The island archipelago of Japan is a land of contrasting harmonies, and this ever present quality becomes a prevailing condition of our journey. The juxtaposition of nature and tradition against technology and development presents the backdrop for an adventure for a lifetime. From the busy seaport of Osaka to the sacred island precinct of Miyajima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, our group of paddlers will come to understand firsthand the complexities of this island nation. This is a voyage we have been taking since the late 90's and we have formed long lasting relationships with the local people, businesses, and the areas in which we paddle. Our group will participate in a traditional tea ceremony, relax at the end of the day in thermal Onsen hot springs, and indulge in gustatory delicacies unique to each region we visit. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is at once humbling and spiritual, sending a clear message of our ability to destroy, while leaving a lasting impression for hope. The ancient cities of Nara and Kyoto are on our agenda also, providing a clear view into Japan's past. All this is connected, appropriately, by in-country travel on the country's Shinkansen high speed bullet trains! And so, the principles of Wabi-Sabi apply as we venture from one realm to the next...
View photos from a previous trip to Japan -
$5950 per person double occupancy; singles add $500**
Price includes 10 nights accommodations in Japan, meals as noted on itinerary, all transportation once in Japan, kayaking equipment and guides, entry fees to other points of interest as noted on itinerary.
**These costs are subject to change due to the volatility of the exchange rate between the Yen and US dollar. Should an adjustment need to be made to reflect any major differences from the time we established these costs to the time of the trip, we will notify you as soon as possible.
THE INLAND SEA OF JAPAN
November 5 - 16, 2014
Join us on a paddling adventure that incorporates not only exploration of the seas but the history and culture of an island people whose contributions are broad and varied in the landscape of time. The H2O team is prepared to lead you through Japan's spectacular island thoroughfares, guide you through its cities and villages, and help you to enjoy the adventure of the country's rail system! We hope you'll consider this adventure of a lifetime!
Day 1, Wed. Nov. 5 Depart US
Day 2, Thursday, Nov. 6 Arrive Osaka - transfer to Kyoto
Day 3, Friday, Nov. 7 Sightseeing Kyoto
Day 4, Saturday, Nov. 8 Travel to Miyajima - Himeji Castle
Day 5, Sunday, Nov. 9 Paddling day - Miyajima
Day 6, Monday, Nov. 10 Paddling day - Miyajima
Day 7, Tuesday, Nov. 11 Paddling day - Optional hike Mt. Misen
Day 8, Wednesday, Nov. 12 Paddling day - Miyajima
Day 9, Thursday, Nov. 13 Visit Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park
Day 10, Friday, Nov. 14 Traveling day to Nara, the Ancient Capitol of Japan
Day 11, Saturday, Nov. 15 Visit Uji - final night in Nara
Day 12, Sunday, Nov. 16 Depart for US
Day 1, Wednesday
International flight to Japan.
Day 2, Thursday
Arrive in Japan and stay at one of Kyoto's finest hotels, which offers western comfort and Japanese hospitality.
Day 3, Friday
We'll meet at 7:30 a.m. in the lobby of the hotel and then proceed to the dining area for a buffet breakfast offering an assortment of Japanese and Western choices. We'll spend our one day in Kyoto exploring the Nishijin district of Kyoto learning about Kyoto's textile industry and then finish off our day wandering the narrow streets of Gion enjoying the architectural design of the O-chaya (teahouses) that cluster together in this famous neighborhood. Topping off our day will be dinner at a local restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 4, Saturday
Once we have gotten a feel for the country and our internal clocks are on track, we'll begin the journey to the Inland Sea with a stop at Himeji Castle along the way. Himeji Castle is one of the few original remaining castles in Japan that was not destroyed by fires, earthquakes or wars and is both a national treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Widely considered as Japan's most spectacular castle, it originated as a fort in the 14th century, evolved over the centuries into the castle complex it became in 1609 and remains to this day. After a short visit here we'll continue on to the island temple precinct of Miyajima. Miyajima is the site of the famous red Torii gate rising out of the sea separating the everyday world from the spiritual realm of the adjoining "floating temple" compound, the Itsukushima Jinja shrine, a symbol of Japanese culture and spirit. Upon arrival we'll check in to our Inn and then spend some time exploring the village, the temple compound, and wandering through Momiji-dani park, noted for the beauty of its maple trees in autumn and the cherry blossoms in spring. (B, L, D)
Day 5, Sunday
