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Japan Kumano Kodo Walking Tour

An Inspiring Journey through Japan's Cultural & Spiritual Landscapes


Embark on this immersive journey that contrasts Japan's cityscapes with its spiritual countryside and ancient pilgrimage traditions on the Kii peninsula. Start in Osaka, the bustling business hub that embodies all one expects from modern-day Japan, and end in Kyoto, Japan's former capital for a thousand years and the repository of its cultural heritage. Over the five days in between, hike along the Nakahechi section of the UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo, an age-old web of pilgrimage routes. Soak up the spectacular scenery, marvel at sacred shrines, rest in ryokan inns, dine on the freshest local ingredients, and end long days of hiking by relaxing in natural hot springs.

8 Days

From: $6,995

Embark on this immersive journey that contrasts Japan's cityscapes with its spiritual countryside and ancient pilgrimage traditions on the Kii peninsula. Start in Osaka, the bustling business hub that embodies all one expects from modern-day Japan, and end in Kyoto, Japan's former capital for a thousand years and the repository of its cultural heritage. Over the five days in between, hike along the Nakahechi section of the UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo, an age-old web of pilgrimage routes. Soak up the spectacular scenery, marvel at sacred shrines, rest in ryokan inns, dine on the freshest local ingredients, and end long days of hiking by relaxing in natural hot springs.

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Hike the mystical Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail strewn with stunning sacred shrines

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Experience charming traditional onsen baths and ryokan inns along the trail

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Take in the historic landmarks and cultural highlights of Kyoto and Osaka

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Highlights


  • Hike the mystical Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail strewn with stunning sacred shrines
  • Experience charming traditional onsen baths and ryokan inns along the trail
  • Take in the historic landmarks and cultural highlights of Kyoto and Osaka

Japan Kumano Kodo Walking

Start: Osaka, Japan  End: Kyoto, Japan

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Meet in Japan's 'Second Capital' Osaka

    Day 1

    Arrive at Osaka airport and join your transfer to the hotel. At 7pm, meet with your Mountain Travel Sobek guide and other tour participants in the hotel lobby for a short orientation, then head to a nearby restaurant for the welcome reception and dinner.

    Accommodation: Hotel Royal Classic Osaka
    Accommodation: Excel Tokyu Osaka

    Meals: Dinner

  • Embark on the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Trail

    Day 2

    Today enjoy the train ride along the coast of the Kii peninsula to Takijiri, the traditional starting point of the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. Embark on the Nakahechi trail, a route that links three of the most important Shinto and Buddhist shrines, along the way dotted with smaller shrines called oji. Finish this first hike at the mountainside Takahara village, whose nickname kiri-no-sato translates to 'village in the mist.' Wrap up the day unwinding in Japanese baths at the ryokan inn.

    Accommodation: Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-sato

    Activity: 3 miles/2-3 hours hiking with 820' elevation gain

    Transportation: 2.5-hour train ride and 40-minute bus journey

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore the Mountains Between Takahara & Chikatsuyu

    Day 3

    Continue eastward along the Nakahechi pilgrimage trail, and dive deeply into the sacred ambiance of hinoki (Japanese cypress), oak and cherry forests. Along the way, spot small bodhisattva statues that honor Jizo, the patron saint of travelers; old cha-ya (tea houses) that provided rest to pilgrims right up until the early 20th century; and find Gyuba-douji, a small stone statue depicting a man riding astride a cow and horse. Descend to the quiet village of Chikatsuyu for a transfer to the inn for dinner.

