Latest Posts
+61 437967819 (AU)
+91 9816838454 (IN)
Image Alt

2020 Pilgrimage Paths Japan

2020 Pilgrimage Paths Japan

$4950 per person

Including walking the Kumano Kodo, a temple stay at Mt. Koya and visits to Nara & Kyoto

Welcome to Japan. We will begin our pilgrimage with a visit to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Nara is full of ancient treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples. Next, we will travel to historical Kyoto, full of shrines and known as the cultural capital of Japan. We will then travel to Mt. Koya, home to an active monastic centre founded twelve centuries ago and the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. Surrounded by a thick forest of massive cedars, the monastery is a place for deep reflection and contemplation.

We will continue on to Yunomine Onsen, a little visited village nestled in a hidden valley at the heart of the sacred Kumano Kodo. We will walk some of the ancient pilgrimage trail of the Kumano Kodo at the most stunning time of year with the autumn leaves in full colour.

Our walk is very flexible, with several shortcut options. We will walk 15-20kms over two days. The walk will be gentle, with the luxury of only carrying a day-pack each day. We will finish our Kumano Kodo experience at Kumano Nachi Taisha, an iconic Shinto shrine and one of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sacred Sites. During our walk, pilgrims will be able to complete the Kumano Kodo criteria for becoming a Dual Pilgrim. A Dual Pilgrim is someone who has walked both the Kumano Kodo and the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) in Spain. This program was developed to celebrate, honour and share the stories of those who have completed both of these UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage routes. Our pilgrimage offers you the opportunity to take part in this once in a lifetime experience. For more information see the notes below.

Want to see more? Stay a few days longer and visit Tokyo as part of our add on for 4 days and 3 nights. Check out the itinerary for Tokyo here.



1 – 11 December 2020


A$4,950 per person, twin share

A$1,500 single supplement

*Optional Tokyo add-on

A$1,750 per person, twin share

A$550 single supplement

*Extra nights

Osaka – A$420 per night, single room – including breakfast

Tokyo – A$300 per night, single room – not including breakfast


11 days, 10 nights


  • Walk the Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage trail
  • Stay in traditional temple lodgings and participate in monastic life
  • Trek the scenic pilgrimage trails of Mt. Koya
  • Visit culturally significant Buddhist and Shinto shrines in Nara
  • Explore the historical and cultural highlights of Kyoto
  • Enjoy traditional Japan in Yunomine Onsen
  • Relax with a traditional Japanese onsen experience
  • Marvel at the stunning scenery of the Kii Peninsular
  • Fulfil the checklist for your Dual Pilgrim passport by collecting stamps from Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taishi with visits to the shrines of Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha


Osaka – Nara – Kyoto – Mt. Koya – Yunomine Onsen – Kumano Kodo – Kii Katsuura


Pilgrimage Leader

Venerable Kartson (Yaki Platt) was born in Tel Aviv and previously worked as a software engineer for the Israeli Airforce. He moved to India and studied conversational and classical Tibetan for four years before coming to the Chenrezig Institute in Australia as the translator for Geshe Jamyang in 2005. He is now translating for Geshe Tsultrim and is a graduate of the Buddhist Studies Program. In 2014 he was ordained as a monk.



Dual Pilgrimage

The Dual Pilgrim Credential is a type of passport for pilgrims that can be used to collect stamps along the trail as a record of the walk. There are two sides, one for the Kumano Kodo and one for the Way of St. James (Camino de Sanitago) in Spain.

To receive the status of Dual Pilgrim, you must complete one of the options for the Way of St. James, and one of the options for the Kumano Kodo, then register at a designated site. The completion stamp for the Kumano Kodo is located at the Kumano Hongu Taisha.

The Dual Pilgrim Credential is free of charge and you are provided with the passport books when you register. Dual Pilgrims receive a limited-edition pin badge and are featured on the Dual Pilgrim page of

You will be able to fulfil the checklist for the Kumano Kodo in your Dual Pilgrim passport from day 8 to day 10. During these days we will walk from Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha (7kms) and visit the temples of Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kayatama Taisha and  Kumano Nachi Taisha, all of which you can collect stamps at.

