Japan & The Scenic South
12 Nights / 13 Days
FUKUOKA – KUMAMOTO – MOUNT ASO – BEPPU – YAMAGUCHI – HIROSHIMA – MIYAJIMA – HIMEJI – KYOTO – MOUNT FUJI –TOKYO
Uncover the beauty of the lesser-known island of Kyushu, renowned for its active volcanoes, hot springs and stunning beaches, before exploring the must-see sights of Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo on the largest island of Honshu.
● Explore the charming city of Fukuoka
● Discover Kunamoto
● See the impressive Mount Aso
● Reflect in Hiroshima and sail to Miyajima
● Admire beautiful Mount Fuji
● Feel the rush of Tokyo
Day 1-2 Fly overnight to Fukuoka
Fly overnight to the charming city of Fukuoka. On arrival you will be met by an English-speaking representative and transfer to your hotel. Please note: Early check in is not included. If your flight arrives in the morning and you wish to arrange this, please speak to your reservations consultant. You will be transferred by shared coach with other passengers who are not part of a Wendy Wu Tour. If you are on a shared bus transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to your hotel.
Transfers will differ depending on group size.
Fukuoka – Fukuoka sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island, and is the island’s largest city. It is known for ancient temples, beaches and modern shopping malls. Fukuoka is closer to Seoul in South Korea than it is to Tokyo, which means that Fukuoka has been an important harbour city for many centuries
Day 3 Explore Fukuoka
The lovely Fukuoka is at the heart of an area considered a cradle of culture – the city’s position facing Korea and China across the sea means it’s long been a channel of outside influence. This morning, take a stroll in the traditional Rakusuien Garden and visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, dedicated to the god of academic achievement. In the afternoon, take a relaxed cruise on the Yanagawa River, passing through a National Site of Scenic Beauty on a small ‘donkobune’.
Rakusuien Garden – Rakusuien is a garden that was originally built in 1906 for a Hakata merchant. In 1995, Fukuoka City overhauled the structure and reopened it as a traditional Japanese garden.
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine – Tenmagu shrines are dedicated to the spirit of the learned scholar Sugawara Michizane. Hundreds exists throughout Japan, but Fukuoka’s Dazaifu Tenmangu as well as Kyoto’s Kitano Tenmangu are the most important ones.
Yanagawa River – The 4 km-long stretch of river in the water city of Yanagawa has been designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty. Enjoy a relaxing time along the river, admiring cherry blossoms and irises in the spring, illuminated boats in the summer and colourful leaves in the autumn.
Day 4 Discover Kumamoto
Transfer around 2 hours to Kumamoto, a city famous for its majestic castle, one of Japan's largest and most complete. Stop by the Castle which is currently under renovation and take a photo, before heading to Suizenji Garden. Check in to your hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before dinner this evening. Please note: Kumamoto Castle is currently under renovation after suffering serious damage in the 2016 earthquake. The inner grounds are currently closed to the public, but it is possible to look at the massive fortress from the outside. The interior of the castle's main keep is scheduled to reopen to the public in spring 2021, while the rest of the grounds are expected to require about 20 years to be fully repaired. We will stop here for a photo.
Kumamoto – The capital of Kumamoto Prefecture, Kumamoto is a city on Kyushu's west coast most famous for its castle. The city is also the gateway to the Aso region.
Kumamoto Castle – Kumamoto Castle is considered one of the three premier castles in Japan along with Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle. With large castle grounds and a variety of buildings, the castle offers visitors one of the most complete castle experiences in Japan. Only a few structures have remained intact in the centuries since the castle's construction in 1607, so the castle keep and most other buildings are modern reconstructions.
Suizenji Garden – A spacious traditional-style garden built in the 17th century, Suizenji garden recreates in miniature the important road that linked Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, including a mini Mount Fuji.
Day 5 Visit Mount Aso & Beppu
Travel by coach from Kumamoto to Mount Aso, a journey of approximately 2 hours. Aso is an active volcano at the centre of Kyushu island. Aso’s crater has a circumference of over 100km and encompasses a number of other active peaks, which you’ll be able to see (weather dependent). Continue around 2 and a half hours to Beppu, one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. Your hotel for the night has onsen facilities for you to make the most of the steamy waters. Please note: Anyone suffering from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis, or heart disease, may find their condition worsen when visiting Mount Aso, and will need to take extra precautions on this day or avoid visiting the caldera itself.
