Japan's Kumano Kodo Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Japan
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TOQ
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

After uncovering Kyoto’s most ancient shrines and pathways, we head off the beaten track to the Kumano Kodo region; one of Japan's most remote and rewarding pilgrimage routes. This moderate walking trip focuses on beautiful scenery and nature, rural life, and following in the footsteps of religious pilgrimages on some of the country’s most historic walks. Staying in traditional ryokans along the way, this journey invites full immersion into the authentic Japanese culture and way of life. Afterwards, we visit Toba to learn about the famous Ama Divers and embark on one last pilgrimage walk on the famous Nakasendo Way, before entering back into the modern civilisation of Tokyo!

At a Glance

  • 8 nights in traditional guesthouses/ryokans in Japanese style rooms (shared bathrooms) and 5 nights in comfortable hotels (en suite)
  • 8 days guided walking 
  • Low altitude throughout with some longer steep ascents/descents
  • Travel by train, local buses and metro
  • Luggage transfers between accommodations on some walk days as required

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the beautiful and fascinating Kyoto
  • Sleep in traditional Japanese Ryokans, guesthouses and inns
  • Historic pilgrimage walks along the Kumano Kodo
  • Beautiful scenery and nature
  • Be immersed in Japanese culture off the beaten track
  • Walk the Nakasendo Way from Tsumago to Magome
  • Learn about the famous Ama divers whilst staying in Toba
  • Stay in charming Kiso Fukushima 

Is This Trip for You?

The trip is rated Activity Level 3- Moderate

In total there are 8 days with walks/hikes during the trip. You will only be required to carry your daypack during the walks. Where necessary, all main luggage will be transferred to the next accommodation during the day so your main luggage will be safely waiting for you at our next location.

The walk durations vary from a relaxed 2 hour hike up to a couple days with hikes of 7-9 hours duration. Day 5, 6, and 8 will be the most challenging in terms of the walks due to the distances and some of the terrain having some long, steep ascents and descents. Therefore, a good level of fitness is essential to take part in this trip. On some walks there may be the possibility to take a local bus to the next stop on the trip for those wishing to cut some walks short, but this won't be possible on all walks.

The trails are generally very well marked and most of the walking is on good paths, soft soil trails and part paved roads. There are some unpaved sections though. This is not a traditional point to point walking trip, there are several days where transfers are taken by bus or local train to the start points of walks and/or from the end point of walks to the next accommodation.

We spend 8 out of 13 nights in traditional guesthouses/ryokans in Japanese style rooms to be fully immersed into the Japanese traditions and culture and to stay in more remote, less visited locations. These rooms in the guesthouses/ryokans will be twin share. Private bathrooms are not common in traditional Japanese guesthouses or Japanese style rooms, so these 8 nights will have shared bathrooms. Please see the accommodation section of the trip notes for more details.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
14

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Kyoto
End City:
Tokyo

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Kyoto

    Those on the group flight will arrive into Kansai Airport and will be transferred to Kyoto. Land only clients are free to arrive at the start hotel anytime today. With about 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese cities it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development, thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. 

    This evening there will be a briefing with your leader.

    Hotel Resol Kyoto Trinity Oike Fuyacho or similar

  • Day 2

    Hike to the Kibune shrine; onto Kurama temple; return to Kyoto

    This morning we set out on our first hike to the northern mountains and the Kibune shrine, followed by the Kurama temple and hot springs. Our first stop of the day, however is going to be the Ginkakuji – Silver Pavilion. From Ginkakuji we climb up to the Daimonji mountain for an excellent view of Kyoto and then take a short train ride north to Kibune-guchi where the hike to Kibune and Kifune shrine begins.

    Kifune shrine was built upon the site where supposedly a goddess finished her long journey via a boat. The small town of Kibune sprang into existence shortly after to complement the shrine. Dedicated to the deity of water and rain, all those who seek protection and maritime safety come here to pray – especially the seamen and fishermen. The charming town is dotted with traditional restaurants and inns, with river streams running beneath the restaurant platforms. It’s an excellent opportunity to relax for a bit, especially for those that would like to escape the crowds of Kyoto.

