2017 Japan’s Sacred Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Cherry Blossom Tour 14 Nights

This tour takes in Tokyo, Nara, UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo and Kyoto. Join in a Taiko drumming evening and participate in cultural activities such as indigo dyeing and making of a bamboo speaker

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Where do we go – and Why?

There are only two UNESCO World Heritage Listed pilgrimage walks. One being “The Way of St. James” in Spain and the other “Kumano Kodo” in Wakayama Prefecture Japan. In 2014 Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau and Tourismo de Santiago de Compostela signed a Partnership Cities Agreement to promote and preserve the unique UNESCO World Heritage Pilgrimage Routes of Kumano Kodo and the Way of St. James. They are the pilgrimages of the Rising and the Setting Sun. 2015 was a very significant year as it marked the 1200th Anniversary of the establishment of Koyasan. Until 1873 women were not permitted to enter this sacred and spiritual area of Koyasan.

Tokyo and Nara:

Tokyo the Capital of Japan and home to some 31,000,000 people is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in Asia. Age old traditions and modern technology meld together in this fast moving metropolis.

Nara was the first permanent Capital of Japan founded in 710 and consequently you will find many magnificent historical structures from the 6th – 8th centuries still left intact.

 

Kumano Kodo:

There are three unique sacred sites located deep within the rugged mountains of the Kii-Peninsula of Japan. These sacred sites, Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan and Yoshino & Omine and the amazing pilgrimage routes that connect them all were listed on

UNESCO’s World Heritage List on July 7, 2004. They are known as the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range”.

This Mystical area encompasses spiritual Koyasan and the Kumano Sanzan (Grand Shrines of Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha). Walk in the footsteps of pilgrims past and present, visit Yunomine Onsen which is the only UNESCO World Heritage listed Hot Springs that you can bathe in.

In Koyasan we will stay in a Buddhist Temple which has a history of over 1000 years. Witness the day-to-day life of the Buddhist Monks including the Buddhist morning ceremony and Gomataki Fire Ritual. Soak in one of Japan’s three most famous “beautifying” Onsens at the Kamigoten Ryokan in Ryujin Onsen and enjoy delicious food from the mountains and the sea. Bathe in the beautiful “Bokhido” Cave Baths at Urashima and watch the sunset or sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy a thrilling ride on the Dorokyo Gorge Jet Boat. Experience age old traditions of indigo dyeing, Taiko drumming and enjoy Ume (Plum Liqueur) tasting.

 

Kyoto

In 794 Kyoto or as originally known as Heian-kyo “Tranquillity and Peace Capital” became the seat of Japan’s Imperial Court and remained the capital of Japan until 1868 when at the time of the Imperial Restoration the Government was transferred to Edo now known as Tokyo. Whether you are looking for history, art, craft, culture, gardens, Temples, Shrines, excellent restaurants and beautiful walks Kyoto has it all and more on offer.

From Tokyo to Nara the original Capital of Japan, to Koyasan and through the Sacred Mountains of Japan to Kyoto an elegant and cultural delight, this Tour opens a new and exciting door into Japan each and every day.

This is a small group tour of maximum 14 clients plus an Experienced Australian Tour Escort.

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST are now being accepted.

 

 

 

Land Only Pricing

Twin Share: $5,190.00 per person

Single Occupancy: $5,665.00 per person

Prices are per person

 

This tour is being escorted by Jan Hutton. Jan has been specialising in travel to Japan for over 25 years. Her love of Japan started when she joined Jaltour/JAL in Brisbane in 1988. At the time of her early retirement in 2000, she had the most successful Office and turnover in Australia. Since then she has continued her close association and affection for Japan by escorting groups for the Cherry Blossom, Spring and Autumn seasons.Her firsthand invaluable knowledge of the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo has been gained by escorting groups though this area over the past 9 years.During a recent trip to Japan, Jan was invited to participate in a discussion with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo

