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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Elusive Geisha's in Kyoto
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Highlights

  • The highlights of Japan’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage route
  • Beautiful trails and scenery of the island of Shikoku
  • Stay in traditional Ryokan guesthouses and a Shukubo temple
  • Fresh and beautifully presented Japanese cuisine
  • The city of Kyoto, the former imperial capital and a UNESCO heritage site

Walk the highlights of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trail on the island of Shikoku. Starting in Kyoto and ending in Osaka, this tour brings together the best of Japan; city life and peaceful rural walking.

Follow trails to ancient Buddhist temples and become an ‘Ohenro-San’- the name given to Shikoku pilgrims.

Soak up the experience at the traditional Ryokan guesthouses with their natural spring baths and sincere hospitality. One night is spent staying in a Shukubu; lodging attached to the temples, where it is possible to join in morning prayers.

DAY 1:
Arrive Kyoto

Arrive in Kyoto and check-in to your hotel or ryokan in central Kyoto.
Kyoto is one of the world’s most culturally rich cities scattered with hundreds, if not thousands, of pockets of incredible beauty. The city has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples, over 400 Shinto shrines and 24 museums.


As home to the Japanese Imperial family from 794 to 1868 it has been central to Japanese history and is a city that must be on your list.


Overnight: Kyoto, 3* standard hotel


DAY 2: Free day in Kyoto


Explore the city today at your leisure. Discover the secret gardens, hidden courtyards and floating temples of Kyoto. We suggest visiting Kiyomizu Temple, Sanjusangendo Temple, and a walk along the Philosopher's Path. Whatever you choose to visit today, you can’t go wrong in a city like Kyoto!


Overnight: Kyoto, 3* standard hotel


DAY 3:
Travel to Shikoku and walk to Temples 1 & 3

This morning you can sit back and take in the scenery as you travel to Shikoku by comfortable long-distance bus (2.5 hours) . Upon arrival at Tokushima Prefecture, begin your pilgrimage with a gentle walk through quiet neighbourhoods and visit three eye-catching temples, Ryozen-ji, Gokuraku-ji and Konsen-ji. Tonight is spent in a traditional Shukubo Temple lodging.


Walk: 6 km, ascent/descent negligible (option to extend by 3 km)


Dinner & Overnight: Higashihara, Pilgrim lodging


DAY 4: Walk Temples 11 to 12

Head south of the Yoshino river by private transfer to Temple 11– named Fujii-dera. Fujii-dera is an interesting hill-side temple with an equally interesting history. After some time spent exploring here, your transfer will take you to Ryusuian temple, part-way up Mount Shosanji. From here you will hike up to Temple 12– Shosan-ji. The walk is strenuous, which only makes the sense of accomplishment upon reaching Shosan-ji even greater. 


Walk: 10 / 13 km, 550m ascent, 1070m descent


Dinner & Overnight: Minshuku (family run inn) or Onsen Ryoken, Nabeiwaso


DAY 5: Walk Temples 13 to 17

A choice of walks today; take it easy with a cultural walk beginning at temple 13 and visiting four other temples on this mostly flat paved trail. Taking you through suburban areas catch a glimpse into the way of life here. A more challenging option offers stunning valley views with  forest trails and paved mountain roads, before joining the cultural walk. At the end of the walk, take a local bus to Tokushima where you will spend the night in a city centre Ryokan (traveller’s inn) or western-style hotel.  




Walk: 9 / 20 km,  ascent/descent: negligible


Dinner & Overnight: City Centre Ryokan or hotel, Tokushima


DAY 6: Walk Temples 20 to 21

Start the day with a short bus journey from the city to today’s walk, one of the most beautiful and varied walks on the entire 88 trail. A steep walk brings you to Temple 20—Kakurin-ji, before descending to the town of Anan. The trail then climbs once more to Temple 21– Tairyu-ji. Finish the day with a cable car journey (payable locally). With fantastic views this is a rewarding end to the day. Return by bus to Tokushima for your overnight stay.


Walk: 11 km, 900m ascent, 490m descent


Dinner & Overnight: City Centre Ryokan or hotel, Tokushima



DAY 7: Walk Temples 82 to 80

Leave Tokushima behind today and travel by bus, train and pre-booked taxi to Kagawa Prefecture. A fine selection of temples to visit today through lovely scenery. Temple 82– Negoro-ji, Temple 81—Shiromine-ji and finally Temple 80– Kokubun-ji. Then travel by train to the old hot spring town of Kotohira Spa for your overnight stay.


