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Kyushu Gateway Tour
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Mixed Groups

14 Days / 13 Nights Trip to Japan

Kyushu Gateway Tour

Welcome to a country that fuses the ultra-modern and traditional with ease, a nation that blends the elegance of kimonos and the speed of bullet trains with verve.
Japan will surprise, amaze, delight and completely captivate you, from modern metropolis Tokyo, to imperial Kyoto, quiet bamboo forests to the iconic Mt. Fuji.  But no matter where you go, it’s the little experiences - a bowl of spicy ramen,fortune-telling at a Shinto shrine, the shade of a pale-pink kimono, the whimsicality of a robot cafe - that will make your time here truly captivating.
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  • Duration
    14 Days
  • Starting From
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Dragonfly Tours
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Kyoto takes you back in time
Highlight #1
Kyoto takes you back in time
Japan's ancient and imperial capital is famous for its elegant temples, tea gardens and markets.
Be astonished by Tokyo
Highlight #2
Be astonished by Tokyo
Explore a modern metropolis of skyscrapers and bullet trains, small ramen stalls and robot bars, and get a first-hand glimpse of life in the capital.
Take part in an elegant tea ceremony
Highlight #3
Take part in an elegant tea ceremony
Could there be anything more quintessentially Japanese?
Stay in a ryokan
Highlight #4
Stay in a ryokan
When in Japan, live like the Japanese do. In a traditional ryokan, wear a traditional robe, relax with a cup of tea, and sleep on a futon.

 There’s simply no place like Japan

Futuristic cities, quiet bamboo forests, kimonos, sushi, Mt. Fuji and more will guarantee you an unforgettable time. Take a look at this video by Media Hog Productions for a glimpse of what’s in store.

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Namba (Osaka)

The tour starts in the evening with everyone getting together at a restaurant in Shinsaibashi, the lively, downtown area of south Osaka. This is an ideal chance for everyone to get to know each other and begin their excursion into the world of Japanese cuisine.

Later, you take a walk around the neon-drenched area, which is packed with bars, restaurants and clubs of all kinds — this is a great opportunity for people watching, and absorbing the special atmosphere of the nightlife of a buzzing, modern Asian city.

Namba (Osaka)

This morning you visit the mighty Umeda Sky Garden Building, offering spectacular views over the city from the open-aired circular observation deck that connects its two towers above the 40th floor.

In the afternoon you have the opportunity to make you very own, unique, instant ramen (Cup Noodle) at the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum — Osaka is the birthplace of this gastronomic masterpiece invented in 1958. Your creation will be vacuum packed to take home but will you be able to resist the temptation to eat it on the spot?

Making pot noodles isn’t the only thing to do in Osaka. As an alternative, you might want to consider visiting Kaiyukan, the Osaka Aquarium and the world’s biggest fish tank. It features many representatives of the aquatic life of the Ring of Fire — the seismically active Pacific Rim — and is home to an enormous whale shark. For thrill-seekers, Universal Studios Japan is just a short train ride away and has all the attractions and rides of an international, movie-themed park — from Spider-Man to Jaws to Neverland to the newest feature, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Today we take the Shinkansen bullet train westwards, leaving Honshu, Japan’s largest island, to the more rural setting of the third largest island, Kyushu.

Beppu, one of the nation’s favourite hot spring towns is known not only for its many onsen (hot springs for bathing) but also for its boiling jigoku ‘hells’. Each of the ‘hells’ has its own colour, character and properties that come from the different minerals and temperatures of each spring. The ‘sea hell’ has beautiful cobalt blue waters, ‘the blood hell’ is dramatically red, ‘tornado hell’ is a geyser, and ‘crocodile hell’ is home to dozens of crocodiles (not naturally occurring crocodiles; these were bred in captivity). Some of these eight hells are quirky, others are intriguing but none are for bathing in.

After your trip to hell, you may want to bathe in the safer onsen at either the hotel or one of the many other baths in town.


Yufuin is your destination today. This is an atmospheric, relaxing town featuring many old, preserved buildings. The skyline is dramatically dominated by the twin peaks of mount Yufu, while the streets are full of intriguing shops, boutiques, cafes, and the ubiquitous onsen. Here we’ll have free time to stroll, and explore.

Later you may want to join your guide for an optional walk around Lake Kinrinko, which is ringed with walking routes and yet more shops, cafes and onsen!


