Japan: Koya-san & Kumano Kodo Trek

Trip Code: CJXK

Why we love it

Explore Kyoto on a couple of nearby hikes for a different perspective on the life and culture in this notable city, as well as visiting some sites of natural and religious significance., Experience two of the main religions in Japan – Buddhism and Shintoism – by following the footsteps of ancient pilgrims on their quest for faith along the Koya-san and Kumano Kodo trails., Discover two of the major cultural hubs of Japan on foot, walking the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto and strolling through the Dotombori district in Osaka., Join in on the morning prayers and share a traditional shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian) meal during an overnight temple stay in Koya-san, deep in mountainous Wakayama prefecture., Soak in an ancient onsen after a day of trekking in Yunomine – there's no better way in Japan to relax and rejuvenate, as well as understand local cultures, than in the natural mineral waters of a hot spring.

Is this trip right for me?

The active nature of this trip means that the fitter you are, the more you will be able to enjoy it. It is expected that travellers joining this trip will have had some experience hiking before joining this tour. On some hikes you will need to be able to carry your overnight pack on the trail because we will forward your luggage to the next destination. Hiking distances vary from 3-15km per day with no more elevation change than 60-900m on one hike.

The hikes on the Koya-san trail and Kumano Kodo include sections rather than the whole trail, which gives you an experience of the trails without needing to commit to multiple days of strenuous trek-king.

In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan – which is a Japanese-style inn with shared facilities. It’s a great taste of tradition, but not everyone finds futon mattresses on tatami mat flooring, small bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more Western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our ‘Accommodation’ section of the Essential Trip Information.

Important information

1. As this is an active hiking trip you will need to have an excellent level of fitness. Please read the itinerary carefully to make sure that you'll be able to make the most of the activities on this trip and enjoy an active adventure in Japan.
2. Your luggage will be forwarded to the next destination at different points of the trip, but you'll still need to be able carry a small day pack during the hiking.
3. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
4. We are currently unable to book pre or post tour accommodation at our start & finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan.
5. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. If you are planning to travel in Japan before or after your trip you will need to purchase your own Japan Rail Pass in advance or individual tickets in country.
6. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage over 160-250cm may require an additional 1000 JPY oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is over 160-250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.
Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.
If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.
A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:
- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.
- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.
- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, flight tickets and trip notes. Photocopies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt
- Sun protection like a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:
- Refillable water bottle (1.5-litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug
- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and a small towel
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Torch or flashlight esp. for stay at local guesthouses or homestays

Optional:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Earplugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

Other things to consider:

- Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash, MAIN LUGGAGE
On this trip you will need to carry your own luggage for up to 30 minutes at a time. Train stations are quite complex and usually require a lot of stair climbing, especially when doing a quick transfer from train to train. Elevators aren't always available and cannot accommodate many people at a time, so if you are choosing to bring a suitcase, please ensure you are able to lift and carry it up and down stairs yourself without difficulty. A backpack is often preferred by travellers for this reason. Our ryokans allow suitcases but you'll need to carry instead of wheeling it onto the tatami floor in the room. Japanese public transport is often quite small and cramped without large luggage racks for big suitcases (even on the shinkansen trains), so it's best to pack as light and small as possible so that you are not blocking aisles or taking up extra seats on trains. If you have a lot of luggage you may need to use luggage forwarding services. These are economical and efficient - please speak to your leader if you need to get your baggage to another destination in Japan.

DAY PACK
A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations, while on public transport as well as for any shorter overnight stays will be useful.

Physical rating

3

The walking on this trip is over easy to moderate terrain and distances covered can vary from 5 to 20 km (please check day descriptions for details). Some of the walks are circular but some can be out-and-back walks. Be prepared for daily ascents and descents, sometimes with short, steep sections. Terrain can be rocky with loose gravel, or with roots, which may become slippery when wet. This tour is ideal for nature lovers and the leaders set an even pace, providing time to take photos and to appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

Joining your group

Oriental Hotel Kyoto Gallery, 1-423 Suzaku-cho, Higashiyama-ku 京都市東山区朱雀町 1丁目 423番, Kyoto, Japan, Kyoto, JAPAN, Phone: +81 755418111

Oriental Hotel Kyoto Gallery is located near the Kamogawa River a few blocks north of Kyoto Station, and approx. 800m away from the main Higashiyama temple precinct and Gion disctrict. Shijo Street, with its many shops, cafes, restaurants as well as Nishiki Market, is also accessible by foot (approx. 1.5km away). The famous red torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine are only four stops away by train from Kiyomizu Gojo Station on the Keihan line.

Joining instructions

Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from the two airports in the Kansai region (Kansai Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport) to your hotel in Kyoto. We can also book a shared airport shuttle bus service if you prefer.