After a good night's sleep and a Japanese breakfast, we'll be ready to hit the water and view this sacred temple compound from the unique perspective of our kayak's cockpit. Once we have had the chance to take a few photos and loosen up in the kayak, we'll pack our picnic lunch and venture along the shore exploring secluded coves, pocket beaches, and oyster farms scattered throughout the bay. A lunch stop along the way will provide opportunities for a quick dip in the sea, a nap on the beach, or simply a chance to relax and enjoy the view. Once back at the Inn, we'll freshen up, sit back and enjoy one of our host's magnificent multi-course Japanese dinners. (B, L, D)
Day 6, Monday
We'll continue our paddling adventures by exploring the remote southern side of this sacred and magical island, absorbing the peacefulness and breath-taking beauty of the primeval forests blanketing this part of the island. As we paddle along the rocky shoreline, we'll keep our eyes peeled for the smaller shrines associated with the Itsukushishrine, that have been placed at intervalsaround the island further defining its sacred geography. Lunch will be served on the shore of our "own" private pocket beach; time to rest our muscles, snap some pictures, and enjoy the serenity of the moment before paddling back to our Inn. An evening soak at the local onsen, (bath house), will provide just the right amount of relaxation before our magnificent multi course Japanese dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 7, Tuesday
Towering 1739 feet above the quaint village of Miyajima is Mt. Misen, offering panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and the distant mountain ranges of Shikoku. We'll start the day with a hike up one of the three footpaths to the summit, encountering hundreds of domesticated deer along the forested trail and wild monkeys at the summit. Nestled in the peaceful forests near the top of Mt. Misen are several small temples, including the Gumonjido, founded in the early 9th century by the great sage Kobo Daishi, who lit the flame within the temple that has burned continually since its dedication. Further down the trail, we'll take the time to explore the Daishoin Temple, the religious center of the Omuro sect of Buddhist Shingonshu devotees. After a relaxing lunch on the slopes of the wooded mountainside, we'll head back to the inn, freshen up, and then experience a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, a custom introduced to Japan in the 9th century and practiced quite often today. (B, L, D)
Day 8, Wednesday
Having had a break from the seat of a cockpit, we'll jump back into the kayaks and continue our exploration of this area by water. Weather and conditions permitting, we'll explore some of smaller islands near Miyajima, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way. (B, L, D)
Day 9, Thursday
Today we'll visit the mainland, our destination the world renowned "City of Peace", Hiroshima. Our first stop will be the Peace Memorial Park dedicated on the site of the horrific atomic bomb blast that leveled the city during WWII. The ruin of the atomic bomb dome stands in stark contrast to the lush green of the gardens and the grounds of the Peace Memorial itself. A UNESCO world heritage site, it provides us with perspective in these troubled times. After lunch we'll visit the famous Sukkeien Gardens, originally designed in 1620 by Naga-Akira Asano, the feudal lord who ruled this district. The gardens are situated on the Kyobashi River whose waters are diverted to create streams and ponds within the garden proper. The latter part of the day we'll find us exploring Hiroshima's busy downtown. (B, L, D)
Day, 10 Friday
Once we are through breakfast, have packed our bags and said our goodbyes, we will bid farewell to Miyajima and travel to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, for our final two nights. Here we will stay at a very traditional Ryokan located in one of the older sections of Nara, and within walking distance of Nara Park. A soak in the onsens, a nap and a visit to a nearby local's favorite for dinner will prime us for an evening wandering around the temples, enjoying the solitude and peacefulness without the crowds.
(B, L, D)
Day, 11 Saturday
Today we'll visit Uji city, and within its confines discover the small village of Uji known for its famous green tea market. Reputed to be Japan's finest tea, we'll be able to sip our tea in the tranquility of the wooded and hilled terrain. In the heart of the city is the renowned Byodo-in and its famous Phoenix Hall, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 950 year-old building is one of the few remaining pieces of architecture from the Heian period and it holds two of the original phoenix carvings fro the ancient roof pediment. Inside we'll also see the original temple bell along with original carvings from the past. Stroll along the river, explore winding trails leading to hidden shrines and temples, or just sit and enjoy the ambience of the cafes along the riverside. Once back in Nara we'll enjoy our final meal together, perhaps drink a little sake, and turn in for the evening. (B, L, D)
Day, 12 Sunday
Depart for US (B)
Note: We try to be as accurate as we can with our itineraries but certain factors out of our control can cause the itinerary to change. We appreciate your flexibility and trust in us to provide you with a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience.