10 days, 9 nights
Duration
1 – 10 July 2023
Dates

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 DATES

1-10 July 2023

Add on Tour – Tokyo Extension 4 Days: 10 -13 July 2023

TOUR COST

$4,200  twin share  per person, $4,850 per person single supplement*  (includes a $200 donation to Sakyadhita Australia for sponsorship to Sakyadhita International Conference)
Add on Tour – Tokyo Extension 4 Days: $1,750  per person twin share $1,950 single supplement

DURATION

10 days, 9 nights

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • A 2-Day Pilgrimage in Shikoku walking from Temples 1-9 with Temple Stay – total 23.5kms
  • 2 Night Temple stay to walk the Women’s Pilgrim’s Route (optional) at Mt Koyasan
  • Night tour of Okunoin Cemetery with local monk
  • Visits to Todai-ji Temple and Deer Park at Nara
  • Thousand Torii Gates and UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto
  • Day trip by Shikansen to visit Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima and Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima
  • 4 day add on to Tokyo

TOUR ROUTE

Osaka-Tokushima (Shikoku)-Mt Koyasan-Kyoto-Nara-Hiroshima-Kyoto

Tour Leader: Sharon Thrupp

Sharon ThruppSharon 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.

Notes:

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.

Day 1

1 July 2023

Arrive at Osaka Airport and for those travelling earlier we will meet at a designated place in Osaka. Travel by bus to Tokushima, located on the eastern part of Shikoku (2.5 hours). Arrive late afternoon and check into our accommodation. Overnight Hotel Tokushima
Day 2

2 July 2023

Prepare to walk from Temples 1-6  starting at Ryozenji Temple and finishing the day at Temple No 6 Anrakuji where we will spend the night.

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.

Day 3

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.

Day 4

4 July 2023

This morning we travel by boat to Wakayama and bus to Mt Koyasan (total travel time 5 hours). Koyasan is Shingon Buddhism’s holiest site and home of Kukai’s mausoleum, where he is considered to rest in eternal meditation. Having started our pilgrimage at Ryozenji it is fitting that we complete our journey at Koyasan. Arrive and check into our Shukubo/Temple Stay.

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

Day 5

5 July 2023

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 immersive experience.

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

Day 6

6 July 2023

This morning we take the cable car/train to Kyoto.  On arrival check into our hotel and as we look forward to some of Kyoto’s highlights. There is so much to pack in, from beautiful parks to ancient well-preserved Buddhist temples to visiting the Shinto Shrine and more.

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

Day 7

7 July 2023

Today we explore with our guide, 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. Rest of the evening at leisure. Overnight Hotel Kyoto
Day 8

8 July 2023

We leave early to travel 40 mins by train to Nara  for a full day to walk through Nara Park (popularly known as ‘Deer Park’).  The walk takes 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. Finish your 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.

After a late lunch, we stroll through one of the bustling streets before returning by train to Kyoto. Overnight Hotel Kyoto

Day 9

9 July 2023

Early this morning we take the Shikensen to Hiroshima for a full day of sightseeing to Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajimaalso known as Miyajima (Japanese for shrine island) and is a beautiful island located in Hiroshima Bay, famous for floating torii gate in the sea.

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

Day 10

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.

INCLUDE

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.

EXCLUDE:

Airfares

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.

TOUR DATES

10-13 July 2023

TOUR COST

$1,750  per person twin share $1,950 single supplement

DURATION

4 days, 3 nights

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this global city with walking tours to diverse districts
  • Wander around beautiful Ueno park in spectacular autumn colour
  • Take in Ningyocho district, famous for its history and tradition
  • Marvel at the Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s most popular Buddhist sanctuary
  • Visit impressive sites such the Imperial Palace
  • Shop for souvenirs and people watch in Shinjuku, Ginza, or Marunouchi
  • Enjoy a traditional Sayonara (farewell) dinner

TOUR ROUTE

Tokyo
Day 1

10 July 2023

Kyoto –  Tokyo

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

Day 2

11 July 2023

Tokyo Temple and Shrine Day

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

Day 3

12 July 2023

Traditional Tokyo

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

Day 4

13 July 2023

Depart Tokyo

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. 

INCLUDE

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

EXCLUDE:

International Flights

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

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