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15 days tour : Kyoto (3nts) - Koya San (2nts) - Tokushima (1nt) - Shishikui (1nt) - Muroto Cape - Kochi* (2nts) - Uwajima (1nt) - Matsuyama - Dogo Onsen (1nt) - Kotohira (2nts) - Iyadani Valley - Ritsurin Garden - Osaka (1nt)

Tour start dates:  9th May 2015

* Sunday Market    



Shikoku, smallest of Japan's four main islands, has throughout history maintained its isolation well. Even today, with the construction of bridges that connect it to the rest of Japan, so few travellers make it this far that it remains one of the last essentially undiscovered places in Asia. Those who do make the effort to leave the bustle of Japan's city life behind soon find themselves rewarded by an island of immense natural beauty, steeped everywhere in colourful legend and history. Not least, deep in the centre of the island are the stunning valleys of Iyadani, the "Tibet of Japan", to where, 800 years ago, the remnants of the Heike clan fled after their defeat at the hands of the Genji. Everywhere are ancient broad-leaved forests, idyllic hot springs (including, at Dogo, the country's oldest spa resort dating from the 8th century) and timeless rustic hamlets all framed by some of the finest coastal scenery in all Japan.

For the Japanese, Shikoku is perhaps most famous for its pilgrimage tour of the 88 Sacred Temples and it is the dearly held ambition of almost all to complete a circuit of the island at some point in their lives, following in the footsteps of the country's greatest saint, the revered Kobo Daishi. It is from this pilgrimage that The Oriental Caravan has taken inspiration and direction for its latest exclusive offering and, in keeping with pilgrim tradition, we intend to complete the circuit of the island, albeit by train and bus, in a clockwise manner. This pioneering journey will reward participants with a rare glimpse into the last vestiges of a mysterious, rural Japan where the pace of life slows to the rhythm of the seasons, and where natural and spiritual treasures unfold at every step. 

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Day 1 - Kyoto Arrival (Hotel)
Day 2 - Kyoto City tour of Kyoto (Hotel)
Day 3 - Kyoto Free day. (Hotel)
Day 4 - Mount Koya By train via the 10th Century Byodo In Temple in Uji to the ‘Mount Athos of Japan’, Mount Koya (Shukubo)
Day 5 - Mount Koya Full day to explore Mount Koya including Okuno-in (Shukubo)
Day 6 - Tokushima By train and ferry to Tokushima. Visit Ryozen-ji Temple, first on the 88 Temple circuit. (Hotel)
Day 7 - Shishikui Pass through fishing villages, including Hiwasa, on the coastal line to Shishikui. Opportunities for swimming. (Beachfront Spa Hotel)
Day 8 - Kochi* By coach to Kochi via Cape Muroto. Afternoon free in Kochi. (Hotel)
Day 9 - Kochi Visit Kochi's Sunday market. Kochi Castle and botanical gardens.  Possible afternoon scenic train ride through Iyadani Valley. (Hotel)
Day 10 - Uwajima Continue to Uwajima. Visit Taga Jinja Fertility shrine (and museum!). Explore Uwajima and its surroundings.  (Hotel)
Day 11 - Dogo Onsen Continue to Matsuyama and Dogo Onsen spa resort. Visit Ishite-ji Temple. (Ryokan)
Day 12 - Kotohira By train to Kotohira. Visit Kompira-san Temple. (Ryokan)
Day 13 - Kotohira Daytrip to explore the Iyadani valleys with their amazing vine bridges. (Ryokan)
Day 14 - Osaka By train, via Ritsurin Garden, to Osaka, for a farewell Saturday night in one of Asia's liveliest cities. (Hotel)
Day 15 Caravan concludes...



Tour dates (land only)
Tour starts Kyoto

Tour ends Osaka


Tour Price
(land only)

9th May 2015 23rd May 2015 Spaces available GBP2475.00
Accommodation We stay in a variety of styles of accommodation, both western and Japanese. In Dogo Onsen we stay at the elegant, modern Funaya ryokan, an exclusive establishment of some history, and once favoured by author Soseki Natsume. On Koya San we stay in comfortable temple shukubo accommodation, sleeping on tatami mats and enjoying excellent shojin ryori vegetarian meals. In Kyoto we stay at The Oriental Caravan's longstanding base, the New Miyako Hotel. In Kotohira we stay in a traditional, family run ryokan.  Elsewhere we stay in comfortable hotels, some of them in the Japanese style. The tour is sold on a twin share basis. A single supplement is available at a cost of £474.
Food and drink Meals are included in the price except in Kyoto, Tokushima, Kochi and Uwajima where you should allow around £15-25 a day. Where we eat at our lodgings, for example on Mount Koya and at Dogo Onsen, meals are expected to be of an excellent quality. As always the tour leader will be on hand to suggest restaurants and, where necessary, assist with ordering meals.
Mode of travel We make full use of Japan’s highly efficient rail system using both both 'bullet' and local trains. In Shikoku the trains are often small and local but travel through some stunningly picturesque scenery. We also make occasional use of taxis and buses and travel by ferry between Wakayama and Tokushima. Some of the sightseeing is done on foot.
Staff  The tour is escorted throughout by an experienced Japanese-speaking leader from the UK accompanied by local guides where applicable.
Group size Minimum 6 - Maximum 12
Flights & Insurance For information on insurance and flights please contact The Oriental Caravan. 




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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links