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Finding Your Zen in Japan

If your resolution in 2018 is to cultivate more inner calm, there's no better place to go than Japan. Though some might associate the country with the futuristic energy of its major cities, it is also a place built on a profound tradition of self-care, personal reflection, and a respect for and appreciation of nature. Just a few miles outside of its metropolises, a serene worldview awaits.

The Country Walkers Japan: Kyoto, Nara & the Kumano Kodo Guided Walking Adventure captures the essence of this serenity-seeking with a carefully curated itinerary.

Here's how it can help you find your Zen:

Stroll down the Philosopher's Path

Beautiful surroundings inspire beautiful thoughts, a maxim the 20th-century Kyoto University professor and philosopher Nishida Kitaro certainly had in mind when he took his daily walk down this cherry tree-lined path in Kyoto. The route, dotted with charming cafes selling tea and snacks beckoning travelers, starts at Eikan-do Temple and ends at Ginkaku-ji Temple. What better way is there to further develop deep thoughts than over tea?

Enchanting encounters with sacred deer

Commune with nature in the lush forests of Nara, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This forest is rich with spiritual significance: More than 1,000 years ago, Shinto deity Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto arrived in Nara on a white deer, explained Incidental Naturalist. He along with three other gods are enshrined in Kasuga Taisha Temple within the park, and these gods sent spotted deer, called sika, into the forest to serve as guardians for the city. These deer are plentiful throughout the parklands. Legend has it that these tame and otherworldly creatures will exchange bows with you. While you explore the enchanting woods of Nara, you can also visit the world's largest bronze Buddha statue.

A contemplative pilgrimage

The famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route winds through the Kii Peninsula, with its mystical mountains said to be the "holy ground where gods dwell," according to the Wakayama Tourism Federation. For more than a thousand years, imperial courts and commoners alike have trekked through these ethereal forests to pay their respects at the Kumano Sanzan shrines, which honor Shinbutsu-shugo, a faith combining Shintoism and Buddhism. As you follow the harmonious trail past babbling brooks and crystal waterfalls, you'll discover small Oji shrines nestled in the trees-designed to be places of rest and reflection for travelers-and paper markers in the shape of lightning bolts that signal that deities are present.

Don't let the stress of modern life let another year speed by. Shift your focus from earthly concerns to higher joys by taking our rejuvenating Japan: Kyoto, Nara & the Kumano Kodo Guided Walking tour.

Learn more about our Japan: Kyoto, Nara & the Kumano Kodo walking tour here. To request a free Country Walkers catalog and learn more about other exciting destinations throughout the world, click here. If you would like to speak with one of our Travel Experts, please call 800.234.6900. They are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.

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