My Favourite Small Group Tour — A Northern Soul

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Dates are available to book onto A Northern Soul.

When you uncover a new favourite travel spot it’s something that for a short while feels like it belongs to you and you alone. Of course, others have found this place before. But for now, it’s yours: that’s what makes it one of the great pleasures of travel.

In today’s post, we’ll be catching up with our tour leader, Richard, who chatted to us about one of his favourite small group tours: A Northern Soul.

A tour designed for those wanting even more of an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experience (there is only one city visit — in and out of Tokyo) A Northern Soul is a fantastic tour to take if you’re returning to Japan, eager to delve deeper into its culture and have more experiences you can share with friends.

As one of our most experienced tour leaders, Richard knows Japan like the back of his hand; this respect for Japan has given him years of knowledge and passion to draw on when guiding our tours. Let’s find out more about why he loves A Northern Soul.

What’s great about A Northern Soul?

Many visitors to Japan don’t venture north of Tokyo, and that’s a real shame. A Northern Soul gives travelers a chance to see a much lesser visited part of Japan. The magic of verdant gems such as Hiraizumi and its incredible golden temple, the religious architecture of Nikko, and the glittering views off the coast of Matsushima are all dream sights for the curious visitor.

By spending time in a less travelled part of Japan you’re both helping prevent overtourism by visiting important cultural sites like Ishinomaki (one of the areas worst affected by the Tsunami in 2011) and being conscious of the wider culture of Japan.

What’s the highlight of the tour?

Funnily enough, despite the incredible scenery and array of different things to do throughout the tour, the stay at the Kanaya Hotel in Nikko is always a massive hit. It’s a charming, classically styled hotel, which claims to be the oldest of its kind in Japan. The evening meal is always delicious, and really makes Nikko a place our travelers can’t wait to get back to.

There’s Taiko drumming on this tour?

Yes (well, sort of). There’s a visit to the spiritual home of Taiko — Sado island. Because of the fame of the Taiko drummers, they’re rarely there, however, so you’re more likely to catch them on the mainland. However, the island itself is stunning, and gives a different lens through which to view another part of Japanese culture.

And, who knows, you might get lucky and be there when the Taiko drummers have returned from their travels.

In a sentence, why should someone go on A Northern Soul?

It will show you the Japan that’s never promoted on BBC documentaries or TikTok; it’s the tour that will reward anyone willing to take a chance on destinations they’ve never heard of.

And finally, ask me about…

Japanese Buddhism! (Richard has completed the Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage route)

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