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Japan: Walking the Kumano Kodo & Nakasendo Way

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    Japan: Walking the Kumano Kodo & Nakasendo Way

    From: AUD $14,495.00

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      Product Description

      Join Mike Wood, from the Peregrine Travel Centre WA, on this specially designed combination of two of Japan’s premier pilgrimage walk trails – the Nakasendo Way and Kumano Kodo.

      20 DAYS | 19 NIGHTS 24 SEP – 13 OCT 2024 Trip Starts: Tokyo Trip Ends: Osaka

      ( Trip is priced in Japanese Yen at 1,450,000 per person. AUD$14,495 Price is approximate only and based on current Westpac International Exchange rate)

      Join Mike Wood on a journey through Japan’s Nakasendo Way Trail, a 533-kilometer ancient highway connecting Kyoto and Tokyo. Wander through picturesque rural landscapes, discovering historic villages that once hosted lords, merchants, and samurai. Immerse yourself in the Edo Period’s charm, traversing forested trails and ancient stone pavements.

      Experience the Kumano Kodo’s lush mountains and valleys, accompanied by the soothing sounds of rivers and waterfalls. Indulge in the region’s rich natural beauty and deep-rooted history as you pilgrimage through forest trails, quiet roads, and mountainous terrain, covering 10-17 kilometres daily. Stay in comfortable, family-run inns, savoring delectable regional cuisine and relaxing in natural hot springs.

      For seasoned pilgrims, our Dual Pilgrimage initiative, established in 2018, recognizes those completing both Kumano Kodo and Camino de Santiago routes. Earn the Dual Pilgrim Credential adorned with symbols from both iconic journeys – the Yatagasaru and Scallop Shell. Join us for an unforgettable exploration of Japan’s hidden treasures.

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      Start Date End Date
      24 Sep 2024 13 Oct 2024

      Day 1 | Tuesday 24th September 2024 – Tokyo
      Meals: Welcome Dinner

      Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan. You are free to arrive at any time. There will be a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight where we meet our local leader. After the meeting we can make
      our way to a local restaurant for dinner. Arrive today in the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, and the starting point for the Nakasendo Way. In the evening, enjoy a walk to the Nihonbashi district and the historic Nihonbashi Bridge, which was the starting point of five major roads leading in and out of Tokyo. It is a direct link back to the city’s Edo history with the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, said to have ordered its construction. Distances throughout the country were measured from the bridge and it was, above all, an expression of the wealth and authority of the new capital, Edo, which would morph from a fishing village into Tokyo.

      After spending some time exploring Nihonbashi, we’ll enjoy a local welcome dinner to kick off our love affair with Japanese cuisine. Food is a highlight of any trip in Japan and you’ll no doubt be eager to sample as many dishes as possible over the course of this journey. One taste sensation that should not be missed is the okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients, the name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “how you like” or “what you like”, and yaki meaning “cooked”.

       

      Day 2 | Wed 25 Sept 2024 – | Tokyo – Narai – Kaida Kogen | 6 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      After your full Japanese breakfast, we’ll transfer by train from Shinjuku Station to Shiojiri, a journey of approximately 2.5 hours. From here, we’ll take a local train to Narai for lunch. This town is a Protected Area for the Preservation of Traditional Buildings and a highlight is the one-kilometre-long main street with a stretch of shops and private residences dating back hundreds of years to the Edo Period. There are plenty of locals artfully creating traditional folkcrafts, like hand-made umbrellas or hand-painted clothing, and you’ll feel like you’re truly wandering back through time.

      Once we’re done eating and exploring, we’ll hike from Narai-juku to Yabuhara, another atmospheric former post town that oozes forgotten charm. Walking in the quiet forest landscape is the perfect way to warm your legs up for the journey ahead. From here, we’ll transfer to our accommodation at Kaida Kogen by local train and bus, where you can enjoy your first onsen on the Nakasendo Way.


      Day 3 | Thu 26 Sep 24 Yamaka – Kisofukushima | 12 km

      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      Hike today from Yamaka to Kaida Plateau via Nishino Toge (‘toge’ meaning pass), a walk of approximately three hours. We’ll enjoy lunch on the plateau, which is considered one of the most beautiful areas in all of Japan. A bold claim, perhaps, but with a spectacular backdrop of Mt Ontake, both a sacred mountain and one of Japan’s largest
      volcanos, there certainly are worse places for lunch – the views of the surrounding peaks and valleys are simply breathtaking. After lunch, we’ll hike from Kaida Plateau to Jizo Toge then on to Kiso-Fukushima. This town is of great historical significance as it was almost directly halfway between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, acting as one of two checkpoints along the Nakasendo Highway. We’ll take a taxi transfer from the trail to our evening’s accommodation where the openair baths sit in a remarkable setting.

