Pilgrimage to Japan
including walking the Ancient Trail of Kumano Kodo, temple stay Mt Koya, visits to Nara & Kyoto with Venerable Kartson
For a true insiders experience, join us on this Ekno Travels led by Buddhist monk Venerable Kartson (Yaki Platt) and Ekno Travels founder Sharon Thrupp. This once in a life time tour will include walking the ancient trail of Kumano Kodo, a temple stay at Mt Koya and visits to the culturally significant cities of Nara and Kyoto.
We will depart Brisbane and arrive together in Osaka before heading for Nara (the first permanent capital of Japan), full of historic treasures and wonders – including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
Next is Mt Koya which is home to an active monastic centre founded twelve centuries ago as well as being the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Situated on a small plain at the top of Mount Koya, the Monastery is a deeply spiritual complex of temples, halls and pagodas. Surrounded by a thick forest of massive cedars, it is a serene place for reflection and contemplation. There is also a women’s pilgrimage circuit which you may wish to complete during your stay.
Next we travel to historical Kyoto, full of shrines and temples, followed by walking the ancient pilgrimage trail of Kumano Kodo at the most stunning time of year with the autumn leaves in full colour.
Our walk is very flexible with several shortcut options. Without the short-cuts we will walk 54km over four days, however with two insider guides supporting the group you will not be alone, whichever option you choose to take. The walk can be strenuous at times, but you will have the luxury of only carrying a day-pack each day.
Want to see even more? Why not stay a few days longer and visit Tokyo or another wonderful destination in Japan? Contact us today and we can help arrange an accommodation and transport package for you.
|12-22 October 2018|
|$5,500 (land content only), single supplement $1,850
A donation of $500 from the cost of this trip is for Chenrezig Institute.
|Osaka – Nara – Mt Koyo – Kyoto – Kii Tanabe – Kii Takahara – Kii Yunomine Onsen – Kii Katsuura – Osaka|
Born in Tel Aviv, Yaki previously worked for the Israeli Armed Forces. He then moved to India and studied conversational and classical Tibetan for four years. He came to Chenrezig Institute in Australia as the translator for Geshe Jamyang in 2005 and is now translating for Geshe Tsultrim. He is a graduate of the Buddhist Studies Program and was ordained as a monk in 2015 and is now called Ven. Kartson.
Sharon worked in Japan in 2003 as an English teacher in the north of Japan and spent her spare time walking and trekking in the main island of Honshu.
She now divides her time between Australia and India.
|Dates||12 – 22 October 2018|
12 Oct 18
We will prepare to depart Brisbane together or you can make your own way to Osaka. We’ll arrive in Osaka in the early evening and head to our hotel via the extremely efficient and world famous rail network. No activities are planned but perhaps you’d like to take a wander to stretch your legs and enjoy this modern city.
Overnight: 4 Star Hotel, Osaka city centre
13 Oct 18
Today we will take a day trip to Nara (40 minutes by train). We will have the full day to explore this fascinating historical city. A walk through Nara Park (popularly known as ‘Deer Park’) will take us to the Todai -ji Temple – its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a spectacular 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold.
We will finish our discovery of Nara at the Shinto shrine of Kasuga, a serene site that features a collection of more than 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. In the late afternoon we will return by train to Osaka.
Overnight: 4 Star Hotel, Osaka city centre (Breakfast)
14 Oct 18
Leave Osaka and take a scenic journey by train and cable car to Mount Koya, located high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. A place of religious devotion since the 9th century and the centre of Shingon Buddhism, Mount Koya is a wonderfully spiritual place to explore. A highlight of your time here includes the chance to participate in morning prayers. It is also time for reflection and personal contemplation.
Overnight: Shukubo (temple lodging), Mount Koya (Breakfast, dinner)
15 Oct 18
We will rise early for the Buddhist morning ceremony and Gomataki Fire Ritual which take place in the main worship hall. The rich colours, smell of incense, and rhythmical chants of the monks are enchanting. The Gomataki fire ritual is performed daily, in which a sacrificial fire is kindled and consecrated before invoking divinities and making offerings of prayers on wooden tablets. You will be invited to make offerings of incense, allowing for an otherworldly, immersive experience.
You will have the rest of the day to take a short hike around Mount Koya (around 7.5 kms). Choose from the Choishi Stupa Route, Koya Sanzen Route and the Women’s Pilgrim’s route, all of which are easy to follow. Alternatively you may opt to explore the inner sanctuary of the Okunoin cemetery with its thousands of graves, believed to be housing the spirits of past feudal lords and luminaries. You will also have the option of spending the day quietly or taking part in the activities planned around the monastery.
Overnight: Shukubo (temple lodging), Mount Koya (Breakfast, dinner)
16 Oct 18
This morning we will enjoy the comfort and speed of the bullet train in order to travel to Kyoto (taking around 40-50 minutes). On arrival we will check into our hotel and look forward to some of Kyoto’s many highlights. There is so much to pack in, from beautiful parks to ancient well-preserved temples to visiting the many Shinto shrine’s that dot the city.
