In the Shadow of Mountains

 In the Shadow of Mountains

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour


  • Learn about traditional miso paste and visit a sake brewery with history stretching more than 200 years 
  • Stay in hot spring inns on the Japan Sea coast and the Inland Sea coast 
  • Visit the preserved remains of the Iwami Ginzan silver mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site 
  • Explore Miyajima Island with its iconic red torii gate and free-roaming deer 
  • Listen to traditional shamisen music 
  • See the lovely canals and historic white storehouses of Kurashiki 
  • Explore enchanting castle towns of southern Japan – Tsuwano and Hagi 

A small-group guided cultural tour exploring two sides of western Japan – the Japan Sea Coast and the Inland Sea. 

Begin your trip at the heart of traditional Japan with Kyoto, the old imperial capital. Your steps will take you to quiet fishing villages, castles, the heritage town of Kurashiki, breathtaking landscapes and rejuvenating hot springs. You will experience first-hand the traditions of pottery firing in Hagi, sake and miso paste making in Kojima, and the historical heritage of silver-mining in Iwami Ginzan.


  • Day
  • 1
Meet in Kyoto
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Welcome Dinner

Meet your guide and other members of the group at the tour hotel in central Kyoto. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Day
  • 2
Sightseeing in Kurashiki
  • Hotel Japanese-style Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast we travel by train to Kurashiki, famous for the picturesque scenery of its preserved canal area, framed with weeping willow trees and white-plastered storehouses (‘Kura’) from the Edo period. Many of Kurashiki’s former storehouses have been converted into museums, shops and cafes. After lunch, we explore this lovely part of the town and then have some free time later in the afternoon. Overnight in Kojima on the coast near Kurashiki.

  • Day
  • 3
Sightseeing in Kojima
  • Hotel Japanese-style Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

A full day to explore the Kojima area of Kurashiki with your guide. Kojima faces the Seto Inland Sea and was once prosperous through sea-salt production and domestic trade through the port. We first visit a sake and miso paste brewery that has been operating for generations, since 1785. We learn about the traditional way of making miso paste and taste sake. We then transfer to Washuzan Hill with its short walking trail leading up to stunning views over the Seto Inland Sea. After lunch we continue onwards to Shimotsui Port and listen to a local artist play a traditional instrument and sing a beautiful song.

  • Day
  • 4
Yunotsu Onsen
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Onsen Ryokan (Hot spring Travellers Inn)  
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

We cross to the San-in coast, travelling by train to Yunotsu, a hot spring town on the Japan Sea coast, whose waters were discovered more than 1300 years ago. In addition to being an onsen, Yunotsu flourished as a port during the Edo period, when silver from Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was delivered and shipped. We arrive in Yunotsu around noon and explore the town. Yunotsu has the wonderful, pure hot spring “Yakushi-yu”, whose water properties received the highest rating from the Japan Spa Association. Our accommodation tonight has its own onsen baths, but you should try ”Yakushi-yu” too if you love onsen.

  • Day
  • 5
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Onsen Ryokan (Hot Spring Travellers Inn)
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Today we visit Omori-cho, settled by Iwami Ginzan silver miners. Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It was the biggest silver mine in Japanese history, flourishing from the 16th to the 20th century. The distinctive landscapes connected to silver mining are still well preserved today – old mining sites, miners’ settlements, fortresses, transportation routes, and shipping ports. The area is now beautifully wooded, with wonderfully invigorating fresh air. Omori-cho is dotted with picturesque Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, shops and cafes. We will visit one of the major remaining silver mineshafts and explore the town. You will have some free time during the afternoon.

  • Day
  • 6
Tsuwano castle town
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast we travel to Tsuwano. Popularly called the ‘Little Kyoto of San-In’, Tsuwano is known for its picturesque main street, lined with Edo-era buildings and Koi carp ponds. It was a castle town, ruled by the Kamei clan from the 17th to the mid-19th century. It also has the famous mountainside Taikodani Inari Shrine with its “one thousand vermilion torii gates’. We will visit the shrine and the ruins of Tsuwano Castle, wandering the pretty streets.

