During this Pilgrimage we follow the path of esteemed Japanese Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi towards enlightenment for a 2 day Pilgrimage to Shikoku and ending in Mt Koyasan. We commence our 23.5km walking Pilgrimage at Ryozenji Temple (where Kobo Daishi came to pray) and finish at Horinji Temple. During the walk we will follow in the footsteps of many other pilgrims and stay in a Shukubo or a Temple Stay and be served traditional shojin ryori, which means “devotional cuisine”. Our Pilgrimage continues to Mt Koyasan where Kobo Daishi is buried and we spend two nights staying at a local Shukubo and attending a Gomataki fire ritual. During our stay in Mt Koyasan, you might like to spend the day walking the ancient Women’s Pilgrim route or simply relaxing in this temple town.
After Mt Koyasan we journey to Kyoto. Kyoto is the city where ancient culture is preserved and combined with modernity of Japan’s cities. It is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, some of which have been designated collectively as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
During our stay in Kyoto we travel to the Buddhist sites of Nara with its famous Deer Park and Todai-ji Temple. Our Pilgrimage finishes with a piece of Japan’s history with a visit to Hiroshima and it’s Memorial Peace Park and Miyajima.
The 4 day Tokyo extension will complete your trip to this amazing country. It offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s truly mesmerising cities. Our expert guide, Sharon Thrupp, will ensure that you not only see the ultra-modern city buzzing with technology; but that you also catch a glimpse of the ancient city known as Edo which remains steeped in timeless traditions. We’ll take in districts known for their local artisans and cultural curiosities as well as visit some of Tokyo’s most significant Buddhist sanctuaries and Shinto shrines. All this and more set against Tokyo’s pleasant summer.
Tour Leader: Sharon Thrupp
Sharon Thrupp has been leading Buddhist pilgrimages through her Australian company, Ekno Travels, since 2006. She has organised and led tours to India, Nepal, Japan and Australia. She has also undertaken many personal pilgrimages to countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Myanmar and Indonesia. She is currently the treasurer of the Sakyadhita Australia Committee.
Sharon spent several years volunteering and working in the Himalayas – both in a rural village in Nepal and in Dharamsala, India; the home of the Dalai Lama. It was during this time that Sharon became a Buddhist and started her travel business.
The transport that has been included are local trains, buses and ferries.
A trip on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima has been included and for the add on to Tokyo (optional).
Please keep luggage around 15kgs for your Pilgrimage to Japan, as there are many stairs, buses and trains to navigate. Also bring a small backpack to take on the 2 day Pigrimage in Shikoku. It is advisable to bring walking poles for the Pilgrimage as these will help with your walking.
If you select to stay on in Japan I suggest you buy a 7 day Rail Pass cost $329 https://www.japanrailpass.com.au/prices/.
*During stays for three nights in Shukubos, a single room may not be available due to limited amount of rooms.
1 July 2023
2 July 2023
Take the train from Tokushima Station to Bando Station and walk for ten minutes to Ryozenji Temple. The temple was founded by the Japanese Buddhist priest Gyoki Bosatsu (668—749). Kobo Daishi later came to pray for farmers stricken by natural disasters or illness.
At Ryozenji i you can purchase all the items you need for your pilgrimage. These include canes and white robes if you wish to fully immerse yourself in the experience, though there is no rule demanding that the full attire must be worn on the route.
We will continue onto Temple 2 Gokurakuji 1.6kms then onto No. 3 Konsenji 2.7 kms, No. 4 Dainichiji 5 kms, No. 5 Jizoji 1.9kms and onto No. 6 Anrakuji 5.3kms. Total walking for today 16.5kms.
Overnight at Anrakuji Temple Shukubo which comes with its own onsen (hot bath) to bathe your tired feet. Tonight you will be served traditional shojin ryori, which means “devotional cuisine”, is that it is prepared without any animal products. This is grounded in the Buddhist principle of ahimsa, compassion for all living things. Traditionally, shojin ryori doesn’t use eggs or dairy either, meaning it’s often vegan.
Shojin ryori also follows the “rule of five”: every meal must offer five colours (green, yellow, red, black, and white) as well as five flavours (sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and salty). This guarantees a wide variety different vegetable-based ingredients. And seasonal vegetables are used – so it’s fresh, as well as healthy.
**Take only what you can carry for the two days of the Pilgrimage, other luggage will be stored at Tokushima.
3 July 2023
Rise and shine and after an early breakfast continue the Pilgrimage to Temple No. 7 Jurakuji 1.4kms onto No. 8 Kumadanii 4.2kms and finishing at No. 9 Temple Horinji 2.4kms , total walking distance today is 7 kms. After spending time at Horinji we travel back to Tokushima by bus for overnight stay. Overnight Hotel Tokushima
If you don’t want to continue walking for the 2nd day, there is an option to return to Tokushima by train.
4 July 2023
Take in the many beautiful temples of Mt Koya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site including Kongobuji Temple, the head of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism.
After an early dinner at our Shukubo, we take a night tour of the Okunoin cemetery. One of the monks from Mt Koya will act as our guide as we walk through Okunoin cemetery all the way up to Kobo Daishi mausoleum learning about its history and spiritual significance. You will also learn about the daily lives of monks living in one of the monasteries of Mt Koya.
