Rural Relaxation 2020
NOTE: The itinerary you see here is subject to adjustments and changes at the discretion of the guides (if needed).
DAY 1-3: Welcome to Shirahama - and to relaxation.
After departing your home country, we’ll provide a transfer flight from Tokyo-Haneda Airport to Nanki-Shirahama Airport. From there, you’ll be whisked to an oceanside hot spring resort. On our first day, relax, get over jetlag, and meet your fellow travelers. On day 2, we’ll head into town to check out the Sandanbeki Seaside Caves, the tatami-esque Senjojiki, and an optional stop at the Kishu Museum to learn about the history of this fascinating region. For dinner, join us at our resort for a fabulous dinner and an after-hours meetup and games hour.
Day 4: Hello HongU Taisha!
After breakfast at the onsen, we’ll head inland for the center shrine of the famous Kumano Kodo Temple Pilgrimage route, Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine! Explore the grounds and chill in a cafe, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can walk part of the pilgrimage trail past Japan’s largest torii gate! In the afternoon, we head to the scenic mountain village of Totsukawa, where we’ll have a BBQ with the locals.
Day 5: Totsukawa hospitality, legendary deities
Ready for some thrills? You’ll get those and then some in our second day in Totsukawa, where we’ll check out the town waterfalls and walk over the Tanize Suspension Bridge. Then we’ll re-board a private bus up to the holy mountain of Mt. Koya, where we will visit the mist-shrouded temples of the area, learn about the monks who founded it, and spend a night at a local temple.
Day 6: Early to sunrise, sail to sunset
We’ll get to bed early on Day 5 for Day 6, when we’ll get up early for a prayer ceremony with the monks at our host temple. After a delicious breakfast of the famed shojin ryori eaten by the monks, we’ll board an incline railway and descend into the city of Wakayama. We’ll check out the waterfront and have lunch before boarding a boat to sail over to Shikoku and the city of Tokushima. When we arrive, we’ll check in and explore the city a bit before turning in.
Day 7: Traveling tokushima
Take your pick today: explore Tokushima, visit the Naruto whirlpools, or follow your guide to the Ritsurin Gardens and Takayama Castle in Takayama City. Then regroup in Tokushima for a visit to the Awa Odori Museum and the amazing look out from the observation deck of Mt. Bizan.
After we group up with the arrivals for Part 2, we will head to the local Awa Mugishu Beer Hall for local microbrews and specialties that will make for a very warm welcome to Shikoku!
Day 8-9: The Valley Beyond!
Welcome to the Iya Valley! Once a hideout for persecuted Heike Clan members trying to evade persecution, our trip will take us up towards Mt. Tsurugi via the Narutaki Waterfall and Dogama streams. From there, we ascend to the mountain for an overnight stay. The following morning, we’ll ride up the mountain on a chair lift, and you’ll have the option to hike to the summit (~30 minutes) or just take in the view!
The adventure continues when we visit the Oku Iya Rope Bridges, where you can carefully tiptoe across the river or ride on a self-propelled pull cart (which is way more fun that it should be). Speaking of fun rides: our last stop is the amazing Iya Onsen, where the hot spring baths are an incline rail ride away and the hospitality is out of this world.
Day 10: Kochi Ki-te
After a fancy breakfast at our host onsen, we head down the mountain and into the city of Kochi. We’ll visit the city’s old castle before getting really involved with the locals at their massive Sunday market. Shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, get a quick bite to eat, or just take it all in.
Day 11: Getting Involved with rUral Life
Bid the city farewell as we hit the road again for the countryside. We’ll make our first stop in the Nakatsu Gorges, where sparkling blue waters and rock formations will lead you down winding paths past some of the best remote scenery in Shikoku. In the afternoon, we arrive at our evening lodging, where we’ll work with our hosts to fix a feast worthy of any traveler!
Day 12-13: Nakatosa and an onsen by the sea!
After breakfast, we’ll hit the road once more and make a stop at a traditional paper mill to make our own washi (Japanese paper) and see other local works of art. Speaking of art, we’ll also stop in Yusuhara to see the local architecture by famed architect Kengo Kuma at the Kumo no ue no Gallery (Gallery Above the Clouds). In the evening, we arrive at our last hot spring resort of the trip in Nakatosa to kick back and relax in those natural hot spring waters one last time.
The next day is a free day! You can relax at the resort, or head in to Nakatosa to check out their famous local market and local sake breweries.
Day 14: Return home - or keep going!
Today you return home, or you can choose to extend your trip in Tokyo or elsewhere! Talk to your guide for details.