Abe and the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture. Mr. Abe was interested in her comments with regards to the growing interest and success of tourism in the Kumano Kodo, Hongu and the overall Wakayama Prefectural area.All destinations on our “Japan’s Sacred Mountains – UNESCO World Heritage” and  “Ancient Roads and beyond” tours are visited frequently by Jan. These visits are from a working point of view to inspect properties, research local points of interest, tourist sites and to gain in-depth information of all areas.Her passion, professionalism and wealth of knowledge of Japan is unsurpassed and she is held in very high regard within the Japan Tourism Industry.She has a working history in Tourism/Travel/Hospitality spanning many years including flight crew, Qantas First Class Lounge Supervisor and DreamWorld Guest Relations Manager on the Gold Coast. . Jan has visited Japan over 60 times both with groups and independently to update her knowledge, renew old acquaintances and plan out new tours.

Click here for Powerpoint presentation of this tour

Inclusions
  • 14 night’s accommodation including one night Temple stay and two nights traditional Japanese accommodation.
  • 10 breakfasts : 3 lunches : 6 dinners
  • All transportation as per itinerary including Shinkansen (bullet train)
  • Shared private shuttle transfer from arrival at Narita Airport to Tokyo Hotel or taxi/shared shuttle from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Hotel
  • Luggage transfer Tokyo to Kyoto (1 piece of luggage per person)
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Private coach and Japanese/English speaking guide 29th March – 2nd April 2017 whilst travelling through UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo.
  • Walk 7.3kms on UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo trail (alternative arrangements available for those not wishing to walk)
  • Cultural activities e.g. indigo dyeing, visiting a cultural centre in Kumano Kodo along with making of a bamboo speaker, Ume (Japanese plum wine) tasting and visiting a unique Wood Jewellery Shop.
  • Jetboat ride on the Kitayama river which is a tributary of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Pilgrimage waterway “Kumano-gawa” to Dorokyo Gorge.
  • Private coach and Japanese/English speaking guide for private day tour of Kyoto on 4th April including lunch Hosted by Experience Japan.
  • Fully escorted within Japan by an experienced Australian Escort

 

Not Included
  • Return Airfares
  • Airport and airline taxes
  • Transportation, meals and/or entrance fees on Free/Leisure Days
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, meals not specified in itinerary/inclusions
  • Kyoto to either Itami or Kansai Airport for flight departure at the end of the tour. This can be prebooked by Experience Japan when it is known what airport you will be departing from
  • Any items not specified in inclusions and itinerary

 

Terms and Conditions
  • All prices are in Australian dollars inclusive of taxes
  • A non-refundable deposit is required within 7 days of booking
  • Full payment is required 60 days prior to travel
  • Tour cost is based on 10 participants. Experience Japan reserves the right to re-cost or cancel the tour should this number not be attained
  • Airfares are not included in the tour price. For the best available quote, please enquire with Experience Japan team
  • Transportation, entrance fees and meals on free days are not included
  • Cultural activities are subject to change
  • Experience Japan does not in any way discriminate against persons with disabilities and/or very limited mobility. However some of the sites visited during our escorted tours may involve some walking and climbing stairs.  Travellers with disabilities and/or very limited mobility are recommended by Experience Japan to be accompanied by their own assistant who is capable of providing all or any assistance that is required.  No special assistance to participants with disabilities and/or very limited mobility is included on any Experience Japan Escorted Tours.  We at Experience Japan reserve the right to refuse participation in any of our Escorted Tours to any participant who we consider is, within reason , likely to impose unfair hardship on Experience Japan and/or its personnel.  As an alternative we at Experience Japan would be more than happy to arrange Independent tour arrangements for those travellers with special needs.
  • It is a requirement that all participants on this tour has a valid international travel insurance. It is recommended to have full comprehensive travel insurance at the time you pay your deposit for a tour. Claims may be made for cancellation due to unexpected medical and unforeseen circumstances as specified in your Insurance policy.
  • Credit card fees apply
  • Cancellation fees apply. 1. Deposit – non-refundable and non-transferable 2. Cancellations inside 60 days prior to departure or failure to commence the tour – 100% of the cost of the tour
  • Prices correct as of 20 May 16 and may change due to currency exchange rate
  • New World Travel Pty Ltd. ABN 84 003 148 196 ATAS: ATASA10506

