16 days 15 nights
Arabic, Chinese, English, Francais, Indonesia
Start and end in Tokyo! With the Adventure tour Yamabushi, you have a 16 days tour package taking you through Tokyo, Japan and 14 other destinations in Japan. Yamabushi includes accommodation in a hostel as well as an expert guide, transport and more.
At Kichi Japan we pride ourselves on providing experiences with way more included activities than your standard group trip. Not your average tourist experience, this tour is specifically designed for the nature lovers out there. Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind as you traverse the well-worn paths of the mountain mystics or breathe in the history of forests which have endured for centuries. Drink in the afternoon sun with a boat ride down Takachiho Gorge or test your endurance as you hike the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan. You can expect all this and more on this 16-day adventure. Look forward to remote destinations rarely seen by tourists, beautiful hikes with stunning scenery, and islands brimming with life. Not for the faint-hearted, if you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors and doesn’t mind a bit of physical activity to get there, this tour and the rewards that it offers, are well worth it.
What to Expect
Although this tour does include some time in the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka, most of it is dedicated to giving you an authentic outdoor country-side experience of Japan. Expect more walking in this tour as the more unique sites are often accessed by foot. The itinerary also includes multiple hikes and physical activities like canyoning for which a moderate level of fitness is required. However, you can also look forward to opportunities to relax and put your feet up as you enjoy the natural surroundings. Although we make a concerted effort to keep day-time travelling to a minimum, there will be one or two instances when more travelling is required to get to the more remote locations. We promise though that the end reward is well worth the effort. Tour members will have the opportunity to participate in a filmmaking competition with footage they’ve taken during the tour. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the tour, more information with be given during orientation. Below you will find a list of things you should bring with you on the trip.
A comfortable pair of hiking shoes
Backpack (highly recommended over a suitcase)
Warm jacket, gloves and hat
Bugspray, sun protection
Spending money for food and personal shopping
Our first day starts with orientation and an introduction to the world’s biggest city. Expect to hit the ground running, literally, with a trip to Chiba as we prepare to take on Japan’s largest obstacle course. We then hop on a train to visit one of Yokohama’s more eccentric oddities, the Cup Noodle Museum, where we create our own custom cup ramen with all of the trimmings you desire. We also have time to peruse the noodle bazaar which boasts noodle dishes from all over the world. And for those who are feeling especially brave, why not try the ramen-flavored ice-cream?
Today we make our way to the UNESCO world heritage site of Toshogu shrine. This is, in our opinion, the most ornate and beautiful shrine in all of Japan. This historically significant structure also serves as mausoleums that deifies the man who unified Japan, making it an extremely sacred place for the Shinto religion. Toshogu is also set against a stunning backdrop of forested mountains which is an attraction in and of itself.
We then slip back into time and experience life as it was in 17th century Japan with a visit to Edo Wonderland. This cultural theme-park/open-air museum is a must-stop place for some light-hearted enjoyment! Bring out the fun in you as you opt to dress up in traditional Edo attire and choose from a variety of activities like hariko-doll painting, makeup artistry, samurai sword fighting and archery to name but a few. We also highly recommend the fantastic ninja and magic shows, mazes and ninja trickhouse.
We start our day with a wagashi workshop. Witness and emulate your teacher's meticulous attention to detail as you create your own very own sweets. We give you fair warning though, you may find them too pretty to eat!
We then hop on a train to a sake brewery just outside of the city where we will enjoy a guided tour of the brewery grounds. Sake is not simply a beverage in Japan, but carries with it a vast amount of meaning and spiritual significance. Here we will learn all about the intricate process behind the creation of this rice wine, as well as tantalize our taste buds with samples from the brewery's store.
On our return to Tokyo, you can look forward to a free evening to explore the vastness of the city.
Day 4 + 5 Sacred mountain mystics (Dewa Sanzan)
Leave the 21st century behind as you enter into the world of the Yamabushi or mountain mystics. The Tsuruoka area is inhabited by many followers of the Shugendo faith. Cell phone usage will be limited during this period of our travels, as we live in an area inhabited by mountain ascetics who have foregone material possession in favor of spiritual growth, and harmony with nature.
Throughout this two-day period we will *hike the three sacred mountains that represent birth, death and rebirth. This leg of our trip will help us to reconnect with nature, and present us with the opportunity to learn more about Japanese mysticism, as well as the sacredness that nature holds in the Shinto religion. Historically the Yamabushi were men who were famous for their astonishing physical strength and seemingly magical abilities. While here we will train with them, and learn about the spiritual attributes that the mountains possess, and the principles of Shugendo.
*Hiking of Mount Yudono and Mount Gassan are only possible during the summer season. These hikes are somewhat challenging so a high level of physical fitness is required. Please be aware of this when booking.
Our final morning in the mountains will be spent learning about the yamabushi's fascinating and slightly disturbing practice of self-mummification. This mummification process took monk's 1000 days to complete during which they ate nothing but nuts, seeds and tea laced with poison. We will leave the rest of the process for you to discover after you arrive!
A couple of bullet trains will then take us to Tokyo where you will be able to get dinner before boarding the ferry to our first island destination.
Did you know that Tokyo has islands? It does, and we start our day by visiting one of the islands that also happens to be the smallest village in Japan*. With a population of just over 100 people, the entire island is also a small, lush dormant volcano out in the Pacific Ocean. Getting there can be accomplished by either helicopter or ferry**, and once there it offers some of the best stargazing in Japan. Allow the ocean waves to soothe you, as you let time slow down and experience the island lifestyle, culture and a unique shochu that can only be tasted there.
Our island experience continues the next day as we move onto Hachijojima. Here, we get to enjoy the hot springs of Miharashi onsen while taking in the pristine ocean views. The onsen is also equipped with a routenburo. Our day ends with a BBQ on Sokodo beach which is famous for its beautiful black sands. During the summer months, Hachijojima is home to bioluminescent mushrooms, which we may catch a glimpse of.
*Access to Aogashima may be hindered by inclement weather conditions. Should this be the case we will remain on Hachijojima. Therefore the itinerary items that relate to Aogashima are not guaranteed and are largely dependent upon the weather conditions at the time that we arrive to Hachijojima. More information will be provided during orientation.
**An extra fee will be incurred for those wanting to travel to Aogashima by helicopter. Please inquire for further information. As spaces on the helicopter are limited and sell out fast, this is not guaranteed even if requested.
***In adverse weather conditions the overnight ferry from Tokyo to the islands might be cancelled. In this case accommodation will be provided for in Tokyo and alternative activity arrangements will be made to replace this island-portion of the trip.
A large part of the day will be spent traveling as we exchange island vibes for city life on our journey south to Osaka. Upon arrival in Kansai’s largest city we’ll check in to our accommodation, freshen up and then head for a night out.
Say hello to one of Japan’s most vibrant cities as we visit one of country’s most famous landmarks, Osaka Castle. The castle grounds span 15 acres and provides a panoramic view of the city of Osaka. We will begin by getting a good outside view of the castle from a boat trip around the moat that encircles the castle. From there we’ll journey inward to learn about the pivotal role that Osaka castle played in unifying the nation of Japan.
The rest of the day will be catered to your interest as you explore the city of Osaka with the assistance of your guide. At night we’ll meet up again to discover what the nightlife of Osaka has to offer by starting off with a river cruise through the Tombori area. Next we’ll hit the streets of the city’s nightclub district, before calling it a night.
The exploration of Osaka continues on this day as we let you loose to experience more of Osaka’s many attractions before heading to the southernmost tip of the Kyushu island, Kagoshima. Osaka is your oyster with the whole day being allocated for free time. There are countless things to do in Osaka and your guide will provide you with recommendations. Do not fret, as all of your travel expenses and most activities will be either completely covered or discounted. Once we arrive in Kagoshima, we will treat ourselves to the unique dishes and flavors of this coastal city.
Our day begins with a short ferry ride from Kagoshima port to the shores of Japan’s largest designated UNESCO World Heritage reserve, Yakushima. Our third island destination for this tour, Yakushima has been the inspiration for many stories, anime, and movies including the multi-award winning animated film Princess Mononoke. The dense, and ancient forests of the island are home to a variety of fauna and flora, including many deer, monkeys and even trees that date back 5,000+ years. Our journey starts with a short tour where you will get a brief history of the island, and its unique characteristics. We then head to a woodworking class where you can craft your own chopsticks out of the yakusugi cedar wood that is indigenous to the island.
Don your hiking shoes and get ready for a forest adventure unlike any you’ve ever experienced! This all-day hike has multiple sights to enjoy including the supernatural Jomon Sugi which, at 25.3m tall and with a circumference of 16.4m, is the largest and oldest yakusugi on the island, and the largest conifer in Japan. Our hike will also include a stop at the Unsuikyo ravine for a heart-pumping canyoning experience before continuing our trek to Wilson’s stump, which is big enough to not only fit a shrine in it, but can also accommodate a person. The sight from within the stump is one that we’ll leave you to discover on your own.
From the ancient magical island of Yakushima to the mythical town of Takachiho, we head out to the place that is the setting for multiple Shinto legends and holds much spiritual significance in the Shinto belief system. It is home to the spot where the goddess Amaterasu is said to have hid inside a cave, and caused the world to fall into darkness. Takachiho is also said to be the place where Niniginomikoto, grandson of Amaterasu and great-grandfather of Japan’s first emperor, descended to govern the world.
There is much to be discovered, learned and experienced at this mystical spot and we start our time here with a show at Takachiho’s Kagura hall, where our performers play the role of the gods themselves to tell us their story.
*Due to tsunami damages, the train to Takachiho has been indefinitely suspended. Reaching this remote location will have to be made by bus, which will take time.
We get around the town by bike on this day. We start the day at the Amanoiwato Shrine, where Amaterasu is said to have hid herself, and her light from the world. When Amaterasu sent her grandson to Earth to govern it, one of his missions was to plant rice, so we’ll make our way through the beautifully picturesque Tochimata terraced rice fields before moving on to the Amaterasu Railway station where we’ll board an open-air, roofless train* to get a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. After this, we’ll revisit the Takachiho Shrine where we saw the kagura show the night before. The daytime light will provide us with a chance to see the shrine in all its glory as well as the monolithic wedded cedars in the front of the shrine.
From there we’ll make our way down to the famous Takachiho Gorge and, if you are interested, you can rent row boats to explore an area of the river. Before saying goodbye to the town of legends, we take a short hike from the Mihashi bridge to the visit both Kihachi’s strength rock and the Sandan-bashi areas of the gorge.
We spend our last night in Kumamoto city, eating and drinking to celebrate our time together and the memories we’ve created.
*dependent on weather conditions
We finish up the tour with a visit to Hatsushima which boasts pristine views of Mt Fuji. This island is the fourth and last island on our trip back to Tokyo and is seated in the sea outside of Atami. Positioned in the shadow of the iconic Mount Fuji, Hatsushima houses many different activities including a canopy walk and zip line facility which you will have the option to enjoy. We’ll spend our day here before saying our goodbyes back in Tokyo.