May 10 – May 20, 2020

Status OPEN
Cost $4,699.00 (per person, double occupancy)
$712.00 (single supplement, **see Day 3 for exception**)
Travel Dates May 10 – May 20, 2020
Description The tour starts in Osaka, a city providing varied activities and everything from world famous cuisine to historic castles. We then travel south into what was once known as ‘Yomi no Kuni’ or “The World of Darkness.” Our first pilgrimage site is Mount Koya, the center of the Shingon ‘Pure Word’ Buddhist sect in Japan. From the mountain-top, we’ll travel deeper into the Kii Peninsula which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We then begin the start of the Nakaheji, the southernmost part of one of the old imperial pilgrimage routes leading from Kyoto to the Kumano Sanzan, the Three Grand Kumano Taisha Shrines. The path connects wayside shrines and villages. Poetry and legend tell the stories of nobles and emperors who journeyed along this route. In visiting all three Kumano Shrines, we’ll learn more about how Buddhism and Shinto fused here hundreds of years ago.

From Kumano we travel north through the Omine Mountains, to the ancient capital of Asuka. From there we head to a historically and culturally important area and the Odaigahara Plateau, an important biosphere reserve. Then on to Nara to visit sites including some of the greatest historical monuments in Japan. From Nara we’ll travel the short distance by train to Kyoto.

We’ll stay in various types of accommodation, eat fresh local food and specialty dishes and may have the chance to relax in wonderful natural hot spring baths.

In Japan there are endless opportunities for discovery and seeing at least some of it on foot makes all the difference. Let Japan change you.

Included Private transportation per itinerary; daily luggage transfer; English speaking local guide; entrance fees,10 nights lodging; ALL MEALS (10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners); generous guide gratuity.
Not Included Airfare to the meeting place; transfers to/from airport; drinks; trip insurance. NOTE: The cost of a train from the KIX airport to our hotel in Osaka will cost approximately $15. The cost of a train from our hotel in Kyoto to the KIX airport will cost approximately $30.
Payment Policy A Deposit of $1000.00 is due with the application forms to register for the trip.
Must have at least 15 registered and paid in full by November 1, 2019 for the trip to go.
The Balance of $ 3699.00 is due no later than November 1st, 2019.
Cancellation Policy
  • If registrant cancels prior to November 1st, 2019 all payments received by ADK minus $100.00 will be refunded.
  • On or after November1st, 2019, a refund will only be made if the vacancy can be filled from a waiting list maintained by the leader, if any, and then all but $100.00 will be refunded.
  • Note that there is a $100 registration fee included in the trip deposit which is not refundable if you have to cancel for any reason whatsoever.
  • If the leader decides that this trip is not for you, or the trip is canceled by ADK, all payments received by ADK will be refunded.
What to Bring Luggage to be transferred is limited to one soft sided piece weighing not more than 20 kg/44 pounds. For daily hikes, choose clothing that is light and comfortable and easy to dress in layers depending on the weather. A day pack that is large enough to hold extra clothes, hats (both sun and light knit), light gloves, glasses, sunscreen, lunch, snacks (bring your own energy bars if you want them), water (at least 2 liters), fleece, rain jacket, rain pants and a waterproof pack cover. Wear comfortable preferably waterprooflight hiking shoes or boots or sturdy walking shoes that are adjusted to your feet to avoid blisters and sore joints. Sandals or light running shoes are not suitable for this walking and hiking. Hiking poles can also be useful, as they reduce the impact of the walk on the knees and joints. You might consider bath shoes in case we are able to experience typical Japanese style communal baths.
Trip Insurance It is very strongly recommended that all participants have trip or travel insurance that will cover trip cancellation by the participant, travel delays, medical expenses and medical evacuation. ADK does not provide this insurance and does not cover medical expenses or evacuation in the event you are injured or become ill during the trip. Note that if you have to cancel after the date indicated above, and cannot be replaced from the leader’s waiting list, if any; you could be out the entire amount you paid for the trip. NOTE:  Medicare does not cover expenses outside the USA and its territories, and evacuation from a remote location can be astronomically expensive, especially if by helicopter.
Daily Itinerary Day One, Sunday, May 10th:

Plan to arrive at the Hotel (to be determined) in the city center of Osaka by 3:00pm. In the late afternoon/early evening, we will get together for an informational meeting followed by a group dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight: Osaka:

Meals: D

Day Two, Monday, May 11th: 2 miles/4 hours

In the morning, we will transfer (about 2 hours) by train and cable car to Mount Koya, the head of the Shingon Buddhist sect. In the afternoon we will have a guided walk to the most important sites on Mount Koya, including the Garan pagoda, Kongobuji Temple (Temple of the Diamond Peak), head temple of the Shingon sect, and the vast cemetery with its towering Japanese cedar trees lining the path the inner sanctuary, Okunoin. It is here that Kobo Daishi, the founder, is believed to be sitting in eternal meditation.The evening meal features shojinryori, vegetarian dishes of the sort eaten by monks. Our first night sleeping on futon mattresses on tatami mats.

Overnight: Mount Koya:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Three, Tuesday, May 12th:  1 mile/2 hours hiking

There will be a morning sutra recital and ritual before breakfast. We then travel south along a skyline route (about 2 hours) to Takejiri Oji Shrine at the start of the Nakaheji Pilgrimage trail. The path ascends steeply from Takejiri to to Takahara. Along the path there are ōji, miniature wayside shrines, many of which are associated with local legends and stories. Poets walked these routes in the past, so you’ll be encouraged to try writing a few haiku poems yourself along the way! NOTE: There are only eight double rooms at this accommodation so any singles may have to share a room for this overnight.