  • Day
  • 7
  • Hotel Japanese-style Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Today we travel by local bus from Tsuwano to the charming town of Hagi. Hagi was for 260 years the castle town of the Mori lords of Choshu. The town is protected on two sides by the forks of the Aibagawa river and on the remaining north side by the sea. The castle, now in ruins, is further fortified by moats and a defensive chequerboard of samurai dwellings. The remains of the dwellings, with their earthen walls, old gates and orchards of colourful citrus trees are Hagi’s most famous sight. We explore the area and also visit the Kikuya House historic building.


  • Day
  • 8
Sightseeing in Hagi
  • Hotel  Japanese-style Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner 

After breakfast we will stroll around another area of the town to enjoy more of the historic houses. Hagi is famous for its pottery – Hagi-yaki is a pinkish-beige stoneware which ranks among the most highly esteemed tea ceremony wares. Hagi-yaki ripens to its full beauty with use, its pale tones deepening and softening as tea seeps into the porous crazing. After lunch we will try our hand at pottery making and we will have the opportunity to buy pieces made by local artists.

  • Day
  • 9
Miyajima Island
  • Hotel   Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast

After breakfast we leave the San’in coast and travel to Miyajima, an island nestling in the Seto Inland Sea near the city of Hiroshima. This island is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Itsukushima Shrine with the giant red torii gate, which seems to float on the sea at high tide. The sight is ranked as one of the most scenic views in Japan. Wild deer live on the island, but they have now become accustomed to people. We will arrive on Miyajima around noon and after lunch we will visit Itsukushima Shrine and Daisho-in Temple. Our hotel tonight is in Hiroshima itself.

  • Day
  • 10
Sensui-jima Island
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
  • Meal Dinner

This morning we travel to Tomonoura then to Sensui-jima Island, a secret paradise on the Seto Inland Sea. Before leaving Hiroshima, there will be a little free time and you may visit the Peace Memorial Park and A-Bomb Museum if you wish. After lunch in the lovely small fishing village of Tomonoura, we take the short ferry ride to the island. We stay at an island Ryokan with wonderful hot spring baths. Bathing is not gender-segregated and bathing clothes will be provided by the Ryokan. Set just above the beach and overlooking the sea, the view from this onsen is wonderful and relaxing.


  • Day
  • 11
Tomonoura and Osaka 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Farewell Dinner

We spend the morning exploring the quiet fishing town of Tomononura. The town preserves its old-fashioned fishing townscape well. In recent years, Tomonoura has been chosen as a location for several international and local films, such as “Wolverine” with Hugh Jackman and “Ponyo on the Cliff” by the popular Studio Ghibli. After lunch we travel to Osaka. There will be some free time in the afternoon before the group meets again for the Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.


  • Day
  • 12
Tour ends 
  • Meal  Breakfast 

Our tour ends after breakfast at our hotel. Your guide will be on hand to offer advice on travel to the airport if you are flying home, or on onward travel if you are extending your stay in Japan.  



Tour Length 

12 days 


From $7,600 per person, twin share

Type and Level of Trip

In the Shadow of Mountains is a cultural tour with some arts and crafts activities. We classify its level as “Moderate“. There are no dedicated days of hiking, but each day’s sightseeing includes walking so that we can explore Japan at street level, not from the windows of a tour bus.

What is Included
  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide 
  • 11 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan and Minshuku) 
  • Due to the rural nature of this tour, some properties will only have Japanese-style bedding and shared facilities
  • Daily breakfast and 10 dinners 
  • All transportation between tour locations, including Bullet Train 
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group’s itinerary 
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 3 occasions 
What’s Not Included
  • Flights 
  • Airport transfers 
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches 
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels 
  • When the group stays at Japanese-style properties you might be asked to share a room with another group member of the same gender

23 SEP 2020

19 MAY 2021

22 SEP 2021

Important Due to the rural nature of this tour, slight alterations of the itinerary are possible.

< 2020s30s40s50s60s70+

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour