Rural Japan Travel Itinerary: Visiting Unexplored Japan

Unexplored Japan

History and Tradition in Western Honshu

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Unexplored Japan

Luxury Group Travel | 13 Days | Limited to 8 Guests
  • Authentic rural Japan travel, historic architecture and traditional lifestyles
  • Hagi-yaki pottery, indigo dyeing, and traditional paper makers
  • Beautifully preserved 17th-century castle towns at Hagi and Matsue
  • Silver mining history and stay in a renovated samurai residence at Omori
  • Traditional fishing village culture and stay in a funaya (boathouse residence) at Ine
  • Regional dishes at small local eateries, multi-course kaiseki dinners, and more

Travel rural Japan along the remote northern coast of Western Honshu, a region few foreigners have experienced.

Discover the classic architecture of feudal castle towns and traditional culture of rural villages, rescued from obscurity by tight-knit communities with an eye toward sustainability and renewal. Away from the modern development of major cities, Chugoku (middle country) reveals Japan’s history and continuity, as even today, fishermen, chefs, and artisans still practice techniques passed down through generations. This unusual adventure reveals an unexplored corner of Japan and introduces the people dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the region.

Trip Overview

1 – 3

After a night in modern Osaka, depart by shinkansen, speeding towards historic Western Honshu and stepping into a slower pace Explore geological wonders and dramatic scenery on the Akiyoshidai Plateau and along the jagged coast of the Sea of Japan.

4 – 5

Stroll 17th-century samurai and merchant residences in the historic castle town of Hagi and see Hagi-yaki pottery made at its source Sample local foods and learn about washi paper-making. 


In the historic UNESCO-listed Iwami Ginzan silver-mining region, the town of Omori reveals beautifully restored architecture and magical evenings spent in a classic samurai residence, complete with traditional Japanese dinners.

7 – 8

At Matsue, the original feudal period castle still stands and across Lake Shinji sits Izumo Taisha—the country’s oldest shrine—both architecturally stunning and culturally intriguing View modern art and award-winning gardens at the Adachi Museum.

9 – 11

Soak in the soothing hot springs at Kinosaki Onsen before traveling to the small fishing village of Ine, staying in a funaya boathouse residence at the water’s edge, and getting personal insight into the daily lives of the residents while dining on freshly-caught seafood.

12 – 13

Step aboard a local's fishing boat before making your way back to Osaka for your final night  Depart.



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.

GeoEx Trip Leader Don George on Japan's Inland Sea


Sara Barbieri

Sara Barbieri is the Senior Director for Product Development at GeoEx. She has hand-crafted and led trips for over 18 years to Iran, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Cyprus, South Korea, China, Cambodia, and Laos—to name just a few! Her Japan travels have taken her from the island of Hokkaido to various places on Honshu and Kyushu. Sara finds the country beguiling and complex yet exquisitely subtle.

Japan GeoEx Trip Leader Sara Barbieri

Dates & Prices


10/07/24 – 10/19/24   Led by Don George (Waitlist only; please call)

10/21/24 – 11/02/24   Led by Don George (Limited space; please call)

03/31/25 – 04/12/25   Led by Sara Barbieri

10/13/25 – 10/25/25   Led by Don George (Waitlist only; please call)

10/27/25 – 11/08/25   Led by Don George (Waitlist only; please call)


Group Trip: From $20,250 per person


based on double occupancy


See Journey Through Ancient 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 or filtered water at included meals and while sightseeing
  • Services of 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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GeoEx eBook:
The Best of Wanderlust

An Anthology of Travel Stories
Edited by Don George