Walk: 14 km, 335m ascent, 655m descent


Dinner & Overnight: Kotohira Spa, Ryokan


DAY 8: Travel to Osaka


Take the morning to explore Kotohira spa. Visit the Shinto shrine of Konpira-dai-gongen. Located at an altitude of 521m, there are 785 steps to the main shrine and 1368 steps to the inner shrine. If you’d rather take it easy today, relax in the town and perhaps sample the local delicacy– thick, handmade Udon noodles. Board an afternoon train (1.5 hours) to the port city of Osaka where you will be spending the night


Overnight: Osaka, 3* standard hotel


DAY 9:
Onward Travel

Your tour ends today following breakfast. Spend the day exploring the city of Osaka; visit its famous aquarium, the Kaiyukan, one of the biggest in the world. Or browse the flashy shops in the Shinsaibashi shopping district before your onward travel. Alternatively, if you wish to extend your stay in Osaka we can book extra nights here for you.


Trip Extensions

Why not extend your stay in Japan with one of the following extensions which include return rail tickets from Kyoto, which we would be happy to arrange.We would of course also be happy to book accommodation in Kyoto, Osaka or Tokyo if required.


Nara & Mount Koya

Located just 2 hours by train from Kyoto, Nara is home to no less than 8 World Heritage Sites and highlights include the world's largest Buddha statue as well as numerous beautiful temples and Japanese gardens. Mount Koya is an atmospheric temple complex south of Kyoto which is home to around 100 temples and shukubo (pilgrim's lodging). We can arrange a 5 night add-on package to Nara & Mount Koya which also includes an additional night in Kyoto (this can be removed if you would prefer to just have the 2 nights in Kyoto as part of your main tour above.)


Accommodation

On this tour you will stay in a mixture of Ryokan, Minshuku, Shukubo temples and western-style 3 star hotels. Ryokan and Minshuku are traditional family run Japanese style inns with an emphasis on personalised service and homemade food. They tend to be furnished with ‘tatami’ (straw mat) floors and you will sleep on a futon (which are surprisingly comfortable!)


Shukubo are pilgrim’s lodgings attached to the temples. They are similar to Ryokan and Minshuku but  are a bit simpler and bathroom facilities are  shared. There are several shared toilets and washbasins, and two rooms for communal bathing in natural thermal water, segregated by gender. The food is prepared in similar style to Buddhist Shojin cuisine, but do include some meat and fish.  It is a wonderful experience to stay in a shukubo and there is also the opportunity to join the early morning religious service.


In the large cities like Kyoto, Tokushima and Osaka we use western style hotels of a 3* standard. Please see below for an example of the accommodation we use.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single
rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.


Meals

Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on the Shikoku trail. Your trip includes all breakfasts and 5 evening meals whilst on the trail Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast in western-style hotels usually includes more familiar choices.

Dinner and breakfast in ryokan and minshuku are set meals, usually with a whole succession of different dishes which will delight you. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan.

 

 

 

 



Hearton Hotel, Kyoto



Hearton Hotel Kyoto

One of Kyoto's most popular hotels, as the location is second to none. Rooms are comfortable and modern, with western beds and bathrooms. Breakfast is served buffet style in the cafe on the 1st floor, while those wanting a traditional Japanese course meal are welcome to try the "hamatoku" restaurant on the 2nd floor.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Kyoto Royal Hotel, Kyoto



Kyoto Royal Hotel Kyoto

Located on Kawaramachi Street, Kyoto’s main restaurant and entertainment avenue, the hotel is also centrally located providing easy access to the city’s sights including Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji Temple and Ginkakuji Temple. Relax in Prandia Restaurant and Haven Bar or choose to soothe your mind, body and spirit at the Kotoran Spa.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hotel Monterey Grasmere, Osaka

Hotel Monterery Grasmere, Osaka

Conveniently located in Namba, central Osaka, Hotel Monterey Grasmere Osaka is a modern hotel that held its grand opening back in the summer of 2009. There are many popular areas within walking distance of the hotel, which is also directly connected to Namba Station. The guest rooms, located on floors 24 through 31, are designed in the image of a British manor house / stately home.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Anraku-ji, Higashihara



