The Spiritual Heartland of Japan

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The Spiritual Heartland of Japan

(1 Review)

Kyoto – Nara – Koyasan – Osaka (5 Days/4Nights)

Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka, the region now known as Kansai, has long been central to the history and culture of Japan. All of Japan’s original capitals were established around the Nara area between the 3rd to the 8th centuries. Indeed, the first “permanent” capital was established here in 710 and remained until it’s relocation to present day Kyoto in 794 where it remained until 1869. The heaving metropolis of Osaka also far out-weighed the relatively new city of Edo (current Tokyo), in its commercial, cultural & entertainment activities during the 16th – 19th centuries. Buddhism was introduced to Nara in the 6th century and immediately flourished, resulting in an explosion and evolution of various sects of Buddhist temples as well as pilgrimages to the sacred mountains of Mt. Yoshino and Mt. Koya for study, training, and reflection. On this 5 x Day/4 x Night journey, we explore and experience the rich cultural heritage of the Kansai region, and delve into the spiritual heartland of Japan.

Start

Kyoto

Finish

Osaka

Ages

Min. 20

Group size

Min. 2, Max. 6

Included

  • Tour manager: English/Japanese speaking tour manager
  • Accommodation: 3 x nights in western style hotels (3-4 Star), and 1 x night in temple lodging
  • Meals: Daily breakfast & dinner plus 2 x lunches
  • Transport: All transport as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees: As indicated in the itinerary
  • One luggage transfer from Kyoto to Osaka (one item per person)

Not Included

  • International & domestic flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Personal expenses
Highlights
  • This 4-night/5-day journey will introduce you to some of the different facets of Japanese culture, in particular a focus on Buddhism
  • Visit World Heritage listed sites in Kyoto, Nara, and Koyasan.
  • Experience a stay in a working Buddhist monastery (Koyasan).
  • Walking tour through vibrant back streets to soak up the distinctive atmosphere of each destination.
  • All of our tours at “Two Streets Back” have minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 passengers, so you will receive more attention from our friendly tour manager, and have access to smaller sites and eating venues that reflect true local character and do not cater to bigger groups
Gallery
Itinerary

Day 1Kyoto

Your adventure begins with the all-important “Welcome Meeting” at 2pm. Here you will meet your tour manager and fellow travelers, followed by a visit to the World Heritage listed Nanzenji Temple. Although this spectacular temple often escapes the attention of many foreign visitors, it is ranked number one among all Zen Buddhist temples in Japan, with its impressive “samon” gate, European style brick aqueduct, and stunning zen garden, it truly deserves the respect and place reserved in every Japanese person’s heart. In the evening, your tour manager will take you on a night walking tour of the world-famous Gion “geisha” district, before making our way to the stunning Higashiyama area lined with centuries old temples and shrines separated by original Kyoto townhouses. Our first day in Kyoto will end with a superb “Kaiseki” dinner, a highly elaborate and beautifully presented course-style meal of seasonal dishes prepared with local ingredients. This unique style of cuisine grew out of 16th-century Buddhist tea ceremonies before being introduced to the Emperor’s court right here in Kyoto. The presentation of each dish is truly spectacular, offering a very special Kyoto experience.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Kyoto)

 Meal

  • Dinner (Kyoto’s signature “Kaiseki” cuisine) (Kyoto)

 Activities

  • Welcome Meeting
  • Nanzenji Temple
  • Kyoto Gion & Higashiyama night walk

Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting important insurance details, proof of Covid-19 vaccination, and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent, hotel reception or your “Two Streets Back” Japan representative know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Day 2Kyoto - Nara

This morning, after forwarding your suitcases to your final destination of Osaka, we will take a short 1-hour train journey to Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital established in 710. Upton arrival, we will visit the World Heritage listed Horyuji Temple founded in 607. The temple is one of the country’s original Buddhist temples, and if this isn’t special enough, it has one of the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. Take time to contemplate the view of Japan as it existed more than 1,300 years ago. In the afternoon, we stroll around the delightfully preserved Naramachi area, a former merchant district of Nara, and explore the district’s narrow laneways lined with boutiques, shops, cafes, and restaurants, etc. Of course, no time spent in Nara would be complete without a visit to the World Heritage listed Todaiji Temple. Originally built in 749, this spectacular temple is located inside Nara Park and, along with many thousands of free roaming deer, houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. For dinner we will be heading to one of the local Izakaya’s to see what’s in season and to try the local produce.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Nara)

