Spiritual Japan

Retrace the steps of the ancients – a spiritual interlude with some of Japan’s most sacred places and the extraordinary rituals performed throughout millennia. Visit the birthplace of Shingon Buddism, the elegantly painted sliding doors of Kongobunji Temple and delight in vegetarian dishes served by local monks at their monastery lodgings.

Planning your holiday is easy, and speak to your friendly Consultant.

Day 1: Arrive Osaka

Welcome to Japan. Upon arrival at Osaka Itami or Kansai International Airport, transfer by pre-booked airport shuttle service to your hotel. This evening join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception drink with appetisers.

Hotel: Rihga Royal Osaka, 2 nights

Day 2: Osaka

After breakfast start your city tour with a visit to Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century. General Toyotomi Hideyoshi built the original castle in 1583 as a display of power, using, it’s said, the labour of 100,000 workers. Although the present structure is a 1931 reconstruction, it’s nonetheless quite a sight, looming dramatically over the surrounding park, which has the bonus of being a great place to view cherry blossom in the springtime. Next visit the Abeno Harukas Observatory which standing at 300 metres is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. The building stands on top of Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station and it houses a department store, an art museum, a hotel and the observation deck which occupies the buildings top three floors. With large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around, the 60th floor offers 360 degree panoramic views of Osaka. Later enjoy some free time for shopping in the Umeda district before returning to the hotel. This afternoon is yours at leisure or choose to join an Optional Experience.

Day 3: Osaka – Mt Koya – Shirahama

This morning travel to Mt. Koya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where the Shingon Buddism sect was introduced in 805 by the priest Kukai, who posthumously became known as Kobo Daishi. Here visit the Kongobuji Temple with its elegantly painted sliding doors and the Danjo Garan Temple, one of the first complexes built by Kobo Daishi in Mt. Koya. Later enjoy a Japanese style vegetarian lunch at a delightful monastery inn (shukubo) served by local monks, a Cultural Insight. Continue to Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery and the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum, set in an enchanted forest of towering ancient cedar trees. Travel to Shirahama and later enjoy dinner in a local authentic Japanese ‘Izakaya’.

Hotel: Nanki Shirahama Marriott

Day 4: Shirahama – Kumano – Shima

Today visit the Kumano area, the spiritual heartland of Japan and discover the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Choose to ascend Daimonzaka Hill either on foot or by coach to admire the Nachi Taisha Shrine, Seiganotoji Temple and the impressive Nachi waterfall which at approximately 130 metres high is the tallest waterfall in Japan. Continue your journey by visiting Hayatama Taisha one of Kumano’s most important shrines that holds an important place in Japanese mythology. The collection housed in this small museum is impressive, with more national treasures than some major museums. Continue to your hotel which for the next two nights is the Shima Kanko The Classic; famous for hosting the 42nd G7 summit in 2016 which was attended by many top politicians including President Barack Obama. This evening enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: Shima Kanko The Classic, 2 nights

Day 5: Shima – Ise – Shima

Enjoy a later start this morning before travelling to Ise to visit the Ise Jingu Shrine the most revered Shinto sanctuary of great spiritual and historical significance. It consists of an inner and outer shrine and both are rebuilt from scratch every 20 years according to ancient Shinto tradition. Later meet some traditional free divers known as ‘Ama’, as seen in the James Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice’. They are working women of the region who dressed all in white, dive into the sea without any diving equipment to catch shellfish and seaweed. Enjoy the fine flavour of the char-grilled local fresh seafood while listening to the stories told by the friendly and cheerful divers, a Cultural Insight. Later visit Mikimoto Pearl Island which is the place where, for the first time in the world, pearls were successfully cultured. Then enjoy some free time at a local mall for shopping and dinner at one of the many local and international restaurants.

Day 6: Shima – Iga – Nabari – Kyoto

Travel to Iga and start the day with a visit to the Ninja Museum, dedicated to the history of ninja and ninjutsu, an original form of warfare developed mainly in the region. The museum’s collection includes very old ninjutsu writings analyzed scientifically along with ancient weapons. Continue by exploring Ueno Castle constructed in the late 16th century served as the seat of the local lords during the Edo Period. The castle tower was destroyed in a storm less than 50 years later and not rebuilt until 1935 when a local resident provided funding for the tower’s reconstruction. Then enjoy a special Be My Guest lunch with a monk at Shorenji Temple in Nabari while learning about the history and traditions of the region. After lunch continue to Kyoto for your overnight stay.

Hotel: New Miyako, 3 nights

Day 7: Kyoto

Enjoy a late start this morning followed by a visit to Kinkakuji Temple; a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its Golden Pavilion reflecting beautifully in the water of the adjoining pond. Lunch today is okonomiyaki; similar to a savoury pancake and made with egg, cabbage, soba noodles and meat, seafood or cheese and grilled in layers on a hot plate in front of you. This afternoon visit Arashiyama, a district on the outskirts of Kyoto. Visit the breath-taking Bamboo Forest and walk along the paths that cut through the bamboo groves. Standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world! Continue on with a visit to Tenryuji Temple which has one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views.

Day 8: Kyoto

This morning visit the Kiyomizu-dera Temple; a buzzing hive of activity perched on a hill overlooking the city. It is one of Kyoto’s most popular and most enjoyable temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then head to Sanjusangendo Hall, a temple famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Return to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon or choose to take part in an Optional Experience. This evening have a delightful Farewell dinner with your fellow companions and Travel Director at a local restaurant.

Day 9: Depart Kyoto

Transfer by airport shuttle to Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami Airport for your onward flight.

2018 Dates & PricesTwin ShareSolo Traveller
March: 18, 25$6,095.00$7,345.00
April: 01, 08$6,095.00$7,345.00
May: 06$6,095.00$7,345.00
June: 03, 17$6,095.00$7,045.00
July: 01$6,095.00$7,345.00
September: 02, 30$6,095.00$7,345.00
October: 07, 14$6,095.00$7,345.00
Meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
Transport:Airport Transfers & Luxury air-conditioned coach
Accommodation: 8 nights accommodation
Guide:Experienced Travel Director & Driver
Entrance Fees & Touring:Entrance fees & activities as per itinerary
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