Trip Overview

Join AdventureWomen for a cultural and high-energy journey through Japan, enjoying delicious Japanese feasts, exploring ancient traditions, hiking the ancient trails of the Kumano Kodo, relaxing in hot springs, and meeting Japanese women – from priestesses to pearl divers!

Your journey begins in Kyoto where you’ll meet your fellow AdventureWomen travelers, and enjoy a lively welcome dinner sharing stories about why each of you is excited to explore Japan. You’ll meet your guide versed in Japan’s culture, traditions, history, and cuisine. You are also accompanied by an AdventureWomen Ambassador, committed to helping make your experience a fun and personally rewarding adventure, and cheering you on as you reach beyond your comfort zone to take on new challenges in your own unique way!

Kyoto & Nara

Explore Kyoto and marvel at how this city has retained a firm grasp on Japanese culture and traditions. Visit the Ginkaku-ji Temple, stroll on the Philosopher’s Pathway, and enjoy a special private experience with a maiko, an apprentice geisha, or geiko, as they are known in Kyoto. Discover the back lanes and traditions of Gion, a famous district known for its tea houses, geiko, and maiko.

Next explore Nara, home to some of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures, many of which are situated in or near Nara Park. Visit the Todajii Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for housing the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Walkthrough Nara Park, home to over 1,000 free-roaming deer, and considered to be sacred messengers of the gods. Return to Kyoto to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, followed by free time in Higashiyama district to browse the many small shops offering traditional handicrafts.

Kumano Kodo

Your journey on the Kumano Kodo begins on the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kumano Kodo became popular in the 11th century as a place of pilgrimage. Follow the trail as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside. During your walk, you will be accompanied by one of the few female yamabushi, or mountain ascetic priests. Learn more about the training of yamabushi and the Shugendo faith. Enjoy nightly soaks in hot springs baths at your Japanese ryokans, traditional inns of the area. Your ryokans are each unique, but all are traditional Japanese accommodations – when you arrive, kick off your shoes and ditch your dusty hiking clothes in favor of the provided cozy robe and slippers!

Travel by train to Ise where the shrine is surrounded by 1,000-year-old cedar trees. The next day, learn more about Ama Divers and how this traditional lifestyle is under threat. Your journey ends in Tokyo, the capital of Japan and the eighth-largest city in the world. Visit the Hama Rikyu Gardens, stop at Nihonbashi (the “Japan Bridge”), and the Ginza shopping district. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends as you reminisce over all the memories you have made and celebrate the end of an amazing journey through this spectacular country.

Main Attractions

  • Hike from village to village along the ancient pilgrimage route of the Kumano Kodo resting at night in traditional inns
  • Hike with one of the few female yamabushi, or mountain ascetic priests and learn about the preservation of Japan’s regional traditions
  • Meet an Ama diver, one of the Japanese women who free-dive for pearl oysters and seafood
  • Experience the etiquette and tradition of a formal Japanese tea ceremony
  • Relax in the evening in natural hot spring baths

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Architecture
  • Buddhism
  • Cooking Class
  • Crafting
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Handicrafts
  • Hiking
  • Historical Sites
  • Hot Springs
  • Local Delicacies
  • National Parks
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Train
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Women-To-Women Exchanges

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Kyoto

Welcome to Japan! Start your journey through Japan in cherry blossom season (for our April departures), enjoying delicious Japanese feasts, exploring ancient traditions, hiking the ancient trails of the Kumano Kodo, relaxing in hot springs, and meeting Japanese women – from priestesses to pearl divers!

During your adventure, you’ll get to know your guide versed in Japan’s culture, traditions, history, and cuisine. You are also accompanied by an AdventureWomen Ambassador, committed to helping make your experience a fun and personally rewarding adventure, and cheering you on as you reach beyond your comfort zone to take on new challenges in your own unique way!

Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either airport is fine) today before 2:00pm.

When you exit customs and immigration, make your way to the transfer desk for your shared taxi transfer to your hotel in Kyoto.

Meet your guide and AdventureWomen Ambassador in the hotel lobby at 7:00pm. Enjoy a lively welcome dinner as you get to know your fellow travelers this evening. Share stories and learn about why each woman in your trip is excited to explore Japan!

Dinner

Overnight: Royal Park Hotel (or similar)

Day 2

Kyoto

Visit Ginkakuji Temple, or the Silver Pavilion this morning. This temple is popular for its gardens and tea house.

