Experience the stunning Sanin UNESCO Geopark and coastline along the Japan Sea, from Northern Kyoto to Hyogo and Mount Daisen in Tottori.

Northern Kyoto and the Sanin Coast: Self-Drive 7 Days Premium

Starting from USD6140 / 7 days

Northern Kyoto and the Sanin Coast: Self-Drive 7 Days Premium

Enjoy the exceptional beauty of the Kyoto Tango peninsula and the Sanin Kaigan coastline through a 7-day self-drive tour beginning from central Kyoto or Osaka and ending in Tottori city. Visit the scenic Amanohashidate sandbar, Oeyama mountain range and the remote Tango peninsula, along with visits to unique and historically significant villages such as the secluded fishing port Ine-cho, together with first-class bathing in spas at Kinosaki Onsen and Hawai Onsen at Lake Togo. While sampling local cuisine, learn about each regions culture, and walk along picturesque forest and coastal walking paths. Visit ancient temples, vast sand dunes of Tottori prefecture, atmospheric Mount Mitoku, and enjoy a truly remarkable hike to the ancient Ogamiyama Shrine on Mount Daisen in Daisen-Oki National Park, with panoramic views overlooking the Sea of Japan. The area has been considered a sacred center of ascetic shugendo training for centuries, and still provides rich nature hiking today.

 

Highlights

  • Experience the scenic and diverse geographic regions of Oeyama mountain range, Tango Peninsula, Sanin Kaigan UNESCO Geopark, Sand Dunes of Tottori and Mount Daisen in Daisen-Oki National Park
  • Relax yourself at a variety of high-quality traditional onsen hot spring lodgings offering a premium experience in northern Kyoto, Kinosaki Onsen, and Tottori
  • Sample some of Japan’s freshest seafood and delicious seasonal cuisine of the Sanin region
  • Visit Mount Oe with a local walking guide, and stroll along the picturesque Amanohashidate sandbar known as "the bridge to heaven"
  • Experience casual E-bike cycling around the scenic bay of Ine while taking in the coastal village atmosphere
  • Enjoy optional walking along scenic sections of the coastal Sanin Geopark trail and through natural beech tree forest on Mount Daisen at Daisen-Oki National Park

Situated along the Sea of Japan coast, the Sanin Coastal region stretches from the Tango peninsula in Northern Kyoto prefecture west to Hyogo and Tottori prefectures. Today, the old capital of Kyoto city is known for its rich culinary traditions, however it is from the northern part of Kyoto and the wider Sanin coastal region, an area blessed with rich fertile land and clean water, where much of the freshest seafood and seasonal ingredients have been sourced since ancient times.

The vast Sanin Kaigan UNESCO Geopark also offers a variety of stunning ocean and mountain views with gentle coastal walks. The region's numerous geo-thermal hot springs means you’ll have consistent opportunities to experience tranquil onsen hot spring lodgings along the way, taking in the Sanin region’s idyllic mix of luxury and rustic charm. 

In addition to overnight stays in restorative Onsen Ryokan, the tour also includes a night in a unique private Funaba seaside inn along the bay in Ine village. Your journey allows multiple opportunities to explore the villages on foot or by bicycle in a few locations. Due to the gentle nature of the optional walking and cycling, this tour is ideal for couples and families. Please see here for other trips suited to families.

As an alternative to the morning walk at Mt. Oe on Day 2, it is also possible to join a unique culinary experience with a local expert to learn about the deep world of Japanese miso cultivation, and its distinct health benefits as a fermented superfood. Your local culinary expert will provide a workshop lecture in English, and crafted meals (please specify this request upon booking).


Hybrid Rental Car 

Travel in comfort with your own eco-friendly hybrid rental car, equipped navigation device in English, and a tailored itinerary featuring our curated stops and suggested eateries, and make your own unique discoveries and connections with local people throughout your journey.

What's Included

  • 6 nights at Japanese inns (most with onsen), with 6 breakfasts & 5 dinners
  • 7 Days Car Rental - Toyota Prius or similar (Automatic, mid-size car) *(Larger size car can be arranged upon request)
  • Driving route information in GPS
  • Services of a professional guide in Kyo-Tango on Day 2
  • Train tickets starting your tour from either Kyoto city or Osaka city
  • Detailed day-by-day itinerary and the local support of our Kyoto based team
  • Our ‘Preparing For Your Trip’ and ‘Travelling in Japan’ guidebooks

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Pay locally for other transportation options
  • Single room supplement(s) if required

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1 - Arrive to Miyazu bay - explore Amanohashidate

Your journey begins this morning from your choice of Osaka city or Kyoto city, with an express train to Miyazu bay along the Sea of Japan. Upon arrival receive your pre-arranged rental car in Miyazu for your onward journey over the coming days. 

Miyazu boasts excellent views out over Wakasa bay and the Japan Sea. Take time to walk or cycle leisurely along the pine tree-covered Amanohashidate sandbar, considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan and a natural land bridge across Miyazu bay.