       

      Day 4 | Fri 27 Sep 2024 | Kiso-Fukushima – Nojiri – Tsumago | 14 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner

      Enjoy a traditional breakfast at our accommodation before transferring by taxi and train to Nojiri. From here, we’ll make our way to Midono via Oi Pass or River Road then on to Tsumago. The day’s hike should take approximately six hours.

      Tsumago, another atmospheric mountain town, was the 42nd of the Nakasendo’s 69 post towns along the way to the Imperial capital of Kyoto. The main street is everything one would imagine an old Japanese town to be, with a variety of wooden Edo-period inns, houses, temples and shrines, surrounded by forested mountains. It’s a wonderful place to spend an evening, with plenty of craft and confectionary shops as well as tasty ramen and udon noodle restaurants. The main street is closed to traffic too, so you can take your time ambling down the road before arriving at your Japanese style room for the evening.


      Day 5 | Sat 28 Sep 2024 – | Tsumago – Magome | 13 km

      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      An absolutely unforgettable day of walking today as we hike the most beautiful and best preserved part of the entire Nakasendo Trail, from Tsumago to Magome. A wooden watch tower guards the entrance to our destination, Magome, which was the 43rd town on the way to Kyoto and, like many of the beautiful old villages, the main street is lined with Edo-style buildings. Many of the originals were unfortunately burnt down over the years, but the town still retains
      plenty of charm, as does your accommodation this evening.

      Day 6 | Sun 29 Sep 2024 | Magome – Ena | 18 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      Depart Magome for Shinchaya and continue to eat our way along the Nakasendo Way in the Kiso Valley, as we hike to Nakatsugawa to enjoy lunch. This town has a number of a sake shops, confectionary stores and plenty of restaurants all housed in restored, wooden buildings and warehouses (kura). After lunch, we’ll continue our hike from  akatsugawa to Ena, finishing at the station and transferring by taxi to our ryokan accommodation. Ena, formerly known as Oii, was an important post town along the Nakasendo Way. Its heritage can still be seen at the Honjin – a lodging house for Feudal lords – and, surprisingly, on the town’s manhole covers. There’s also a ‘kosatsuba’, or public noticeboard, on the edge of the city, which were used to post the official orders of the Tokugawa shogunate.

       

      Day 7 | Mon 30 Sep 2024 – | Ena – Hosokute | 22 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      We’ll transfer by taxi back to Ena Station after breakfast and commence our hike to Hosokute, which will likely take six or seven hours. Most of the journey to Hosokute is along narrow pathways through woods, with relics of the old highway scattered throughout the day. These include stone images of Japanese deities, which were believed to protect travellers and horses as they undertook the Nakasendo trail. Our destination, Hosokute, is a small village that stretches up a single street and a lovely place to wind up a long day’s walk where often the dinner menu includes teriyaki salmon and tempura mountain vegetables.

       

      Day 8 | Tue 01 Oct 2024 | Hosokute – Mitake – Kyoto | 12 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      This morning, following an appetising breakfast, we’ll hike from Hosokute to Mitake. From here, we’ll transfer by train to Nagoya then on to Kyoto, a journey of approximately 2.5 hours. Kyoto is a fantastic city with a lovely atmosphere and many points of historical and cultural interest, and we’ll have an opportunity to enjoy an evening walk to Sanjo Ohashi Bridge to enjoy some specialities of the region for our group dinner.

       

      Day 9 | Wed 02 Oct 2024 | Finish Nakasendo Way in Kyoto
      Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

      Your adventure along the Nakasendo Trail comes to an end today, but we’ve no doubt that it’ll live on in your memories forever. After a couple of days resting and relaxing, we next begin the Kumano Kodo.

      Day 10 | Thu 03 Oct 2024 – Rest Day in Kyoto
      Meals: Breakfast
      Free morning and your guide will be on hand in the afternoon for a tour of the old town (Ninnenzaka, Sannenzaka, Gion). Kyoto, which was once the capital of Japan, is located on Honshu Island and famous for its Buddhist temples, gardens, palaces and shrines, not to mention the peaceful atmosphere of its city streets. You will have time to relax and explore this unique and ancient city.

      Day 11 | Fri 04 Oct 2024 – Rest Day in Kyoto (Day 1 of Kumano Kodo)
      Meals: Breakfast
      This morning there will be a guided trip to Fushimi Inari and the food markets, leaving the afternoon free for you to continue exploring Kyoto.

      Day 12 | Sat 05 Oct 2024 – Kyoto
      Meals: Breakfast
      Today you’ll travel by local train and bus on a half-day tour to Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Nishiki Food Market. The famous shrine, which is one of many throughout Japan, was built to honour Shinto, the god of rice. But you’ll have more than rice on your plate as you explore the narrow, five-block-long shopping street that houses the hundred shops and restaurants that make up Nishiki Market. Known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, this lively retail market specialises in all foodrelated things, like fresh seafood and produce, knives and cookware. It’s a great place to find Kyoto specialities and seasonal foods, including sweets, pickles, a huge variety of skewers, and incredibly fresh sushi.