    Accommodation: Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-sato

    Activity: 7 miles / 4 hours hiking with 1,150' elevation gain and 1,180' elevation loss

    Transportation: 30- to 60-minute private transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Marvel at Hongu Taisha & Explore the Ancient Shugendo Religion

    Day 4

    From Chikatsuyu, follow the trail up to Nonaka and Tsugizakura-oji, one of the many small shrines along the route. Nobles would rest at these sub-shrines, called oji, to refresh themselves and compose poems. Next, transfer from the Nonaka to Hosshinmon-oji and hike through scenic ridgetop villages to reach Hongu Taisha, This is one of the Three Grand Shrines and is dedicated to Shinto's main deity, the sun goddess Amaterasu. En route, meet a local Shugendo monk to learn about this syncretic faith that draws on multiple spiritual traditions. From there, marvel at the stunning Oyunohara Torii gate, which is one of the largest in the world! The gate marks the spot where the Shinto shrine was originally located and is a scenic and peaceful destination. Transfer to Kawayu Onsen for an overnight stay.

    Accommodation: Fujiya Ryokan

    Activity: 6 miles/4 hours hiking with 780' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 1-hour bus transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Take in Yunomine Onsen & Cruise the Kumano River

    Day 5

    Soak up the cool shade of the forested Danichi-goe trail that connects Hongu Taisha with Yunomine Onsen, where pilgrims used to perform purification rituals. Take a scenic boat ride on the Kumano River that connects Hongu Taisha to Hayatama Taisha, the second Grand Shrine. Explore its precincts on foot, then take a coastal train journey to the small port and fishing town of Kii Katsuura.

    Accommodation: Hotel Urashima

    Activity: 1.7 miles/1.5 hours hiking with 855' elevation gain and 670' elevation loss

    Transportation: 25-minute train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Discover Nachi Taisha & Travel to Kyoto

    Day 6

    The third Great Shrine awaits today at the top of Daimon-zaka, a cobblestone staircase that runs through cedar forests and bamboo groves up to the majestic sacred landmarks. Admire the Buddhist Seiganto-ji pagoda, poised in front of the mighty Nachi waterfall, then marvel at the Nachi Taisha shrine, a visit that completes the pilgrimage to the Grand Shrines of Kumano. On your afternoon train journey to Kyoto, enjoy a traditional Japanese take-out bento box for lunch.

    Accommodation: Noku Hotel

    Activity: 1 mile/1 hour hiking with 656' elevation gain

    Transportation: 4.5-hour train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Roam the Temples of Kyoto & Attend a Tea Ceremony

    Day 7

    Take a train to Fushimi Inari shrine, dedicated to the Inari spirit, protector of rice cultivation famous for thousands of Torii gates that snake up the mountainside. Next, explore the sights of Kyoto's cultural district of Higashiyama and walk up to the 8th-century Kiyomizu temple to admire city panoramas from its expansive veranda. End on a high note with a ritual tea ceremony, steeped in the ichi-go ichi-e philosophy that deems each encounter unique and inimitable. Take in the mesmerizing streetscapes of Kyoto on the walk back to the hotel, where you'll enjoy farewell dinner.

    Accommodation: Noku Hotel

    Transportation: 15-minute train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Bid Farewell to Japan

    Day 8

    On the last day of your tour, transfer to Kansai International Airport or Osaka International Airport (Itami).

    Meals: Breakfast

Why Travel With Us?


  • MT Sobek has been operating well-paced hiking itineraries in Japan for more than 20 years, working with expert local guides who go the extra mile.

  • Our itinerary has been designed so that each walking day ends up at a unique onsen or ryokan.

  • Gain an understanding of the grand Shinto shrines and local pilgrims who frequent this fascinating route.

Dates & Prices


  • 2024
  • Go Private
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2024

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

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Go Private

Go Private


Gather your favorite travel companions to share an MT Sobek adventure on an easy-to-book Private departure.

Call or email us to get the ball rolling.

*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.


Looking for a private family adventure?


This trip can accommodate guests with a
minimum age of 16.

Private Trip Pricing:


2024 Pricing

8 to 9 guests from $7,295 per person double occupancy

10 guests from $6,995 per person double occupancy

*Seasonal rates may apply.

Additional Costs:


Private pricing excludes potential additional costs such as internal airfare, single supplement, or any park fees that may be required for the trip.

*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.

Make Your Own Dates in These Months


Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Tomomi S.