Itinerary

Friday : 24th March:

Arrival into Narita Airport and transfer by shared private shuttle to our Tokyo Hotel for our three (3) night stay. If arriving into Haneda Airport transfer by taxi/shared shuttle to our Tokyo Hotel.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel Tokyo

 

Saturday : 25th March :

At Leisure : There are optional tours available e.g. Dynamic Tokyo Tour, Mt.Fuji-Hakone Day Tour, Nikko Day Tour etc which are highly recommended to pre-book prior to your departure from Australia. Alternatively your Tour Escort is readily available for suggestions and assistance and will take you sightseeing around Tokyo.

 

Sunday : 26th March :

At Leisure : If you do not wish to join an optional tour your Tour Escort is readily available to take you sightseeing in and around Tokyo.

 

Monday : 27th March : Tokyo to Nara via Kyoto :

Those wishing to transfer their large luggage to Kyoto please have your luggage available adjacent to the Reception Desk on the Ground Floor no later than 7:15am. (1 piece of luggage per person included in Tour).

Transfer to Tokyo Station by taxi and depart on the Shinkansen for Kyoto with an  onward transfer to the local train for Nara. Taxi to our accommodation, leave our luggage and visit Todaiji Temple and the Giant Daibutsu (Buddha). Remainder of day at leisure.

Accommodation: Matsumae Ryokan : Nara

 

Tuesday : 28th March : Nara to Koyasan :

Depart Nara this morning by local train for Koyasan. We will be changing trains at Shin-Imamiya and then change again at Gokurakubashi for the Cable Car to ascend the mountain to Koyasan. Bus from Koyasan Cable Car Station to Koyasan and our Temple accommodation for the night. After lunch we will have an escorted tour through the sacred area of the Okunoin Cemetery were amongst hundreds of centuries old towering cedar trees lie over 200,000 gravestones. Koyasan is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (D)

Accommodation: Eko-In Temple – Koyasan

 

Wednesday: 29th March : Koyasan to Ryujin Onsen :

Early morning Buddhist ceremony including the Fire Ceremony and after breakfast we will meet with our Guide and visit other important areas in Koyasan. These will include Kongobuji which is the Head Temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism and the Danjo Garan Complex.

We will depart Koyasan at 2:00pm and travel over the beautiful Skyline drive to Ryujin Onsen for our overnight stay. Relax in the Onsen (Hot Springs) tonight. (B/D)

Accommodation: Kamigoten Ryokan in Ryujin Onsen

 

Thursday : 30th March : Ryujin Onsen to Kawayu Onsen :

After breakfast this morning we will drive through to Kawayu Onsen and the Midoriya Hotel for our 2 night stay. Today is a cultural day and in the morning we will have the experience of Indigo dyeing and will also visit a local craft centre.  Drive to Takahara and enjoy lunch at Kiri No Sato whilst taking in some spectacular scenery and after lunch put your hand to making a bamboo speaker for your I-Phone. Onto Yunomine Onsen for a visit and this is one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Listed Hot Springs but it is the only one that you can bathe in.     (B/L/D)

Accommodation :  Midoriya Hotel in Kawayu Onsen for 2 nights

 

Friday : 31st March :

Breakfast and then we will drive to Hongu and visit the Hongu Visitor’s Centre. Those not wishing to do the walk today can remain in Hongu sightseeing and relaxing then  meet with the walkers later this afternoon.

