9 days, 8 nights

Tour Highlights:

This fully hosted trip will take you from Tokyo, an ultra-modern city buzzing with technology, to historical Kyoto, followed by walking the ancient pilgrimage trail of Kumano Kodo at the most stunning time of year with the autumn leaves in full colour. We’ll start in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, and head to the Ningyocho district where timeless traditions and cultural curiosities are still able to be observed on a guided walking tour.

Our next stop will be Kyoto, where you can dress in a traditional Kimono, learn to cook classic Japanese dishes and view the ancient temples which are the cultural heart of the city. The commotion of modern cities will be left far behind us as we travel further into the southern reaches of the mountainous Kii Peninsula in search of the ancient Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Trail. Kumano is a spiritual region of Japan, blessed with rich pilgrimage tradition, isolated springs and welcoming countryside hospitality. Our walk is very flexible with shortcut options. Without the short-cuts we will walk 54km over four days, but with two guides with the group which ever option you choose you will not be alone.

The walk can be strenuous at times, but you will have the luxury of only carrying a day-pack each day.

Stay a few days longer to visit Mount Koya and Nara; both significant Buddhist sites.  Staying in a Shubko (traditional temple lodging), witness the morning rituals of the monks.  For the final destination, we go to Nara to visit the Rushana Buddha.  This is journey is a must; combining ancient Pilgrimage trails with Temple visits and stays.


2-10 November 2018

Add on 10-13 November 2018


A$3,995 per person twin share

A$1,350 per person single supplement

Add on tour – Mt. Koyasan and Nara

$1,350 per person twin share

$400 per person single supplement


 09 Days, 08 Nights

Add on 04 Days, 03 Nights


  • Tokyo, an ultra-modern city
  • Historical Kyoto
  • Walking the ancient pilgrimage trail of Kumano Kodo
  • Visit Mount Koya
  • Staying in a Shubko (traditional temple lodging)


Tokyo – Kyoto – Takahara –  Tsugizakura-oji – Kumano Hongu Taisha – Nachi Taisha, Japan

Additional information

Dates2-10 November 2018
Day 1

2 Nov 18

Depart Aus and arrive Tokyo
Yōkoso! We’ll arrive in Tokyo early evening and head to our hotel via the extremely efficient rail network. No activities are planned but perhaps you’d like to join the group for a nightcap before retiring for the night. Overnight 4 star Hotel, city centre
Day 2

3 Nov 18

Tokyo (B)
After breakfast we’ll meet our guide and head out into the city. We’ll be introduced to some of the main attractions the city has to offer then we’ll head off the beaten track and meet artisans who have followed ancient traditions and still create curiosities which will whet our appetite for all things Japanese. Overnight Hotel 4 Star Hotel, city centre
Day 3

4 Nov 18

Tokyo – Kyoto (B)
This morning we will enjoy the comfort and speed of the bullet train to travel the 452km to Kyoto (taking a little over 2 hours). On arrival we’ll be met by our guide and shown some of Kyoto’s highlights. There is so much to pack in, from beautiful parks to ancient well-preserved temples to visiting the Shinto Shrine and more . Overnight 4 Star Hotel
Day 4

5 Nov 18

Kyoto (B)
You’ll be getting pretty proficient with the chopsticks and trying some delicious Japanese food, how would you like to take a lesson on how some of these dishes are made? Or perhaps you’d like to get decked out in a full Kimono with your hair styled in the traditional way or attend a tea ceremony at a tea house in the Geisha district? The options are endless, it’s just time that holds us back. Overnight 4 Star Hotel
Day 5

6 Nov 18

Kyoto – Takahara (B, D) 3.7km, 3hrs
Heading away from the city today towards the mountainous Kii-Peninsula. Our train journey will stop at Kii-Tanabe where we will have some lunch, have a pre-trek briefing and deposit our luggage to be transferred to our accommodation. The trek today is short but steep fromTakijiir-oji to the ridge-top village of Takahara. Overnight private guest house
Day 6

7 Nov 18

Takahara – Tsugizakura-oji (B,L,D) 14km, 5-8hrs
After breakfast and collecting our lunch packages we’ll step onto the trail and follow it as it continues to climb into the mountains through the forest. There is a scenic picnic points at Jujo-oji and plenty of pilgrimage shrines and monuments, dating back to the 12th century, to stop and admire along the way. Not to mention trees which are claimed to be 800-1000 years old. Overnight private guesthouse
Day 7

8 Nov 18

Tsugizakura-oji – Kumano Hongu Taisha 7km – 17.8km 2.5 – 8hrs (B, L, D)
Which ever 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 of one of three main Shinto shrines on the trail. Overnight Yunomine Onsen
Day 8

9 Nov 18

Yunomine Onsen – Nachi Taisha 14.5km 6 – 8hrs (B, L)
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 none at all, you can decide on the day (bus optional). 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 icon Japanese location. O/N Kii-Katsuura
Day 9

10 Nov 18

Departure or Add-on (B)
After breakfast it’s time to head to the train station for a scenic ride back around the coast line of the Kii-Peninsula, sit back and enjoy the views of the coast to your left and beautiful autumn coloured forest to your right. Arrive at Kansai Airport for your flight home. Or continue to the add-on trip to Koyasan and Nara.

Add on 4 days 3 nights – Mt Koyasan and Nara

Day 9

10 Nov 18

Sadly we say farewell to the rest of the group before taking 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 and a highlight of your time here includes the chance to participate in morning prayers.
Dinner & Overnight: Shukubo (temple lodging), Mount Koya or similar

Day 10

11 Nov 18

Early rise for the Buddhist morning ceremony and Gomataki Fire Ritual which takes place in the main worship hall. The rich colors, smells 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.

Rest of the day to take a short hiking trail surrounding Mount Koya to choose from, which are easy to follow. Choose from the Choishi Stupa Route, Koya Sanzen Route and the Women’s Pilgrim’s route. Alternatively you may opt to explore the inner sanctuary of Okuno-in cemetery with its thousands of graves of past feudal lords and luminaries.
Dinner & Overnight: Shukubo (temple lodging)

Day 11

12 Nov 18

Leave for Nara by train (2.5 hrs ) check into your hotel and then take your time to explore.
A walk through Nara Park (popularly known as ‘Deer Park’) will take you to Todai-ji Temple – its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold.
Overnight: Hotel Fujita
Day 12

13 Nov 18

Early morning explore of the smaller temples in the area or the Heijo Palace. Leave late morning for your train back to Osaka Airport and onwards to Tokyo and back to Australia.

Pilgrimage to Kumano Kudo


Fully hosted by two Australian tour leaders

Small group (max 12)

English-speaking local guides Tokyo & Kyoto

Train rides between cities

City tours in Tokyo & Kyoto

Meals as per itinerary

Luggage transfers on Kumano Kodo

Daily trip notes and packing suggestions


International Flights

Personal trekking equipment i.e. boots/poles/daypacks/wet weather gear etc

Some meals as per itinerary

Personal expenses (laundry, drinks etc)

Bus tickets on Kumano Kodo (allow $60)

Passport & visa

Travel insurance (compulsory)

Tips & gratuities

Arashiyama, Kyoto bt walter-mario-stein
Arashiyama, Kyoto bt walter-mario-stein
Autumn in Japan by jerome-prax
Autumn leaves by chris-lawton
Fushimi inari Trail, Kyoto-shi, by Lin Mei