The meeting point of our organized tour to Shikoku will be Sannomiya Station in Kobe. In the afternoon, we will catch a bus that will take us directly to the city of Takamatsu. We will check in at a hotel located at the port of Takamatsu with the great view of Setouchi, Inland Sea of Japan. We will dine at the hotel. At night if you want, you can stroll around the city of Takamatsu. Our adventure in Shikoku will start next day. Takamatsu will be our hub for us during the first days, allowing us to travel to the islands of Setouchi, and the northern part of Shikoku from there without changing hotel. Dinner
Today, we will dedicate all day to discover two small islands of Setouchi, Ogijima and Megijima. Both islands are just a few kilometers away from Takamatsu and also the venues of triennial Setouchi Art Festival. Although the festival is not held this year, many of the art works are permanently displayed outdoor and make up very interesting contemporary scenery with traditional Japanese landscapes. For example, even without walking, we can see the artful Ogijima ferry terminal designed by Jaume Plensa at the old port of Ogijima. Ogijima with two kilometers of length and one kilometer of width has about 200 houses built on the steep slopes of the island with maze-like small streets. Megijima is slightly bigger. We will enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of both islands and take pictures of beautiful landscape of Inland Sea of Japan, dotted with small islands. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
We will leave Takamatsu toward to the city of Naruto by our private bus. The first stop of today’s trip will be a temple of Route Ohenro. We will visit and take pictures of the garden and inside of the temple decorated with warmly lit-up paper lanterns. We might be able to photograph some Japanese pilgrims there. From there, we will go to see a theatre play of traditional Japanese puppet. In the afternoon, we will head to Naruto Strait where we will get on a boat to see the impressive whirling tides from a short distance. After sunset, we will go back to Takamatsu. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
Naoshima used to be an anonymous island that became a well-known island recently in and outside of Japan. Naoshima, headquarter of Setouchi Art Festival, has a few important museums designed by famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, also famous huge pumpkin artwork by Yayoi Kusama. Modern art, nature, architecture, landscape and slow life melt together beautifully in this island. We will spend the whole day, wondering around the island and capturing the essence of the life in the island. Breakfast-Lunch
We will wake up early to be the first visitors of the impressive Japanese garden, Ritsurin Garden, one of the best Japanese gardens in Japan. We will have a Japanese breakfast in the garden. Afterward, we will head to Kotohira-gu shrine, known as Konpira-san, one of the most popular shrines in Shikoku. Konpira-san stands on a mountain at the end of a long path with more than 700 steps. (more than 1300 steps to the inner shrine!) But the great view from the main shrine compensates all the efforts to go up the steps. In the evening we will retreat to a ryokan, Japanese style inn, and enjoy authentic kaiseki dishes and hot springs bath to relax our bodies and mind. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
Before we proceed to the heart of Shikoku, we will visit one of our favorites temples of Route Ohenro, hidden in a mountain. From there, we will head to the gorges of Oboke and Koboke where we get on a boat to enjoy the gorges. Later we move deeper into the valley where we will find vine bridges to cross the river. This night, we will stay at a renovated Japanese traditional house in a village lost in the heart of Shikoku, which will be a very unique and wonderful experience. We will be divided into two or three groups to sleep in two or three houses. Breakfast-Dinner
We will leave Iya valley toward the city of Kochi where we will visit the third temple of Route Ohenro. At lunchtime, we will go to a market where there are various local food stands. It is the perfect place to taste famous tataki bonito of Kochi that is cooked in a traditional way. In the afternoon, we will head to the city of Matsuyama that is famous for having one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan, Dogo Onsen. Dogo Onsen, is housed in a photogenic old Japanese house of Meiji period. Also we will visit Kochi Castle, one of the most appealing castles in Japan. We will stay at a ryokan. If you want, you can take a walk in yukata (thin kimono) and geta (Japanese wooden sandals), take pictures around or take a bath in Dogo Onsen. Breakfast-Dinner
We will leave Matsuyama toward Uchiko to see the old streets of the village with well-conserved traditional architectures of Edo period (17th-19th century). Later, we will head to Shimanami Kaido, a road that connects various small islands. We will go until Innnoshima island to see “500 Rakan”, stone sculptures of disciples of Buddha, stand on the top of the hill from where we can see the spectacular view of Setouchi, Inland Sea of Japan. After watching a beautiful sunset going down on small islands in Setouchi, we will go to a hotel in Imabari city to spend the night. Breakfast
We will spend the last two days of our Shikoku tour in Shodoshima Island, the second biggest island in Setouchi, famous for the soy sauce production and the plantation of olive trees. We will leave Imabari to Takamatsu to catch a ferry to Shodoshima Island. We will visit a soy sauce caller, terraced rice fields, and in the evening we will witness Kabuki, traditional Japanese theatre, performed by the villagers in an outdoor wooden Kabuki theatre with thatched roof. It will be an unforgettable experience. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
We will finish our Photo Tour to Japan with one of the most popular autumn festivals in Shikoku. In the festival, many portable shrines carried on the shoulders of a group of men gather in a shrine. This festival is also known as Taiko (Japanse drum) Festival because each portable shrine carries children on top who play taiko while a group of men agitate the portable shrine on their shoulders. It is amazing especially when all men hold up the portable shrine off their shoulders up in the air full of strength. This is a 100% Japanese experience with few or no foreign tourists around, but only with authentic local Japanese people, which is a perfect ending for our Shikoku tour. In the afternoon, we will get on a ferry that takes us to the city of Himeji. The tour ends at the station of Himeji. From there, each of us can choose their next destination. You might want to stay in Himeji to see Himeji Castle the next morning, or you can head to another city. Breakfast
During our photo tour to Japan we will combine nights in ryokan with nights in western hotels. Whether they are traditional Japanese inns or western hotels, all of them are mid-high or high class with good reputation or selected by tour leadres from their experiences.
The rooms will be twin room (with two beds), so participants who come alone will share a room with another single participant. If you wish to stay in a single room for the whole trip, you must pay a supplement. But single room might not be available in some of the accommodations, and you have to share a twin room with another participant. (In that case, we will return propotional part of single supplement fees.)
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food. Not to be forced to eat the same things together, some of the meals are not included. If breakfast or lunch is not included, since we normally go to a restaurant together for breakfast or lunch, you just choose what you would like to eat and you pay for it. If dinner is not included, each person can choose a restaurant to dine. If you don’t want to look for a restaurant, you can also go to a restaurant where the tour leaders go, and you just pay for what you eat.
If anybody has allergy or food intolerance problems, or is a vegetarian, we will try to make the necessary changes in the menus when it is possible.
For the trip to be carried out, there must be at least 5 participants (maximum of 10 participants). For this reason it is recommended to consult the occupancy of the trip before buying the international flight if the flight ticket requires cancellation fees.
It is mandatory to have comprehensive insurance cover for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, emergency evacuation, repartriation of remains, dismemberment, and accidental death. You have to give us a copy of travel insurance before the trip.
If the cancellation is made more than 61 days before the start of the tour, deposit will be refunded in full only if the place(s) is/are filled with another/other participant(s). Deposit will not be refunded if the cancellation is made within 60 days before the start of the tour. For more details of cancellation and conditions of refund of the balance due after 60 days, please read our terms & conditions.
If you have more doubts about any topic related to the photo tour to Japan, send us an email to: email@example.com
Documentary photo project on Japan by Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué
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