    We then set out further on our hike for Kurama town, renowned for its Kurama temple and special hot springs. The temple is nestled deep in the woods and requires a fair bit of legwork to reach, but those who do venture to the temple are rewarded with beautiful scenery along the path. 

    We return to Kyoto for the evening where you can choose to join an optional group dinner in the Gion district if you wish.

    Hotel Resol Kyoto Trinity Oike Fuyacho or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 9 km / 6 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    300
    Activity (hours):
    3-4
  • Day 3

    Walk on the historic Yamano be no michi; one of Japan’s oldest still existing path roads

    Leaving the north of Kyoto behind, today we will embark on a journey in the opposite direction. Together we enjoy a pleasant hike on the Yamano be no michi. The path is believed to be the oldest path still in existence connecting Edo (present day Tokyo) with the western parts of Japan with a history of more than 1200 years. Starting in present day Nara and spanning through what used to be Yamato – the cradle of Japanese civilisation, the trail will take you through over 15 kilometres of distance and two millennia worth of history. Along the trail you will discover gems and relics of distant past, like the sacred shrine of Omiwa. It is believed that the shrine is the oldest one still standing in Japan, dating well back into 7th century BC. Apart from the Omiwa shrine, there are many temples and shrines dotting the trail that are worth the visit and the trail itself runs through lush forests and comfortable paths, as well as rural villages where you can experience the true Japanese hospitality as fruit vendors often offer their locally grown fresh produce to visitors to give them an extra bit of energy for hiking the trail.

    In the late afternoon you will return to Kyoto and enjoy an evening at leisure. Overnight in Kyoto.

    Hotel Resol Kyoto Trinity Oike Fuyacho or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 16 km / 10 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    160
    Activity (hours):
    5-6
  • Day 4

    Morning walk to the Fushimi Inari Shrine; free time in Kyoto before train to Tanabe

    Today we make an early start to visit the arguably most iconic sight of Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine. The common folk have worshipped the deity of good harvest and good business since as early as the 7th century. Inari – the deity that feed, clothes and protects households became immensely popular over the centuries and shrines dedicated to this deity are the most numerous in Japan.

    Even today, to show gratitude for good business as well as to beckon good fortune in future endeavours businessmen and entrepreneurs from all corners of Japan donate a so called Torii arch to the shrine in hope of gaining the continuous favour of the deity. Although this custom is fairly recent, the mountain path through the shrine is dotted with thousands of the torii arches. This makes for a wonderful morning stroll at the break of dawn. An early start and beating the crowds is recommended, otherwise you will have to compete with the hundreds and thousands of visitors Fushimi Inari attracts on a daily basis. After the hike we return to the hotel. The rest of the morning is free for visiting some of the famous sights in Kyoto such as the Imperial Palace, Nijo castle or the Golden Pavillion and lunch.

    In the afternoon we leave Kyoto by train and head to Kumano Kodo, a series of ancient pilgrimage routes, dating back to over 1,000 years, when Japan's imperial ancestors made pilgrimage trips from Kyoto. Located in the Kii Peninsula, the largest in Japan, the trails along Kumano Kodo are an incredible site for hiking.

    By train we reach Tanabe city on the coast at the tip of the Kii peninsula, where we spend the night in this rural seaside town.

    Hotel Hanaya or similar

     

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 4 km / 3 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    200
    Activity (hours):
    2
  • Day 5

    Start walking the Kumano Kodo; a series of ancient pilgrimage routes. Bus transfer to Takajiri-oji; Hike to Nonaka passing Takahara village

    After an early breakfast, we take a bus to Takijiri-oji, the starting point of the pilgrimage from where we make our way on foot to Takahara. This is the steepest part of the trail, leading to Takahara Shrine, a Shinto shrine surrounded by ancient camphor trees. From the shrine, we walk towards Takahara Village, also called “kiri-no-sato” (village in the fog), a small quiet town with rice terraces and surrounded by forests.

