Temples and Trails of Shikoku

Temples and Trails of Shikoku

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour

Highlights

  • Stay in monastery lodgings in the temple town of Mount Koya
  • Walk on the loveliest parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail
  • Walk across a bridge of vines in the remote Iya Valley
  • Eat wonderful local food in the Hirome Ichiba Market in Kochi city
  • Bathe in natural thermal waters at historic Dogo Onsen
  • Visit the beautiful hill-top castle in Matsuyama

A small-group guided walking tour to Sacred Mount Koya & The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail 

The fourth-largest of Japan’s islands, Shikoku is home to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail. The full pilgrimage route encircles Shikoku and connects 88 Buddhist temples, covering more than a thousand kilometres. Our tour selects the best of the walking trails through lovely landscapes and visits all four of Shikoku’s prefectures and the journey begins with a stay on Mount Koya, the hilltop temple complex on Honshu, an important location for Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage devotees. We will stay in traditional country inns enjoying regional cuisine prepared from local ingredients from the island, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy the exceptional hospitality of our hosts. 

 

  • Day
  • 1
Arrive in Tokyo 
 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Welcome Dinner

Meet your guide and other group members at the tour hotel in central Tokyo in the evening. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. 

  • Day
  • 2
Tokyo 
  • Hotel  Hotel 
  • Meal Breakfast

Our first full day in Japan is a walking tour of Tokyo. We start at the Hama-Rikyu gardens, located near the mouth of the Sumida-gawa river. There is a striking contrast between the gardens and the gleaming towers of the new Shiodome business area beyond. Next, we visit Nihonbashi (the ‘Japan Bridge’) considered to be the ‘centre of Japan’ and the zero marker point for all Japan’s main roads since the Edo period. We then head to the elegant Ginza shopping district and continue to the Grand Meiji Shrine near Harajuku, an area famous for its avant-garde fashion and architecture. 

  • Day
  • 3
Obuse and Yudanaka Hot Spring 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Ryokan (Travellers Inn) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

We travel this morning to Obuse in Nagano Prefecture north-west of Tokyo. The small, attractive town of Obuse was where the artist Hokusai lived towards the end of his life. We visit the Hokusai-kan, a museum where many of his works are on display. We will also visit Masuichi-Ichimura Saké Brewery. Afterwards we make the short journey to Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring village famous for its ‘snow monkeys’. The Japanese macaques originally came here to warm themselves in the outdoor hot spring bath during the cold winters, and now come all year round. 

  • Day
  • 4
Matsumoto & Narai Post Town 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

We travel first to the city of Matsumoto to see its beautiful castle, built in the 16th century. After lunch we continue to the Kiso valley and the small town of Narai, an atmospheric example of a post-town on the ancient Nakasendo way between Kyoto and Tokyo (or Edo as the city was known in the feudal period). There are many well-preserved houses and former inns. 

  • Day
  • 5
Tsumago & Magome Post Towns 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, there will be time to wander the beautiful streets of Narai. The village is a good place to buy lacquerware and woodcrafts. Short train and bus journeys bring us to the village of Tsumago. Another of the post-towns on the former Nakasendo trail, Tsumago has been beautifully preserved – a living museum, which is still inhabited by the local residents. Wander the streets, taste gohei-mochi, skewered balls of pounded sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts and visit the folk museum. 

From here, the trail winds its way over the Magome Pass for just over 8 kilometres / 5 miles to the neighbouring town of Magome. You will have the opportunity to walk this lovely section of the trail through forest and countryside, past farms, rice fields, traditional houses and pretty gardens. Local bus provides an alternative. We will arrive in time to check in to our Minshuku, a lovely family-run inn. 

Please note that from summer 2019 onwards our Shoguns and Samurai tour will no longer include this option to walk on the Nakasendo Trail from Tsumago to Magome on Day 5. 

  • Day
  • 6
Travel to Takayama 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Ryokan (Travellers Inn) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, we stroll through Magome and then travel to Takayama. Takayama has retained much of its traditional architecture and is well-known for its crafts, particularly yew-wood carving, Shunkei lacquerware, pottery and furniture. After arriving at our inn, there may be time to explore the surrounding areas and relax in a hot-spring bath before dinner. In the evening we will try the local Hida beef and perhaps some locally-brewed saké. 