Tomomi S.

Tomomi was born and raised in Tokyo. After completing her degree in international relations, she studied in the UK and the US. Later she lived in Hawaii and Israel for years and traveled extensively in Europe, the US and Middle East. She now lives in Tokyo, close to its center and loves gardening, walking, cycling and yoga. Tomomi enjoys guiding and sharing her knowledge of both traditional and urban cultures of Japan. Meet Tomomi on MT Sobek's adventures in Japan.

Toshi K.

Toshi K.

Toshiyuki was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and grew up in Sekiyama in Niigata Prefecture. His interest in travel became apparent from the very moment he played with a globe as a child and it turned into a life-long passion. After graduating from university in 1978, he moved to Canada and now divides his time between Canada and Japan. Toshiyuki has guided the Nakasendo and Kumano Kodo trails since 2013. He has traveled to over 200 cities in 25 countries in America, Europe, and Asia.

Naomi H.

Naomi H.

Naomi earned her master's degree in sports tourism and marketing to complement her travel agency background and expand her knowledge of the tourism industry. During her study, she organized and managed events for international students for the purpose of cross-cultural exchange. In 2014, she passed the national tour guide exam and since then, she has been working as a guide. She is interested in Japanese history, food, culture and sports. Currently, she is studying to be qualified as a Kikisake-shi (Master of Sake).

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Arrive at Osaka airport and join your transfer to the hotel. At 7pm, meet with your Mountain Travel Sobek guide and other tour participants in the hotel lobby for a short orientation, then head to a nearby restaurant for the welcome reception and dinner.

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From Chikatsuyu, follow the trail up to Nonaka and Tsugizakura-oji, one of the many small shrines along the route. Nobles would rest at these sub-shrines, called oji, to refresh themselves and compose poems. Next, transfer from the Nonaka to Hosshinmon-oji and hike through scenic ridgetop villages to reach Hongu Taisha, This is one of the Three Grand Shrines and is dedicated to Shinto\'s main deity, the sun goddess Amaterasu. En route, meet a local Shugendo monk to learn about this syncretic faith that draws on multiple spiritual traditions. From there, marvel at the stunning Oyunohara Torii gate, which is one of the largest in the world! The gate marks the spot where the Shinto shrine was originally located and is a scenic and peaceful destination. Transfer to Kawayu Onsen for an overnight stay.

[Breakfast] => 1 [Lunch] => 1 [Dinner] => 1 [Travel_Type] => 1-hour bus transfer [Quotation] => [Quotation_Attribution] => [Quotation_Location] => [Itinerary_Location] => [Latitude] => 33.8408 [Longitude] => 135.773 ) [4] => Array ( [DayFrom] => 5 [DayTo] => 5 [Headline] => Take in Yunomine Onsen & Cruise the Kumano River [ActivityOverview] => 1.7 miles/1.5 hours hiking with 855\' elevation gain and 670\' elevation loss [EstimatedLength] => [ActivityLevel] => [ItinBlock] =>

Soak up the cool shade of the forested Danichi-goe trail that connects Hongu Taisha with Yunomine Onsen, where pilgrims used to perform purification rituals. Take a scenic boat ride on the Kumano River that connects Hongu Taisha to Hayatama Taisha, the second Grand Shrine. Explore its precincts on foot, then take a coastal train journey to the small port and fishing town of Kii Katsuura.

[Breakfast] => 1 [Lunch] => 1 [Dinner] => 1 [Travel_Type] => 25-minute train ride [Quotation] => [Quotation_Attribution] => [Quotation_Location] => [Itinerary_Location] => [Latitude] => 33.628 [Longitude] => 135.94 ) [5] => Array ( [DayFrom] => 6 [DayTo] => 6 [Headline] => Discover Nachi Taisha & Travel to Kyoto [ActivityOverview] => 1 mile/1 hour hiking with 656\' elevation gain [EstimatedLength] => [ActivityLevel] => [ItinBlock] =>

The third Great Shrine awaits today at the top of Daimon-zaka, a cobblestone staircase that runs through cedar forests and bamboo groves up to the majestic sacred landmarks. Admire the Buddhist Seiganto-ji pagoda, poised in front of the mighty Nachi waterfall, then marvel at the Nachi Taisha shrine, a visit that completes the pilgrimage to the Grand Shrines of Kumano. On your afternoon train journey to Kyoto, enjoy a traditional Japanese take-out bento box for lunch.

