Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
Capture the feeling of serenity through Japan’s most sacred path, the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage. Walk the famous trail to explore the holy sanctuaries, such as the Ise Jingu Grand Shrine, with stunning views through bamboo and Japanese cypress forests. This journey will introduce you to the fascinating culture and history of the ancient capital of Kyoto. Zen meditation sessions with monks will help you find your inner peace, and in the evenings relax in either luxurious or tranquil, simple surroundings.
Arrive in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Transfer to the temple, settle in and enjoy the peace and silence until your private zen meditation with a monk. After your mind and soul are eased from all the anxiety and stress, relish the delicacies of the traditional Buddhist temple cuisine, shojin ryori.
Begin the day with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony alongside the temple’s monks. Next, you will travel to Kokedera, also known as Moss Temple, and discover its spectacular garden. Continue to Tenryuji temple, which is, as well as Kokedera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Follow with a visit to the Ryoan-ji temple, one of the finest Japanese rock gardens in the world. Later walk among the endless green bamboo stalks in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Finish your day in eastern Kyoto visiting the Sanjusangendo Temple.
Drive one hour to a true historic treasure Nara, where you will stay in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) after stopping en route to visit the Fushimi-Inari shrine. Next, explore the Isui-en Garden and continue to Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most important sanctuary. Take a peek at Daibutsu, the Great Buddha in the main hall of the Todaiji temple, before finishing your day with a pleasant walk in the Nara Koen Park.
Travel one hour to the sacred mountains of Mount Koya. During the day, discover the Danjo-Garan temple complex and the Kong?bu-ji - the Temple of the Diamond Mountain. You’ll learn about culture and religion in the Reihokan Museum before an afternoon walk through the Okunoin, Japan’s most famous and sacred cemetery and pilgrimage spot. At night, you will stay the Soji-in temple, where you can enjoy the shojin ryori with the monks.
Rise early to meditate and pray with the monks. After a vegetarian breakfast, depart Mt. Koya and drive 2 hours to the Kumano region. Don your hiking shoes and prepare to walk the holy Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail. The approximately four-and-a-half mile and three-hour long hike starts at Hosshinmon-oji, the "gate of awakening of the aspiration to enlightenment" and ends at the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, the main shrine of the three Grand Shrines. Time-permitting, visit the Kumano Kodo Centre which exhibits objects and docments related to the Kumano Kodo history and culture. Dine and relax at the Kawayu Onsen Fujiya hotel in the evening, which has a natural hotspring in front of its property.
Today the pilgrimage journey continues on to two holy sanctuaries. You will reach the first one, Kumano Hayatama Taisha with its 800-year-old sacred tree after a forty-minute drive along the Kumano-gawa River - a UNESCO World Heritage Site; if you wish, you can take a boat journey, the way pilgrims have done traditionally, instead of driving. Then it’s onto your next sacred destination, Kumano Nachi Taisha and the 436-foot high Nachi-no-Taki waterfall - you can either hike the sacred trail or drive directly to the top. You will spend the night in Hotel Nakanoshima, a hot-spring resort on an isolated island, located in Katsuura an hour from the shrine.
Today’s three-mile hike through the Matsumoto Toge Pass, the final part of the Kumano Kodo Iseji Route, will take two-to-three hours. You will pass by the statue of Jizo, and Lion Rock (Shishi-iwa). Next, you’ll explore Japan’s oldest majestic shrine, the Hana-No-Iwaya Shrine. At the end of the day, rest and relax in a local hotel in Owase city.
Take a morning walk through the Owase Fish Market to the charming Owase Hinoki forest before your four-and-a-half mile trek along the Magose-toge Pass, which is a part of the Kumano Kodo Iseji Route. During the route, you will come across the Yonaki Jizo shrine, and later the Magose-fudoson next to a waterfall. Drive onward through Mie prefecture to get to Shima where you will spend a night of luxury at the hotel Amanemu.
Spend the day exploring the Ise-Shima, also called Shima peninsula. First stop is an extensive shrine complex, the Ise Jingu, an iconic destination for pilgrims. Its two most significant buildings are Geku (the Outer Shrine) and Naiku (the Inner Shrine). In the afternoon, admire the ama divers, “the sea women”, free-diving the depths of the sea to collect pearls, before you enjoy a delightful lunch on the Mikimoto Island. Return to your luxury hotel and relax on the final night of your journey.