Walk along the Philosopher’s Path, with craft shops, cafés, shrines, and temples beside the clear waters of a small canal. One side of the canal is lined with cherry trees (and hopefully cherry blossoms!). Stop at Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple dating back to the mid-13th century.

After lunch in a private restaurant, you will be joined by a maiko, an apprentice geisha, or geiko, as they are known in Kyoto. Geisha are revered for preserving traditional arts of music and dance.

There are only approximately 250 in Kyoto, but they remain very much in demand for attendance at private functions. The world of the geisha is very closed, and introductions are often only made through personal connections.

This afternoon, discover the back lanes and traditions of Gion, a famous district known for its tea houses, geiko, and maiko.

Enjoy dinner on your own this evening. Your guide will make restaurant recommendations.

Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Royal Park Hotel (or similar)

Day 3

Kyoto

Today, your larger bag will be sent ahead to Takahara, where you will arrive tomorrow evening. Pack your essentials in your day pack to keep with you for this evening and tomorrow. Essentials should include: pajamas, one set of hiking clothes for tomorrow, reusable water bottles, a spare foldable duffel (if you’re a serious shopper!), and any essential medications and toiletries you will need. Note that Japanese hotels are very generous with their toiletries, so you may not need much!

Todaiji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for housing the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. The building housing the statue is one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.

Walk though Nara Park, home to over 1,000 free-roaming deer. The deer are considered sacred messengers of the gods. You can purchase special rice crackers to feed the deer if you’d like.

Enjoy lunch on your own and spend some time exploring Naramachi, an older section of town, home to craftspeople and small boutiques as well as restaurants and cafés.

Return to Kyoto to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. This afternoon, enjoy some free time in the Higashiyama district to browse the many small shops offering traditional handicrafts and tasty local treats, including pickles and yatsuhashi, a local sweet-flavored delicately with cinnamon.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Royal Park Hotel (or similar)

Day 4

Kyoto to the Kumano Kodo

Take the train from Kyoto to Kii Tanabe this morning. Once in Kii Tanabe, you will take a bus to Takijiri.

Enjoy lunch before you start your hike.

Begin your 2.8 mile walk on the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. From Takijiri the path climbs steadily for about 1,200′ over two hours to the ridge-top village of Takahara. Your lodging tonight features hot spring baths made of cypress wood. Your delicious evening meal is made with organic, locally sourced ingredients. You’ll be reunited with your bag tonight.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Organic Hotel Kirinosato (or similar)

Day 5

The Kumano Kodo

Enjoy an early Japanese breakfast before departing your inn. Follow the trail for 6.5 miles as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside. You will pass several Oji shrines over 5-6 hours before finally descending to the village of Chikatsuyu. The paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier, and you’ll cover 1,575′ on the ascent and 1,700′ on the descent.

Enjoy lunch and meet a local women’s group, which preserves local traditions.

Take some time to relax before dinner, which is served at your family-run guest house. Enjoy a soak in the hot springs bath. (Note that in the traditional hot springs, you may need to cover any tattoos or body art).

Have dinner at your minshuku tonight.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kawayu Onsen Fujiya (or similar)

Day 6

The Kumano Kodo

From Chikatsuyu, take a local bus to Hosshinmon- oji, where you will walk a gentle section of the trail for 4 miles over 2.5 hours to the Kumano shrine at Hongu, one of the three ‘Grand Shrines of Kumano’. You’ll gain 395′ on the ascent and 1,180′ on the descent.

During your walk, you will be accompanied by one of the few female yamabushi, or mountain ascetic priests. Learn more about the training of yamabushi and the Shugendo faith.

Arrive in Hongu, where you will make traditional Japanese washi paper. The Kotsuga village in Hongu has long been famous as a center for handmade washi paper. Otonashi paper is made from fibers of the mulberry plant and was once dedicated at the Hongu Grand shrine in the form of paper amulets called Gou Shinpu. Create your own piece of Washi at the workshop, and return to Hongu to have it stamped with a special Shuin red seal at the Kumano Grand Shrine – a traditional pilgrim’s souvenir and work of art.

Enjoy lunch at a local cafe.