Shared Airport Shuttle Bus Service
Please consult with your booking agent well in advance if you are interested in this option. Note that any late requests or changes may not be able to be accommodated particularly in the peak seasons unfortunately. The shuttle bus service we use for both airports is MK Shuttle Bus, and as this is a shared shuttle bus service, your bus will stop at different hotels on the way to drop off other passengers.
If you're arriving at Kansai Airport (KIX) and have booked the shuttle bus service with us, you’ll need to go to the MK counter which is located near Gate H on the first floor in Terminal 1. (Note if you have arrived at Terminal 2, you’ll need to take the free airport bus to Terminal 1.) Here are the maps for the MK counter at both terminals at KIX: http://mk-group.co.jp/english/images/map_kix1.pdf OR http://mk-group.co.jp/english/images/map_kix2.pdf
If you're arriving at Itami Airport and have booked the shuttle bus service with us, you’ll need to go to the MK counter located in the North Terminal Arrival Hall. (Note if you have arrived at the South Terminal, you’ll need to walk to the North Terminal). Here is the map for the MK counter at Itami: http://mk-group.co.jp/english/images/map_itm.pdf
Please note that only one suitcase and a carry-on are included in the one-way fare for this service. Extra charges will apply if you have more than one suitcase (Kansai Airport: JPY 1,000/piece, Itami Airport: JPY 500/piece).
If you're having any trouble locating MK, please ask at the airport information desk. For any other problems with your airport transfer on arrival, please contact our ground team in our Kyoto office on their emergency phone at +81 70 1771 5588.

Public Transport
If you prefer to make your own way to the hotel from Kansai Airport (KIX), there are connections either by express train or limousine bus to Kyoto Station and then by taxi or subway to Oriental Hotel Kyoto Gallery. From the airport, you could either take the express airport train (Haruka Airport Express, approx. JPY3,600 and 75 mins) or the limousine bus (approx. JPY2,500 and 85-100 mins). Best to check final departure times for either if you're arriving late at night. If you're travelling from Itami Airport to Kyoto, the limousine bus costs approx. JPY1,300 and takes 55 mins. (If you miss this last bus, go to the information desk at Itami Airport to ask about train options.)
On arrival at Kyoto Station, you can then hop in a taxi to the hotel (under JPY1,000) or take a subway one stop to Gojo Station on the Karasuma Line, and then a 10 minute walk. Please check the map on the hotel's website: https://kyotogallery.oriental-hotels.com/en/ If you're having any problems finding the hotel, ring the hotel directly (you can use one of Japan's green public phones with coins of JPY10 or JPY100).

Finishing your trip

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi, 1-10-24, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 大阪府大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-10-24, Osaka, Osaka, 542-0086, JAPAN, Phone: +81 649636501

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi is centrally located in Osaka, just a 3-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station subway line and a 10-minute walk from the famous Glico Man advertising sign. It's a convenient location for exploring the sights of Osaka.

Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from your hotel to the two international airports in the Kansai region (Kansai Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport). Kansai Airport (KIX) is about 50km southwest of Osaka and Itami is about 12km northwest. Please talk with your leader or consult with the hotel's reception desk or check the hotel website for more transport details: http://bridge-h.co.jp/en/access/

Please note that we are currently not able to provide any shared shuttle bus service from the two airports to your hotel in Osaka.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 6

Lunches included: 2

Dinners included: 4

FOOD IN JAPAN
The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (ie. in flavourings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetable ones), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research before travelling about some of the options that might be available to them. While our leaders will assist you whenever they can, there may be some included meals that are fixed in advance and not flexible, such as those included at ryokans, and cannot be modified for different diets. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, still your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.

Food and drink are such a high part of Japanese culture. Here are some links to get your tastebuds tingling:
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-convenience-store-food/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-tokyo-alleyways-locals-guide/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/eat-and-drink-like-a-local-in-japan/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegetarian-vegan-travel-japan/

Climate & seasonal information

PEAK TRAVEL TIMES
Please be aware that while travelling during major national holidays (late Apr to early May) and peak seasons in Japan (Apr-May/Sep–Oct) are fascinating and exciting times to travel, there are also some downsides. There will be huge crowds at most tourist attractions and on all public transport. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train tickets at our usual preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic jams and changes to the itinerary without prior notice can be necessary. If you decide to travel during peak periods come with a sense of adventure and flexibility and we are sure that your experience will still be rewarding and memorable.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +81 70 1771 5588

Accommodations

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

RYOKANS
Japanese-style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons or matresses on tatami mat floors, with bedding often packed away during the day. Attached bathrooms/toilets will usually be very small and many ryokans will only have shared bathing facilities with certain hours, or times available for booking at reception. Your leader will explain etiquette involved in using the shared facilities. As this style of accommodation will often not have furniture (ie. chairs or beds) in the rooms, please consider choosing a different trip style in Japan if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues. Some ryokans may have a curfew when travellers need to be back in the accommodation - this is usually around midnight. Please also be aware that you would normally be required to change to slippers when entering into your room in a ryokan. Hotels and ryokans will charge extra fees if dirty marks are left on their beddings or towels that require professional cleaning.

Read more about ryokans here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-japanese-ryokan/

AVAILABILITY
The recent huge increase in tourism to Japan has put a lot of pressure on accommodation. On occasion, we may need to change accommodation from what is listed in the itinerary in order to operate your departure with minimal changes.

ONSENS
We like to encourage travellers to visit traditional Japanese 'onsens' while in the country as it is a quintessential local experience. In public onsens this means bathing naked with others of the same gender. While the experience can feel strange at first for some, most of our groups end up enjoying this activity. There is very specific etiquette for visiting onsens - your leader can give you some tips and instructions. Please be aware that travellers with tattoos may not be permitted to enter public onsens. Private onsens may also be available - talk to your leader for more information. See our guide to onsens here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/japan-onsen-guide/

Transportation


Privacy Preference Center