Today you take the train to Kumamoto stopping off at Mount Aso, one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. Geology tells us that Aso has been responsible for some huge eruptions in its history, big enough to demolish itself at least once. As a result of this titanic temper, Aso is now comprised of one of the world’s largest calderas — 25km across at its widest point — five peaks and a circumference of about 120km.

These days, Aso is much better behaved but is still very much dramatically active and responsible for near-constant emissions of smoke and ash. The volcano also provides some excellent hiking — how about telling the folks back home you slogged up a smoking volcano? — but there is a cable car for those who want to devote all their attention to the view.

Note: the trip up to Mount Aso depends on the volcanic conditions on the day, wind direction and weather. It cannot always be visited.


No visit to this area could be complete without a visit to Kumamoto castle considered one of the top three castles in the country. The castle and its defences played important roles in Kyushu’s martial history, and the site of a siege during the Satsuma uprising when Kyushu’s samurai tried to halt the new fangled modernisation coming out of Tokyo. This is an appropriate place to begin the cultural exploration of Kyushu.

Close to the castle there is the Hosokawa residence, a beautifully restored samurai residence once belonging to a powerful branch of the ruling Hosokawa clan. This house dates from the Edo era, but the Hosokawa clan trace their history deep into Japan’s past and is seemingly attached to every significant moment in the past of the nation. The clan itself is descended from an emperor, grew to immense power, started one war and more recently gave Japan a prime minister. The residence is well preserved and a fascinating example of the residence of a high-ranking samurai.


The tour is again touched by the Hosokawa family, this time through a visit to the Suizenji gardens, which were created by the clan. The path around the expansive garden represents the Tokaido Highway, one of the main routes from Edo (old name for Tokyo) to Kyoto (the former capital), which famously passes Mt.Fuji along the way, symbolized by an unusually shaped grassy mound in the garden.

Later, you explore Jokamachi, an old area of the city by the river. Jokamachi translates as ‘town below a castle’ for the sprawls of houses and businesses that appeared wherever a castle went up. In Kumamoto, many of the old houses in this district have been preserved and today host a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes. Jokamachi evokes Japan’s past before modernisation while providing the fruits of the country’s development.


We take the bullet train this morning to the furthest shore of Kyushu. Kagoshima is in the shadow of Japan’s most famous active volcano, Sakurajima, which belches ash and smoke over the city. These hellish, dark clouds are impressive for the visitor to watch, but very tiresome for the locals, who are constantly cleaning up after them as their streets, cars and laundry get coated with black sand. On the other hand, the vegetables in the area grow well with this constant nutritional replenishment. Sakurajima is a different order of active to Aso so there is no hiking to the top, or anywhere near it. However, there is a gentle ferry ride across the bay to the lower reaches of the fuming mountain, and a chance to let your feet experience more hot spring water.

Sakurajima was once an island — until the lava flows from the huge 1914 eruption connected it to the mainland. This is known as the Nagisa Lava Trail, and is your bridge for the walk back.


One of the enduring images of Japan’s history is the Kamikaze of the second world war. Who were these people? What were they like? Why did they consent to make such a sacrifice? They were, of course, ordinary people, and you find out more about them and their lives at Chiran Tokko Museum, which is located on the airbase from which they flew their one-way missions. Here you see the artefacts of their lives and training, their personal effects, and, most movingly, the letters they wrote home before their final flights.

Kagoshima has its own well-preserved district of samurai residences, Chiran, with buildings dating back 250 years. Chiran has gone further than other areas in removing signs of the 21st century: no cars, no overhead cables, so you are able to step back a little further into history. You cannot enter the houses, but many of the gardens are open to the public.


Nagasaki is another name that is resonant in Japan’s history, and that’s where you go today. For much of Japan’s self-imposed isolation the only foreign contact permitted was in this city. In the 1600s, a small spit of land in Nagasaki bay was severed from the mainland to create an artificial island. This was called Dejima and it was here that foreign visitors and traders were isolated. Even then Dejima was hardly a cosmopolitan centre. Only certain nationalities were allowed to set foot here and only under strict conditions. After the Portuguese were ejected (or crucified) by Tokugawa, the place became most closely associated with the consistent Dutch presence until the nation re-opened itself to the outside world in the 19th century. Over time, much of the bay was filled in and claimed from the sea and Dejima became another district of the city. Now it is being restored to how it would have been in the 1800s.


Once Japan had opened up to the world and the Dejima lost its reason for being, but Nagasaki retained its status as an important portal to the outside world. Traders and representatives of foreign interests moved into the city and now we can peek into the lives of these pioneers by visiting their residences overlooking Nagasaki bay.