    The trail continues upwards until we reach the teahouse named Uwadawa-jaya, from where the trail begins to descend, passing by ruin shrines and small villages of Osakamoto-oji and Chikatsuyu-oji, crossing Kitano-bashi Bridge, and following the road to Nonaka-no-Shimizu, a source of potable water that also belongs to the Top 100 Famous Bodies of Water in Japan.

    Around Nonaka-no-Shimizu area, the group will be staying in a minshuku, a traditional family-style inn that offers Japanese-style rooms. Your dinner will feature some local specialties from the Kumano Kodo region.

    Please note, due to the smaller sizes of accommodation in this location, bigger groups may be accommodated across two minshuku inns this evening. However, the group will still have meals together in one of the accommodations in that case.

    As our hike tomorrow is a bit longer and more challenging, it is highly suggested to turn in early. 

    Minshuku Chikatsuyu/ Manmaru Inn or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1260
    Activity (hours):
    7-9
  • Day 6

    Walk in the forest, crossing rivers and ancient shrines; transfer by local bus to Yunomine Onsen

    Today we start with a short 10 minute bus ride to the start of our hike. We first start walking uphill, and head towards the woods to see Tsugizakura-oji, a sub-shrine located at the top of steep stairs leading into a thick forest of huge cedar trees that are believed to be almost a century old. Next to the entrance of Tsugizakura-oji, we will find Toganoki-jaya, a replica of a traditional Japanese-style teahouse. 

    We then continue with a slow ascent to Kobiro-toge pass, followed by a relatively downward trail along a series of paved and unpaved paths, passing Jagata-jizo, which is believed to protect the travelers from evil spirits, a couple river crossings and passing by thick forests of cedar and cypress trees until we reach Kumano Hongu Taisha, the head shrine of more than 3,000 Shinto shrines in the Kumano area.

     After visiting the shrine, we transfer by local bus to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest and most crucial hot spring resorts in Japan as it used to be the place where pilgrims cleansed themselves before praying at Kumano Hongu Taisha.

    Tonight you will stay at a ryokan, another traditional Japanese-style inn, where you will sleep on a futon, have access to the public onsen, and enjoy your bento style dinner.

    Iseya Ryokan or similar

     

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 18 km / 11 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1331
    Activity (hours):
    7-9
  • Day 7

    Follow the old spiritual path from Ukegawa to Koguchi; transfer to Kawayu Onsen; enjoy views of the surrounding Kumano mountain range

    After breakfast we take a bus from Yunomine Onsen to Ukegawa where today's hike (mainly along unpaved road) will commence.

    Today during the hike we pass by the remains of an old teahouse called Matsuhata-jaya and Hyakken-gura, one of the top spots in Wakayama to see the surrounding Kumano mountain range, which consists of around 3,600 peaks.

    From here we continue on a mainly level road towards the remains of the Sakura-jaya teahouse, before descending from the hills, along a path with cobblestones that can be slippery especially if wet or covered with moss. At the foot of the hill, we should find some small prayer tablets that have been left there by other spiritual hikers as offerings. We continue onto Koguchi, the end of today's walk where we take a bus via Kanmaru to Kawayu onsen. This place is famous for the hot spring beside the river. 

    Omuraya Ryokan or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 13 km / 8 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    670
    Activity (hours):
    5-6
  • Day 8

    Walk past historic sites and wonderful views to Nachi Falls and Kumano Nachi Taisha, one of the Kumano Kodo’s main pilgrimage destinations

    This morning we rise very early return to Koguchi to begin our hike. Today’s trail is one of the most challenging sections of Kumano Kodo – it will take us through forested hills and along unpaved roads. However, a series of historical sites and wonderful views awaits as we pass by Waroda- ishi rock (where the Kumano deities are believed to meet and chat over tea), through the woods of Irokawatsuji, and over Funami-toge Pass, where we have a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

    After hiking for almost 8 hours, we arrive in Nachi. Here we will see Nachi Falls, the highest waterfall in Japan, and pay a visit to Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine.