[Breakfast] => 1 [Lunch] => 1 [Dinner] => 1 [Travel_Type] => 4.5-hour train ride [Quotation] => [Quotation_Attribution] => [Quotation_Location] => [Itinerary_Location] => [Latitude] => 35.045 [Longitude] => 135.7646 ) [6] => Array ( [DayFrom] => 7 [DayTo] => 7 [Headline] => Roam the Temples of Kyoto & Attend a Tea Ceremony [ActivityOverview] => [EstimatedLength] => [ActivityLevel] => [ItinBlock] =>

Take a train to Fushimi Inari shrine, dedicated to the Inari spirit, protector of rice cultivation famous for thousands of Torii gates that snake up the mountainside. Next, explore the sights of Kyoto\'s cultural district of Higashiyama and walk up to the 8th-century Kiyomizu temple to admire city panoramas from its expansive veranda. End on a high note with a ritual tea ceremony, steeped in the ichi-go ichi-e philosophy that deems each encounter unique and inimitable. Take in the mesmerizing streetscapes of Kyoto on the walk back to the hotel, where you\'ll enjoy farewell dinner.

[Breakfast] => 1 [Lunch] => 1 [Dinner] => 1 [Travel_Type] => 15-minute train ride [Quotation] => [Quotation_Attribution] => [Quotation_Location] => [Itinerary_Location] => [Latitude] => 34.9955 [Longitude] => 135.785 ) [7] => Array ( [DayFrom] => 8 [DayTo] => 8 [Headline] => Bid Farewell to Japan [ActivityOverview] => [EstimatedLength] => [ActivityLevel] => [ItinBlock] =>

On the last day of your tour, transfer to Kansai International Airport or Osaka International Airport (Itami).

[Breakfast] => 1 [Lunch] => 0 [Dinner] => 0 [Travel_Type] => [Quotation] => [Quotation_Attribution] => [Quotation_Location] => [Itinerary_Location] => [Latitude] => 34.598 [Longitude] => 135.476 ) ) [ActivityHighlight] => Moderately paced hikes of up to seven miles a day on mostly dirt trails, plus walking during cultural touring and scenic train rides. The route includes some uneven ground and a number of steep ascents and descents. [Trip_Level] => 3 )

Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 3. Moderately paced hikes of up to seven miles a day on mostly dirt trails, plus walking during cultural touring and scenic train rides. The route includes some uneven ground and a number of steep ascents and descents.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 2

3 miles/2-3 hours hiking with 820' elevation gain

Day 3

7 miles / 4 hours hiking with 1,150' elevation gain and 1,180' elevation loss

Day 4

6 miles/4 hours hiking with 780' elevation gain and loss

Day 5

1.7 miles/1.5 hours hiking with 855' elevation gain and 670' elevation loss

Day 6

1 mile/1 hour hiking with 656' elevation gain

Accommodations


Stay in traditional ryokans (inns) and unwind in onsen (hot springs) while on the Kumano Kodo, and comfortable hotels with modern amenities in Kyoto and Osaka.

Hotel Royal Classic Osaka
Hotel Royal Classic Osaka

Set inside the historic Osaka Shin-Kabukiza theater building, the Royal Classic Osaka couples a vivid past with Western-style design and contemporary lines. Staying here, you will be in the center of the lively Namba district known for its thriving theater and restaurant scene. The well-appointed rooms come equipped with en-suite facilities, AC, TV and fridge.

Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-sato
Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-sato

Tucked away in the Hatenashi mountain range, Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-Sato showcases breathtaking vistas of the surrounding scenery. This friendly lodge, made of local wood features eight rooms: three Japanese-style tatami rooms and five with twin beds. Along with its restaurant and café/bar, and Wi-Fi throughout, the inn features onsen (hot spring) baths, ideal for soaking in after a long hike.

Fujiya Ryokan
Fujiya Ryokan

This traditional Japanese-style inn offers airy interiors and a classic Japanese experience. Its eight minimalist rooms feature exposed-wood detailing and tatami (straw) floors. The inn is located in Kawayu Onsen, which features hot spring bathing opportunities aplenty, from private baths at the inn to bathing in thermal waters which bubble up through the river bed opposite the ryokan.

Noku Hotel
Noku Hotel

Located in a quiet part of Kyoto, the Noku Hotel is just a short walk from the Imperial Palace and easily accessible to the subway station. Experience lavish comfort and luxurious amenities in a warm and welcoming environment that captures the shokunin spirit of Kyoto life. Each room comes equipped with free pajamas, a 40-inch TV, Wi-Fi, a mini bar, and 24-hour front desk service.

Hotel Urashima
Hotel Urashima
Perched at the edge of the ocean, Hotel Urashima boasts five traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring baths). The Boki-do bath's therapeutic waters are sheltered by a natural cavern and look out onto the tranquil sea. The resort offers a selection of Japanese and Western style rooms, each designed to maximize relaxation. Meals are prepared with locally-sourced produce and seafood to further enhance your wellness journey, and service is warm and welcoming at this waterfront retreat.
Excel Tokyu Osaka
Excel Tokyu Osaka
The entrance of Excel Tokyu Osaka frames a nearby temple gate, leading you into the hotel and more thoughtful touches that reflect the traditions of the world outside while offering the comfort of today. Surprisingly spacious rooms include a bathroom with all the amenities and a full bathtub. The restaurant and bar command spectacular views of the city and there is even a Starbucks onsite for that familiar cup of coffee.

Weather


Spring and fall temperatures range from the mid 60°Fs to the high 70°Fs/low 80°Fs. The rainy season in Japan is from mid-June through July. Fall months can be slightly wetter than the spring months.

 
Mar
Apr
May
Sep
Oct
Nov
Kyoto 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Kyoto
56
38
68
47
77
56
84
67
73
55
63
45
Osaka 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Osaka
57
40
68
50
76
59
84
69
74
58
64
48

Know Before You Book


Meals
Many of the inns visited will be smaller establishments so dining choices might be much simpler for gluten or fish allergies. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. You should be comfortable with sitting down on the floor at meals.

Transportation
Most of the transfers will involve using public transportation and several different modes of public transport will be used on some days. In addition, we transfer luggage on several nights, where you will pack your essentials in a backpack and be without your main luggage for one or more nights.

Accommodation
Solo travelers booked into single rooms may be asked to share with a same-gender traveler in the ryokans. Ryokans and minshuku are traditional inns that may have tatami mat floors, futon beds, and shared bathing facilities.

FAQs


Can you manage food alleries like fish or shellfish?

Fish is a more challenging allergy to manage due to the ubiquitous nature of dashi (fish broth), but we can usually still manage it.

Can I travel to Japan if I'm gluten-free?

Yes, you can, but please let us know as soon as possible so we can manage your request.

What is staying in a ryokan like?

The ryokans vary significantly, but usually have tatami mats for flooring and futon beds that are laid out each night. Baths may be communal and divided by gender.

Who will meet me on arrival for this trip?

You will take a group transfer to the hotel. We will arrange a private transfer for all guests arriving on the same flight.

What days will I be without my luggage during this trip?

You will be without your luggage, carrying only your essentials in your daypack, on days 2 and 5. Your luggage will be transported by courier to your accommodation on the following day.

What is the minimum age for this trip?
The standard minimum age for this trip is 18, but check out our private trip options for families and groups with younger guests.

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