Autumn Private Tour of Rural Japan

Autumn Private Tour of Rural Japan

An ultimate off-the-beaten path tour! If you want to immerse yourself into authentic Japanese culture and travel far and beyond tourist spots, this tour is for you. To top it off, you will experience the magic of nature - autumn colours in rural settings. Lots of guided time and gorgeous accommodation, too.   

Tour Overview

This 14-Day Autumn Private Tour of Rural Japan is our ultimate off-the-beaten path itinerary. You will travel quieter parts of Japan, where the gorgeous autumn colours will accentuate your holiday . The tour takes you north of Tokyo, including UNESCO World Heritage listed Nikko and former feudal towns of Aizu-Wakamatsu as well as gorgeous Kakunodate. To enjoy the wonderful nature at this time of the year, Urabandai and Naruko Gorge should not be missed.

The tour also includes a luxurious traditional ryokan at Akiu Onsen. Along the way, you can take in many traditional cultures such as craft making and regional food. This itinerary is an ideal trip for those looking for something different and would love to dive into the deep end of authentic culture.

This model itinerary suggests a range of accommodation from luxury to rustic, and a lot of private guide escorts to help get the best from your adventure. These can be adjusted to suit your preference like all of our other model itineraries.

For more information about customising your trip visit our Private Tours page .

You can also get more ideas from our other Model Itineraries

Length: 

14 days

Theme: 

Sightseeing and some walking

Recommended timing: 

Mid October to mid November

Suitable for : 

Travellers who like to travel off the beaten path and dive into authentic culture (This can be modified. See Note right)

Accommodation: 

Many nights at ryokans with Japanese style room and food. (This can be modified. See Note right.)

Price guide: 

AU$9,550 (US$7,550) per person for 2*

AU$8,300 (US$6,600) per person for 4*

*based on twin share in autumn high season following the itinerary below.

Map of Private Tour of Rural Japan in Autumn

Important notes about our model itineraries:

Our model itineraries are developed to show viewers the ideas for an itinerary and price guide. The itineraries can be further customized, and the accommodation and guide time can be adjusted to suit you. The number of people in your group will affect the price, too. We will give you more firm quotation once we develop your personal itinerary.

Model Itinerary

 

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, our escort will meet you and take you to your hotel in Tokyo.

Private escort on arrival

Public transport  (private vehicle option available)

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo or similar)

No meals 

Day 2: Morning guided tour of Tokyo

This morning you will meet your guide at your hotel lobby after breakfast and have a private guided tour of Tokyo. The day's program will be completely customised for your interests and preferences. You can visit old parts of Tokyo such as Asakusa, fashionable Shibuya and Omotesando, the political and commercial centre of Japan, Marunouchi, or anything in between.

The afternoon is set aside for you to explore the city at your will.

Lunch and dinner are not included but we will make recommendations if you require.

Private guide for 4 hours (8 hour option available)

Trains and subways (private vehicle option available)

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast

Nikko Toshogu Shrine, UNESCO World Heritage, rural Japan, authentic culture

Day 3: Nikko

Today, you leave Tokyo with your guide and take a train to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Nikko. Nikko Toshogu Shrine complex is as aesthetically magnificent as it is historically significant. You can visit the historical monuments and walk the beautiful grounds framed by autumn foliage.

Tonight we suggest you stay at a Japanese style accommodation, called ryokan and enjoy onsen bath and kaiseki dinner. Some properties have western style bedrooms, so let us know if you prefer a bed rather than sleeping on futon.

Private guide for 8 hours

Trains and subways (private vehicle option available)

Nikko (Nikko Senhime-monogatari or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Nikko

Nikko is well-known for its magnificent autumn scenery. Today, we suggest you take a bus or taxi to go even further into Oku-Nikko. It is a part of Nikko National Park, and has many impressive lakes, waterfalls and mountains. We will provide you with a list of places to see and things to enjoy today.

Self-guided day (private guide option available)

Local bus or taxi (cost not included)

Nikko (Nikko Senhime-monogatari or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner

Day 5: Aizu Wakamatsu

This morning you will take a quaint local train and travel northward to Aizu Wakamatsu. The train ride is popular amongst railway fans and it goes through spectacular gorges ablaze with autumn colours.

At Aizu Wakamatsu, you meet your guide for an afternoon guided tour. Aizu Wakamatsu is a former feudal town with Tsuruga Castle, samurai residences and Japanese gardens.

Tonight you have a choice of staying at a western-style hotel (basic business hotel) or a ryokan.

Self-guided transfer to Aizu Wakamatsu and guided tour for 4 hours (All day private guide option available)

Local scenic train

Aizu Wakamatsu (Ryokan Tagoto or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner

Tsuruga Castle festival in Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, authentic culture and history

Day 6: Aizu Wakamatsu and Urabandai

This morning you will continue the guided tour of Aizu Wakamatsu. Some streetscapes here are preserved for their historical value, and you can stroll the street and check out some traditional businesses such as a sake brewer.

You then will take a local train from Aizu Wakamatsu to Urabandai. Your guide will travel with you to your hotel in Urabandai and assist you with the check-in. The guide will also explain the walking and cycling tracks, and help you to plan for the next day.