    Later in the afternoon you will transfer by local bus (approx. 30 minutes) to Katsuura, staying at a Japanese Inn on the beautiful islet dotted Katsuura Bay, where you will be able to enjoy listening to the ocean waves and relax after completing our hikes along the memorable Kumano Kodo.

    Hotel Sunrise Katsuura or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1260
    Activity (hours):
    8
  • Day 9

    Travel by train to Toba, located in the rural Mie prefecture; learn about the famous Ama divers on Mikimoto Pearl Island

    After having your breakfast, get ready for a short walk to return to Katsuura station on foot (with your luggage), from where we begin our journey by train to Toba, located in the neighbouring Mie Prefecture.

    The rural Mie Prefecture is famous for its forested landscapes and Mediterranean looking coastlines. The area is also famous for producing some of the freshest seafood in Japan and, in its waters, pearl cultivation has become an important activity.

    Upon arrival in Toba, we store our luggage safely at the station before having lunch and walking a short distance across to Mikimoto Pearl Island where we will learn all about pearl cultivation and the life of the Ama divers. These female divers are famous for their century's long tradition of diving for pearls without oxygen masks and here we will be able to witness an Ama diver demonstration.

    Afterwards, we continue to the area of Osatsu in Toba where we spend the next 2 nights at a ryokan in Japanese style rooms.

    Ryokan Otaya or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    Osatsu village followed by lunch at the Ama hut; visit Ise Shrine

    This morning there will be the opportunity to relax in the ryokan or enjoy a walk around the local neighbourhood where there may be the chance to visit a local shrine and temple or in warmer weather, enjoy a swim at the local sandy beach.

    Late morning, we take a short walk to visit the hut of an Ama diver, who will prepare a grilled seafood meal.

    After lunch, we continue to the Ise Shrine by train, one of the most sacred areas for the Shinto religion and a favourite pilgrimage destination for Japanese people.

    Just a short walk away, the picturesque district of Okage-Yokocho offers a great outlook on the traditional side of the area with its quaint shops selling local arts and crafts as well as food before returning to our ryokan.

    Tonight we spend our second evening in Toba.

    Ryokan Otaya or similar

     

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    Scenic train journey to charming Kiso Fukushima

    A long and scenic train journey with one change today takes us to Kiso Fukushima in about 4.5 hours. 

    Upon arrival at Kiso Fukushima, we take a short orientation tour with our leader. Kiso-Fukushima is a delightful town in Nagano Prefecture on the railway line between Nagoya and Matsumoto in central Japan and is located roughly half-way along the Nakasendo.

    Kiso-Fukushima was an important checkpoint on the route, and its historic sekisho, or barrier station, is one of only two on the Nakasendo. The Fukushima Sekisho-ato (checkpoint) is where travellers on the Nakasendo were made to wait and present their passes to travel on the highway. The Tokugawa regime was on the look-out for guns and women travelling in disguise; the daimyo (feudal lords) were forced to leave their wives and children in the capital of Edo as virtual hostages under a policy known as sankin-kotai.

    Across the Kiso River from the Fukushima Sekisho-ato is Kozenji Temple with an attractive rock garden. Kozenji Temple is free to enter and lovely especially in autumn.

    We spend the next 2 nights in Kiso Fukushima in a Japanese style rooms at a simple family-run ryokan.

    Ryokan Sarashinaya or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 12

    Walk a section of the ancient Nakasendo Way from Tsumago to Magome

    After an early breakfast, we travel by train to Nagiso in about 50 minutes. Upon arrival at Nagiso Station, we take a short ride on a local bus to Tsumago, a well-preserved post town.

    Tsumago was in its Golden Era during the time when merchants and other noble and prominent people frequently passed through for trade and other formal appointments. 

    From Tsumago we start the journey to Magome, one of the post towns that flourished in the Edo Period. The trail that runs from Tsumago to Magome is perhaps the most popular section of Nakasendo. This ancient trail can be completed in about 3 hours, including some quick breaks. After concluding the trail, ride a bus to Nakatsugawa, and then a train back to Kiso Fukushima in just over one hour.

