and prospered as a castle town since the 16th century. You can still feel the atmosphere when we visit one of the three great Daimyo gardens of Japan, the beautiful Okayama Korakuen Garden with Okayama castle as its backdrop. Our lunch here in Okayama is a local specialty called “Demi-Katsu Don”, a rice bowl with Japanese style pork cutlet layered with demi-glace sauce, found only in this area. After our delicious lunch, we will make our way to historic Kurashiki, a perfectly preserved town from the Edo era known for its characteristically Japanese white walls and willow trees lining its central river. Kurasaki prospered as a hub for transporting goods to the region, and later for the textile industry. Immerse yourself in the charm of this picture-perfect town, and explore the unspoiled historical streets at your own pace. You might even like to take a small boat ride on the river, or take in some Impressionist masters with a visit to the Ohara Museum of Art. In the evening, we savor the local food at a friendly and unpretentious Izakaya in vibrant downtown area of Okayama.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Okayama)

Meal

  • Breakfast (Kyoto)
  • Lunch (local specialty, “Demi-Katsu Don”) (Okayama)
  • Dinner (at local Izakaya) (Okayama)

Activities

  • Okayama Korakuen Garden
  • Kurashiki historical quarter walk

Day 3 Okayama – Naoshima Island - Takamatsu

After a relaxing breakfast, we will take a local train to the port of Uno, before catching our ferry to Naoshima Island, known worldwide as Japan’s Art Island for its contemporary art museums, stunning architecture from renowned Japanese architect Ando Tadao, not to mention the various sculpture and art installations dotted all around the island. Your tour manager will take you to Benesse House Museum, and then onto the Honmura area, a small port village on the island, where you will explore some of the art houses of your choice. These unique art installations utilize abandoned houses scattered throughout the village, each with its own unique character. You may choose to relax at one of many cafes to enjoy a latte, wine or lunch. After leaving Naoshima Island we take to the water again on our way ferry ride to Takayama. Unwind and enjoy the view of countless islands in the calm Setouchi sea during this 2-hour journey. Takamatsu’s skyline appears as the ferry approaches the harbor city, which is located on the north coast of Shikoku Island. After checking into our hotel, we will head out for dinner at a local Izakaya to try the local specialty, grilled chicken-on-the-bone, together with seafood and other delicacies of this very special region.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Takamatsu)

 Meal

  • Breakfast (Okayama)
  • Dinner (at local Izakaya) (Takamatsu)

Activities

  • Naoshima Island
  • Benesse House Museum & Honmura Art House Project

Day 4Takamatsu – Matsuyama

As we awake in the port city of Takamatsu, we’ll enjoy a relaxing breakfast before our visit to Ritsurin Garden, the largest strolling “daimyo” garden in Japan. Completed in 1745 after more than 100 years of planning, the garden has been awarded a 3-star status, the highest by the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Designed as a special place of scenic beauty, you can still enjoy the changing landscape surrounding the beautiful ponds and old tea houses around every corner. Today’s lunch is a regional specialty, “Sanuki Udon” noodles, characterized by its firm texture, this lunch time treat is an extremely popular and surprisingly healthy fast-food dish in this area. Do as the locals do and pile as many different combinations of toppings on these delicious noodles to ensure you have a memorable Shikouku meal. This afternoon our 2.5-hour train journey takes us to our next destination, Matsuyama, the largest and busiest city on Shikoku Island. The magnificent old castle sitting on top of a steep hill still dominates the city skyline of Matsuyama. This evening, your tour manager will take you to one of Japan’s oldest hot springs, the beautifully preserved Dogo Onsen. The main building of this beloved hot spring is said to have inspired the image of the bathhouse in the animated movie “Spirited Away”. When you explore this bustling city with your tour manager on your way to dinner, you will be amazed how vibrant the nightlife is in this regional city. Tonight’s dinner at an izakaya will feature popular local seafood including delicious sea bream. This region catches more sea bream than any other region in Japan, and the friendly locals are only too happy to regale you with fishing stories.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Matsuyama)

Meal

  • Breakfast (Takamatsu)
  • Lunch (“Sanuki Udon” noodles) (Takamatsu)
  • Dinner (at local Izakaya) (Matsuyama)

Activities

  • Ritsurin Garden (Takamatsu)
  • Matsuyama Dogo Onsen town walk (Matsuyama)

Day 5Matsuyama - Hiroshima

The symbol of Matsuyama is without doubt its magnificent hilltop castle, dating back to the early 17th century. The present castle tower was re-built in 1854, and is listed as one of the twelve surviving castles in Japan. A visit to the castle this morning will provide you with a bird’s eye view of the city and the vast Setouchi Inland Sea. While we take a leisurely stroll through the downtown area of Matsumoto, you will notice a vast array of orange-colored signs. Of course, the reason for this is simple, this area is renowned for its production of citrus fruit, more specifically a huge variety of mandarins. You may like to try a chilled glass of fresh mandarin juice, tangy gelato, or even be tempted by a sweet mandarin sandwich. After a local lunch, we’ll board our ferry for our 3-hour journey to Hiroshima, the largest and most famous city in the Setouchi region. You may wish to catch up with folks back home, sort through your photos or simply relax and watch the islands drift by. On our first night in Hiroshima, your tour manager will accompany you to one of our favorite local restaurants to feast on Hiroshima’s signature dish “Okonomiyaki”, a delicious savory pancake freshly cooked on a hot plate right in front of you.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Hiroshima)

Meal

  • Breakfast (Matsuyama)
  • Lunch (Matsuyama)
  • Dinner (Hiroshima’s signature “Okonomiyaki”) (Hiroshima)

 Activities

  • Matsuyama castle
  • Matsuyama city walk
  • Ferry cruise in Setouchi Inland Sea

Day 6Hiroshima

This morning is all about Japan’s beloved national drink “Sake”. After our all-important breakfast we’ll make our way to Sanjo town on the east side of Hiroshima. Here we will find one of the most important sake brewing communities in Japan, not to mention the birthplace of “Ginjo” grade sake, one of the most desirable sake in the whole of Japan and a keyword to remember when looking for exceptional sake. We’ll stroll the atmospheric streets lined with white-walled sake breweries, and red chimneys standing side by side as they have for hundreds of years. We’ll learn all about the brewing process, while tasting the different sake on offer before savoring a delicious lunch prepared with all things about sake. In the afternoon, we will make our way to Miyajima Island by ferry. This much revered island and its floating red “tori” gate was believed to be the sacred land of Gods, and as a result the world heritage listed Itsukushima Shrine was built here in the late 12th century. In the evening, let’s celebrate the end of our adventure with more delicious food including another famous local produce – the Hiroshima oyster, fresh seafood, refreshing sake and great conversation.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Hiroshima)

Meal

  • Breakfast (Hiroshima)
  • Lunch (Hiroshima)
  • Dinner (at local Izakaya) (Hiroshima)

Activities

  • Visit to Sanjo sake breweries and sake tasting
  • Visit to Miyajima Island
  • World Heritage listed Istukushima Shrine

DAY7Hiroshima

There are no activities planned for today, so feel free to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10am, however if you wish to depart later, we can arrange luggage storage for you at the hotel. Your tour manager will be more than happy to help plan your post-tour itinerary or advise you on your onward journey. Please note a visit to Hiroshima Peace Park & Museum is not included in this tour. However, if you haven’t visited the museum in the past, you may like to add this important site to your post-tour itinerary while in Hiroshima. Your tour manager will be happy to point you in the right direction.

 

Meal

  • Breakfast (Hiroshima)
Map