Anraku-ji Higashihara

A pilgrim’s lodging attached to the Anraku-ji buddisht temple; this is certainly a unique place to stay! This property has shared bathrooms and washbasins and there are natural thermal baths, segregated by gender. Join in the optional Buddhist prayers or browse the large selection of books available.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Subaruyado Yoshino, Tokushima



Subaruyado Yoshino, Tokushima

This Ryokan (traditional Japanese guesthouse) has 38 tatami rooms, all with private toilet and Japanese style bathrooms in addition to wonderful spa-style baths, one for men and one for women.


 

 

 

Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her
experience of some of the more traditional style accommodations, Minshuku and Ryokan, on the blog.



 

Availability

This trip is available from early April until the end of October.


Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December - 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (09-17 August)


Time of Year

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the autumn colours in October is also lovely. It can get quite hot and humid in July and August.Overall, the best months to travel are either April-June or September-October.


Grade & Terrain

This tour is graded moderate with walks as long as 14km (with some longer options on most days) with some strenuous ascents and descents. You should be a regular walker in good shape to get the most from the trip. Terrain is varied with a mix of paved  paths, woodland trails, stone steps and trails alongside paddy fields.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The route is partly way marked (in English and Japanese) and we provide detailed route notes and topographic maps so you should have no problem following the trail.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.


Baggage Transfers

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard. The easiest option here is to arrange luggage transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs approx £12 per day. With this service your bags will not be moved each day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple of nights later. Our information pack
has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof cloths, and lightweight clothing for summer.


Getting around:

Your package includes train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka. The public transport system in Japan is world class and your pre departure information pack has detailed information on tickets, trains and how to use public transport easily.


Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.


Visas

Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.


British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit www.fco.gov.uk for up to date information.

Getting to and from Japan

By Air:

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations.
You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto (3h30).


The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. For timetable information please visit http://www.westjr.co.jp/global.en/travel-information/timetable. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.


Getting around:


Your package includes train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka. The public transport system in Japan is world class and your pre departure information pack has detailed information on tickets, trains and how to use public transport easily.


Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.


Visas


Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.


British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit www.fco.gov.uk for up to date information.

Included

  • 4 nights accommodation in Ryokan, 3 nights in 3* standard hotels and 1 night in a Shukubu pilgrim's lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • Bus/train tickets to and from Shikoku
  • Tickets for journeys on the trail
  • Private transfers on days 4 & 7
  • Detailed information pack with local travel information, detailed route notes, topographical maps and hints and tips.
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative.

Excluded

  • International flights and travel to Kyoto/from Osaka
  • Drinks with meals
  • Lunches
  • Evening meals in Kyoto & Osaka
  • Local buses on Shikoku (paid locally)
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged locally or you can pre-book as an optional extra
  • Travel insurance

Extras

  • Additional nights on the trail or in Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka
  • Extensions to Mount Koya, Nara
  • Single room supplement(s) if required
  • Daily Luggage Transfers (Takijiri to Nachi-San)

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.

How fit do I need to be?

The walk is graded moderate but it does involve some days with fairly steep ascents and descents.The terrain can also be quite tricky underfoot as wet tree roots can be quite slippy at times.  Most days have a shorter and longer option to choose from so you can usually makes things a bit easier if you feel like an easy-going day.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations. You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto (3h30).

What about luggage transfers?

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard and you have a couple of options here. The first option is to arrange luggage transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs approx £12 per day. With this service your bags will not be moved each day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple of nights later. Our information pack has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy. Please contact us if you have any questions about this at all.

Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?

Yes, please just let us know at the time of booking. Most food during the walk is Japanese style. It is worth mentioning however that many dishes do contain the ubiquitous Japanese fish stock called dashi which is an ingredient in many soups and sauces so it is helpful if you are able to accept dishes containing this.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

No, our detailed info pack and a little bit of effort on your part will get you by. Most signs are also in English. Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of travelling in Japan with little language skills on the blog.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack, warm clothing in the early/late part of the year and hats etc during the summer. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack. 

When is the best time of year?

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the autumn colours in October are also lovely. It can get quite hot and humid in July and August.Overall, the best months to travel are either April-June or September-October.

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