Traditions don’t just run deep in Japan; on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail, they walk.
Tradition permeates Japanese life. You’ll find it in the precise choreography of a tea ceremony or the colorful, stylized theatricality of a geisha at your ryokan (traditional inn) in Kyoto. Step onto Japan’s ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail and you’ll sense it all around you. In centuries past, Japanese emperors walked this route from temple to temple, seeking transcendence through physical exertion. Now you’ll follow in their footsteps, climbing timeworn stone staircases through forests dense with ferns and moss, watched over by jizo, Japan’s guardian deity of travelers. Enlightenment still lies around every bend, as simple as sunlight filtering through massive cedars—or the hot-spring-fed onsen baths and exquisitely presented organic meals that greet you every evening of this Japan walking tour.
- Visit a Shugend-o temple and meet with a yamabushi priest to learn how endurance, meditation, and martial arts combine in this often-misunderstood religion.
- Attend dinner in Kyoto’s Gion district hosted by a geisha and her apprentice, gaining an appreciation for the strict training underlying a geisha’s timeless grace.
- Explore Kyoto’s famous Nishiki Market, a shopping street with over 100 tightly packed stalls, sampling popular and traditional Japanese street food as you go.