Deep green river with solitary kayaker, shore on right and forest on left.

Holiday to Japan including Tokyo, Kyoto and Shikoku



11 Days

Prices Start from

£3,855pp (ex. flights)

This holiday idea is perfect for a first-time traveller to Japan who wishes to take in some of the countries iconic sites as well as experience the less visited and scenically stunning island of Shikoku.

This holiday offers a nice combination of the classic sites with some less known regions and experiences. The ideal trip for someone who has never been to Japan before but wishes to venture off the beaten track and interact with the people of the country. Four days self-driving allows for relaxed and flexible exploration and rural, foodie and optional art experiences open doorways into the lives of locals.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Pagoda at Taisan ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan 1

Temples and Gardens of Kyoto

See temples, traditional gardens and geisha in Kyoto.

Geta, Wooden Sandals, Japan 2

Iya Valley Hot Spring

Take a hot spring bath at the bottom of the Iya Valley amidst lush mountain scenery.

Canoes on the Shimanto River Bank, Shikoku, Japan 3

Shikoku island

Embark on some hiking or rafting to really soak up the untouched scenery of Shikoku island.

View of monorail tracks through woodland taken by passenger at the front. 4

Monorail Journey

Board one of the world’s longest monorails for a scenically stunning journey.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1


  • Day 2 - 3


  • Day 4

    Tokyo - Kyoto

  • Day 5 - 6


  • Day 7

    Kyoto to Shikoku Island

  • Day 8

    Iya Valley

  • Day 9 - 10

    Iya Valley

  • Day 11

    Iya Valley - Osaka

Day 1


Day 2 - 3


Spend two days exploring the exciting metropolis of Tokyo including a night tour to experience traditional snacks.

Day 4

Tokyo - Kyoto

Transfer to the station for your bullet train journey to Kyoto.

Day 5 - 6


Spend two days experiencing the temples, traditional gardens ancient cultures of Kyoto.

Day 7

Kyoto to Shikoku Island

Board another train to the island of Shikoku before picking up a hire car to explore the island at your own pace.

Day 8

Iya Valley

Embark on some hiking or rafting to really soak up the untouched scenery. Take a hot spring bath at the bottom of the Iya Valley amidst lush mountain scenery.

Day 9 - 10

Iya Valley

Board one of the world’s longest monorails for a scenically stunning journey.

Day 11

Iya Valley - Osaka

Return your hire car and board the train back to Osaka for your onward travels.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More Details

Chicken BBQ, Tokyo, Japan
Street food, Japan

Tokyo Street Food

Immerse yourself in the vibrant night life of Tokyo with a street food tour of the city. Explore the maze of alleys where carts sell traditional snacks before settling down in an izakaya, a Japanese style pub, for a unique experience alongside the locals. Similar to tapas, the food served is meant to be shared and your guide for the evening will talk you through the numerous specialities such as edamame beans and fried chicken wings. All washed down with a local beer.

Panoramic aerial view of bending river weaving through lush hills.
Shikoku Island, river scenery

Shikoku Island Self-Drive

Pick up a hire car and set off to uncover the secrets of the island of Shikoku, one of the few parts of Japan where we recommend self-drive. Explore with the freedom to stop at leisure and see a rural Japan that few others visit. Mountain roads wind through hillsides covered with dense woodland, passing traditional villages with little that is man-made to be seen. Stay in a small onsen (hot spring) hotel, perched high on the side of the valley from where it is easy to explore some of the dramatic scenery by car, on foot, or by river.

Man and woman japanese farmers wearing hats, carrying grass, stood in long grass.
Local Japanese farmers

Optional Lake Biwa E-Biking

Just 40 minutes north of Kyoto by train is Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Spend a few hours cycling along the shores of the lake, past local farming communities and ancient villages. Take time to chat with farmers and even lend a hand with planting or harvesting before dining on specialities of the region with a local family.

Yellow pumpkin art at end of jetty, Naoshima Island, Seto Inland Sea, Setouchi, Japan
Yellow pumpkin art, Naoshima Island
View over Seto Inland Sea and lush islands, Setouchi, Japan
Seto Inland Sea

Optional Art Island Tour

The Seto Inland Sea in Japan’s Setouchi region is home to the three islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima. Home to an array of art museums and installations, developed by renowned local and international artists and architects, adding an extra day to this itinerary allows the chance to explore them. Board the car ferry from Shikoku to Naoshima before sailing by private yacht to wander these compact islands and their coastal art exhibitions. Explore by bike and on foot, stopping for lunch overlooking the sea before enjoying champagne and snacks on the leisurely sail back. Alternatively stay the night on Naoshima at The Chichu Art Museum – itself a work of art.

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Exceptional organisation. Absolutely nothing was left to chance and help was always a quick email away. I have no areas of complaint at all. I thought it was superb throughout.


From our very first call to Steppes and speaking to Clare, everything went like clockwork. Clare arranged a fantastic itinerary for our trip to Japan and we were extremely impressed with every aspect of our holiday.


Prompt and efficient support from Clare who suggested some activities that we wouldn't have planned but really enjoyed.


A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £3,855 Per person

When to travel

Japan in January

The weather is generally cool, dry and sunny in many parts of the country. In the north, there is heavy snowfall, making for excellent skiing conditions.

Japan in February

Ski season is in full swing in the north. Winter continues to bring some of the coolest but driest conditions to the rest of the country.

Japan in March

The start of the cherry blossom in southern Japan, as the weather warms. A popular time to visit Japan, especially towards the end of the month.

Japan in April

Perhaps the busiest month, as the cherry blossom spreads northwards across the country. A stunning time, but expect to plan accommodation and excursions in advance.

Japan in May

The cherry blossom reaches the far north of the country around Sapporo at this time, and temperatures are generally warm. It is generally dry in most parts, with vegetation vibrant and lush. It is worth avoiding Golden Week, a national holiday during the first week of May.

Japan in June

Many parts become hot and humid, with the rainy season occurring in Okinawa. A consequence of the rain is that the countryside and most gardens are at their best.

Japan in July

It can get very hot and humid in many parts of the country at this time, making it the perfect time to escape to the mountains. In particular, this time of year has the best conditions for the hike up Mount Fuji.

Japan in August

There are many festivals at this time and locals are on holiday, making it a busy time of year for travel. It is a great time to explore the Sapporo area, with cooler and less humid conditions.

Japan in September

September brings a quieter time for travel, with most locals back at work. The temperatures start to cool off a little, but the humidity generally remains.

Japan in October

The start of autumn for the majority of Japan, showcasing a wonderful array of autumn colours across the countryside. The weather is still pleasantly warm, with less rain.

Japan in November

Across the country, this is the best month to see the beautiful autumn colours. There are fewer visitors, and the temperatures remain mild, especially in the south.

Japan in December

The first couple of weeks of December are some of the quietest times to travel, and you can enjoy the natural thermal hot springs with snow on the ground.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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