    Ryokan Sarashinaya or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 8 km / 5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    370
    Activity (hours):
    3
  • Day 13

    Train to Tokyo; free time to explore

    After breakfast we embark on our last scenic train journey to Tokyo in a little over 3 hours and 1 change along the way. If weather conditions permit we may catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji on the way. We recommend to buy a bento on the way for lunch as the journey is about 3 hours. Your leader will be able to advise.

    After check in at our hotel you have a few hours to explore Tokyo before an optional farewell dinner.

    Hotel Dormy Inn Kodenmacho or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Tokyo

    For land only clients, the trip ends this morning after breakfast. Those on the group flights back to London will be transferred by shared shuttle in the late afternoon/early evening (depending on flight schedule) in time to check in for their flight. Land only clients also have a free shared shuttle departure on the day the trip ends included to either Haneda or Narita airport. The free shared shuttle departure transfer must be requested in advance with Exodus before departure if you wish to utilise this service (all requests are subject to availability and must be confirmed before departure). It is not possible to request this service once a trip has commenced.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Traditional Ryokans/Guesthouses and Hotels

During the trip you will spend 8 nights in traditional guesthouses/ryokans in Japanese style rooms (shared bathrooms) and 5 nights in comfortable hotels (en suite). 

For 8 nights during the trip we stay in ryokans; comfortable traditional inns where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. Ryokans, whilst comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels and do all have their own unique style; some are more like Japanese B&B's with a homestay feel and guests make their own Japanese style beds up, whilst others are managed more like a standard hotel with bedding made up for guests. Rooms do not generally have private facilities and bedding is usually in the Japanese style with thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. Rooms are always doubles or twin-share but bathrooms and showers are generally communal. Please be advised, whilst females and males will be have access to seperate gender specific bathrooms, inside showering and bathing facilities can lack the level of privacy you would be used to in a western style shared bathroom. This is very common in Japan and by staying in mostly traditional ryokans, there is the chance to have a very authentic cultural experience throughout the tour.

On day 5 of the tour, the groups will stay in Nonaka-Chikatsuyu. Please note, due to the smaller sizes of accommodation in this area, bigger groups may be accommodated across two minshuku inns in a neighbouring village (5 minute drive). However, the group will still have meals together in one of the accommodations if bigger groups stay in two inns.

In Kyoto, Tanabe and Tokyo, groups will be accommodated in comfortable hotels (Western style) with rooms that have private bathrooms. 

Please be advised that the accommodation listed in each location of the day to day itinerary are the standard accommodations used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at different accommodations of a similar standard.

Please be advised single supplements are very limited and only available 5 nights of the trip- (3 nights Kyoto, 1 night Katsuura and 1 night Tokyo). Please advise at time of booking you would like to request a single supplement (subject to availability). In Japan, often single supplements can be accommodated in either an actual single and/or double for sole use room in hotels.

Onsen (Japanese public bath)
For many visitors to Japan the onsen is a somewhat unfamiliar territory. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. The combination of a strict bathing etiquette, that nudity is involved and compulsory, and that the water temperature is often hotter than most Jacuzzis can cause some reluctance for first timers. However, once the courage is mustered, you may discover that a dip in an onsen is likely to become one of the highlights of your visit to Japan. We will have the opportunity to try onsens on a few occasions throughout the trip. Please be aware you may be refused entry if you have large and visible tattoos. Some accommodations may have private baths available for reservation.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from 755,65 €

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 9 dinners are included. 

Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat).

The included breakfasts at the traditional guesthouses/ryokans/inns are likely to be Japanese style.

The included lunches will mostly consist of bento boxes enjoyed during the walks or in some instances may be taken in small eateries where available.

The included dinners are usually taken at ryokans (traditional guesthouses) which may include a kaiseki style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will always be on hand to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine. 

Please note that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. However in Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  It may also be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs that you normally consume, or to supplement meals with snacks purchased in the local convenience stores.

Please advise us at time of booking you have any specific dietary requirements.

