Find a Trip



Find the Right Trip for You

Select your travel style--whether it's our signature expeditions, our active outdoors adventures, or our lower-priced journeys. Or choose how you want to travel: by train or small ship, on an expedition geared for photographers or for families, and more.

Small Ship Trips

Small Ship Voyages

Take to the sea aboard one of the six ships of the National Geographic–Lindblad fleet and explore the Galápagos, Alaska, and more with a team of experts.
See All »

Land Trips

Land Trips

Our land trips are designed to immerse you in fascinating cultures and draw out the uniqueness of each destination through enriching and authentic experiences.
See All »

Private Jet Trips

Private Jet Trips

Experience fascinating places as far-flung as Easter Island and Marrakech on one epic journey, traveling with a team of experts in the comfort of a VIP-configured jet.
See All »


Active Adventures

Explore by foot, by camel or kayak, or even by dogsled on an active adventure that combines spectacular places, physical challenge, and cultural interaction.
See All »



Our newest small-group trips, provided in partnership with G Adventures, blend fun, hands-on exploration with meaningful cultural encounters, as well as more free time and choices, all for an unbeatable value.
See All »



Improve your photography skills with the guidance of a National Geographic photographer— whether you’re traveling through Japan or heading out on shoots during an intensive weekend workshop in New York City.
See All »

Private Expeditions

Private Expeditions

Explore independently—with all the benefits of traveling with National Geographic—on a private trip with the travel companions and dates of your choosing.
See All »

Train Trips

Train Trips

Wind through dramatic mountain scenery or observe scenes of everyday life, experiencing the world through the nostalgic lens of train travel.
See All »

Family Trips

Family Trips

Introduce your family to the magic of travel on trips designed for travelers of all ages that combine learning, discovery, and fun.
See All »

Student Trips

Student Expeditions

Send your high school or middle school student on assignment with National Geographic to explore inspiring destinations in depth alongside our experts and trip leaders.
See All »

Inside Japan

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 11 Days | Osaka/Kyoto to Hiroshima/Tokyo
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details


Discover Japan’s intriguing contrasts on a journey inspired by National Geographic Traveler’s January/February 2012 article "Japan’s Past Perfect." Explore Kyoto’s iconic temples and ascend to the sacred pilgrimage site of Mount Koya. Step back in time in the age-old villages of Shikoku, then encounter cutting-edge architecture on Naoshima and the bustle of a revitalized Hiroshima.

Trip Highlights

    • Immerse yourself in Shikoku’s timeless Iya Valley, dotted with thatched cottages, shrines, and vine bridges.
    • Stay at an ancient mountain temple, a traditional rural ryokan, and Benesse House, designed by acclaimed architect Tadao Ando.
    • Experience a splendid spectrum of gardens, from Zen rock gardens to the lush moss gardens of Saihoji.
    • Participate in a tea ceremony, meet a former geisha, and attend a Buddhist prayer service.

Itinerary - 11 Days

Day 1 — Osaka, Japan/Kyoto

Arrive in Osaka at any time. Transfer to Kyoto and check in to our hotel.
Kyoto Hotel Okura

Day 2 — Kyoto

Kyoto served as an imperial capital for more than a thousand years, and many of the wooden temples and gardens from that era have been collectively designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Stroll the elegant Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji and iconic Kinkakuji, or “temple of the golden pavilion.” Enjoy a specially arranged visit to Saihoji, also known as Kokedera, or “moss temple,” for the more than 120 species of moss that carpet its beautiful gardens. At tonight’s welcome dinner, meet a former geisha to learn about the geisha lifestyle and enjoy a short performance.
Kyoto Hotel Okura (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Kyoto

Wander through Arashiyama’s atmospheric bamboo grove. Continue to Nijo Castle, built in 1603 and designated a national treasure. Explore the castle’s Ninomaru Palace, known for its beautiful wall paintings and its “nightingale” floors, designed to squeak when stepped upon to warn of intruders. This afternoon, visit an artisanal ceramics workshop.
Kyoto Hotel Okura (B,L)