Aso – Aso is an active volcano at the centre of Kyushu island. Aso’s crater is one of the world’s largest; with a circumference of over 100km it encompasses a number of other active peaks.
Beppu – Beppu is one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts, producing more hot spring water than any other resort in the country. Set between Beppu Bay and volcanic mountains, it's home to more than 2,000 onsen. In addition, the Hells of Beppu are several spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing.
Day 6 Explore Beppu
Start the day by taking a tour of Beppu’s Jigoku Meguri – a hell tour. You will find different volcanic features, including thermal mud and hot springs that have bubbled from the ground here for a millennium. Head over to Yufuin, another hot spring resort that is home to a wealth of art museums, cafes and boutiques, and stroll down its streets. After lunch, transfer around 2 hours back to Fukuoka for an overnight stay.
Jigoku Meguri – The "hells" of Beppu are seven spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing, where hot water vigorously erupt from the ground.
Yufuin – Yufuin is a hot spring resort around 10km inland from Beppu, with a wealth of cafes, boutiques and art museums.
Day 7 Travel to Hiroshima
This morning, transfer around 2 and a half hours to Yamaguchi where you will visit Rurikoji Temple, known for its five-storied pagoda. Continue around 1 and a half hours further to the Iwakuni area to see Kintaikyo Bridge before transferring another hour to Hiroshima. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Rurikoji Temple – Rurikoji is a Buddhist temple known for its five-storied pagoda. Built in 1442, the pagoda is ranked among Japan's three greatest pagodas. The temple grounds of Rurikoji also holds the main hall, a temple storehouse, a bell tower and a small museum
Kintaikyo Bridge – The Kintaikyo Bridge, Iwakuni's most distinguished landmark, is an elegant, wooden bridge consisting of five bold arches standing on massive stone pillars. The bridge was completed in 1673 and kept standing until 1950, when Iwakuni was struck by a violent typhoon. A precise reconstruction was finished in 1953.
Hiroshima – An atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, and the city's name became famous worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power obliterated nearly everything within a 2km radius. The city has been rebuilt and has risen phoenix-like from the ashes with destroyed sites of historical heritage reconstructed.
Day 8 Discover Hiroshima
Take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, where sightseeing will be at a leisurely pace on foot. Visit Itsukushima Shrine and explore the traditional market town at leisure. Return by ferry and coach to Hiroshima for lunch and then visit the famous Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Please be aware that the museum may be confronting and upsetting for some group members and it is at your discretion if you wish to visit or enjoy time at leisure exploring the Peace Memorial Park.
Please note: Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in 2020 and is expected to last 2 years. During the renovation works, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding. While the torii gate will be covered, you can still see the Itsukushima shrine itself as well as enjoying free time on Miyajima Island to explore the local streets or make the walk up to Daisho-in Temple. The covers are expected to be removed by January 2023.
Miyajima – Miyajima is a small island outside of Hiroshima. While officially named Itsukushima, the island is more commonly referred to as Miyajima, meaning 'Shrine Island'. This is because the island is well-known for its main attraction, Itsukushima Shrine, a giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water.
Peace Memorial Park and Museum – The Peace Memorial Park and Museum is one of the most prominent features of the city. The trees, lawns and walking paths are in stark contrast to the surrounding downtown area. Before the bomb, this area was the political and commercial heart of the city and is why it was chosen as the target. The museum focuses on the events of August 6th and the ensuing outcome for the residents.
Day 9 Admire Himeji Castle
Journey around 3 and a half hourss by coach to Himeji and explore the magnificent 17th Century Himeji Castle and the neighbouring Koko-en, a traditional-style garden. The castle is largely in its original condition, so please use common sense and be mindful of your step when strolling around. You will have to remove your shoes before walking along some of the wooden floors and there are some steep wooden steps to reach certain areas. After the reopening in March 2015, Himeji Castle has welcomed many visitors. As such, they now issue numbered tickets to visitors in order to limit the number of people who can enter the Main Keep, reducing congestion, waiting time, and to protect the cultural properties. Please note that this means that there may be cases where some visitors are not allowed to enter the Main Keep. Visit Nadagiku Sake Brewery to learn about the process of this traditional Japanese spirit and enjoy some tasters before continuing around 2 hours to Kyoto. Capital for a thousand years, this enchanting city is the epitome of traditional Japan.