For more information please visit:


1 Review

Tour Plan

Day 1
1 December 2020 Depart Australia and arrive Osaka
We’ll arrive in Osaka in the early evening and transfer to our hotel. No activities are planned, but perhaps you’d like to take a wander to stretch your legs and enjoy this modern city. Overnight: City centre hotel, Osaka
Day 2
2 December 2020 Nara
After breakfast we will head to Nara by train (40 minutes). We will have a full day to walk through Nara Park (known as ‘Deer Park’). Along the way we will visit Todai-ji Temple – its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. Finish your discovery of Nara at the Shinto shrine of Kasuga, a serene site that features a collection of more than 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. In the early evening we will return to Osaka by train. Overnight: City centre hotel, Osaka
Day 3
3 December 2020 Osaka – Kyoto
This morning we will take the train to Kyoto (40-50 minutes). On arrival we will check into our hotel and look forward to some of Kyoto’s many highlights. There is so much to pack in, from beautiful parks to ancient well-preserved Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. In the afternoon we will take the train to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove which is one of Japan’s most incredible sights. This amazing forest is located about 7km west of downtown Kyoto, and at its heart is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a mesmerising grove of thousands of tall bamboo plants. There are paved walkways that run through the middle of both sections, forming the famous ‘Bamboo Alley’, one of Kyoto’s most photographed sights. After this we will head to the sightseeing area of Kyoto, including the amazing Kimano Forest. This is a collection of gorgeous cylinder-shaped pillars framing the lane way to Randen tram station. It is known as a ‘forest’ as the pillars are clustered like trees and kimonos are displayed on each pillar and is a not to be missed destination. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. Overnight: Hotel, Kyoto
Day 4
4 December 2020 Kyoto
In the morning we’ll meet our local guide and take the train to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, world famous for the Senbon Torii, or thousand torii gates. This temple is one of the most popular sightseeing spots of Kyoto, and it’s not hard to see why. The shrine is part of a bamboo wilderness that includes mountains, streams, and scenic ponds. Next, we will head to a local geisha town where you may see the resident geisha going about her daily routines. We will have lunch in a small local restaurant with the local specialty of noodles and vegetables. We will then head to the old Kyoto Imperial Palace and surrounding park where natural beauty awaits. Our last stop is the Golden Pavilion with its coating of gold reflected in the lake in the late afternoon sun. Pure magic. Overnight: Hotel, Kyoto
Day 5
5 December 2020 Kyoto – Mt. Koya
We will leave Kyoto for the scenic journey by train and cable car to Mt. Koya, located high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. A place of religious devotion since the 9th century and the centre of Shingon Buddhism, Mt. Koya is a deeply sacred place to explore. The monastery is situated on a small plain at the top of Mt. Koya, and is a thriving complex of temples, halls and pagodas. A highlight of our time here includes the chance to participate in morning prayers and eating dinner with the monks. It is also time for reflection and personal contemplation. In the late afternoon we will head out to explore the inner sanctuary of Okuno-in cemetery, surrounded by thousands of graves of feudal lords and luminaries and the mausoleum of the founder of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi. Tonight we will enjoy a traditional temple feast. Overnight: Shukubo (Temple lodging), Mt. Koya
Day 6
