VISIT | Iya Valley, Naoshima, Kurashiki
Osaka -> Okayama -> Iya Valley
This morning, depart from Osaka for Okayama via Nozomi Shinkansen. Upon arrival
at Okayama Station, begin your private tour. Visit Korakuen Garden, ranked as one
of the three best landscape gardens in Japan. After lunch, set off for Shikoku’s
picturesque Iya Valley - one of the most unexplored areas of Japan. Travel by train
to Oboke. You will then be privately transferred to Hotel Iya Onsen (20 min). Remainder
of the day free at leisure.
Overnight: Iya Onsen Hotel ‒ 2 nights (L, D)
Hotel Iya Onsen, surrounded by gorgeous Iya Mountains, is a Japanese-style hot spring
hotel (Ryokan). Guests will enjoy beautiful views, as well as spectacular hot springs
(guests can even take a complimentary cable car to the open-air bath at the bottom
of the valley).
After breakfast, depart for a full day of touring. Explore the rustic charm of Ochiai Village. Founded in the middle of the Edo period, Ochiai remains one of the most scenic of Iya’s mountainside villages. Then, enjoy a traditional Soba making experience,
followed by lunch. Visit a 300-year old thatched farmhouse, home to the Chiiori trust, a project that seeks to preserve age-old traditions in the valley. Afterwards, stop by the Iya-no-Kazura Bashi (or Kazura Vine Bridge),
the largest and most popular of the remaining vine bridges in the area. It stretches 45 meters across the Iya River at the center of the valley, and gives visitors an unsettling view of the water. Before returning to the hotel, stop by the Manneken Pis statue and admire the magnificent view of the Iya Valley.
Overnight: Iya Onsen Hotel (B, L, D)
Gorge -> Naoshima
After breakfast, transfer to Gorge and take a 30 minute boat ride down the Yoshino
River. This area has been designated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the government
of Japan. Enjoy the scenic vistas and unique rock formations during the leisurely
ride. You will then be transferred to Takamatsu. After lunch, stroll through the
tranquil gardens of Ritsurin Park, one of the most famous historical gardens in
Japan. A ferry will then take you to the small island of Naoshima, known for its
modern art museums, architecture and sculptures.
Overnight: Benesse House ‒ 2 nights (B, L)
Designed by Tadao Ando, Benesse House is a unique facility that combines the functions
of both museum and hotel. The complex consists of four buildings. Each building
features its own unique artwork and guest rooms.
Explore Naoshima at your own pace. Much of Naoshima’s art was installed by the Benesse Corporation. Benesse’s museums were designed by Tadao Ando and include the Chichu Art Museum, as well as the Lee Ufan Museum.
Overnight: Benesse House (B)
Naoshima -> Uno -> Okayama -> Kurashiki
After breakfast, transfer to Miyanoura Port and take a ferry to Uno Port. Upon arrival
you will be privately transferred to Kurashiki. During the Edo period, Kurashiki
was an important point along the distribution route of Japan’s most important commodity,
rice. After lunch, begin your exploration of the Bikan Historical Quarter - a beautifully
preserved canal area. Enjoy the sights of the Kurashiki canal from an old-fashioned
boat on a leisurely cruise.
Overnight: Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel ‒ 1 night (B, L)
Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel, located near the heart of Kurashiki. This urban resort
hotel offers every guest extraordinary comfort.
Kurashiki -> Osaka
After breakfast, visit The Ohara Museum of Art - the first privately operated museum of Western art in Japan. In addition to world-renowned European masterpieces, the museum displays a variety of works by Japanese artists as well as works of Asian and Egyptian art. Next, transfer to Kurashiki Station and take a bullet train back to Osaka.