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.
By completing one of the options for both the Kumano Kodo and the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) and registering at a designated site, one can become a “Dual Pilgrim”.
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.
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 by subway and local transport. (B)
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 mini-bus and depart on the Shinkansen for Kyoto with an onward transfer by local train for Nara. Our accommodation is located adjacent to Nara Station. Leave our luggage at our Hotel and visit Todaiji Temple and the Giant Daibutsu (Buddha). Remainder of day at leisure.
Accommodation: Piazza Hotel Nara : In 10th November Out 11th November
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 where 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 11th November Out 12th November
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 12th November Out 13th November
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.
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. Drive to Kawayu Onsen for our two (2) night stay. (B/L/D)
Accommodation : Midoriya Hotel in Kawayu Onsen : In 13th November Out 15th 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 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)
Breakfast and then we will drive through to Michi-no-Eki Kumanogawa where we will embark on a Traditional Boat Ride on the Kumano River. The Kumano River is the only waterway on the planet that is registered as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE Pilgrimage Route. Historically, pilgrims travelled by boat between Kumano Hongu Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. Today we follow the same route in a flat bottom wooden boat. This is an excellent way to view the spiritual landscape from the river like pilgrims past..
This afternoon we will visit the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, Daimonzaka, Kumano Nachi Taisha, Seiganto-ji Temple and walk to 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 15th November Out 16th November
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: Hanaya Hotel Tanabe or similar : In 16th November Out 17th November
Breakfast this morning and then make our way to Kii Tanabe Station and take the train through 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. (B)
Alternatively join the “Tea with Maiko” afternoon tour.
Accommodation: Karasuma Hotel Kyoto : In 17th November Out 21st November
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
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 tours such as Hiroshima/Miyajima, 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.
On afternoon or early evening of day 14, you will be advised of your pickup time for the Airport Shuttle the following morning to take you to either Itami or Kansai Airports. (B)
This morning please check-out of your room. The Hotel will mind your luggage until it is time for your departure on the Airport Shuttle. Please be in the Hotel Foyer 10 minutes prior to pick-up time. (B)
This tour is being escorted by Jan Hutton. Jan has been specialising in travel to Japan for over 30 years.