Fly over Japan and you will see that the entire archipelago is mountainous except for a narrow strip of coastal shelf, a few broad inland basins and some river valleys. Those flatter lands are where the bulk of the population lives. The mountains are surprisingly unpopulated. From a distance it may seem that the old Samurai-and-Geisha traditions have given way to the mechanical marvels of consumer culture, but come closer and you will find a society shaped by deeply ingrained values, with many living traditions.
On this exceptional hand crafted itinerary you will first explore the beautiful remote town of Kawazu. You will then head to the Kii Peninsula, one of the mostremote and mystical areas of Japan. Long a place of pilgrimage, it is the site of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan), and where, for over 1000 years people from all levels of society have made the arduous and sacred pilgrimage to Kumano, the spiritual heartland of Japan. These pilgrims used a network of routes, now called the Kumano Kodo, and it is through this lush and rugged area that we will walk, ascending and descending on unpaved and paved mountain and village trails. Walking the spiritual Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route you will also have wonderful opportunities to stay in traditional family run ryokans, soak and relax in the healing waters of an isolated onsen, dine on delicious local cuisine and interact with the friendly locals along the way. This is a unique adventure and a must for anyone looking for a trip that encompasses spectacular hiking along ancient pilgrimage trails with the cuisine, history, art and culture of a deeply traditional society.
On arrival in Tokyo you will be transferred to your hotel. There will be a group briefing this evening with your guide at the hotel followed by a visit to a delicious local restaurant for your first true Japanese meal. After dinner, we will take a walking tour of some of Tokyo’s popular sights including Shibuya, Harajuku & Omotesando. Overnight in a traditional Japanese style Inn.
Today we start our sightseeing visiting Asakusa, the traditional neighbourhood of Tokyo with its famous Kaminari-mon Gate and large red lantern. Enjoy a sightseeing boat trip along the Sumida River into Tokyo Bay. Afterwards we visit the lovely Hamarikyu Gardens and finish the day off in Shinjuku. Overnight in a traditional Japanese style Inn.
This morning is at leisure in Tokyo until noon when we take the Shinkansen (a high speed railway line) to Atami. From here we change trains to Shimoda at the bottom of the peninsula. This is about a 3 hour journey. Overnight at Villa Shirahama which will be your home base for the next 4 nights.
Today you will explore the nearby town of Kawazu. Kawazu is a town located on the east coast of Izu Peninsula in Kamo District.
We make our way up into the mists of Koya San, an ancient Buddhist retreat high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Established in 816 by the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Koya San remains an important pilgrimage point for believers from all over Japan to come and worship and we have the chance to stay in one of the many working monasteries which open their doors to travelers. We take this unique opportunity to experience the life of a monk, eating pure vegetarian food designed to nurture the soul as well as fill the stomach and take part in the evening meditation. Overnight in a Japanese temple.
Over the next few days we will be walking the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails. The Kodo (“old ways”) are a key part of the region’s UNESCO designation, and have been in use for over 1000 years. The pilgrimage routes developed as a way for people to move between the sacred areas on the Kii Peninsula. At the center of this religious area are the three Kumano shrines: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha, collectively known as Kumano Sanzan. Along the journey we will see some temple ruins, remains of old settlements, some active settlements, and terraced rice
fields. This is a glimpse into the countryside of old Japan. Today we will walk from Mt Koya to Omata. Walking approx 17 km/6-7 hours. Overnight Nosegawa Spa. ( Japanese style Minshuku)
Today we will walk from Omata to Miuraguchi, 19 km, approx 6-8 hours. Overnight in Japanese style Minshuku.
Walk Miuraguchi to Totsugawa Onsen, 19km, approx 6-8 hours. Our accommodation this evening is once again in a Japanese style Minsh
Today we travel to Kyoto in the morning and spend the afternoon and evening on a walking tour of the many sites , temples and shrines. This ancient Japanese capital is the epicentre of Japanese culture. Overnight in a traditional style Inn.
This morning is spent at leisure before being transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Per Person, Twin Share