Japan: Make like a pilgrim on sacred trails in the Kii Mountains
Camino de Santiago is a well-traveled trek in northern Spain that Christians have followed for centuries. Lesser known is the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage in Japan, a series of Buddhist shrines linked by ancient trails in the Kii Mountains.
These are the only two routes on the UNESCO World Heritage list of culturally important places on the planet.
Those who want to take the road much less traveled can join WalkJapan on a nine-day tour next fall that begins in Osaka and walks the pilgrimage route.
Participants take a train to Koyasan to begin a week of travels that will cover about 62 miles through forested paths to mountain shrines and temples to learn about religious traditions, past and present.
Stops include Tanabe, Takahara, Tsugizakura, Hongu, Koguchi and Ise. The tour is suitable for those who can walk four to six hours each day in hilly areas with some steep climbs too (read a full description of the route).
When: Walks depart Nov. 13 and 20, with additional spring and fall dates available in 2015.
Price: About $3,200 per person, double occupancy. It includes tour guides, most meals, lodgings and ground transportation. International airfare is extra.
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