If time allows, ride the cable car to the top of Kasamatsu Park for spectacular coastal and mountain views, and to nearby Nariai-ji Temple, a scenic spiritual spot, and one of the historic temples numbered among the ancient ‘Saigoku Kannon’ Pilgrimage route of West Japan.

This evening experience delicious local cuisine and excellent Onsen hot spring baths at your inn in Miyazu.

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan lodging 

Meals: Dinner

Day 2 - Mount Oe walking, the Chirimen Kaido and Ine village

After breakfast, meet with your local walking guide at the inn and travel together by car to Mount Oe (Oeyama) - a sub-alpine mountain range spanning Tango Amanohashidate Oeyama National Park and an ideal place for nature walking. Learn of the many local legends about Oni (Japanese ogre) as the mountain area here is believed to be their home. You’ll also visit the nearby town of Oe, home to three ancient shrines, known as ‘Moto-Ise Sansha’ (three former Shrines of Ise), and considered to be previous locations of the renowned Ise Grand Shrine now located in Mie Prefecture.

In the afternoon, visit the historic district in Yosano town and join a local guide to learn about the Chirimen Kaido (Silk Road), an old trade road running through town, which once thrived as a center of silk trade since the Edo-period. The local-produced ‘Tango chirimen’ silk fabric played a vital role in supporting Japan’s Kimono culture, and today still produces 60 percent of Japan’s kimono fabrics. Kaya is also an Important Preservation District still retaining many traditional buildings and former merchant houses from its storied past. Take time to visit a former merchant family residence and Tango Chirimen Historical Museum before heading up to the Tango Peninsula, the northernmost region of Kyoto prefecture on the Japan Sea. After meeting your guide, you will be invited to a private showing of a unique chirimen textile studio to see the innovative techniques implemented first hand.

Overnight this evening in the wonderfully preserved and secluded seaside village of Ine-cho. Enjoy the wonderful scenery from your room at one of the relaxing Funaba private waterside houses where you will stay, with meals prepared with deliciously fresh seafood caught in the local bay.

As an alternative to the morning walk on Mt. Oe, it may also be possible to join a unique culinary experience with a local expert to learn about the deep world of Japanese miso cultivation, and its distinct health benefits as a fermented superfood, with a workshop lecture in English.


Accommodation: Funaba waterside inn

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 - Ine Bay cycling, Tango peninsula, Cape Kyoga and Kinosaki Onsen

This morning, enjoy the village with casual E-bike cycling of about 6km around the interior of Ine Bay, lined with over 230 Funaya wooden boat houses which sit right up along the water. The area is also designated as one of Japan’s most beautiful villages. After Ine, head further north to enjoy scenic driving and local culture along the Tango Peninsula, including Cape Kyoga - with an optional 4km loop walk to the lighthouse. Visit Sodeshi village where over 400 rice terraces stretch out between the steep mountainside and the ocean, creating a harmonious view between the village and the sea. Enroute, stop by scenic Kumihama bay and historic Inaba Honke merchant residence, featuring wonderfully preserved traditional architecture from the Edo-period. 

In the afternoon, arrive and explore the historic hot spring town of Kinosaki Onsen, your overnight location for this evening with an authentic Japanese onsen hot spring inn. Kinosaki Onsen dates back over 1,300 years and features some of Japan’s best hot springs, where visitors can enjoy any of the seven public baths scattered around the town. An evening stroll while wearing Japanese yukata wear makes for an especially atmospheric experience. 

Optional cycling distance: 6km / 4 miles on mostly flat, gentle coastal paths

Optional walking distance: 4km / 2.5 mile loop walk on a flat coastal path

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan lodging 

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


Day 4 - Kinosaki, Sanin Kaigan Geopark Trail walking and Iwai Onsen

After breakfast, visit nearby Onsenji Temple and hilltop lookout surrounded by mountains overlooking Kinosaki bay. The main hall of the temple dates back to 738 and can be accessed by a short 20-minute nature walk up the mountain or via a convenient ropeway. A longer 2-hour hike to the top of Mount Daishi overlooking Kinosaki Onsen town is also possible. 

Later in the morning travel up further along the coast of Hyogo Prefecture to explore the Sanin Kaigan UNESCO Geopark and two optional coastal foot-path walks. The first walk follows a small peninsula on the northernmost tip of Hyogo Prefecture towards a seaside lighthouse with excellent panoramic views. The roundtrip walk is just under 5km on a well-maintained path. 

The second walk of the day is about 4km and follows a gentle route with beautiful views of an "aerial train" line and a nature path with excellent views out over the Sea of Japan.

In the afternoon, make a brief stop at the Imeitei Museum, a well-preserved traditional Japanese home once the residence of an influential merchant family dating back to the Edo-period, with many historical and cultural artifacts on display, including a former sake brewery and beautiful Japanese garden.

Return to Kinosaki Onsen later in the day for a second relaxing evening in the secluded hot spring town. 


Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan lodging 

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Uradome Coast, Tottori Sand Dunes, Sanbutsuji Temple in Tottori

This morning you'll travel to the picturesque Uradome Coast, with stunning views of natural sea walls, caves, and jagged rocks that protrude from the emerald-colored waters. The pine trees atop the rocks here have become naturally stunted over time, giving the coastline the appearance of a natural bonsai tree garden.   Here, you can enjoy 3km of scenic walking along one of the best sections of the Geopark trail, overlooking the coves below. 

If favoring to see the coast by sea, we can also arrange a half-morning guided Kayak experience to explore the views up close from a different angle (please enquire for further details).  

Enroute to Tottori city, you may like to take time to see the iconic sand dunes of Tottori and the engaging sand museum, which houses world-class sand art installations and new sculptures continuously on display. 

In the afternoon, head into the mountains of Tottori and visit the atmospheric Sanbutsuji Temple at Mount Mitoku, before arriving at your accommodation.   According to legend, in the late seventh century, the Japanese mystic ‘En no Gyoja’ established Mt. Mitoku as one of three sacred mountains of ascetic Shugendo practice (the other two being Mt. Ishizuchiyama in Ehime Prefecture, and Yoshino in Nara Prefecture). At the foot of Mt. Mitoku is the Sanbutsuji Temple complex with a remarkable wooden architectural structure clinging to the side of a sheer cliff face, named ‘Nageirido‘, meaning “thrown in temple”, which follows the legend of En no Gyoja using his mystic powers to ‘throw’ the Nageirido hall on to the side of the sheer cliff wall. Visitors to Sanbutsuji Temple can enjoy viewing the Nageirido from a scenic distance and exploring the temple grounds and on-site treasure hall, which houses a variety of unique, historical artifacts dating back over a thousand years.

Later today, arrive at the lakeside hot spring town of Hawai Onsen, nestled along peaceful Lake Togo and your base for the next two nights with a comfortable Japanese Onsen hotel. Hawai Onsen is surrounded by verdant nature with panoramic lake and mountain views, where natural hot springs flow from vents coming from the center of the lake.


Alternatively, overnight in the ancient hot spring town of Misasa Onsen, with an authentic Onsen Ryokan inn. The delightful hot spring town sits along a river valley between two sacred mountains - Mt Mitoku just to the east, and Mt. Daisen further to the west - and has been drawing pilgrims for more than a thousand years who come to rejuvenate, as well as modern-day explorers on a quest to experience some of Japan’s best hot springs and nature.

Accommodation: Japanese Onsen Hotel or Onsen Ryokan lodging (in Hawai Onsen or Misasa Onsen)

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


Day 6 - Mount Daisen Hike, Kurayoshi town and Hawai Onsen

Today is free to explore at your own pace. We suggest visiting nearby Daisen-Oki National Park which features world-class hiking through pristine nature and sacred Mount Daisen at its center. You have the option to explore two optional entry-level nature hikes of 3-6 hours, through ancient beech forest, visiting the historic Daisenji Temple, which is said to have been founded in 718, before arriving to the secluded Ogamiyama Shrine, with some of Japan’s best sandalwood painted murals and sculptures - the longer walk extends up to the top of Mt. Daisen. The forest walk features some of Tottori’s most pristine nature and fantastic views out over the Sea of Japan.

The gentle slopes of Mt. Daisen are reminiscent of Mt Fuji, and its name “Daisen 大山” means “Great Mountain” in Japanese. For over 1,300 years the area has also been long revered as a place of significance in the world of mountain-asceticism. Take time to explore the pristine nature, culture and views around Mt. Daisen as exploration of the area can easily fill an entire day. 

If wishing to forego the optional hikes, a leisurely drive around the mountain and well-kept roads is highly recommended as another option. The scenic roads here provide a kaleidoscope of color and living art from spring through fall season. 


Short walk

Walking distance: 6.6km (4.1 miles)

Elevation gain: 285 meters (935 feet) of ascent and descent

Time: about 2-3 hours in total, including lunch and rest breaks

Long walk

Walking distance: 11km (6.8 miles)

Elevation gain: 1,002 meters (3,282 feet) of ascent and descent

Time: about 5-6 hours in total, including lunch and rest breaks


After a day of exploring the region, return to your accommodation and relax with a relaxing soak in rejuvenating hot springs at your inn. This evening you will be free to explore meal options in the local area from our suggested recommendations.

Accommodation: Japanese Onsen Hotel or Onsen Ryokan lodging (in Hawai Onsen or Misasa Onsen)

Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 - Return to Tottori City and travel onward

After breakfast, visit the historic town of Kurayoshi, before ending your tour in Tottori city. Kurayoshi retains an old-world charm and numerous well-preserved merchant quarters, with distinct white-walled storehouses evoking past generations.

This final day also offers optional additional outdoor activities such as forest therapy hiking and waterfall walking (shower climbing) in the Chizu-juku region, as well as the chance to visit art galleries and the castle ruins in Tottori.

In Tottori City, return your rental car at Tottori Station or Tottori Airport before traveling onward  from the region.

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