From the Kumano shrine at Hongu, walk 1.7 miles over 1.5-2 hours on the Dainichigoe to the Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest natural hot spring onsen villages in Japan, famous for the thermal water bubbling to the surface of the crystal-clear stream. Spend the night in Yunomine Onsen. Enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath (bring large bandages to cover tattoos or body art, as no clothing is allowed in this bath) before or after your delicious dinner

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kawayu Onsen Fujiya (or similar)

Day 7

The Kumano Kodo

Visit the shrine as well as the nearby Nachi waterfall, which is said to be inhabited by the kami spirit Kiryu Gongen. Nachi-san is one of the shrines of pilgrimage on the Kumano Kodo. The temples of Nachi-san are set in primeval forest and are marked by an ancient stone approach, the Dogenzaka. The adjacent Nachi-no-taki or waterfall crashes to the rocks below and is the focus of the traditional worship of natural spirits.

Lunch will be at a local cafe today.

Enjoy dinner at your hotel tonight.

Today, pack your larger bag which will be sent ahead to Tokyo tomorrow morning. Pack your essentials for your overnight in Toba in a smaller backpack-style bag to take with you.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Urashima (or similar)

Day 8

The Kumano Kodo to Ise

This morning, you will send your large bag ahead to Tokyo and then take the train to the Ise area.

The outer shrine, or Geku, is dedicated to the spirit of food, clothing, and housing. Devotees come to offer prayers of gratitude and to maintain the purity of the shrines, visitors must pray outside. Only the high priests, shrine maidens, and the Emperor are allowed to enter the buildings.

The Okage Yokocho is an area of older buildings relocated here that previously stood on the old route of pilgrimage to the shrine. Most of the buildings are now shops or restaurants catering to pilgrims’ more earthly desires. In addition to local delicacies and bean paste sweets, you’ll find shops featuring local handicrafts and products, such as Matsusaka Momen, items made from indigo-dyed local cotton. Enjoy lunch on your own.

Drive to Tobu, and enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Toba Hotel International (or similar)

Day 9

Ise to Tokyo

Spend the morning with an Ama Diver and learn about her life and unique profession. Enjoy a special seafood lunch with the diver.

Take a regional and a bullet train to Tokyo.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Prince Park Tower (or similar)

Day 10

Tokyo

Visit the Hama-Rikyu gardens this morning, located near the mouth of the Sumida-gawa, a large river that flows through Tokyo. The garden is divided into two major sections. The southern garden was the site of a villa where the Shogun (commander-in-chief) could relax, enjoy duck hunting, and entertain visitors from the 17th to 19th century. It contains the Shio-iri-no Niwa (garden with a tidal pond) which is on the sea, and its scenery varies with the ebb and flow of the tide. There is a striking contrast between the gardens and the gleaming towers of the new Shiodome business area beyond.

Stop at Nihonbashi (the “Japan Bridge”), which is considered to be the “center of Japan”, and the starting point of all of Japan’s main roads since the Edo period.

Spend some time in the elegant Ginza shopping district. Enjoy lunch along the way.

Explore the Grand Meiji Shrine, near Harajuku this afternoon. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who was instrumental in modernizing Japan. This tranquil oasis is on the doorstep of Harajuku and Omotesando – areas known for avant-garde fashion and architecture.

Have a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends. Reminisce over all of the memories you have made and celebrate the end of an amazing journey through this truly spectacular country.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Prince Park Tower (or similar)

Day 11

Depart Tokyo

Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you transfer to the airport for your flights home.

Depart Narita International Airport (NRT) or Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan, after 10:00 am.

Breakfast

Please note: AdventureWomen will attempt to adhere to the itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, and cultural) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. AdventureWomen reserves the right to alter any itinerary at any time if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participants. 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Traveling to Japan



Arrival and Departure Information

April 5, 2023 Departure:

Arrive: Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either is fine) on April 5, 2023 before 2:00pm

Depart: Depart Narita Airport (NRT) or Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan on April 15, 2023 after 12:00pm

April 16, 2023 Departure:

Arrive: Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either is fine) on April 16, 2023 before 2:00pm

Depart: Depart Narita Airport (NRT) or Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan on April 26, 2023 after 12:00pm

October 15, 2023 Departure:

Arrive: Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either is fine) on October 15, 2023 before 2:00pm

Depart: Depart Narita Airport (NRT) or Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan on October 25, 2023 after 10:00am

 

 

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Preparation and Packing  

Please use the following guides as a reference when preparing for your adventure. We also encourage you to adapt the guides to your travel style as well as the destination’s forecasted weather.  