Transportation

Transport will be by train, local buses and metro. It is worth mentioning that the trains in Japan are both highly efficient and very comfortable so punctuality on the part of Exodus passengers is requested throughout. Please note that you will be required to carry your own baggage on and off frequently used trains and buses and through stations.

There will be some days during the hiking days where luggage is transferred from one accommodation to the next so you do not have to carry your main luggage during any of the hikes.

As this trip stays in many smaller, rural locations, there will be short walks involved from stations/bus stops to accommodations where needed.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Japan has four very distinct seasons. Our aim has been to avoid the extremely cold winters and humid summers and settle for the more pleasant climes of spring and autumn. In Tokyo, September and October are warm, maximum temperatures are 26ºC and minimum 12ºC. September is likely to be the warmer of the two (particularly the first half of September can be quite warm) and there is a likelihood of rain. March is cooler with temperatures possibly going as low as 7ºC with a high of 17ºC. Kyoto is very similar climatically to Tokyo but the higher up into the mountains we venture, the colder it will become with nights being especially cold, particularly in March and October.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Emirates Airlines or Air France (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Kyoto and ending in Tokyo

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Kyoto in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights who will be taking a private transfer from Kansai airport to Kyoto on arrival.

If you are travelling on a different flight, arriving before or at the same time as the group and you would like to join the group transfer, please request it at least 6 weeks prior departure. The cost of this transport is included in the trip price if you are able to meet the group and your leader on time. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense. 

Kansai International Airport is situated on a man‐made island in Osaka Bay about 40 km from central Osaka. The easiest and fastest option when traveling between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto independently is the train. The Limited Express Haruka operated by JR West is the only rail service between Kyoto Station and Kansai International Airport. It covers the distance in about 75-80 minutes and it runs regularly approximately every 30 minutes. The normal fare is around 2850 JPY. For up‐to‐date info on prices and timetables and to book tickets, please ask the Travel Desk of Kansai Tourist Information Centre. This is located on the first floor of the Terminal 1 building. 

Private transfers are not available on this trip.

Further information will be provided in the final joining instructions which will be sent to you 2 to 3 weeks before departure.

Location start:
Kyoto
Location end:
Tokyo

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Daypack 
  • Water bottle (1-2 litre capacity at least)
  • Rain gear in case of wet weather
  • Thermal layer of clothing and warm jacket
  • Woolly hat and gloves during the cooler months
  • Strong hiking boots with good ankle support
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses & hat
  • Basic first aid kit/items

We suggest a strong holdall or suitcase (ideally with wheels) for your main luggage plus a reasonably sized, easy-to-carry daypack as there will be some short walks from stations to accommodation through out the trip.

Bringing Medication into Japan for Personal Use: It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the UK, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. For more information please contact the Japan Embassy.

Optional Equipment

  • Walking poles
  • Mosquito repellent

Practical Information

Passport

Japan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. South African passport holders do require a visa; but it is worth all nationalities verifying visa requirements directly at your embassy before travel.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Ticks are known to be present in this region and can carry Lyme disease, Tick-Borne Encephalitis and other diseases. Please take care to protect yourself. You can read more about ticks here.

Vaccination

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Japan's Timezone:
Asia/Tokyo JST (GMT +09:00)

Electricity

Japan's Electricity:

100 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs (US style). Most battery chargers function at this voltage, but do check their documentation.

Money

Japan's Currency

The national currency of Japan is the Yen (JPY), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2020) of approximately 136 to the GBP, 105 to the USD, 80 to the CAD, 123 to the EUR, 74 to the AUD and 69 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

We recommend obtaining some Yen (JPY) before travelling to Japan, although you should check the exchange rate carefully.  Japan is a very safe country and locals often carry around large amounts without problems. Alternatively, if you decided to travel with US dollars or Pound sterling exchange facilities are fairly widely available, including at the airport on arrival, and it is also possible to change money in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Major credit cards are not accepted everywhere (although chain electronic shops generally accept Visa and it is becoming more common) and not all ATM's are international debit card compatible. To withdraw directly from an international account (non-Japanese) using a debit card, the post office or 7‐Eleven & other popular convenience stores ATM machines are the best option. 