 Meal

  • Breakfast (Kyoto)
  • Dinner (at a local Izakaya) (Nara)

Activities

  • Horyuji Temple
  • Todaiji Temple
  • Nara Park & Naramachi town walk

Day 3 Nara – Mt. Yoshino – Koyasan (Mt. Koya)

This morning after a hearty breakfast, we will be tracing by local train and ropeway, the ancient pilgrimage routes to Mt Yoshino, and the much revered Mt Koya (or Koyasan). Both these mountains as well as the nearby Kumano Kodo pilgrimage have all been designated as World Heritage Sites. Although Mt. Yoshino is undoubtedly one of Japan’s premier cherry blossom viewing spots, it also offers a rich and interesting glimpse into the country’s long history. It has also been an important center of a Shinto-Buddhist cult devoted to ascetic practices and mountain worship for many centuries. Enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountains, while strolling traditional streets lined with well-preserved houses, shops, and restaurants offering local specialties such as “Kakinohazushi”, marinated sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves. In the afternoon we will be leaving Mt. Yoshino and make our way to epicentre of religious life in Japan, Mt Koya (or Koyasan). Koyasan is the center of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. This secluded and atmospheric temple town is located more than 800 meters above sea level, accessible by local train, ropeway and bus, and has existed on this mountain for more than 1200 years. This is also one the best places to experience a taste of a monk’s lifestyle. Upon arrival, your tour manager will take you to the Okunoin, a vast Buddhist cemetery and arguably the most sacred place in Koyasan if not Japan. From here we will make our way to our temple lodging (shukubo) – where the monks will set out your bed before providing you with a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Accommodation

  • Shukubo (temple lodging) (Koyasan)

 Meal

  • Breakfast (Nara)
  • Lunch (“Kakinohazushi”) (Mt. Yoshino)
  • Dinner (Traditional Vegetarian monk’s cuisine) (Koyasan) 

Activities

  • Yoshino walk and visit to Kinpusenji Temple
  • Okunoin (Koyasan)

Day 4Koyasan (Mt. Koya) – Osaka

Before breakfast is offered at our temple lodging, you are invited to join the monks for their morning prayers. Although optional as it does require getting up before sunrise, this is an excellent opportunity to experience this most sacred of Buddhist rituals. After breakfast you will have free time to explore this beautiful temple town before heading on to metropolis that is Osaka, Japan’s second largest city after Tokyo. What an absolute contrast this will be to the sacred serenity of Koyasan! Although Osaka is without doubt a mega-city, it’s greatest charm is its down-to-earth attitude and the welcoming spirit of its people. Together we’ll explore the city’s iconic Dotonbori area by cruising the canal and wandering through the labyrinth of neighboring alleyways, and tasting some of the street food Osaka is famous for. In the evening, let’s celebrate the end of our adventure with great conversation and delicious food at one of Osaka’s famous Izakayas.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Osaka)

 Meal

  • Breakfast (Japanese vegetarian monk’s cuisine at Shukubo) (Koyasan)
  • Lunch (Osaka street food) (Osaka)
  • Dinner (local Izakaya) (Osaka)

Activities

  • Morning ceremony at temple lodging (Koyasan)
  • Osaka city walk (Kuromon market, Dotonbori & Hozenji Temple alleyway area)
  • Osaka river cruise

Day 5Osaka

There are no activities planned for today, so feel free to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10am, however if you wish to depart at a later time, we can arrange luggage storage for you at the hotel. Your tour manager will be delighted to help plan your post-tour itinerary or advise you on your onward journey.

Meal

  • Breakfast (Osaka)
Map

1 Review
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tour_admin

Solo Traveller

very exciting !

10 May 2022