The walk today is a lovely walk through the mountains and small villages. The walkers will take the bus through to Kumano Kodo Hosshinmon-oji and walk the World Heritage Kumano Kodo trail through to Kumano Hongu Taisha (7.3 kms). All the walks on the Kumano Kodo Trail are graded with the most difficult walk being 5.0.  Today’s walk is graded as a 2.0 degree of difficulty. We will then meet with the non-walkers and tonight after dinner we will enjoy Taiko (Japanese Drumming) (B/L/D)

 

Saturday : 1st April :  Kawayu Onsen : Kii Katsuura :

Breakfast and then we will drive through to the Jet Boat mooring. We will cruise up through the rugged Dorokyo Gorge which is famous for its steep cliffs, clear emerald waters and unique rock formations. Lunch at the Boat Launch Restaurant. This afternoon we will visit the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, Daimonzaka, Kumano Nachi Taisha and the famous Nachi waterfalls. Onto the Hotel Urashima for our overnight stay and enjoy the famous Bokhido Cave baths.         (B/D)

Accommodation: Hotel Urashima : Kii-Katsuura

 

Sunday : 2nd April :  Kii Katsuura to Tanabe :

After breakfast this morning we will have a brief visit to the Fish Markets, then on our way to Tanabe we will visit the 1000 tatami mat rock formation, Hashigui-Iwa rocks and relax our feet in the footbath at Shirahama. Lunch at  Tore Tore Ichiba and then we will visit a liqueur tasting factory before arriving into Tanabe around 3:00pm. Afternoon free and tonight we will enjoy dinner at an Izakaya Pub.                 (B/D)

Accommodation: Hotel Altier Tanabe or similar

 

Monday : 3rd April  : Tanabe to Kyoto :

Breakfast this morning and then make our way to Kii Tanabe Station and take the train to Kyoto changing at Shin Osaka. On arrival at around midday we will transfer to our Hotel by taxis. Afternoon at leisure. Your Tour Escort can assist with sightseeing and/or shopping options. (B) Alternatively join the “Tea with Maiko” afternoon tour.

Accommodation: Palaceside Hotel or similar for 4 nights.

Tuesday : 4th April : Kyoto :

Breakfast and then meet with our local Tour Guide and coach for our day tour of Kyoto. With the exception of Fushimi Inari Shrine all the sightseeing venues today are UNESCO World Heritage Listed. Visit the famous Ryoanji Temple with its beautiful Zen Garden which dates from the 15th century. Onto Kinkakuji “Golden Pavilion” whose walls are completely covered with gold leaf. Our next stop is Nijojo Castle built in 1603 as a residence for the first Tokugawa Shogun After lunch (Hosted by Experience Japan) we traverse to the opposite side of Kyoto and visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine which is the headquarters of about 40,000 Inari shrines all over Japan. Founded in 711 it is also noted for the sight of 7,000+  torii (shrine gates) that are positioned over a long  path up to the hill behind the shrine.                          (B/L)

 

Wednesday : 5th April : Kyoto at leisure :

Day tours such as Hiroshima/Miyajima, Half Day Nara, Walking Arashiyama are available. It is recommended to prebook these tours prior to your departure from Australia. If you would like to join with your Tour Escort she is happy to take you sightseeing and/or shopping around Kyoto. Some sights to be included would be Kiyomizu-dera, Sannenzaka & Ninnenzaka, Maruyama Park, Ginkaku-ji and the Path of Philosophy (B)

 

Thursday : 6th April : Kyoto at leisure :

Your Tour Escort will take you sightseeing – Heian Shrine, Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall and maybe Arashiyama and the famous Bamboo Groves. (B)

 

Friday : 7th April :  Departure for Australia (B)

Depending upon which Airport your departure flight leaves from we can arrange a shuttle transfer for you from the Hotel to the Airport. This can be done prior to your departure from Australia and this cost is not included in your Tour price.