In the afternoon we will take a 3-hour private walking tour of Kyoto with a local religious scholar. This ancient Japanese city, home to countless temples and centuries of religious practice, is the perfect setting for an excursion to check out the historic neighbourhood of Gion, where you’ll see Yasaka Shrine and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu-dera Temple, learning about the symbols and practices of these two Japanese religions along the way. The highlight of this walk are the many magnificent shrines and temples and the stories surrounding them. The rest of the evening is at your leisure to meditate and contemplate our trip so far.
Overnight: 4 Star Hotel, Kyoto (Breakfast)
17 Oct 18
Today we will take a train to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, world famous for the Senbon Torii, or thousand torii gates. This temple is one of the most popular sightseeing spots of Kyoto, and its not hard to see why. Next is the Kiyomizu-dera Temple which is at the top of a hill so you will get your start your walking practice. There are many souvenir shops lining the streets to the temple so taking a detour is also fun!
We will return to Kyoto in time for lunch and the rest of the afternoon at leisure to relax or contemplate.
Overnight: 4 Star Hotel, Kyoto (Breakfast)
18 Oct 18
Today we will head away from the city and towards the mountainous Kii Peninsula. We will take a train journey to Kii-Tanabe where we will stop for lunch and a pre-trek briefing. We will also deposit our luggage so that it can be transferred to our accommodation. The trek today is short but steep – from Takijiir-oji to the ridge-top village of Takahara.
Overnight: Private guest house, Takahara (Breakfast, dinner)
19 Oct 18
After breakfast we will collect our lunch packages and step onto the trail and follow it as it continues to climb into the mountains through the forest. There are many scenic picnic points at Jujo-oji as well as plenty of pilgrimage shrines and monuments, dating back to the 12th century, to stop and admire along the way. The trees that surround as we walk are claimed to be 800-1000 years old.
Overnight: Private guesthouse, Tsugizakura-oji (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
20 Oct 18
Whichever length of walk you choose today you will be rewarded with a relaxing soak in an Onsen – a Japanese hot spring. There is however a bathing etiquette which must be observed – which may include being denied entry if your have a tattoo! The highlight of the pilgrimage today is hiking into Kumano Hongu Taisha, a sacred precinct and home to one of the three main Shinto shrines on the trail.
Overnight: Yunomine Onsen (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
21 Oct 18
A bus ride will get us to the start of our walk today at Koguchi. This is one of the toughest sections of the Nakahechi trail of Kumano Kodo and the remoteness does not allow for short-cut options, so it’s either walk it all or take the bus – but you can wait and make your decision on the day.
Dogiri-Zaka is the start of the walk which can be translated as ‘Body Breaking Slope’, but don’t let that put you off, pilgrims have been walking here for millennia, so you can too! We’ll finish the walk with a well earned rest at Nachino-Otaki Falls and Kumano Nachi Taisha, an iconic Japanese location.
Overnight: Kii-Katsuura (Breakfast, lunch)
22 Oct 18
After breakfast it’s time to head to the train station for a scenic ride back around the coastline of the Kii Peninsula. Sit back and enjoy the views of the coast to your left and beautiful autumn coloured forest to your right.
When we arrive at Osaka Airport you will either take your flight home or continue to your next destination (if you are booking flights today, please book a late evening flight).
Thank you for travelling with us, we hope that you have had a fulfilling and enlightening journey.
Fully escorted tour from Australia with Venerable Kartson and Sharon Thrupp
Meditations and Q&A Sessions with Ven Kartson
Accommodation as following:
- 4 nights in Western style hotels,
- 2 nights in Japanese style Shukubo (Temple Lodgings)
- 4 nights in Minshuku and Ryokans
Breakfast every morning from day 2 through day 11, as per the itinerary
Dinner for day 3-4 & day 7-9, lunch day 8-10, as per the itinerary
Sayonara dinner at the end of the tour
Transportation to and from day trips as described in the itinerary
All transportation costs when travelling with the group, including train travel. (Transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility)
Same day baggage transfer from Takahara to Tsugizakura (Nonaka), Tsugizakura (Nonaka) to Yunomine Onsen, Yunomine Onsen to Kii-Katsuura during the trek
Gentle stretching and yoga sessions
Each tour member receives an electronic copy of our tour handbook. This handbook is full of tips and suggestions taken from our Japan travel experiences that allow you to better plan and prepare for your trip, and therefore enjoy your trip even more. The tips and suggestions included cover everything from how to save while exchanging money, what to pack, some basic Japanese-language tips, general etiquette do’s and don’ts, and ryokan customs.
Personal trekking equipment (boots/poles/day packs/wet weather gear etc)
Some meals as per itinerary
Admission fees to any destinations and activities not listed in the itinerary
Personal expenses (laundry, drinks, shopping)
Passport & visa costs
Travel insurance (compulsory)
Tips & gratuities