Small Group Tour IJT Classic

A Northern Soul

14 Nights: from US$5350 Trip Code: ANS

The northern reaches of Japan's main island hold some of the country's most beguiling attractions: rugged national parks, mountaintop temple communities, and enchanting hot spring villages. A Northern Soul introduces some of these hidden delights, revealing a side of Japan rarely seen by outsiders. Read more >

The region of Tohoku lies north of Tokyo, stretching all the way up to the tip of Honshu Island and encompassing six prefectures. This is one of the most remote regions in Japan, with a reputation for stunning scenery, deep winters, and exceptionally warm hospitality - and until 2011 it was a name virtually unknown to the outside world.

Then, on the 11th of March, this unassuming region suddenly found itself at the centre of the world's attention thanks to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. To help you understand the effects of the earthquake the tour will include a visit to Ishinomaki (one of the towns worst affected by the tsunami) where you'll have the chance to hear about events first-hand from a local volunteer guide.

Tohoku is a truly beautiful region and this tour is packed with stunning locations and fascinating cultural experiences - including several World Heritage Sites. As part of this tour you'll visit beautiful Matsushima Bay, considered one of the top three scenic views in Japan; historic Hiraizumi, whose golden temple rivals Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto for brilliance; and Naruko Onsen, a charming onsen town where hot spring steam billows through the wood-panelled streets. Outside of the Tohoku region you'll also visit the monumentally elaborate temples of Nikko, final resting place of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the abandoned gold mines of Sado Island, a rural isle known for its world-famous taiko drummers.

This is a fantastic itinerary taking you well off the beaten path into Japan's magical northern reaches. Though most of Tohoku was completely untouched by the disaster of 2011, the whole region has suffered the effects of a decline in tourism to the area, so your presence will be greatly appreciated by the hotels, inns, restaurants and museums we'll visit on the tour.

If this sounds good and makes you want to see even more, why not extend your tour in Japan!

The tour leader will be staying at the first hotel for two nights before the tour starts so they will be available for advice if you choose to book pre tour nights. We recommend booking at least one extra night to check in and relax before the tour begins. 

Important Practical Information

Group Size: 4 - 14

Single Supplement: This tour has a single supplement which guarantees a single room throughout the tour.

Fitness: Even when not using public transport, sightseeing in Japan often involves walking between sights, climbing up steps in temples and being 'on the go' for much of the day. To enjoy any of our Small Group Tours you should be of moderate fitness, able to walk and climb stairs without difficulty and able to maintain a pace that is comfortable for the majority of the group.

Transport: Please note that most transfers are by public transport making use of Japan's first-rate transport network.

Luggage: We highly recommend that to make your stay more enjoyable you pack reasonably light. Large suitcases will be an inconvenience to you. A small case or bag with wheels or a rucksack are most appropriate for this tour as you will have to carry your bags for short distances and some stations do not have escalators or elevators/lifts. You will also need a small overnight back-pack (for up to two nights) for use when we forward our main bags to the next location.

Accommodation: All accommodation has en-suite facilities.

International Flights: This tour starts and finishes in Tokyo for arrivals and departures at Tokyo Narita Airport or Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Check-in: Please note that rooms at the Tokyo hotel are only available from 3pm. (You can, however, securely leave your luggage at the front desk at any time).

At a glance

What's Included >

What's included

  • 14 nights' accommodation
  • Breakfast every day, one lunch and seven evening meals
  • All transport between destinations in Japan, including airport transfers
  • IC transport card with 2,500 yen credit for city transport
  • Loop bus pass for transport in Hiraizumi
  • Full day private guide service in Nikko
  • Two full days' private guide service on Sado Island
  • Sumida River bus trip and entry to Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo
  • Entrance fees for temples and shrines in Nikko
  • Day trip to the Yugendo Caves, including boat trip & paper-making workshop
  • Kokeshi doll painting workshop and a visit to the doll museum
  • 1.5 hour tour of Ishinomaki with a volunteer guide
  • Sightseeing tour of Matsushima Bay
  • Dairy visit & ice cream making in Zao Onsen
  • Entrance fees for two days' sightseeing on Sado Island
  • Taiko drumming experience on Sado Island

What's NOT included:

  • International flights
  • Any local transport (subways, taxis, buses) unless covered by the included transport passes
  • Entrance fees (including those for temples, shrines and museums) unless otherwise specified
  • Baggage handling and luggage forwarding unless otherwise specified

View full price information >

Tour Price Information

  • Tour Price: From US$5350
  • Single Supplement: US$507

Extra Nights

  • Pre-Tour: Twin Share pp US$101 Single pp US$101
  • Post-Tour: Twin Share pp US$108 Single pp US$130


  • Tour Price: From US$5792
  • Single Supplement: US$507

Extra Nights

  • Pre-Tour: Twin Share pp US$104 Single pp US$113
  • Post-Tour: Twin Share pp US$134 Single pp US$163

Tour Highlights

  • Take a boat trip through Matsushima Bay, one of Japan's top three scenic views
  • Learn about the effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki
  • Admire Japan's religious architecture in Nikko
  • If all this sounds great and makes you want to see even more, why not extend your stay in Japan!
  • Have a go at taiko drumming in its spiritual home, Sado Island
  • Try your hand at paper-making and traditional kokeshi doll painting
  • Visit the ancient temples of Hiraizumi, Kyoto's former rival in the north

For more information email us: [email protected] or call: 303 952 0379

What, where, when and how...

A Northern Soul - 15 Days - Accommodation

A Northern Soul - 15 Days - Booking

Single supplement from £350

Tour Reviews

(12 month average based on 4 reviews)

Tour Reviews

(12 month average based on 4 reviews)

5.0 out of 5 from 4 reviews Show all A Northern Soul Reviews

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