“This was a wonderful tour, offering such a rich variety of experiences, from the exhilaration of taiko drumming to being served sake by a maiko , from great shopping in busy markets to the serenity of walking sacred pilgrim trails. The incredible food was another highlight, as were the relaxing onsen which were often in magical settings. Jan is an outstanding tour guide, relaxed and fun to travel with yet totally professional at the same time. Her wealth of knowledge about Japan and her personal ties with many people in the places we stayed enriched our travel experience. All the transport and accommodation were really well organised. We loved staying in traditional ryokan, the overnight stay at Kamigoten being especially memorable. The autumn leaves at Koyasan were beautiful and also the many temples shrines and gardens. ” Louise and Keith “We went on the Sacred Mountains and Beyond Autumn Leaves Tour in Oct/Nov 2016 with Jan Hutton as our guide.  We cannot speak more highly of the fantastic time we had from start to finish and we know this was largely because of the excellent organization by experiencejapan.com.au and the care and concern shown by Jan throughout.  We loved the buzz of Tokyo as well as seeing the Meiji shrine and the vast cedar forest it lies within.  The Izakaya pub meals were great.  The Todaiji temple enclosing the Great Buddha in Nara was immense and then to be made very comfortable at Matsumae ryokan and entertained by a delightful musician.  At Koyasan in the mountains of the Kii peninsula, we visited temples and gardens all made more stunning by the intense autumn colours.  Staying in a buddhist temple and attending the lengthy chanting of the sutras and a fire ceremony was a powerful experience even for a non-Buddhist.  Walking the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail with our learned guide Shu was particularly wonderful as we saw small  subsistence farms where rice, fruit trees and numerous vegetables grew as well as being in giant cedar forests and visiting temples and shrines.  Relaxing in the hot springs onsens at various ryokans and hotels was very pleasant as well as the delicious multi-faceted Japanese cuisine.  Being entertained by the Taiko drummers was a special treat and we were so glad we recorded it.  Kyoto is an exquisite city with so many interesting areas to draw you in and the hotel being positioned for us to easily access the trains; although it is a walker’s city and we did a lot of that as we stayed on for a few days after the end of tour.  Having a conversation and drinking sake with a interesting young woman, a Geiko after a wonderful music and dance performance at Gion Kaikan was memorable.  We never tired of the temples, shrines and gardens really because they are embedded in Kyoto itself so one is buying from stalls or eating street food right alongside these sacred structures!  Fortunately we were part of a friendly, easy going group of Australians and with Jan’s limitless knowledge and great sense of humour we remain very grateful to have struck upon experiencejapan.com in our search for an organized tour of Japan.” Kathy and Barry

 

“Fred and myself just returned form a tour in Japan run by Jan Hutton and we are still talking about how wonderful and interesting our trip was. We were most impressed by the way it had been organised with the initial supply of material relevant to each day of the trip. The tour was well structured and gave a good insight into one area of Japan. We commend Jan for her knowledge, guidance and patience with all members of the group. She was able to give us a good feel of the Japanese culture and lead us from one destination to another with so much ease and confidence. We had a wonderful time and look forward to more trips to different parts of Japan. Jan is real credit to the tour operators and is a very good ambassador to the tourism industry. Best regards Nicole and Fred”

“The Sacred mountains and beyond tour was wonderful and very well planned. Not only did we experience Tokyo and Kyoto, the must see places of Japan, but we were taken by Jan to experience a pocket of Japan that was truly tranquil, Wakayama prefecture. Throughout the tour I met many native Japanese friends of Jan, who would spend the day with us, proudly showing their local area. Their rapport with Jan reaffirmed that we were experiencing something truly unique to this tour company. The sights that we saw during this tour were spectacular and the cultural experiences were interesting and special. This tour gave me the real hands on experience of Japan. I learned to use the public transport systems, which made me feel autonomous during free leisure times.  This tour has surpassed my expectations and I am very excited to visit Japan again in the near future. Emily”

 