One of the houses belonged to Thomas Blake Glover from Aberdeen, Scotland, who helped establish a number of companies including Mitsubishi and Kirin (the drinks company). His story is a fascinating one, played out in a time when Japan was undergoing great changes militarily, industrially and politically, firmly marking its place on the map and becoming a world power in the following decades.


Today you return to Kansai by bullet train, but now to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Home to an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful gardens, parks, great food, great nightlife and geisha, it remains Japan’s cultural soul.

After checking in at the hotel, you visit nearby Fushimi Inari shrine, just south of the city, where you walk along the photogenic hillside on paths winding up through a tunnel of thousands of vermillion shrine gates. The shrine of Fushimi Inari is dedicated to the fox deity, the god of business, and is therefore close to the heart of the nation. This is the main shrine for the fox, and there are 32,000 sub-shrines around the country.

If you have the legs you may want to continue all the way to the summit for the incredible sunset over the city.


Start the day with the tea ceremony, clear your mind, refresh your spirit and find your place in the universe. The tea ceremony is one of Japan’s signature cultural rites and you too can join in. The teahouse that hosts your experience has been active in supplying tea to Kyoto for generations. Later, you visit Nanzenji this is one of the most important and expansive temples in Japan. Its history goes back to the 13th century, from which time it has grown and prospered. Nanzenji is now one of Japan’s important cultural treasures. Dozens of pavilions and shrine are set in landscaped parkland, which is particularly beautiful in spring and autumn.

From Nanzenji, you continue north along the picturesque Tetsugaku no Michi (the path of philosophy) to the World Heritage site of Ginkaku-ji, the Silver pavilion built in the 1400s by the ruling shogun as a retirement home as Japan fell deeper into civil war. Originally, the building was to have been covered in silver leaf to contrast with the Golden Pavilion, but this plan was never completed. The result is a simple but elegant temple, stone gardens, and grounds of birch and moss that beautifully exemplify the Zen aesthetic.

End Day

Sadly today is the last day of the tour and there is no itinerary planned. If you wish to extend your stay, we can easily help arrange your accommodation for the extra time — there is so much more to see and do in the area. Just drop us a line, we’ll be glad to help.

Likewise if you would prefer to return to Tokyo at the end of the tour for your departing flight, it's an easy trip to do and we’ll be able to organize your bullet train tickets.


 All accommodation (13 nights)

 The support of your guide for the entirety of the tour, our guides are government licenced English speaking Japanese.

 All entrance fees while with the guide to temples, shrines and museums as stated in the itinerary. (Additional optional entrance fees at personal expense)

 All city to city transportation including the Shinkansen bullet train

 All local transportation (subways / city buses / boats / taxis) is covered while following the itinerary (any transportation not covered by your rail pass while on the free day or during private time such as in the evenings is at own expense)

 Suica card - An electronic travel card for your convenience (saves fumbling around with tickets)

 Meet & greet at the airport in Osaka or Tokyo on arrival and guided transfer to the tour hotel in the city up to one week in advance.  If flying in and out of Tokyo there will be additional costs to get to Osaka by bullet train.  If planning on doing this get in touch and we’ll work out what is best

 Tickets for airport transfer (non-guided) at the end of the tour from the tour hotel to the airport

 Authentic Tea Ceremony at a tea house in Kyoto

 Baggage forwarding for one bag / case per person

 Breakfast every morning

 Group meal on Day 1 in Osaka

 Dinners on Days 3 & 5 in Beppu

 Tour Info-Pack

 100% payment protection through the TTA (our membership number is U6165)

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST


 Meals, except for the ones mentioned above

 Any coin lockers that you may use

 Travel Insurance. You must take out travel insurance before travelling to Japan, we suggest this is done soon after a booking has been made.

 Flights to and from Japan!

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Dates and prices

Start date

21 Oct 2020

End date

03 Nov 2020

4+ Spots left

14 Days / 13 Nights



Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

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This Trip Is Operated By Dragonfly Tours

Welcome to Dragonfly Tours Japan, where you will find enthralling holidays and tours in Japan brought to you by guides who are passionate about their country and want to share it with you.  In small groups (most of our Japan tours have a maximum of 8-10 people) and with a flexible schedule our escorted tours will show you the best of Japan whilst also giving you the freedom to explore this magical country by yourself.  We have tours throughout the year including incredible last minute Autumn tours to Japan a brilliant winter tour in Japan and fabulous Japan tours in spring 2020.

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