DAY 12 Hiroshima - Koyasan
This morning, get up early and head to the next destination. Home to over 100 temples, Koyasan has been the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect, for over 1,200 years. Koyasan, and its vicinity, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
The journey to Koyasan is one of the highlights of the visit, with the final ascent being on a cable car, which offers one of the most scenic journeys in Japan, as it winds its way up to the mountains.
Meet the guide at Koyasan Station and spend the afternoon exploring a couple of popular sites that give an insight to Japanese Buddhism.
Visit Kongobu-ji, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism and home to Japan’s largest rock garden. On rare occasions, guests might witness a small group of worshippers led by a monk chanting some scripts in front of the temple.
Continue on to Okuno-in, Japan’s largest cemetery that holds the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi. The classic approach starts from Ichinohashi Bridge and stretches up to 2 km, filled with more than 200,000 tombstones that belong to feudal lords, prominent monks, and even well-known Japanese companies. Gokusho Offering Hall, Torodo Hall of Lanterns, and Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum are located at the end of the trail.
Afterwards, you will be escorted to Soji-in (temple lodge). This luxurious temple lodging offers insight into the traditional life of the local Buddhist monks of the mountaintop temple town of Koyasan. The delightful traditional Japanese rooms, some of which equipped with private bathrooms are perfect for anyone looking to experience Japanese tradition without renouncing creature comforts.
During the temple stay, you will have the chance to savour that delectable Buddhist cuisine known as shojin ryori. This sophisticated and traditional dining style, pioneered by Zen Buddhist monks in Japan, is prepared with the utmost care and artistry, using the freshest, most seasonal ingredients. Shojin ryori follows the principles of the Zen Buddhist tradition, and can thus be enjoyed by everyone.
Ensuite western style
DAY 13 Koyasan - Osaka
To have a complete experience of Koyasan, joining the Morning Prayer, which usually starts at 6:00 am, is highly recommended. Be immersed in the calming chants of the monks inside the prayer hall (prayers are only in Japanese but some priests provide a simple explanation in English at the end of the ceremony).
Afterwards, proceed to the dining room for a shojin ryori breakfast.
Travel by train to Osaka for a last night, Japan's culinary capital. Osaka’s flamboyance, fun-loving people, and amazing food make up for what it lacks in tourist attractions.
Optional Tour: Flavours of Osaka (Additional Cost Applies)
Today's tour begins at 4:45 pm. Osaka is an epicurean's delight. Indeed, the motto that the city's exuberant inhabitants live by is Kuiadore - "to eat oneself bankrupt." The first stop will be at a street food stall to get a taste of some traditional Japanese snack food, menchi katsu. Menchi katsu is a breaded and deep-fried patty made of ground meat. Golden and crisp, this is a local favourite. Next, head to a standing bar to enjoy the ambience and taste a selection of sake and Japanese wine, along with delicious house specialities. Then, head to a restaurant specialising in wagyu beef dishes. Often referred to as the most expensive beef in the world, wagyu beef is of a superb quality, and is on many a gourmet’s wish list. Enjoy the melt-in-the-mouth textures with a refreshing cocktail. The final stop will be to try a new style of tempura in an eatery tucked away in a small alleyway. Old favourites such as shrimp tempura, and more experimental combinations such as asparagus tempura and cheese can be found on the menu. Bid farewell to the affable guide, and either return to the hotel or go for a stroll around the neighbourhood to take in the sights. Tour starts at 4:45 pm, approx. 3.5 hours duration
You check into the French style luxury accommodationThe St. Regis Osaka, located in the heart of Midosuji, Osaka's upscale district and most coveted address. Indeed, the neighbourhood is known as the Champs Elysées of Osaka and features exclusive boutique shopping areas. Rooms and suites are elegant, tastefully designed and beautifully-appointed, and feature French marble bathrooms and rainfall showers that provide a perfect setting for guests to luxuriate in.
King / Twin shared
Ensuite western style
St. Regis Osaka (Deluxe Room)
DAY 14 Departure from Osaka
The rest of the day is free for leisure. Enjoy a private transfer to Kansai International Airport (KIX) to meet your departing flight.
* This itinerary is provided as an example only - prevailing conditions and local arrangements may cause variation.