we love to take baths---especially the way they do it in japan! over the last 39 years since the spa was founded, so many people have asked us at ten thousand waves about our favorite japanese hot springs and places to go in japan that we decided to venture forth with our own tour company.

our goal is to share our love of rural japan and its bathing culture with small groups of like-minded bathing afficionados. our specialty is to focus on smaller villages in areas most tourists never venture. we call them “tours for non-tour travelers”: independent and adventurous people only need apply! we escort you to our favorite rural areas, recommend our favorite baths and activities, then
let you loose to enjoy. plenty of free time for solo exploring and, of course, multiple daily baths!  no lectures on endless bus rides or a daily schedule planned for you each and every minute.

think of them as “escorted” tours: we take care of the logistics and the planning but let you free to customize your time as YOU desire. we provide you with a real LOCAL experience of japan: insider access to regional specialties in food and drink (we love to eat and drink!)  plus, daily introductions to our dear home-town friends who produce all the local specialties: sake breweries, restaurants who serve organic and/or hand-grown food, local farmers and regional crafts from pottery to bamboo art.

because of the increasing numbers of people who want to join us in our travels for a 3rd or 4th (or even a 9th!) time, we refashioned an old and a new tour to our lineup, creating the “kyoto, kyushu & kumano kodo” combined tour. you are welcome to join us for one tour or both, as when you combine the two it will give you a complete picture of japan from the north of tohoku to the southern island of kyushu. detailed photo itineraries for each tour can be seen through the links at upper right.

the fall of 2020 will feature our classic “mountains & monkeys tour”––now in its 17th year!––where we travel to the heart of japan’s tallest mountains and hottest water––and bathing snow monkeys! from the northern tohoku prefectures of akita and yamagata to nagano in the heart of the japan alps. classic architecture, small remote villages and gorgeous outdoor baths (some with co-ed bathing!) await.

the “kyoto, kyushu & the kumano kodo” tour travels to the rugged coastline of wakayama prefecture, home to the UNESCO designated pilgrimage route of the kumano kodo. tall ancient forests and temples meet dramatic hot springs right on the ocean. add to that time to explore the mountains and villages of main southern island of kyushu before spending time in the always amazing and dazzling city of kyoto.

all of the inns we frequent we have chosen not only for their spectacular baths and hospitality, but also in large part for their fabulous food. we are big believers in supporting the local communities when we travel, as well as the local farmers and artisans, and we guarantee you will not go hungry! or thirsty for that matter: local, regional sake is also a big part of our tours and we love to share our knowledge.

how to choose?  the cuisine, architecture, and even the hot water are different in each region we travel. if you have not traveled with us before, start with our classic “mountains & monkeys” tour to get a great overview of all that the mountains of northern japan have to offer---as well as a visit to the famous bathing snow monkeys. if you have your heart set on the romantic city of kyoto, then join for the “kyushu island & kyoto tour” which offers a contrast between elegance of kyoto with the rugged rural coastline of wakayama. you are also most welcome to combine both tours back to back for a comprehensive look at japan from north to south, or even add a few days in kyoto to the end of the northern tour with our assistance.

we hope you are able to join us in our continuing exploration of japan and its hot spring culture in 2020. but above all, and always, happy bathing!

sincerely, deborah fleig

director, ten thousand waves tours


“mountains & monkeys”

october 10 – 27, 2020

18 days ¥848,000

(approx. $7700 as of 1/20/20

price per person/double occupancy)

“kyoto, kyushu &

the kumano kodo”

october 29–november 17, 2020

20 days ¥1,025,000

(approx. $9300 as of 1/20/20

price per person/double occupancy)

nyuto onsen, akita prefecture.

one of the overnight stops on the “mountains & monkeys tour”

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regarding our trips:

the  main public bath on the beach

of shirahama onsen, part of the

“kyoto, kyushu & kumano” tour

one of the many baths in zao onsen, yamagata prefecture

an exquisite seasonal meal:

a true work of art (what to eat first?!)

fall 2020 tours