6 December 2020 Mt. Koya
We will rise early for the Buddhist morning ceremony and Gomataki Fire Ritual which takes place in the main worship hall. The rich colours, smell of incense and rhythmical chants of the monks are captivating. The Gomataki fire ritual is performed daily, in which a sacrificial fire is kindled and consecrated before invoking divinities and making offerings of prayers on wooden tablets. You will be invited to make offerings of incense, allowing for an immersive experience. The rest of the morning can be spent taking the hiking trail (7.5kms) surrounding Mt. Koya to visit the various shrines that forms part of the Women’s Pilgrim’s route. You may also wish to explore nearby Daishi Kyokai, the administrative centre of Shingon Buddhism. The centre is responsible for spreading the teachings of Kobo Daishi, the sect’s founder. The complex includes Henjoden, a traditional temple hall, that was built in 1915 and is dedicated to Kobo Daishi. You can also spend the day quietly or taking part in the activities on offer at the monastery. Overnight: Shukubo (Temple lodging), Mt. Koya
Day 7
7 December 2020 Mt. Koya – Yunomine Onsen
Leaving Mt. Koya we will head towards the scenic mountainous Kii-Peninsula through to Yunomine Onsen (a journey of 4 hours by bus). We will arrive in the early afternoon and check into our minshuku at Yunomine Onsen. The rest of the day is tours to relax and enjoy the surrounds of this picturesque traditional village. Overnight: Minshuku (Private Japanese style guesthouse), Yunomine Onsen
Day 8
8 December 2020 Kumano Kodo
Today we will take a local bus to Hosshinmon-oji and take a gentle walk through the villages. Along the way we can stop to look at local produce and small souvenirs from the locals. The highlight of today’s pilgrimage is ending up at Kumano Hongu Taisha, a sacred precinct and home to one of three main Shinto shrines on the trail. The total walking distance for today is around 7-8km and will take 2.5-4 hours. This section of the Kumano Kodo is the only walking criteria in Japan for the dual pilgrim checklist. ** For more information see tour notes At the end of the day you will be rewarded with a relaxing soak in an onsen – a Japanese hot spring. Overnight: Minshuku (Private Japanese style guesthouse), Yunomine Onsen
Day 9
9 December 2020 Kumano Kodo
After breakfast we will continue to explore the Hongu area and walk the last part of the Nakahechi Kumano Kodo route, the Dainichi route. This is a scenic route over the mountain to Kumano Hongu Taisha – the main temple of the Kumano Kodo and where you can get the completion stamp in your dual pilgrim passport. In the afternoon we will return to Yunomine Onsen for a relaxing hot spring bath. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. Overnight: Minshuku (Private Japanese style guesthouse), Yunomine Onsen
Day 10
10 December 2020 Yunomine Onsen – Kii Katsuura
Today we will finish our Kumano Kodo experience with visits to the iconic Shinto shrines of Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha, both of which are UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sacred Sites. *Both these temples are on the Dual Pilgrim stamp list. We will continue our journey by bus to Kii-Katsuura where we will check into our accommodation. If time is permitting, you can take a boat trip over the bay to experience the luxury of an outdoor onsen in a cave or a walk along the waterfront in this quiet and quaint fishing village. In the evening we will share a sayonara (farewell) dinner. Overnight: Ryokan, Kii-Katsuura
Day 11
11 December 2020 Departure
After breakfast it’s time to head to the train station for a scenic ride back around the coastline of the Kii-Peninsula. Sit back and enjoy the views of the coast to your left and beautiful autumn coloured forest to your right as we head to Osaka airport (if booking flights today, please book an evening flight).


