japan gate

Welcome to Japan: A Rich Heritage

erin bunn

Erin Bunn

Originally from country Western Australia, Erin has a passion for all things travel. An advocate for taking the back-roads, exploring hidden treasures and igniting your curiosity, Erin's favourite question is "where to next?"

2nd October 2019

Visit the breathtaking ‘Island of the Gods’: Miyajima

With its mystical atmosphere, captivating mountain panoramas and well-preserved temples, it’s easy to see why Miyajima is regarded as one of Japan’s most romantic destinations. Unfortunately the island’s star attraction, the ‘floating’ Torii gate is under construction from June 2019 – but thankfully this mesmerising island has plenty more to offer all who visit. 

With origins as far back as the sixth century, the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine will leave you spellbound. Ensure you take a wander through the shrine’s unique pier-like construction – built over the sea to give the impression of ‘floating’ at high tide. Later, soak up the sacred atmosphere of Mt Misen – covered with forest painted with seasonal cherry blossoms or autumn hues, you can choose to take the two hour trek to the top or ride the two-stage ropeway for giddying views over the sea and valley below.

Visit Miyajima on the Highlights of Japan tour.

japanese shrine

Explore one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan

Drawing inspiration from the six attributes of perfection (seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views), it’s easy to see why Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa is classified as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. 

This renowned Edo-period garden features an abundance of different flowering trees – providing a different look whatever season you choose to visit. Take a stroll around the grounds, which teem with water features, ornate bridges, quaint viewpoints and hidden nooks, then round up your visit with a traditional tea ceremony – or indulge in some tasty Japanese treats at one of the many tea houses scattered across the park. 

Visit Kenroku-en Garden on the Gardens of Japan tour.

japanese garden

Discover the awe-inspiring Matsumoto Castle

Grand, breathtaking and utterly iconic, Matsumoto Castle is a favourite destination on our Highlights of Japan itinerary. This towering black-and-white structure holds 400 years’ worth of history – and rewards those who scale its steep, narrow stairs with magnificent views over the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto City and the swans circling the moat below. 

The unique wooden interior of the castle provides an authentic feel, while the openings for archers and guards (which were used to drop stones on invaders) are points of interest as you explore this impressive structure. In spring, the castle moat is lined with hundreds of blooming cherry blossom trees – providing breathtaking views across the grounds and park. 

Visit Matsumoto Castle on the Highlights of Japan tour.

matsumoto castle japan

Experience a traditional Japanese onsen in the Iya Valley

The Japanese have been onsen bathing since the eighth century, and the practice remains an integral part of Japanese culture today. 

On our Highlights of Japan tour, we’ll venture into the secluded Iya Valley, which is located deep in the picturesque Shikoku Mountains. We’ll stay at the only hotel in the remote region and have the opportunity to bathe in the Japanese-style onsen set amidst dramatic mountains, gorges and forested slopes. 

For breathtaking views of the area’s profound natural beauty, take the cable car ride before soaking in the hot spring water surrounded by natural beauty. Let the chirping of forest birds and murmuring of the nearby river wash away any strains as the alkaline water gently soothes your senses. This is an unforgettable experience to say the least!

Experience a traditional Japanes onsen on the Highlights of Japan tour.

japanese onsen

Soak up the tranquility of Arashiyama

Nestled at the base of Kyoto’s western mountains, the tranquil district of Arashiyama is best known for its scenic temples and peaceful bamboo grove. 

Start a day of exploring this mesmerising region with a visit to Gio-Ji Temple – famous for its mossy gardens, simple thatched hall and tall maple trees. Later, take a wander through the awe-inspiring gardens of Okochi Mountain Villa – the former estate of famed film actor Okochi Denjiro. Here, ensure to take some time to admire the grand residential architecture and impressive viewpoints before enjoying a complimentary matcha green tea and traditional sweets in this charming setting. 

Then? Take a serene stroll through Arashiyama’s dense bamboo grove before rounding off your day with a visit to the renowned Tenryuji Temple. 

Visit Arashiyama on the Gardens of Japan tour.

arashiyama bamboo grove

Experience Japan: A Rich Heritage

With two new Japan tours for 2020, take the Back-Roads through this fascinating country. Find out more here.