Sacred Mountains – UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo Autumn Tour 2018 14 Nights

Contact Us
27th October – 10th November 2018 


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.







Video courtesy of Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

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, the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano which are 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 (Eko-In) 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, enjoy Ume (Plum Liqueur) tasting and try your hand at making a bamboo speaker for your IPhone.



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 plus an experienced “Experience Japan” Australian Tour Escort.

Land Only Pricing

Twin Share: $5,350 per person

Single Occupancy: $5,840 per person


TOUR ESCORT : 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 “Sacred Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo Tour”, “ Autumn Leaves, Alps and Ancient Roads Tour”, “Enchanting Tohoku Cherry Blossom Tour” and “Splendours of Shikoku” 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 Japanese 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 70 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

Click here for flyer of this tour


  • 14 nights 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 from Haneda Airport to 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 1st November through to 5th November 2018 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 and Umeshu (Japanese plum wine) tasting
  • 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 7th November including lunch Hosted by Experience Japan
  • Fully escorted within Japan by an experienced Australian Escort.

Not Included
  • Return Airfares, airport and airline taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, meals not specified in itinerary/inclusions
  • 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 29 October 2017 and may change due to currency exchange rate

Day 1 : Saturday : 27th October

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 to our Tokyo Hotel.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel Tokyo : In 27th October Out 30th October

Day 2 : Sunday : 28th October 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.

Day 3 : Monday : 29th October 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. Maybe a side trip to Kamakura.

Day 4: Tuesday : 30th October : 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 In 30th October Out 31st October.

Day 5 : Wednesday : 31st October  :  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 : In 31st October Out 01st November

Day 6 : Thursday : 01st November : 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 : In 01st November Out 02nd November

Day 7 : Friday : 02nd November : 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-Pad. 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 : 02nd November Out 04th November

Day 8: Saturday : 03rd November : 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 relaxin, 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)

Day 9 : Sunday: 04th November : 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 : In 04th November Out 05th November

Day 10 :Monday : 05th November : 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 City Plaza or similar : In 05th November Out 06th November

Day 11 : Tuesday : 06th November  : Tanabe to Kyoto : Breakfast this morning and then make our way to Kii Tanabe Station and take the train to Kyoto. 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. Alternatively join the “Tea with Maiko” afternoon tour. (B)

Accommodation: Palaceside Hotel : In 06th November Out 10th November

Day 12 : Wednesday : 07th November : 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)

Day 13 : Thursday: 08th November : Kyoto at leisure. Day tours such as Hiroshima/Miyajima, Walking Arashiyama etc 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)

Day 14 : Friday : 09th November : Kyoto at leisure. Your Tour Escort will take you sightseeing – Heian Shrine, Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall and maybe Arashiyama and the famous Bamboo Groves. Alternatively a day at leisure. (B)

Day 15 : Saturday : 10th November : 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. (B)

“Dear Jan, Merilyn and I have had some great trips over the years, but none better than the time we spent under your guidance on this tour. The attention to detail, selection of activities and use of your local contacts have made this an unforgettable experience. Many thanks and kind regards from Ian & Merilyn”


“Jan, all of the above and thank you for being  “you”.  Kind, generous and giving me the best experience.Love Kaye”


“Dear Jan, Thank you for a great and interesting tour. We really enjoyed your insight into Japan’s culture and history and appreciated all the help you gave us.Hope we can catch up with you in Hervey Bay one day.Love Bev & Jeff”


“Jan, Thank you for a wonderful trip. Your knowledge of Japan is amazing. Also thanks for your medicine kit !!! We will remember our trip to Japan for a long time.Thanks again. Valda & Glenys”

“We have just completed this tour with Jan Hutton as our Tour Leader and we’d like to give you some feedback on our experience. Overall the tour was wonderful.  We shared some fantastic experiences, saw some beautiful scenery and most importantly, saw some great displays of Cherry Blossoms. Even though we were initially apprehensive at the thought of some of the aspects of the cultural part of the tour (backpacks, futons and communal bathing), our fears were unfounded and we found the experience exciting, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable. The places we visited were unique and the access we were able to gain to the cultural sites gave us an appreciation of their history and cultural significance.  This was no doubt due to the excellent local guides you use.  Their insights into local legends, traditions, behaviours and events were invaluable. The accommodation was all completely satisfactory and conveniently located.  The operators were all friendly, understanding and helpful. Our drivers were all excellent and again, helpful and friendly. Our primary purpose in undertaking the tour was to see the Cherry Blossoms and the timing was impeccable, particularly given the unpredictability of their appearance and the shortness of the season. We can’t compliment the skills and experience of Jan enough.  She had a major influence on our level of enjoyment.   Jan’s was the perfect link between the local culture and traditions and our Western expectations and habits.  She managed these differences calmly and this link ensured we were able to enjoy the experiences without causing any international incidents. She was able to take us to places we would never have found on our own. Apart from being a thoroughly lovely person, she was helpful, well organised and friendly, and encouraged us to try new things confidently. To sum up we would definitely recommend this tour to anyone wanting to experience Japan a little more deeply than just the standard tourist route.” Bev and Jeff

“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”

“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”


“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.



“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”