Ancient Japan Group Travel, Trips, & Tour Itineraries | GeoEx

Journey Through Ancient Japan

Discovering Shikoku and Kyoto

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Journey Through Ancient Japan

Luxury Group Travel | 12 Days | Limited to 8 Guests
  • Journey with acclaimed travel writer Don George or ardent cultural explorer Amy Loewen
  • Step back in time on enchanting, rarely visited Shikoku Island
  • Kyoto’s ancient temples and cherry blossoms
  • Soak in secluded Iya Valley onsen (hot springs)
  • Make soba noodles and overnight in a 300-year-old farmhouse

Referencing Shikoku Island, acclaimed travel writer Don George wrote, “[It’s] a Japan I hadn’t known existed: a place of farms and fishing villages, mountainside shrines and seaside temples, rugged seacoasts and forested hills.” On this 12-day Japan group travel journey, we unlock the secrets to this remote and rural main island. Our journey begins in stunningly preserved Kyoto, with visits to its temples, gardens and centuries-old geisha district, Gion. We then venture to Shikoku and its hidden Iya Valley, where we hike lush trails, soak in soothing onsen and experience traditional Japanese farmhouse living.

Trip Overview

The days in Kyoto were unforgettable: What a feast of temples and Japanese culture!...On Shikoku, we loved every day...The best part was the opportunity (thanks to Don and Hiro's great advance work) to introduce us to people whose devotion to their art was deeply moving.

– TOM B.
1 – 3

Explore historically and culturally rich Kyoto with visits to gorgeous temples and a stroll along the cherry tree-lined Path of Philosophers.


Nara is known for its ancient temples and deer park, both of which we discover Return to Kyoto for culinary-inspired wanderings.

5 – 7

Travel to Shikoku Island by bullet train and ferry In vibrant Kochi, explore local markets, enjoy staple dishes like katsuo-no-tataki, and take in the marvelous painted ceiling at Iwamoto-ji Temple.


Winding inland, we reach the isolated, mountainous Iya Valley and spend the night at a 300-year-old thatched farmhouse.

9 – 10

Revel in ancient vine bridges, rushing waterfalls, and two nights at an onsen-focused ryokan Local friends teach us to make soba noodles.

11 – 12

We visit Ryozen-ji, the first of Shikoku's 88 pilgrim temples, spend an afternoon unearthing Takamatsu's many wonders, and cross one of the world's longest suspension bridges Depart from Osaka.



Don George

Don is an award-winning travel writer and editor, and a highly sought-after speaker and teacher. He's traveled widely in and written extensively about Japan, not to mention having lived there for two years. Don is currently editor at large for National Geographic Traveler, special features editor for BBC Travel, and editor of GeoEx’s blog, Wanderlust.


Amy Loewen

Amy is a teacher and lecturer who has previously lived in Japan teaching English language and in Hawai’i as a museum exhibit designer. She currently lectures on expedition ships all over Japan and spends every summer as a faculty member at the International University of Japan.

GeoEx Trip Leader Amy Loewen

Dates & Prices


10/14/24 – 10/25/24   Led by Amy Loewen (Limited space; please call)

03/10/25 – 03/21/25   Led by Don George

03/17/25 – 03/28/25   Led by Amy Loewen

03/24/25 – 04/04/25   Led by Don George (Limited space; please call)

04/07/25 – 04/18/25   Led by Don George (Limited space; please call)

11/10/25 – 11/21/25   Led by Amy Loewen


Group Trip: From $17,750 per person 

based on double occupancy


See Unexplored Japan and Mexico: Maya Traditions in Chiapas for other chances to travel with Don George.


  • Expertise of GeoEx’s travel specialists
  • Services of GeoEx’s in-house air reservations team
  • All accommodations
  • All ground transportation and airport transfers
  • Sightseeing, events, visits, and entrance fees
  • Most meals
  • Local sake and beer at included meals
  • Bottled water at included meals and while sightseeing
  • Services of a GeoEx trip leader, local guides, drivers, and other staff
  • All gratuities
  • Emergency evacuation services and secondary medical expense insurance

A Journey Built Just For You

Take customization to the next level on a journey fully tailored to you. GeoEx's destination specialists will gladly tailor this existing itinerary—or build one completely from scratch—to suit your style, interests, and time frame. Contact us to see what's possible.

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