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You should allow around GBP 20-25 (USD 25-32) a day to cover the cost of food and drink when not included. It is possible to eat more cheaply than this, or to spend considerably more, depending on the standard of restaurant chosen.

A certain amount should be allowed for optional entrance fees and bus/ taxi fares not included in the itinerary. The cost of these will of course vary according to individual preferences but a figure of around GBP 80/ USD 100 is reasonable.

 

Tipping

Tipping locals for services is not expected or required in Japan, so you do not need to budget for tipping in restaurants or hotels - don't be surprised if your money is returned if you do try to leave a tip.

However, if you feel that your leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services - the amount you give is entirely personal and at each individual's discretion, but we suggest as a rough guide of GBP 2-3 per day is a good starting point.

Responsible Tourism

 We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • Guests will have the opportunity to stay in traditional family-run Japanese guesthouses (ryokans/minshukus) on many nights of the trip, where they will eat delicious home cooked, traditional Japanese meals prepared by locals.
  • When visiting Toba, we learn about the life of Ama divers and get to witness a fishing demonstration by them. With the fresh seafood caught, clients can enjoy a grilled seafood lunch in a traditional Ama diver hut. Being an Ama diver holds a life-threatening risk and this thereby discourages younger generation to carry on this tradition. But our visit helps support and preserve the Ama diving community and traditions that are at the brink of extinction.
  • With a strong emphasis on culture and history, this trip provides plenty of opportunities to visit various museums, cultural sites & shrines. Our visits to these sites will benefit the locals and contributes to the preservation of their cultural assets through the money spent on entrance fees and other purchases made within the area. 

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment. On many nights of the trip, especially when walking the Kumano Kodo, the group stays overnight at family-run traditional guesthouses often located off  the beaten track.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste. For example, we encourage eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead encourage clients to drink the tap water, which is safe to drink in Japan. We encourage all clients to take a refillable water bottle with them on the tour.
  • During the tour, our guides educate guests on how to appropriately separate and dispose of any waste, as well as encouraging clients to use reusable chopsticks and canvas tote bags for shopping.

 Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • We choose to travel predominantly by public transport through-out this trip as opposed to private transport throughout or taking domestic flights.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary mostly use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at  the majority of accommodation and restaurants.
  • Most accommodations used on this trip adhere to strict environmental policies in order to save water and energy and lower their carbon footprint.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip. Tap water in Japan is safe for drinking, hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles for this purpose and minimise our usage of single use plastic bottles.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Shoes are never worn in someone's home or on Japanese tatami flooring (mats). There will always be a place to put your shoes. In addition, you will be given slippers to wear. There are often different slippers for the bathroom.
    • It is highly inappropriate to stick chopsticks into food, especially into a bowl of rice. This practice of placing chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is a funerary practice known as ‘tsukitate-bashi’. 
    • When eating soup or rice, it is acceptable to lift the bowl closer to your mouth to avoid spilling food. Generally, miso soup (which accompanies many meals) is drunk directly from the bowl, while larger soups are usually consumed by using a soup spoon.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Important Notes

In line with our ‘book and travel with confidence’ promise which allows you to cancel free of charge up to 42 days prior to departure, or transfer to another trip free of charge up to 21 days prior to your trip starting in country,  please be aware that this excludes ‘irrecoverable costs’. Details can be found here: https://www.exodus.co.uk/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions

 

For this trip, the irrecoverable costs related to in-country operations are outlined below, if booking flight inclusive your sales agent will confirm the terms related to your international flights at the time of booking.

If cancellation occurs 21 days or up to 24 hours prior to departure:
Accommodation and Train Tickets    £409.59 / US$514.75 / CA$686.34 / AU$719.55 / €453.87

Costs are accurate at the time of writing in September 2020

 

If you need to cancel your trip because you or a member of your party is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has received a request from the Government to self-isolate, you will receive a full refund less these irrecoverable costs.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.