“Dear Mihoko,                     My daughter made the bookings for our trip and I accepted ‘experienceJapan’ as a trading name. I am absolutely delighted to report that  experience Japan is just what we did.With Jan’s expert guidance and leadership we toured markets and specialty shops and found great places to dine.We were grateful for the alternative to free time and took up Jan’s offer to show us more sights.At this time we learnt how to manage rail travel and ticket buying and that trains wait for no one. The Bullet Train was a long awaited experience.And then the Cable Car to the Eko-In Buddhist Temple.  We had the privilege of attending meditation before the vegetarian meal then rising before 6am to witness the morning prayers by the Monks followed by a Fire Ceremony. All something very special. The late night tour of the ancient Okunoin cemetery with an English speaking Monk was a highlight. It was 2 degrees! Over 200,000 gravestones. Days of experiences that recent visitors to Japan tell me that they did not see.The World Heritage Kumano Kodo Trail, the jet boat cruise through steep cliffs,Indigo dyeing [ hands on ] the superb craftsman of wooden jewellery and my absolute favourite Japanese Drumming, closely followed by Tea with a Maiko who also spoke English and allowed endless photos to be taken. The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom and we wandered beside canals and Palaces. I firmly believe that Jan’s knowledge and her many contacts and the pre planning with marked maps and information gave us an advantage. We were lucky to have some excellent fellow travellers who were always on time and never lost. A great bunch of people.I would make a word of warning to those who have trouble sleeping and sitting inches off the floor that they may not cope with all the accommodation but other than that, do as we did, and have a ball. Thanks Jan for the fun and friendship. Best regards, Nola Rush”

 

 

“I went on this wonderful trip in March/April and enjoyed it immensely.  This was my first trip to Japan and the itinerary was an excellent introduction to this fascinating and beautiful country.  It met, and often exceeded, all my expectations in terms of places visited, options, accommodation.    I will definitely visit again. Jan’s tour was strongly recommended to me by friends who had travelled with her previously, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.   Her love for Japan and knowledge added significantly to the experience.  I liked the flexibility and the free time was just right as one’s confidence with this new environment grew. On this trip there were some attendees who could be described as “challenges” and I did wonder why they chose such a tour.  In spite of these disparate couples and coming down with a virus, Jan soldiered on admirably to give us a first rate trip. Regards Janet”

 

“Hi Jan

We were at a family 60th Wedding Anniversary party yesterday and everyone was asking about our trip to Japan. We were happy to tell them all about the wonderful time we had! I was trying to think of highlights but there were so many it is impossible to narrow it down to a couple. If pressed I would have to say the cherry blossoms (of course), the maiko/geiko experiences and the Japanese drumming but many of the other experiences were very memorable too. Thanks for the translation of the newspaper article.

I hope you have a few weeks rest before your next trip but knowing you I expect you will not slow down much!

We also had a smooth trip home with no delays. The trip was wonderful and very enjoyable. The variety of activities and accommodations made for an interesting two weeks and I am waxing lyrical to friends and family about it. Thanks so much for a great holiday experience that will stay with us forever.

Lindsey and Graham xx”

 

“Hi Jan

Thank you for the welcome home email and for all your expert help during the trip. We had such a wonderful time and appreciated the way the Japanese way of life worked so well. We Australians could learn a thing or two from them regarding their good cheer,absolute politeness and efficient running of everything from trains to hotels. It all seemed a bit chaotic when we got off the plane but guess we will soon get used to the Aussie laidback approach again. We could not have had more fun. Thanks again,best regards Bruce and Lynne”

 

“Hi Jan – thank you for a wonderful trip to Japan. The whole tour was made even more special due to your personal involvement taking us personally around the local areas of Tokyo and Kyoto.

I have just received the translated newspaper article on the bamboo speakers and of course had a little laugh of the comments made by the different foreign guests!!

Take care and I hope in the near future I can get time to do another of your interesting trips.

Denise”

 

“Hi Jan.

Once again sitting at airport, must say looking forward to getting back to normal.

Thank you for the great trip and introducing Japan to me. I have come away with not one bad impression of the country and it peoples.

You are one fabulous tour guide. Missing the onsans and my onsan partners.

Take care.

Your onsan partner.Karen xxxx”

 

“Hi Jan

Well I must say I am still shell shocked at being back home. I had an absolutely fabulous time as did Karen. Karen even made it to a Sushi train on Thursday night with her family at the Sunshine Plaza.

Thank you so much for a wonderful tour and providing us with so many wonderful experiences. Yes those Onsen’s are very addictive. Now I need to save up for the next trip.

Cheers Deryn”