Stay at a temple lodge in the beautiful mountain town of Koya-san.
Walk part of the ancient Kumano Kodo on the Nakahechi route; one of only two UNESCO World Heritage listed pilgrimage routes (the other being Santiago de Compostela in Spain).
Visit Kumano’s three major shrines: Hongu, Hayatama and Nachi.
Experience the Shingu River on a boat trip.
Try onsen baths in mountain villages & by the sea.
Take a tour of Kyoto with Riki in his home town.
Join Riki for a local walking tour of Tokyo including the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
Walk two sections of the Nakasendo.
Stay in an atmospheric mountain minshuku on the Nakasendo.
Visit 16th century Matsumoto Castle.
Transport and entry to all places described
Accommodation and meals described
The services of Riki Inamura, the tour escort
Airport-hotel transfers in Japan
Koya-san Women's Pilgrimage (3-4hr) at Mt Koya
Nakahechi route, Takijiri to Chikatsuyu (5hr) on the Kumano Kodo
Nakahechi route, Hosshinmon to Hongu Taisha (3-4hr) on the Kumano Kodo
Mt Kurama to Kibune (2-3hr) in the northern hills of Kyoto
Magome to Tsumago (3-4hr) on the Nakasendo
Tsumago to Nagiso (1.5hr) on the Nakasendo
Yabuhara to Narai (3-4hr) on the Nakasendo
Hotels & Minshuku
Osaka: Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka
Koya-san: Muryokoin temple lodge
Kii Tanabe: Altier Hotel
Chikatsuyu: Chikatsuyu (minshuku)
Kawayu Onsen: Midoriya (onsen hotel)
Nachi: Katsura Urashima (onsen hotel)
Kyoto: Forza Kyoto Shijo Kawaramachi
Tsumago: Daikichi (post-town minshuku)
Matsumoto: Richmond Hotel
Tokyo: Daiwa Roynet Ginza
Arrive Osaka on Sun 5 May 2024
Arrive in Kansai or Itami airports by own arrangement with transfers provided by us to your hotel in Osaka.
Osaka to Koya-san BD
Today, we will take an express train and gondola to Koya-san, which has been Japan's centre of Shingon Buddhism for over a thousand years. We will visit some of its sacred sites before relishing a seasonal vegetarian meal at our temple lodge.
Today, you can relax in this mountain retreat, exploring it as you wish, or join me on the Women's Pilgrimage walk, which follows the perimeter of Koya-san. The new green leaves should be lovely.
Koya-san to Kii Tanabe BD
We make our way to Kii Tanabe via the spectacular skyline road stopping by a view-point enroute. Eat up during our izakaya (Japanese pub) dinner for our walks ahead.
Kii Tanabe to Chikatsuyu (Takijiri to Chikatsuyu walk) BD
Today, we start our walk of the Kumano Kodo on the Nakahechi track from Takijiri to Chikatsuyu. Although steep in parts, the views are terrific. Enjoy dinner at the minshuku by the river.
Chikatsuyu to Kawayu Onsen BD
(Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu Taisha walk)
We’ll take a bus around to the top of the Nakahechi track at Hosshinmon-oji for a panoramic walk through forests and villages, passing tea plantations and terraced fields. Reflect at the grand Hongu Taisha before bussing it to Kawayu Onsen to soak your feet.
Kawayu Onsen to Nachi / Katsura BD
(Travel the Shingu River to Hayatama Taisha by river boat)
As in ancient tradition, we travel by river boat to Hayatama Taisha (conditions permitting). From there, we will charter a bus to make our way to Nachi Taisha. This concludes our pilgrimage of the three shrines. You are really going to enjoy our farewell dinner at the sea-side onsen hotel tonight.
Nachi / Katsura to Kyoto B
After breakfast, we will travel by express train to Kyoto, and in the afternoon, you will be free to explore this lovely historically and culturally significant city as you wish. I grew up in Kyoto so can suggest many places, but I recommend that you head for the Philosopher's Path.
Join Riki for a walking tour of Kyoto including Ryoanji and Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion) in the north of the city, and then Tenryuji in Arashiyama in the west. Tonight, enjoy dinner together, Kyoto style.
Kyoto (Mt Kurama day-walk) B
Today, enjoy your day in Kyoto as you wish, or as an option join Riki for a nice early summer climb across Mt Kurama in the northern hills where Riki was raised. This is a lovely spot just out of the city.
Kyoto to Tsumago (Magome to Tsumago walk) BD
After breakfast, we will take the Shinkansen east to Nagoya, then ride a local train & bus just a short way to Magome. From here we will walk the Nakasendo through hinoki forests and tea houses to the beautiful post-town of Tsumago. Tonight, enjoy a rustic stay in a centuries old post-town inn, once used by samurai and their retainers on the Nakasendo.
Tsumago to Matsumoto via Narai B
(Tsumago to Nagiso & Yabuhara to Narai Nakasendo walks)
Today, we will walk down to Nagiso, stopping by the old Tsumago Castle site which affords great views back towards the Magome Pass. After a short train ride to Yabuhara we walk another section of the Nakasendo over the Torii pass to reach another well-preserved post-town, Narai, which you can explore before we head for the nearby city of Matsumoto, where we'll stay for the night. We will take an evening walk to the 16th century castle for some great pics.
Matsumoto to Tokyo B
We make the journey today by express train to Tokyo, hugging the northern side of Mt Fuji, which with weather permitting, you should be able to view well. When we get to Tokyo's Shinjuku Station, we will take a local train across the city to Ginza, where we will be based for the next two nights. I suggest you try some Tokyo style ramen noodles within the railway viaducts at Yurakucho for dinner if you like.
Take a walking tour of Tokyo with Riki through the old down town area "shitamachi", where you can wish a safe journey ahead at Sensoji (temple) in Asakusa. Then head for the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogaku to learn about the amazing history of this city. In the evening, let's come together for our welcome dinner.
Tokyo, then travel home on Sun 19 May 2024 B
Talk to Riki about extending your stay, or transfer to Narita or Haneda airports for your flight home.