Welcome to Osaka! Welcome to Japan “The land of the rising Sun” – the country known for its traditional arts, oldest civilization, and embracing technology like no other country on the planet. After completing your immigration, you will depart for dinner (Dinner)
In the morning, we will drive through Shima Nami Kaido to Shikoku Island. The Shimanami Kaido is a 60-kilometer-long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea which is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway.
We will stop by Kirosan Observatory.
We then proceed to Takamatsu with a stop at the Shikoku Mura Village.
Then visit Ritsurin Park, a masterpiece of Japanese landscape 100 years in the making. This sprawling park features beautiful ponds and pavilions with Mt. Shiun as the perfect backdrop. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
We continue our journey today at Naruto. Naruto is the starting point of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, which leads around the island to visit 88 temples across Shikoku connected with the famous Buddhist monk, Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Naruto's Ryozenji Temple is the first temple of the pilgrimage.
We will be traveling by foot for approximately 1.2 km (0.75 miles) from Ryozenji Temple to Gokurakuji Temple.
From Shikoku Island, we will board a ferry to Honshu Island where we will stay in a monastery in Koyasan complete with authentic Buddhist vegetarian meals. We will see life very much as a monk would in Japan.
Koyasan is the center of Shingon Buddhism, a Buddhist sect that was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi, one of the most significant personalities in Japan’s religious history.
After a vegetarian dinner at the temple, you will have the option to follow your guide at night to Okunoin's gravesite. It is the largest cemetery in Japan where the founder of Shingon Buddhism is said to be in eternal meditation. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today activities begin with reflection as we medidate with the monks of Koyasan.
Then we will go to Okunoin Temple. The gravesite is also the resting place of the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan, Kobo Daishi.
Next is Kongobuji Temple which was originally built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Nobunaga's generals during the warring era.
The pilgrimage finishes at Danjo Garan, a temple complex also belonging to Kobo Daishi's original foundations. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning we head out to the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where pilgrims have walked the forest trails for over 1000 years.
We will walk along a short section of Daimon-zaka Trail and visit the 133 meter high Nachi Waterfall, whose vertical torrent pouring over the cliff edge into the virgin forest, is said to be the highest in Japan.
We then slowly climb the pilgrim's steps to visit Seigantoji Temple, originally built in 1590, and a very picturesque 3 storied vermilion colored pagoda that creates a perfect picture of Japanese tranquility. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The pilgrimage continues to Ise Shima where the Ise Grand Shrine is located. The Ise Grand Shrine has a two-thousand-year history, is Japan's most important Shinto shrine, and serves as the centre of all Shinto shrines nationwide. At Okage Yokocho Street we can experience the townscape of a bygone era, where buildings leading to the inner shrine reproduce the architecture and atmosphere that surrounded Ise pilgrims during the Edo Period (1600-1868).
Our next stop is at Mikimoto Pearl Island where in 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto first perfected the technique of producing cultured pearls and started a now worldwide industry. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am and Osaka Kansai Airport can be reached in a three-minute walk. (Breakfast)