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Sample Itinerary

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.

Osaka

On arrival at Kansai Airport, meet with your guide and transfer to your airport hotel – convenient for a soft landing!

Meet in the lobby this evening for an orientation before proceeding to your Welcome Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Welcome Dinner

We travel south along the coast by train to Tanabe (about 2 hours), then transfer by local bus (about 40 minutes) to Takijiri, at the beginning of the Nakahechi, part of the network of ancient pilgrimage trails known as the Kumano Kodo, or Kumano Ancient Trail. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kumano Kodo became popular in the 11th century as a place of pilgrimage from Kyoto by Emperors. The Kii Peninsula, which extends south from Nara and Osaka, has long been considered sacred in Japan, the entrance to the land of Yomi, the mythical afterworld. It is also the site of the three sacred shrines of Kumano, the Kumano Sanzan. We continue with a 2-hour hike to the small hilltop village of Takahara. We then enjoy a restful evening in our countryside accommodation.

Walking distance: 4.5 km / 2.8 miles
Elevation gain: 370m/1,200 feet ascent, 175m/575 feet descent
Time required: about 2 hours

Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Starting from Takahara, we continue eastwards along the Nakahechi pilgrimage trail. Along the path you pass small jizo Bodhisattva statues, placed there by locals to protect travelers. There are also the sites of old cha-ya tea houses, which provided rest to pilgrims right up until the early 20th century.

We descend to the village of Chikatsuyu, and our accommodation for tonight. We stay in the friendly guesthouse run by local couple Mr. and Mrs. Kinoshita. A former company worker in the coastal town of Kii-Tanabe, Kinoshita-san moved to his home village to set up the popular guesthouse. Next door they have their own natural hot spring baths and in the evening, you will try their delicious takikomi gohan (rice steamed with vegetables), freshly caught fish, and tempura.

After dinner, a local shamisen music group will treat us to a private performance in the lovely setting of our Chikatsuyu Branch. Enjoy this rare opportunity for a close-up experience of Japanese musical tradition.

Walking distance: 11.3km / 7 miles
Elevation gain: 350m/1,150 feet ascent, 360m/1,180 feet descent
Time required: 4 hours

Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yunomine Onsen

Today we hike two scenic sections of the Kumano Kodo trail, passing ridge-top villages and oji shrines. Nobles would rest at these sub-shrines to refresh themselves and compose poems. From Chikatsuyu we walk first to Kobiro, then take a local bus to Hoshinmon-oji. From Hoshinmon-oji we descend to Hongu Grand Shrine. The symbol of the shrine is the mythological three-legged raven, representing the Hongu, Nachi, and Hayatama shrines – the same motif as the one used by the Japan Football Association. The three-legged crow was in mythology sent to guide Emperor Jimmu on his journey from Kumano to the Yamato Plain.

After visiting the shrine, we walk to Oyunohara, the largest torii gate in Japan, marking the original site of the Hongu Grand Shrine. Finally, we transfer by local bus to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. We stay overnight in a comfortable ryokan with its own hot spring bath.

Walking distance: 12.9km / 8 miles
Elevation gain: 321m/1,055 feet ascent; 360m/1,180 feet descent
Time required: 4 hours

Accommodation: Onsen ryokan (hot spring inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Kii-Katsuura

We transfer by local bus to the Kumano River. We board a traditional wooden flat-bottomed boat to take us on a gentle ninety-minute ride along the Kumano River to the Hayatama Taisha Shrine, just as Imperial pilgrims did in olden times. We will have time to visit Hayatama Taisha and Kamikura Shrine. Afterward, we travel on to our hot spring hotel in Kii-Katsuura. There will be time to soak in one of the natural hot spring baths before dinner.

Accommodation: Onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We transfer by local bus to the entrance to the Daimonzaka – a traditional approach to Nachi Shrine. This approach is one of the most sacred, leading to both the towering Nachi Waterfall, the stunning pagoda of Seiganto-ji Temple, and ultimately, the third of the Kumano shrines of Pilgrimage, Nachi Taisha. We enjoy time exploring the shrine, the temple, and the small shops in the area. Then, we enjoy lunch and return to Kii-Katsuura. In Kii-Katsuura in the afternoon, we explore the local market and shopping streets and the town foot-baths, before returning to our accommodation where we can once again enjoy the natural onsen baths.

