Trip Overview

Join us in April 2020 for a cultural journey through Japan at cherry blossom season, enjoying delicious Japanese feasts, exploring ancient traditions, hiking the ancient trails of the Kumano Kodo, relaxing in hot springs and meeting Japanese women – from priests to pearl divers!

Japanese culture, at its core, is centered around beauty as it fosters the pursuit of perfection and spiritual enlightenment. These aesthetic ideals are reflected in virtually all aspects of life in Japan: in its architecture, food, fashion, philosophy, art, and even in the symbol of the cherry blossom and the symmetry of Mount Fuji itself.

Immerse yourself in this rich tableau and discover Japan from the perspective of the women living there. Experience the Japanese lifestyle and enjoy this unique destination at the peak of the spring cherry blossom season. Walk with us through the Japanese countryside, from village to village, along the Kumano Kudo, age-old, sacred trails that countless pilgrims have followed for centuries. Pause to admire ancient temples and shrines and contemplate nature, a vibrant source of spiritual inspiration for the Japanese, past, present and future.

Meet local Japanese women priests and pearl divers. Relax in hot springs and feast on traditional Japanese cuisine. Explore the Japanese countryside outside her bustling cities. Enjoy active hikes along quiet village paths while in the evening, you drift into a sound night’s sleep at a “ryokan”, a traditional Japanese inn with soft futons on which to lay your head.

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 Ama pearl divers, Japanese women who free-dive for pearl oysters
  • Experience the etiquette and tradition of a formal Japanese tea ceremony
  • Relax in the evening in natural hot spring baths with a soothing glass of wine

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 in Kyoto
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

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.

Enjoy a special private experience with 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

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.
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Royal Park Hotel

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 walk on the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. From Takijiri the path climbs steadily for about 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 Kiri-no-Sato

Day 5

Kumano Kodo
Enjoy an early Japanese breakfast before departing your inn. Follow the trail as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside. You will pass several Oji shrines 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.

Enjoy lunch and meet a local women’s group, which preserves local folk songs and dances.

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).
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Organic Hotel Kiri-no-Sato

Day 6

Kumano Kodo
From Chikatsuyu, take a local bus to Hosshinmon- oji, where you will walk a gentle section of the trail to the Kumano shrine at Hongu, one of the three ‘Grand Shrines of Kumano’.

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 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 before or after your delicious dinner (bring large bandages to cover tattoos or body art, as no clothing is allowed in this bath).
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Yunominesou

Day 7

Kumano Kodo
Today, your larger bag will be sent ahead to Tokyo. Pack your essentials for the next two nights in a smaller bag.

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.

This tuna market is the source of the tuna that ends up at the larger wholesale markets in Osaka and at Tsukiji in Tokyo, as many fish land here off of ships departing from local ports.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Urashima

Day 8

Kumano Kodo to Ise
After breakfast, 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 additional 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.

End your day with a visit to the solemn inner shrine. The inner shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami who ruled the celestial world of deities. She is viewed in Shinto as the ancestral deity not just of the Japanese line of Emperors, but also of the Japanese people. Visitors are sometimes surprised by the juxtaposition of the ancient and the new.
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Toba Hotel International

Day 9

Ise to Tokyo
Spend the morning with the Ama Divers and learn about their lives and unique profession. Enjoy a special seafood lunch with the women.

Take a regional and a bullet train to Tokyo.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Prince Park Tower

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

Day 11

Tokyo and Depart
Enjoy one last morning in Tokyo.

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

 

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 2nd Departure:

Arrive: Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either airport is fine) on April 2, 2020, before 2:00pm.

Depart: Depart from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan (NRT) on April 12, 2020 after 10:00am.

April 16th Departure:

Arrive: Arrive in Osaka, Japan (KIX or ITM – either airport is fine) on April 16, 2020, before 2:00pm.

Depart: Depart from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan (NRT) on April 26, 2020 after 10:00am.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

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.

Passports and Visas:

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

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.

Activity Level:

We rate this trip as High Energy. Our High Energy adventures are designed for women who enjoy more of a physical adventure 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 at: https://fitfortrips.com/partners/adventure-women/

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

Money:

The currency of Japan is the Yen. You should exchange money upon arrival at the airport or plan to use the ATM in Kyoto. Credit cards are only accepted at large department stores. Smaller stores and restaurants accept only cash.

Suggested Gratuities:

  • Guides: $5-7 per day

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:

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)

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 2nd Departure Final Payment Date: January 3, 2020

April 16th Departure Final Payment Date: January 17, 2020

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

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Airport transfers on the group arrival and departure days by shared taxi/limousine bus
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • English-speaking guide throughout the trip
  • Bottled water (in large jugs to refill your personal bottle)
  • Soda, tea, and coffee at meals
  • Snacks in the vehicles
  • Gratuities, except for your guide
  • One AdventureWomen Ambassador

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Japan
  • Optional activities as listed in the itinerary or entrance fees for locations not included in the itinerary
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passports, visas, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization, evacuation, or travel insurance
  • 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
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.

Organic Hotel Kiri-no-Sato
Enjoy the view of the Hatenashi Mountains and the stunning surroundings from your hotel. This is an incomparable place to relax after your hike on the Kumano Kodo. Appreciate the local Onsen (Japanese Spa) located inside of the hotel. Your room will have a private toilet, but bathing is communal, which is traditional in Japan.

Yunominesou
Offering tranquil outdoor hot-spring baths with nature views, Yunominesou is a perfect place to put your feet up after a few days on the trail. The traditional rooms have sliding paper screens, floor cushions, and Japanese futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor. Bathrooms are shared and bathing is communal.

Hotel Urashima
This hotel features an underground hot spring bath with a wondrous view of the Pacific Ocean from its cavern, ceremonial Kaiseki cuisine made with local produce and catch, and an ideal location as a base camp for walking the World Heritage Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route. Bathrooms are en suite.

Toba Hotel International
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.

Prince Park Tower
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.

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 to Bring

The islands of Japan extend from sub-Arctic climates in northern regions, to sub-tropical climates in the southern and western Islands. Your itinerary is based in the Kansai and Kii Peninsula areas, which have a moderate climate. April is very pleasant, with daytime highs of around 60-70°F. Nighttime temperatures and temperatures on the Kumano Kodo may be a few degrees cooler, so you should be prepared to layer your clothing. While April is not a particularly wet month, there can be occasional rain so you will need to bring rain gear.

Clothing and Gear:

  • Duffel bag or small suitcase
  • Spare small duffel bag
  • Daypack and rain cover
  • Medium-weight, waterproof hiking boots (make sure they are broken in!)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • 4-5 pairs hiking socks
  • 1 pair of cozy socks for walking around the ryokans (slippers are not allowed inside)
  • 2-3 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket
  • 2-3 pairs of pants
  • 1-2 sets of nicer clothes for dinner
  • Gore-Tex rain jacket
  • Gore-Tex rain pants
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Underwear
  • Sports bras
  • Sleepwear
  • 2 reusable water bottles for hiking

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters/power bank
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen water bottle
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff (most Japanese bathrooms do not have paper towels - a bandana will come in handy!)
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription medicine you usually take (in original containers)
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.

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

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686