Himeji Castle – Widely considered Japan’s most magnificent castle for its imposing size and beauty, the well-preserved Himeji castle is both a national and world heritage listed treasure. Himeji Castle has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles.
Koko-en Garden – Koko-en is a Japanese style garden consisting of nine separate, walled gardens designed in various styles of the Edo Period.
Nadagiku Sake Brewery – Sake is the national alcohol of Japan; a tour of the brewery offers the chance to learn about the manufacturing processes.
Kyoto – Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for approximately 1,000 years until 1867 when it was moved to Tokyo. Many national treasures can be found in Kyoto and in nearby Nara, including old shrines and temples, screen paintings, beautiful gardens, and statues of Buddha.
Day 10 Explore Kyoto Start the day by visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine with its thousands of vermillion torii gates. The Shrine stretches up Mount Inari (233m high). You will walk up part of the mountain and the incline allows a steady-paced walk. Later, visit Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’ due to its golden exterior and take a stroll in the Gion area, Kyoto’s geisha district.
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha) – An important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is most famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates which form a network of tunnels around the main shrine buildings. The shrine itself is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. There are many fox statues in the grounds of the shrine as foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers.
● Built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence, Nijo Castle is surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors.
Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) – Kinkakuji Temple is a Buddhist temple and is an excellent example of Japanese garden design. The structure is a brilliant golden hue colour and is very minimalistic. Gion – Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses).
Day 11 Visit Hakone
Depart Kyoto and transfer to the train station for a 3-hour bullet train journey to Atami Station. Continue by coach to the Hakone area and enjoy a boat cruise on the peaceful waters of Lake Ashi before boarding the Hakone ropeway to soar over the hilltops to the volcanic Owakudani Valley. Travel around 2 hours to Japan’s vibrant capital city, Tokyo. Please note that your luggage will be transferred separately to your hotel in Tokyo and arrive later the same day.
Lake Ashi – Formed after Mount Hakone’s last eruption 3000 years ago, Lake Ashi is the symbol of Hakone and on a clear day offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the distance.
Hakone Ropeway – Hakone Ropeway lets visitors to take in spectacular views of the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, the rising volcanic fumes of Owakudani and the grandeur of Mount Fuji on a fine, sunny day.
Owakudani Valley – Owakudani is the area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. The area is a volcanic zone, with hot springs and steam vents.
Tokyo – One of the world’s most cutting-edge capital cities, Tokyo is a city of contrasts, famous for its neon lit landscape, towering skyscrapers, peaceful shrines and lovingly tended gardens. Although long the political and cultural centre of Japan, Tokyo became the official capital when the Meiji Emperor moved it to Tokyo in 1867.
Day 12 Tour Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its busy, high-tech façade and you will find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. This morning, head to the vibrant Asakusa district and soak up the ambiance of Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Continue to the 634-metre Tokyo Skytree and ascend to the observation deck for magnificent views. After lunch, drive by the Imperial Palace Plaza, visit Meiji Jingu Shrine and see the famous Shibuya Crossing.
Asakusa – Asakusa is the centre of Tokyo’s Shitamachi (Old Town) District, where you can get a glimpse of historical Tokyo.
Senso-ji Temple – Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist Temple and the oldest in Tokyo. The temple was originally founded in the 7th century. The temple adorns an image of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, who was said to have been rescued by two fishermen from the Sumida River in Tokyo.
Tokyo Skytree – The tallest structure in Japan and the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Skytree is predominantly a television and radio broadcast tower and is earthquake resistant.
Meiji Shrine – Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The shrine is located in an evergreen forest within in the busy city and consists of 120,000 trees which were donated by people from all over Japan when the shrine was established.
Day 13 Depart Tokyo
This morning is free at leisure before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
Please note: Only breakfast is included today. Late check-out is not included in our Japan & the Scenic South tour. If you wish to book a late check-out for your final day in Tokyo, please contact our reservations department who can confirm the additional price and make this arrangement for you, subject to availability at the hotel.
Transfers: In the event that your flight departs outside of the majority group departure time, you will be transferred to the airport by a shared coach (not with other Wendy Wu Tours passengers). If you are on a shared coach transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to the coach.
Japan & the Scenic South Tour Inclusions:
- All accommodation
- All meals (From dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the last day)
- All sightseeing and entrance fees
- All transportation and transfers
- English speaking National Escort
- Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
- Comprehensive travel guides
- Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Please ask our sales agent to price the International Flights