Walking distance: 2.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 232m/ 760 feet ascent,202m/ 660 feet descent
Time required: 2 hours

Accommodation: Onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we enjoy a hike along a different section of the Kumano Kodo. This is a coastal part of the Iseji route, which has some lovely views over the Pacific Ocean, pretty villages, and the oldest paved section of the entire Kumano Kodo network, with stone blocks dating back eight hundred years. When we return to our accommodation you can choose to relax and try the various hot spring baths in your hotel.

Walking distance: 6.4km / 4.1 miles
Elevation gain: 546m/1790 feet ascent; 539m/1768 feet descent
Time required: 3 hours

Accommodation: Onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Kyoto

We leave the Kii Peninsula this morning, traveling on the coastal rail line back to Kyoto, a journey of about four and a half hours. This afternoon we enjoy a walk around the Gion district before we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. The Gion district is one of Kyoto’s best-known geisha districts and features a number of traditional machiya buildings. If we are lucky we may spot a geiko or maiko on their way to an evening appointment, but even if we do not, we can enjoy the atmosphere of this historic area of Kyoto. This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning after breakfast at our hotel, we travel to Arashiyama where we enjoy a morning hike from the Kiyotaki area, through Toriimoto and into Arashiyama. On our way, we stop at some of the most interesting temples along our journey. On arrival in Arashiyama, we visit Tenryu-ji Temple, one of Kyoto’s preeminent zen temples, and also famous for its gardens. Here we enjoy the special experience of a shojin ryori lunch prepared according to Buddhist principles. Then, we return to Kyoto to explore the Southern Higashiyama district in Kyoto, where with your guide you’ll wander picturesque lanes and have an opportunity to shop for local handicrafts from the many vendors. After some time to freshen up at the hotel, we enjoy a final Farewell Dinner together.

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Farewell Dinner

On our final day, we will say farewell in Kyoto. Morning departures to Europe will transfer with our assistant guide to Kansai Airport. Guests departing on late night flights will enjoy a day with our guide exploring Fushimi Inari in the morning, and the Philosopher’s Path in the afternoon before your transfer to Kansai Airport.

Meals: Breakfast

What Our Customers Have To Say

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.

John Moawad

Classical Japan Tour

It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...

Marina Boyer

North Central Exploration

Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...

Edan Ecker

Shoguns and Samurai

I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...

Our Team Of Local Experts

Our team of Japan experts have all lived in Japan for years and know its the hidden treasures. Our team is here to answer all your questions and to build your tour just the way you want it.

Jeff Aasgaard


Tour Sales Director

Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training and teaching Aikido.

Michiyo Kakiuchi

Tour Arrangement Manager

Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.

Izumi Yamauchi

Tour Arrangement team

Izumi has spent most of her life in the Kansai region, except for the 10 years that she enjoyed in the UK. Living abroad has made her appreciate her own culture and local beauty even more. She currently lives in Osaka with her family, including two cats and two dogs.

Why Rediscover Tours

Great trips don't just happen; it takes expert knowledge and years of experience to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on Rediscover Tours to make your perfect Japanese experience. Our dedication to excellence makes the difference.

Trips Made for You


Your Japan travel expert will create your trip just for you


Your interests and travel style will be front and center when designing your tour


Accommodations will be selected based on your style and we will inform them of all your special meal and physical requirements


Japan Experts


Your Japan expert has lived in Japan or is Japanese


They know the hidden treasures of Japan that you will love and most tourists miss


Most of our team lives in Japan giving them first hand knowledge of the latest trends and experiences for you to enjoy


Finest Guides


Private local guides add a whole new depth to your Japanese tour


We only hire the best guides and review each trip with them insuring excellent experience


Your private guide will listen to you, show you sights of interest and will make on the fly changes to match the weather and crowds


With Confidence


Our office in Japan is here to assist and support you


Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000


You will arrive comfortable in the knowledge that all details are taken care of and that our Japan office is just a call away