Overnight Shukubo/Temple Stay Mt Koya
5 July 2023
Take part in the activities on offer, either take the hiking trail (around 7.5kms) surrounding Mount Koya or hike part of the Women’s Pilgrim’s route. If you would like the day quietly this is the perfect place for a rest.
Overnight Shukubo/Temple Stay Mt Koyasan
6 July 2023
After arriving in Kyoto we will catch a train to Fushimi Inari Shrine famous for the Senbon Torii, thousand torii gates. This temple is one of the most popular sightseeing spots of Kyoto.
There are many souvenir shops by the street to the temple so taking a detour is also fun! Overnight Hotel Kyoto
7 July 2023
8 July 2023
After a late lunch, we stroll through one of the bustling streets before returning by train to Kyoto. Overnight Hotel Kyoto
9 July 2023
Visit the Peace Memorial Park and learn about the tragedy of history in Peace Memorial Museum. Late afternoon travel back to for our final dinner together. Overnight Hotel Kyoto
10 July 2023
Extra time around Kyoto / take extra trips or prepare to fly home.
If you are travelling to Tokyo, we suggest you take the Shinkansen to enjoy the full Japan experience.
Fully escorted from Osaka by Sharon Thrupp
Transportation from Osaka and finishing in Kyoto as described in the itinerary
Accommodation 9 nights and 8 breakfasts – (6 nights in Western style Hotels, 3 nights in Japanese style Shukubo (Temple Lodging).
Dinner during stays at Shubuko’s (3 days)
Local Guides and tours on Days 7, 8 and 9
All transportation costs when traveling with the group. (Transportation costs during scheduled (free times are the tour member’s responsibility.)
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, ryokan customs, etc.
Meals not stipulated in the main itinerary
Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks
Admission fees to the destinations and activities not listed in the itinerary
Donations given at Temples
This Tokyo extension offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s truly mesmerising cities. Our expert guide, Sharon Thrupp, will ensure that you not only see the ultra-modern city buzzing with technology; but that you also catch a glimpse of the ancient city known as Edo which remains steeped in timeless traditions. We’ll take in districts known for their local artisans and cultural curiosities as well as visit some of Tokyo’s most significant Buddhist sanctuaries and Shinto shrines. All this and more set against the most stunning time of year with the autumn leaves in full glorious colour.
As with all Ekno experiences, we select our hotels and locations with an eye on combining luxury and comfort into one unique experience.
|10-13 July 2023|
|$1,750 per person twin share $1,950 single supplement|
|4 days, 3 nights|
10 July 2023
After breakfast we will continue our journey to Japan’s ultra modern capital – Tokyo. We will make our way there via Japan’s extremely efficient Shikansen train.
When we arrive in Tokyo in the early afternoon we will transfer to our hotel. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. No activities are planned but perhaps you’d like to soak up some of Tokyo’s vibrant night life and enjoy some traditional Japanese cuisine at an Izakaya (Japanese style pub) before retiring for the night.
Overnight: Hotel, Tokyo
11 July 2023
This morning we’ll head off the beaten track and visit some of Tokyo’s beautiful temples and shrines by travelling to Asakusa and visit the bustling Senso-ji Temple, the city’s oldest and most popular Buddhist sanctuary. After visiting the temple, step next door for a quick look at Asakusa-jinja Shrine, one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Tokyo. This area of Tokyo is also famous for the uniquely Japanese souvenir stalls that line the entrance to the temple.
Next we will explore Zenkoku-ji Temple, another superb and popular temple, before heading to the Yasukuni-jinja Shrine. This is Japan’s most controversial Shinto shrine, which honours those killed in service to their country. We will also visit the the adjoining Yushukan Museum, which presents the Japanese nationalist view of history.
By this time, you’ll probably have had enough of temples and shrines. But if you’re still keen, we’ll take a peek at the Nogi-jinja Shrine before it closes at 5pm. This will then put us in a good position to walk down into Roppongi, where we can choose from a huge selection of restaurants for dinner.
Overnight: Hotel, Tokyo
12 July 2023
Today we will have a late morning breakfast before heading to the Imperial Palace East Garden. We will visit the gardens which used to house Edo Castle and still contain some of its ancient ruins. Whilst there we will also visit Yasukuni-jinja Shrine..
After lunch you can choose to return to the hotel for a rest or to shop till you drop in one of the exciting shopping districts of Shinjuku, Ginza, or Marunouchi. These areas are also great for people watching and grabbing a bite to eat.
Overnight: Hotel, Tokyo
13 July 2023
No activities are planned for this day. After breakfast get ready to leave on your outbound flight home. Thank you for travelling with us, we hope that you have had a fulfilling and enlightening journey.
Fully escorted by Sharon Thrupp
Transportation from Kyoto to Tokyo by Shinkansen
3 nights’ accommodation in a Western style Hotel
Local guide for one day
All transportation costs when travelling with the group (transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility)
Admission fees to destinations listed in the itinerary
Sayonara dinner at the end of the tour
Admission fees to any destinations and activities not listed in the itinerary
Personal expenses (laundry, drinks, shopping)
All meals (except dinner on Day 4)
Passport & visa costs
Travel insurance (compulsory)
Tips & gratuities