Day 4 — Mount Koya

Travel to Mount Koya, headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Meet a temple priest and wander through the evocative Okuno-in cemetery, where the tombs of more than 200,000 samurai warriors and other dignitaries fill a grove of age-old cedar trees. Venture into Kongobuji, the chief temple of the Mount Koya monastery, and see work by artists of the Kano school of painting. Settle into our simple lodgings and enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian dinner.
Eko-in Monastery or Tentoku-In Monastery (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Mount Koya/Iya Valley

After attending an optional morning prayer ceremony, descend to the shores of the Inland Sea and ferry across to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s main islands. In Tokushima, see costumes and floats from the city’s 400-year-old dance festival at the Awa Odori Kaikan museum. Our home for the next two nights in the Iya Valley is a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, where inviting, on-site hot spring baths offer a chance to relax and rejuvenate.
Hotel Hikyonoyu (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Iya Valley

Travel along the steep slopes of the Iya ravine to a 300-year-old thatched farmhouse, home to the Chiiori Trust, a unique project that seeks to preserve age-old rural traditions in the valley. Continue to the Okuiya Niju Kazurabashi, twin suspension bridges made of intertwined vines, and hear the legends of their creation. Witness timeless scenes of village life in Ochiai, a community of traditional dwellings, some of which date from the Edo period (ca. 1600-1870).
Hotel Hikyonoyu (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Shikoku/Naoshima

Travel north to Zentsuji, revered as the birthplace of the Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi and as one of the important stops along Shikoku’s 750-mile and 88-temple pilgrimage route. In Takamatsu, stroll through the tranquil gardens of 17th-century Ritsurin Park. A ferry then brings us to the small island of Naoshima, which has recently emerged as a mecca of contemporary art and architecture. Get a new perspective on nature through inventive art installations at the Benesse House Museum this afternoon and stay in the adjacent hotel, designed by acclaimed architect Tadao Ando.
Benesse House (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Naoshima

Wander past the works of Claude Monet and James Turrell at the innovative Chichu Art Museum, built underground but designed to capture natural light and shadow. Also visit homes that are part of the Art House Project, which has transformed some of the island’s older structures into imaginative works of art.
Benesse House (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Naoshima/Hiroshima

Ferry back to Honshu and take the high-speed train to Hiroshima. Pay a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum, which documents the atomic explosion that ravaged the city. Go on an optional guided visit to Shukkei-en garden or explore this thriving modern metropolis—a testament to Japanese resilience—on your own.
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima or Crowne Plaza Hotel (B,L)

Day 10 — Miyajima/Hiroshima

Set off by ferry for a full-day excursion on Itsukushima Island, popularly called Miyajima. Venture into the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, a World Heritage site built over the water, where a vermillion torii (wooden gateway) appears to float at high tide. Participate in a traditional tea ceremony, then take advantage of free time to go on a hike, visit temples, and stroll through the picturesque town. Back in Hiroshima this evening, gather for a farewell dinner.
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima or Crowne Plaza Hotel (B,D)

Day 11 — Hiroshima/Osaka

Transfer to the airport in Osaka for your flight home.

Optional Extension

  • Tokyo - Post-Trip Extension, 4 Days

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Don George

Don GeorgeTravel writer Don George is an editor-at-large and columnist for National Geographic Traveler magazine, as well as host of the National Geographic Live series of conversations with notable authors. Don has edited eight literary travel anthologies, including Better Than Fiction, The Kindness of Strangers, and Travelers’ Tales: Japan, and received dozens of writing awards, including the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Gold Award for Best Travel Article and the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year Award. Don lived and taught in Japan for two years, and his recent National Geographic Traveler article “Japan’s Past Perfect” inspired this expedition.

Don will join the following departure:

Sep 07 - 17, 2017



  • May 12 - 22, 2017
  • Sep 07 - 17, 2017
  • Oct 19 - 29, 2017 (waitlist only)

Expedition Cost



Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,895.

International airfare to/from Osaka is not included in the expedition cost.

What To Expect

The Hotel Hikyonoyu and our Mount Koya temple lodging (Eko-in or Tentoku-in) are traditional Japanese accommodations with futons set atop tatami mats on the floor.

We stay one night in a typical temple inn (Eko-in, or Tentoku-in) with simple rooms, rice-paper sliding doors, and traditional Japanese-style shared bathrooms.