For over 1,000 years people from all levels of society, including retired emperors and aristocrats, have made the arduous pilgrimage to Kumano. These pilgrims used a network of routes, now called the Kumano Kodo, which stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula.
The walk itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process as they undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Walking the ancient Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano's spiritual countryside.
From Kumano to Kyoto, the favourite city of many people who travel to Japan, we'll take our time to travel around to some of the iconic places with our tour guide and have free time to discover for yourself some of the hidden gems this city has to offer.
From Kyoto we fly off the beaten track to the island of Kyushu, where only 0.5% of their tourists are from English speaking countries. This place has so much to offer, so join us to discover it before the rest of the western world discover it!
We'll learn much about their culture, the Japanese are a people of many contrasts. Understand more about their seemingly reserved social rules, yet feel completely comfortable sitting naked in an onsen (shared hot spring bath) together. Learn the social etiquette around meals from how to use chopsticks through to what to wear.
Appreciate their religion, see how their Shinto faith and the introduction of Buddhism has not caused conflict but instead integrated into a shared faith of harmony and understanding. Learn the ritual of hand-clapping and bowing at the shrine's altar to offer up a prayer.
And last, but by no means least, get back to nature, join us for some hiking and shinrinyoku (forest bathing), enjoy the cool autumn weather and changing colours of the leaves as we take three separate day hikes around Kyushu with local hiking guides. A luxury which as an English speaking visitor is most difficult to arrange as we head off the beaten track.