  • Day
  • 7
 Takayama 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Today we have a full day in Takayama, starting with a visit to the morning market, with stalls of vegetables, crafts, pickles and souvenirs. We see the Yoshijima Heritage House, a precious wooden structure with a famously refined architectural interior. We wander the San-machi area with its rows of old merchant houses, some open as museums. After lunch there will be free time for you to explore the city further and hunt for special treasures to bring home. 

  • Day
  • 8
Shirakawa-go 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner 

In the morning, you have a few more hours free to stroll and perhaps visit some museums, such as the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, which displays some of the huge, elaborate floats used for the Takayama Festival, famous as one of the three most beautiful festivals of Japan. After lunch, we travel to the village of Ogimachi in the Shirakawa-go area north-west of Takayama. The village is home to a large number of gassho-zukuri houses, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. These large wooden houses have steep thatched roofs designed to withstand heavy snow, and the term gassho-zukuri refers to the shape of praying hands formed by the roofs. 

  • Day
  • 9
Transfer to Kyoto 
  • Hotel   Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast

We leave the mountains today, travelling first by bus to Kanazawa and then by train to Kyoto and our hotel in the centre of the city. In the evening we take a walk through the Gion district famous for its many ryotei (exclusive private restaurants) and the geiko (full-fledged geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha). We also visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. 

  • Day
  • 10
Kyoto 
  • Hotel  Hotel 
  • Meal  Breakfast 

We have a half-day walking tour this morning. We visit the famous Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, originally built by the Ashikaga Shogun in the 14th century as a place of contemplation and rest. From there, we will visit Ryoan-ji, with its famous rock garden of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered boulders. You have free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts. 

  • Day
  • 11
Day visit to Nara 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast

The ancient city of Nara, which preceded Kyoto as Japan’s capital from 710 to 784, is one hour south of Kyoto by train. We will visit Todai-ji temple, with its bronze statue of Buddha. The temple is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Next, we will visit the old merchant district of Nara-machi with its narrow streets, shops, cafes and restaurants, or we may instead walk along the back road from Todai-ji to Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Return to Kyoto in the evening. 

  • Day
  • 12
Mount Koya 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) 
  • Meal  Breakfast, Dinner 

We travel first to Osaka by local train, then along the scenic Nankai Railway Line to Mount Koya, a bowl-shaped valley filled with cedars high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have Shukubo (Pilgrims lodging). We stay in one of the elegant temples and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). We walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery, with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries. 

  • Day
  • 13
Return to Tokyo 
  • Hotel  Hotel 
  • Meal  Breakfast, Farewell Dinner 

This morning you will have the opportunity to get up early (6am!) to join in the Buddhist service at the temple. After breakfast we will return to Tokyo via Osaka, travelling by shinkansen Bullet Train for the latter part of the journey. In Tokyo there will be a Farewell Dinner in the evening. 

  • Day
  • 14
Tour ends 
  • Meal  Breakfast 

The tour ends today after breakfast. Your guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homeward flights, or on onward travel in Japan if you are extending your stay. 

 

 

Tour Length 

14 days 

Type and Level of Trip

Moderate – Our Shoguns and Samurai tour includes sightseeing in many of the locations along its route where a certain amount of walking is required. The walking involved on the tour is included as part of the theme of our tour which is to explore and experience Japan at street level, not from the windows of a tour bus. Train stations in the cities are large and often require climbing stairs. There is an optional walk on Day 5 between Tsumago and Magome. 

What is Included
  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide 
  • 13 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan, Minshuku and Shukubo) 
  • Daily breakfast & 8 dinners 
  • All transportation between tour locations 
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group’s itinerary 
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 3 occasions 
What’s Not Included
  • Flights 
  • Airport transfers 
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches 
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels 
Important Due to the rural nature of this tour, slight alterations of the itinerary are possible.

AVAILABLE: Bookings are open. Minimum 10 passengers for the tour to operate.

AVAILABLE GUARANTEED TO DEPART: There is a minimum of 10 people booked. The tour will be operating.

FULLY BOOKED: Maximum capacity reached.

TOUR DATES TOUR STATUS SINGLE TWIN (PP PRICE) TRIPLE (PP PRICE)
05 October 2020 GUARANTEED TO DEPART      
21 October 2020 GUARANTEED TO DEPART   TBA  
04 November 2020 AVAILABLE      
11 November 2020 AVAILABLE      
11 April 2021 AVAILABLE      
05 May 2021 AVAILABLE      
17 May 2021 AVAILABLE      





















JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour

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