Hosting small group guided walking tours in regional Japan.
Kumano Kodo and Koyasan
Japan’s Sacred Pilgrimage Walk – visit sacred sites through the Kumano; since ancient times Japan’s spiritual heart, a place of healing, a mystical abode of the gods.
Travel high into the Kii mountain range, to Koyasan, home of Shingon Buddhism and more than 100 Buddhist temples for over 1200 years.
Walk the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail through mountains and forests, alongside streams, past rice paddies, farms and villages, orange groves and tea plantations to the revered Kumano “Sanzen”; the three grand Shinto shrines of the Kumano.
Be touched by the serene and inspiring Kumano and take time to reflect and soak in the spirituality of Koyasan.
Nakasendo and the Kiso Valley
Japan’s historic “Kisokaido” – take a step back to a time of shoguns and samurais, and travel the Nakasendo trail through the Kiso Valley as it winds through enchanting Edo period villages.
Journey through the magnificent rolling countryside of the Kiso valley, as emperors and princesses, traders and pilgrims once did.
Meander through beautifully preserved villages and hamlets and sense what life was like in days gone by; for those who travelled the Nakasendo and for the townsfolk who lived along it.
Take in the beauty of the mountains, rivers and forests and see what inspired countless poets and artists; Basho, Hiroshige and the like. Visit the highlands of the Kaida plateau at the foot of Mount Ontake and soak in natural hot spring baths.
Join us on our next tour –
we look forward to sharing the experience with you.
Back from our second trip with Alison and Carolyn. What a special time. Just love the combination of outdoors / fabulous food / rural and forest Japan / great company / quirky and amazing accommodation / caring and convivial guides/ ahh the onsens at the end of the day! Both Alison and Carolyn are so caring and patient with us all. They love what they do. Can’t recommend these tours enough for a deep dive into walking and Japanese culture!
Highlights for me…Tea shop with Kabuki guy – loved it! Lunch in shelter between Magome and Tsumago – oishii!! Entertainment at Café Poppoya and view of Mt Ontake from there. Yamaka no yu Ryokan – so comfortable. Sweet in Tsumago – dried persimmon filling with chestnut filling. Waki Honjin in Tsumago – especially the bit about who sat where around the fire!! Greatly appreciated your notes for reference.
We walked with Alison and Carolyn on the Kumano Kodo in 2018. We chose them after considering other options as we were impressed by their personal approach and their life long love of Japan. We felt like we would be travelling with close friends rather than just making up the numbers on a tour. Our expectations were well and truly exceeded, so much so, that we booked a return tour on the Nakasendo this year. We were concerned that a similar holiday second time around may be disappointing. On the contrary it turned out to be refreshingly different and challenging thanks to Alison and Carolyn’s leadership and caring approach. If you want to be truly immersed in Japanese culture (food, Ryokans, landscape, history, etc) and want the personal touch you won’t do better than Kumano Camino.
I felt a sense of relief to begin with the group, having had some challenges with the language and communicating my needs. I felt things were well organised, fine attention to our individual and group needs. The places we visited were extremely interesting and having details around various historical or cultural matters enriched the experience. Carolyn and Alison helped make the whole group cohere and we had lots of fun together.
This is a fabulous way to discover Japan. In some ways it is a gourmet tour with walking on the side – but the walking is a highlight too. Alison and Carolyn leave nothing to chance – their attention to detail is superb. You must go!
I have now travelled the Nakasendo and Kumano trails – what a joy. We enjoyed rural inns, beautiful countryside, knowledgeable guides and gourmet food. We had fun, learned a lot about Japanese culture and history and appreciated our travel companions – all thanks to Alison and Carolyn.
I want to thank you both so much for such a wonderful experience on the Nakasendo Way. Every aspect of the trip – from your flawless pre-planning, your sharing of your knowledge of the history & stories along our journey, the uniqueness & comfort of the ryokan's, & the food (ooh the food!!) exceeded my expectations ten-fold. Walking the meandering ishidatami paths in the dappled light of the soaring cedar & cypress trees was my favourite part & I will treasure those memories for many years to come.
After almost a month in Japan where we loved every day experiencing a range of fun activities, for me the highlight was the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage trail that Carolyn and Alison guided so wonderfully. From the very beginning we knew we were in good hands. Any questions or concerns we had were expertly dealt with before, during and after the walk. Carolyn and Alison are a great team. They complement each other and to have two guides for a group of nine was such a bonus. Their love and knowledge of Japan, attention to detail, reassuring and patient ways and an ability to form a cohesive and happy group despite the differing ages and walking abilities led to a very memorable walk and new found friendships. The guides have over the years formed great relationships with the local people along the trail and we were made to feel so welcome at all of the fabulous and diverse accommodations. A major highlight of the walk was not only the beautiful scenery but the carefully prepared healthy and delicious food at every stop. This is much more than a walk. It is a wonderful cultural and gourmet experience in a safe and happy environment. I will certainly be recommending Kumano Camino tours to friends and family. Thank you Carolyn and Alison for the great adventure.
We had a really enjoyable trip to Japan (as all our friends said we would!) but the highlight was undoubtedly the Koyasan and Kumano Kodo walk. We enjoyed the opportunity to see and even participate in a side of Japan that many who follow the usual tourist routes would not see close-up: the forests, the hills, rural life and hospitality, the practice of traditional Buddhist and Shinto rites and much more. We had the opportunity to learn aspects of Japan’s history and some of its religions and customs. All of this was made available to us in a seamless, no-fuss manner although no doubt there was a lot of work done beforehand and behind the scenes with great attention to detail to ensure it ran so smoothly. Briefing notes were provided each evening along with a short discussion to help us prepare for the next day’s walk. All we had to do each day was rise, dress, eat and walk! The meals were a highlight for us. At the end of each day (and sometimes in the middle of them) there were culinary treats that introduced us to the variety and delicacy of healthy Japanese cuisine. Some of these were prepared by local people that Carolyn and Alison had developed special friendships with during their many trips to the area so we experienced plenty of warm Japanese hospitality. The mood of the group was relaxed and encouraging, very much a reflection of the way Carolyn and Alison run their tours. Individual concerns and needs were dealt with sympathetically and positively. Their enthusiasm for Japan was infectious. Getting the group together before leaving Australia – in person or via Skype – was a welcome way to break the ice and help manage everyone’s expectations. So, many thanks to you Carolyn and Alison. I can’t really think of much I’d want to change. We even had perfect autumn weather! I’d recommend the tour to anybody interested in experiencing a different side of the culture, traditions and cuisine of Japan.
Thank you both for the wonderful introduction to Japan. It really couldn’t have been better! Walking the Nakasendo Way was a perfect way to start. Firstly there was the massive advantage of your knowledge and guidance and secondly, walking through the countryside, passing through post-towns and experiencing the history was a more authentic introduction to Japan than arriving in a big city. Even if I’d done heaps of research I never could have constructed anything approaching the Tour you’ve designed. I really appreciate your fantastic trip notes, even more after the event. The experience of the ryokans and food was amazing and our daily routine became everyday life rather than a one-off touristy experience.