      Day 13 | Sun 06 Oct 2024 | Kyoto – Kii-Tanabe – Takijiri Oji – Takahara | 5 km / 2 hours
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      Start the day with a two-hour train transfer to Kii-Tanabe along the scenic Japanese coastline. The town of Kii-Tanabe is considered the gateway to the Kumano Kodo Trail and sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. From here, we’ll take a 40-minute bus ride to Takijiri Oji and begin walking.

      Today’s walk is short but involves a fairly steep climb to Takahara, a small ridge-top settlement that’s known for its ancient shrine spectacular views over the Hatenashi Mountains. As you climb upwards, Buddhist statues and Oji shrines line the ancient highway route. Your day is complete with a hot spring bath from Wataze Onsen, followed by an evening meal, showcasing the best of home cooking using organic produce, including the wine!

      Day 14 | Mon 07 Oct 2024 | Takahara – Chikatsuyu | 10 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      Depart Takahara Village and walk further into the mountains, passing by reminders of the old highway including an ichirizuka distance marker and the remains of old tea houses. These houses
      were once used by pilgrims for rest and shelter as they made their journey to Kumano. The trail then descends past the Three-Fold Moon viewing area, from where you can visit the famous
      Gyuba-doji statue, before a cobbled path and staircase lead you to Chikatsuyu, a small village where you can pick up some local snacks.

      Day 15 | Tue 08 Oct 2024 | Chikatsuyu – Yunomine Onsen | 17 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      Today’s walking is mainly along a variety of forest paths to Kobiratoge, where we’ll transfer by bus to Hoshinmono-ji, which translates as the ‘gate to spiritual awakening’. From here, we’ll
      resume our walk to Hongu, continuing through small settlements with the Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine – the area’s main shrine – and its giant torii gate visible in the valley below.
      Yunomine Onsen – our destination for the evening – is thought to be one of the oldest hot springs in all of Japan and was discovered some 1800 years ago. The waters are said to change
      colour seven times over the course of the day and the purification rituals performed here are an integral part of the pilgrimage. The town itself is a collection of quaint inns tucked into a valley
      deep in the sacred mountains of Kumano, an atmospheric and very important place to spend an evening on the Kumano Kodo.

       

      Day 16 | Wed 09 Oct 2024 | Yunomine – Kogushi | 15 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      After a full Japanese breakfast, a short bus ride will take us from Yunomine to Ukegawa to commence our walk. This section involves a gentle trek over the Hyakken-gura Pass, which is
      undoubtedly the highlight of the day. At the pass, we’ll find a Buddhist statue on one of the hilltops that has a backdrop of spectacular, panoramic views of Kumano’s 3600 mountain peaks.
      The trail will then continue to rise and fall towards the remains of the Sakura-jaya teahouse, offering more memorable views of the mountains, before we reach a forest track and eventually
      descend into Koguchi – a small, isolated village surrounded by mountains and pristine rivers.

      Day 17 | Thu 10 Oct 2024 | Koguchi – Kii-Katsuura | 16 km
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      Begin the day with a demanding climb to the Echizen Toge, a pass situated at 800 metres above sea level. We’ll pass the remains of the Jiz-jaya teahouse along the way, on a section of the trail
      said to be inhabited by ancient spirits. After being spirited away through the forest, we’ll reach the Funami Toge, where we’ll be rewarded by expansive views of the Pacfic Ocean.
      From here, descend past various shrines and temples as well as the spectacular Nachi-no-Otaki waterfall, which is the highest in Japan, before reaching Kii-Katsuura. This small fishing village is
      the perfect place to relax and celebrate the completion of your journey along the Kumano Kodo.

      Day 18 | Fri 11 Oct 2024 | Kii-Katsuura – Osaka
      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
      After enjoying a relaxed start and hearty breakfast in Kii-Katsuura, we’ll transfer to Osaka, which was the capital of Imperial Japan for over a thousand years. There is plenty to see and do
      in the city, including the magnificent Osaka Castle and the popular Dotonbori district, which will no doubt satiate all your cuisine cravings. Enjoy a final evening with your fellow pilgrims,
      reflecting on your walk and the incredible Japanese culture we’re so fortunate to experience.

      Day 19 | Sat 12 Oct 2024 | Osaka
      Meals: Breakfast
      Rest day in Osaka, no guide services

      Day 20 | Sun 13 Oct 2024 | Depart Osaka
      Meals: Breakfast
      Your walking adventure in Japan officially comes to an end after breakfast today. We hope that you’ve had the walk of a lifetime and, like us, fallen in love with Japan.

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      Group Size: 16

      Start: 24 Sep 2024

      End: 13 Oct 2024

      Duration: 20 days

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