Gratuities  

Gratuities are highly trip-dependent and details will be provided to you prior to departure. As a general reference, AdventureWomen suggests $200-250 (or more) for gratuities on most trips. As always, tipping is at your discretion. 

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

Activity Level

We rate this trip as High Energy. Our High Energy adventures are designed for women who enjoy a physical challenge and crave being on the go! You should be prepared for itineraries that include (but are not limited to): a full day of biking on rolling terrain, hiking 5-8 miles on moderate to steep trails, being active at high altitudes, whitewater rafting, or skiing. Please note that this is a general description of what you might encounter; for specific details about your trip, please consult the itinerary.

We recommend training before your trip (with your doctor’s permission!) to make the most of your adventure. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you with this itinerary in mind. Best of all, AdventureWomen guests get a 25% discount with the code FITWOMEN. Learn more on the FitForTrips website.

You should come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that adventure travel requires.

Health Considerations

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to Japan, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel and navigate to the page about Japan.

How to Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking “Sign Up for this Trip” on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

The deposit for this trip is $800, and is nonrefundable and nontransferable. Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (Photo Page)
  • Supplemental Release for COVID

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer). A maximum of $1,500 per person can be put on a credit card, which includes your deposit.

April 5, 2023 Departure Final Payment Due Date: January 5, 2023

April 16, 2023 Departure Final Payment Due Date: January 16, 2023

October 15, 2023 Departure Final Payment Due Date: July 17, 2023

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

What's Included

Included

  • Accommodations as per itinerary based on double occupancy
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure days by shared taxi
  • Guided sightseeing and activities as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • Entrance fees for sites listed in the itinerary
  • English-speaking guide(s) throughout the trip
  • Drinking water available in large jugs to refill personal bottles
  • Soft drinks, tea, and coffee at meals
  • Snacks in vehicles
  • Gratuities for drivers, hotel staff, wait staff, and luggage porters

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Japan
  • Optional activities
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages (unless otherwise specified)
  • Fees for passport, visas, immunizations, or travel insurance
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities for guides

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Accommodations

Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar)

Enjoy a relaxing stay at this hotel in Kyoto. The hotel offers massages and multiple dining choices, and it is conveniently located in downtown Kyoto.

Amenities: En suite bathrooms with soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

Organic Hotel Kirinosato (or similar)

Kirinosato offers friendly service, magnificent views from each room and delicious meals with locally produced organic rice and vegetables. There are Japanese-style tatami-mat rooms as well as western-style rooms. All rooms have an en suite toilet; guests use the two gender-segregated communal bathing rooms, which are available from 3pm to 11pm and from 7am to 9am.

Amenities: En suite toilet; communal bathing area with soap, shampoo, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi in lobby area

Kawayu Onsen Fujiya (or similar)

Offering tranquil hot-spring baths and river views, Kawayu Onsen Fujiya is a great place to put your feet up after a few days of the trail. The traditional rooms have sliding paper screens, floor cushions, and Japanese futon bedding on a tatami (woven straw) floor.

Amenities: En suite bathrooms; communal bathing area available also; soap, shampoo, electricity; WiFi

Urashima (or similar)

This hotel appears to float in the bay off Kii-Katsuura and you reach the hotel by private shuttle boat from the pier. There are six hot spring baths (all gender-specific) and the hotel is famous for two of the baths which are open-air and set in a cave. In the Japanese-style tatami-mat rooms, the hotel staff will lay out your futon while you are eating dinner. Guests with tattoos are asked not to use the communal baths.

Amenities: En suite bathroooms with soap, shampoo, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi in lobby area

Toba Hotel International (or similar)

Endlessly blue ocean and sky, soft ocean breezes, and sophisticated hospitality welcome you at the Toba Hotel International. Relax on the terrace and enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean. Enjoy indoor/outdoor hot spring baths during your stay here.

Amenities: En suite bathroooms with soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

Prince Park Tower (or similar)

Rising above Shiba Park and located right by Tokyo Tower, The Prince Park Tower Tokyo offers spacious rooms with skyline views and free Wifi. The hotel is within walking distance to various train stations.

Amenities: En suite bathroooms with soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

Please note that all amenities were current when written and are subject to change at any time.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686