  • 10 nights’ accommodation (four nights in Western style hotels, two nights in Japanese style Shukubo temple lodging and four nights in Japanese minshuku/ryokans)
  • All transportation from Osaka airport (arrival) to Osaka airport (departure) when travelling with the group as described in the itinerary, including travel by train and bus.
  • English speaking guide for the duration of the tour
  • Breakfast every morning from day 2 through to day 11 of the itinerary
  • Dinner from days 5-10 of the itinerary, including a sayonara dinner at the end of the tour
  • Admission fees and activities as per the itinerary
  • Each tour member also receives an electronic copy of our tour handbook. This handbook is full of tips and suggestions taken from our Japan travel experiences that allow you to better plan and prepare for your trip, and therefore enjoy your trip even more. The tips and suggestions included cover everything from how to save while exchanging money, what to pack, some basic Japanese language tips, general etiquette do’s-and-don’ts and ryokan customs


  • Airfares
  • Passport & visa costs
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Transportation costs during scheduled free time
  • Admission fees to any destinations and activities not listed in the itinerary
  • Meals not stipulated in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (laundry, drinks, shopping)
  • Tips & gratuities
This Tokyo extension offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s truly mesmerising cities. Our local insider guide will ensure that you not only see the ultra-modern city buzzing with technology; but that you also catch a glimpse of the ancient city known as Edo which remains steeped in timeless traditions. We’ll take in districts known for their local artisans and cultural curiosities as well as visit some of Tokyo’s most significant Buddhist sanctuaries and Shinto shrines. All this and more, set against the most stunning time of year with the autumnal leaves in full glorious colour. As with all Ekno experiences, we select our hotels and locations with an eye on combining value for money and comfort into one unique experience.


11-14 December 2020


A$1,750,Single Supplement A$540


4 days, 3 nights


  • Soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this global city with walking tours to diverse districts
  • Wander around beautiful Ueno park in spectacular autumn colour
  • Marvel at the Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s most popular Buddhist sanctuary in Asakusa
  • Visit impressive sites such the Imperial Palace, Tokyo National Museum and Bridgestone Museum of Art
  • Shop for souvenirs and people watch in Shinjuku, Ginza, or Marunouchi



Day 1 - 11 December 2020

Arrive in Tokyo in the late afternoon and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. No activities are planned but perhaps you’d like to soak up some of Tokyo’s vibrant night life at Ueno and enjoy some traditional Japanese cuisine at an Izakaya (Japanese style pub) before retiring for the night.Overnight: Hotel, Tokyo

Day 2 - 12 December 2020

Today we will enjoy a day of sightseeing with a local guide.
  • Visit the Asakusa area, including the Senso-ji temple and the Nakamise traditional shopping street.
  • Explore Akihabara, Japan’s unique pop cultural centre which includes anime and comic figure shops.
  • Visit the Ameyoko markets, casual shopping streets filled with local ambience and a former black market after WW2.
  • Wander through the beautiful gardens at the Imperial Palace.
  • Explore the local residential area of Yanaka, which retains a unique old Japanese atmosphere.
  • Check out Shinjuku and Harajuku districts, including Kabukicho, the biggest downtown area and former red-light district; the Golden gai small bar street as well as busy Takesita street filled with teenagers in Lolita fashion.
In the late afternoon you can choose to return to the hotel for a rest or to shop till you drop in one of the exciting shopping districts of Shinjuku, Ginza, or Marunouchi. These areas are also great for people watching and grabbing a bite to eat. Overnight: Hotel, Tokyo

Day3 - 13 December 2020

Today we will explore some of the other main attractions that Tokyo has to offer. After breakfast take a wander to Ueno-koen Park and visit the wonderful Tokyo National Museum and Tosho-gu Shrine before heading back to the bustling Ueno Station area for lunch.After lunch there is some free time for you to explore as you please. You can visit the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum or the Bridgestone Museum of Art or consider taking a nice stroll in nearby Hibiya-koen Park. Overnight: Hotel Tokyo

Day4 - 14 December 2020

No activities are planned for this day. After breakfast get ready to leave on your outbound flight home. Thank you for travelling with us, we hope that you have had a fulfilling journey.


  • 3 nights' accommodation in a Western style hotel
  • Transportation from Osaka to Tokyo by train
  • Transfer by taxi from Tokyo Station to the hotel
  • Transfer by bus from hotel to Narita/Haneda Airport
  • All transportation by train when travelling with the group (transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility)
  • Admission fees to destinations listed in the itinerary
  • English speaking guide for the duration of the tour
  • Local guide for one day


  • International Flights
  • Passport & visa costs
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Admission fees to any destinations and activities not listed in the itinerary
  • All meals
  • Personal expenses (such as laundry, drinks, shopping)
  • Tips & gratuities


  • Day trip to Mt Fuji
  • Cooking Class
You don't have permission to register