Private guide for 8 hours

Local train (private vehicle option available) and hotel shuttle

Urabandai (Urabandai Lake Resort or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Urabandai

Awesome Urabandai is a part of Bandai Asahi National Park, and is famous for its natural beauty, especially in autumn time. Today is a day to relax amidst pristine nature of Urabandai. A walking track along the Goshikinuma (literally translates to "five coloured lakes") is highly recommended where you can immerse yourself in the brilliant colours of the lakes and forest. The water colour of the lakes differs because of the minerals contained in the water. Enjoy the magic of pristine nature for the day.

Rental bicycles are available at your hotel, too.

Self-guided day

No transport (local bus and rental bicycles available)

Urabandai (Urabandai Lake Resort or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Akiu Otaki waterfalls in Miyaji Prefecture in autumn 900 x 900, rural Japan

Day 8: Akiu Onsen

There are literally thousands of onsen towns in Japan, but Akiu Onsen is somewhat special. With records dating back 1500 years where emperors and samurais rejuvenated in its waters, the healing power of Akiu hot springs have long been recognised as a go-to spot for rest and relaxation.

Today, you will travel from Urabandai to Akiu Onsen via Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. You will meet your guide at Sendai Station, travel with her/him in a private vehicle and have a guided tour of Akiu. One of the highlights of Akiu, apart from the onsen water, is an impressive 55 m high Akiu Otaki Waterfall. It is especially impressive against autumn foliage. Tonight you will stay at an exquisite Japanese style ryokan.

Private guide (4 hours) 

Trains to Sendai and private vehicle in afternoon

Akiu Onsen (Saryo Soen or similar)

Breakfast

Day 9: Yamadera and Ginzan Onsen

Today is yet another highlight. After an impressive Japanese style breakfast at your ryokan, you will take a local train to Yamadera. Yamadera is a favourite spot of Journey to the East as it is so authentic and rural. Originally founded in 860 AD and reconstructed in 1543, Yamadera or Risshakuji temple has been a subject of worship for many centuries. Going up to the top pagoda (1070 steps!) is a fair effort but well worth it. And we recommend you take time and go up slowly as there are so many interesting monuments and natural landscape views to be enjoyed on the way.

Tonight, you will stay at the gorgeous town of Ginzan Onsen. This is an ultimate "good old onsen town" for many Japanese people (the top picture of this tour is Ginzan Onsen).

Private guide (8 hours)

Train and taxi (taxi fare is not included)

Ginzan Onsen (Ginzanso or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner

Yamadera Temple comes into View, rural Japan, Yamagata Prefecture

Day 10: Naruko Gorge

Naruko Gorge is another sensational autumn spot. Today after breakfast, you will travel to Naruko by train. At Naruko Gorge there are some walking tracks and you can walk down to the bottom of the gorge through the Autumn colours. Naruko is also well-known for Japanese traditional kokeshi dolls. You can try painting your own kokeshi doll here. Tonight is another opportunity to try ryokan with onsen spa bath.

Private Guide (8 hours) 

Train and taxi (cost of taxi not included)

Naruko Onsen (Yumoto Kissho or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner

Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture Japan in autumn, rural Japan

Day 11: Kakunodate

Kakunodate is another strong cultural town in Akita Prefecture. It is one of those places called "little Kyoto" as it possesses many traditional Japanese cultural elements. Flourishing as a castle town in the early 17th century, the samurai district homes in Kakunodate have been preserved in a marvelously unspoiled state. Stroll the streets in the old samurai quarter and see the best examples of Japanese residential architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries with your guide. Tonight you can try a regional cuisine of Akita Prefecture.

Private guide (8 hours)

Train and shinkansen

Kakunodate (Tamachi Bukeyashiki Hotel or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner

Day 12: Kakunodate

Today you can explore Kakunodate at your own pace. It is a compact town and you can walk around the town easily. How about walking around the merchant district today? Dating from 1620, Kakunodate's merchant district was separated from the samurai district, reflecting the division between the classes at the time.
Stroll along the wide streets lined with historic buildings that remain largely unchanged. There are many stores selling traditional items such as miso and soy sauce. A famous craft of Kakunodate includes a timberware made of cherry tree bark.

Self-guided day

No transport

Kakunodate (Tamachi Bukeyashiki Hotel or similar)

Breakfast

Day 13: Transfer back to Tokyo

This is the end of your exciting Autumn Private Tour of Rural Japan and you will take the shinkansen back to Tokyo. It is like a time travel, coming from the 17th century to the modern city onboard the super high tech bullet train. You will have time to relax and unwind or do some last minute shopping in Tokyo.

Self-guided transfer

Shinkansen

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast

Day 14: Departure

Today you will transfer from your hotel to your exiting airport after breakfast. Tokyo has two international airports and we will arrange the transfer for you whichever you choose.

And of course you can extend your stay in Japan. Please browse our extension model itineraries for ideas.

Self-guided transfer (Private escort option available)

Airport train or shuttle bus (private vehicle option available)

Breakfast 

Please note that there may be slight changes to the itinerary described above to accommodate changes in train timetables, opening hours, and hotel and restaurant availability.

All photographs on this website are representative only and are not a commitment to what may be on view on the day.

Inclusions

Includes:

  • 13 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Meals as specified
  • Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
  • All the train transport where indicated
  • Suica IC card with starter credit
  • Locally licensed English speaking tour guides where specified

Does not include:

  • International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
  • Entrance fees to attractions
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
  • Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
  • Visa (if required)