• Enter ancient temples and journey along a section of the Shikoku Island pilgrimage route dedicated to the 8th century Buddhist monk Kūkai.
• View the spectacular collections of modern art at the Benesse House Museum and Chichu Art Museum located on Naoshima Island, as well as the work of 20th century Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi at his Garden Museum in Takamatsu.
Wander through the lush historic gardens of Kōraku-en in Okayama and Ritsurin in Takamatsu. These oases date back to the 17th century and perfectly present the landscape aesthetic of the Edo period.
Depart Heathrow 1145 for overnight flight.
Arrive Osaka Kansai 1405. Transfer to ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Osaka for two nights.
Whole day in Osaka: Toyo Toji Oriental Ceramic Museum (Chinese, Korean and Japanese ceramics), Osaka Castle (dating back to 1597), Expo Commemoration Park (extensive garden and site of the 1970 World’s Fair).
Depart by bullet train to Okayama. Visit Kōraku-en Garden (one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’ from the Edo period), Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (Edo period canals, store houses) and Ohara Museum of Art. Three nights at ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Okayama.
Whole-day excursion to Naoshima for visits to the Benesse House Museum complex (work by Alberto Giacometti and Jasper Johns) and Chichu Art Museum (impressive subterranean building with works by Claude Monet and James Turrell). Free evening.
Whole-day excursion to Bizen for visits to Bizen Ware Traditional and Contemporary Art Museum (examples of traditional ash-glazed Bizen-yaki ceramics) and local workshops.
Depart by bullet train to Hiroshima (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and dome). Continue to Miyajima Island for overnight stay at Iwaso Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).
Miyajima: Itsukushima Shrine (floating torii gate), Momijidani Park (formed during the Edo period and home to over 200 maple trees) and Mount Misen Observatory (via cable-car). Transfer via Dogo Onsen (the oldest hot spring in Japan with 19th century bathhouse) to Matsuyama for overnight stay at Matsuyama Tokyu REI Hotel.
Travel along the Shikoku pilgrimage route via temples and castles including Matsuyama Castle (originally built 1603 and located on Mount Katsuyama) and Zentsū-ji Temple (established in 813 by the father of Kūkai). Continue to Takamatsu for two nights at JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu.
Takamatsu: visit the historical Ritsurin Garden (a designated Japanese National Treasure) and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (studio garden of the 20th century American-Japanese artist and landscape architect).
Morning excursion to Kotohira: Konpira Shrine and art collection (special welcome from the Chief Priest, Edo period sliding door panels featuring beautiful paintings by artist Maruyama Ōkyo), Kanamaru-za Theatre (kabuki playhouse, with backstage tour). Transfer over the Seto Ohashi Bridge to Okayama for overnight stay at ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Okayama. Free evening.
Excursion to Himeji Castle (UNESCO World Heritage site). Transfer to Osaka for overnight stay at ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Osaka. Some free time. Farewell dinner.
Depart Osaka Kansai 0640, arriving Heathrow 1335.