Overnight: Takahara:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Four, Wednesday, May 13th: 8 miles/5+ hours

From Takahara, the trail continues through predominantly forested mountain scenery with occasional views of the ranges beyond. There are no settlements on this section of the route, so we’ll carry a packed lunch. After arriving in the village of Chikatsuyu we will travel by road (about 1 hour) to the old onsen (natural hot spring) village of Yunomine Onsen.

Overnight: Ryokan:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Five, Thursday, May 14th: 6 miles/5 hours

After breakfast we’ll pick up the Nakaheji Pilgrimage route again at HosshinmonOji. From there we follow the path down to the first, and most important of the Three Grand Kumano Taisha Shrines beside the Kumanogawa River. The symbol of this nationally important shrine is the three-legged crow, the same as the emblem used by the Japan soccer team. After lunch in Hongu, we’ll hike over a nearby mountain back to our lodgings in Yunomine Onsen.


Meals: B, L, D

Day Six, Friday, May 15th: 4 miles/4+ hours

We begin our day with a 1.5 hour bus ride following the Kumanogawa River to the coast and then turn inland to the spectacularly located Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine and temple complex.The shrine and temple complex overlooks the Nachi-no-taki Waterfall, the highest in Japan (133m/436ft).This is the second of the important Kumano shrines. After climbingNachi, and viewing the waterfall, we’ll walk down Daimonzaka slope. On the way to our lodging we’ll pay a visit to the third Grand Kumano Taisha shrine, Hayatama.

Overnight: Nachi:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Seven, Saturday, May 16th: 5.5 miles/4 hours

This morning we drive north, about 3.5 hours, through the mountains, to the Odaigahara Plateau.Odaigahara is a plateau at an elevation of about 5,000’. Conservation here is a high priority. The Mount Odaigahara and Mount Omine Biosphere Reserve is a carefully protected forested environment. The habitat is home to many deer and Japanese macaque monkeys. In late spring we should see the rhododendrons in bloom. In the afternoonwe’ll hike one of several routes. On clear days the views are wonderful.


Meals: B, L, D

Day Eight, Sunday, May 17th: 5 hours sightseeing

This morning we travel about 3 hours to Asuka Village which was the first capital, or at least administrative center, in the 6th and 7th centuries, of a consolidated Japanese state known as Yamato. It was the place where Korean and Chinese culture first took root in Japan. There are large imperial burial chambers here, notably the Takamatsuzuka burial mound, as well as the oldest Buddhist statue in Japan (in Asukadera Temple) amongst other important sites. Asuka is a pleasant conservation village area, well known for its traditional rural scenery with terraced rice fields. We mayhire bicycles to get around, or walk.

Overnight: Asuka

Meals: B, L, D

Day Nine, Monday, May 18th: 8 miles/5 hours

Today we will hike the Yamanobe no Michi (literally ‘path beside the mountains’),from the highly ranked Miwa Shrine to IsonokamiJingu Shrine, a designated historical route. On and off quiet roads and paths, this is a pleasant hike through gently undulating countryside with persimmon and mandarin groves, the path winding around imperial tombs. We’ll then drive 45 minutes to Nara in the late afternoon.

Overnight: Nara:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Ten, Tuesday, May 19th:  3 miles/7 hours

A half day walking and sightseeing around Nara and Nara Park with a local guide. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around Nara. Indeed, the city boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. The parkland is also home to a thousand or more free-roaming deer. We’ll visit Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Todaiji’s Daibutsuden Temple, the largest wooden building in the world.

We will also visit a rather lovely garden with a traditional shakei (borrowed landscape) design. For our lunch, we’ll have an opportunity to try our hands at making well-known local style of sushi – kakinohazushi, traditionally wrapped in persimmon leaves. And of course we’ll enjoy eating the results, assuming nothing goes wrong! Later in the afternoon we’ll attend a traditional tea ceremony offering insight into a very important aspect of Japanese culture. We’ll then take a 50 minute train ride to Kyoto. Farewell group dinner with a traditional element to celebrate the end of our journey together. Overnight: Kyoto:

Meals: B, L, D

Day Eleven, Wednesday, May 20th:  

Our trip ends after breakfast with amazing memories of our time together in Japan. You are free to travel onward or stay in Kyoto. NOTE: There will be information available at a later date for a possible optional guided day tour of Kyoto for an additional charge.                                                                                                        Meals: B

Accommodations Our accommodations while hiking will be varied: small local lodging with single and double occupancy en suite rooms where available, large modern hotels in cities and we will also experience a Ryokan, a type of traditional Japanese inn that features tatami-matted rooms and communal baths. Websites are listed on the itinerary and are subject to change if necessary.
Meals A typical breakfast will begin about 8:00am and offer either typical Japanese or English fare. Lunches are provided and may be Japanese or other light meals.  Dinner will be either at our lodgings (normally Japanese) or in local restaurants known for their great food. The experience and array of new foods is likely to be one of the highlights of this trip. NOTE:​ Vegetarian and special diets will be catered when possible. Please inform Trip Leader of any specific requirements and consider bringing specific supplements if needed.
Registration Procedure Please carefully read the above detailed trip description and itinerary, and contact me if you have any questions. Then, if you decide to join this adventure, please contact me (email, phone or snail mail) and I will send you the registration paperwork, consisting of the Registration form, the Health and Physical Condition Questionnaire and Release of Liability form. Complete these forms and send them to me by U.S. Postal Service with the deposit (check payable to “ADK” or the Credit Card Authorization) to reserve a spot. Please note that original signatures are required on all forms. Spaces are reserved in the order that complete and acceptable registration forms and deposit payments are received, so don’t delay.
Trip Leader Mary Chayka-Crawford
P.O. Box 501 Lake Orion, MI 48361