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Embark Upon Adventure Travel in Kyoto and Wakayama

Skip the urban tourist spots and go deep into the heart of Japan's rich history and culture. Experience adventure travel in Kyoto and Wakayama.
Embark Upon Adventure Travel in Kyoto and Wakayama
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Go on an unforgettable trip to the heart of Japan's historical and spiritual destinations.

JAL Vacations Kyoto and Wakayama Adventure Package

Destination: Kyoto and Wakayama (Kansai Region)

Highlights: Various points of interest

Length: One day (Kyoto), Three days, two nights (Wakayama)

Travel package type: Local optional activities

Type of experience: Arts, Culture

English language assistance: Available

Trip type: Small group

Recommended season for this vacation package: Year round

Kyoto and Wakayama - experience the softer side of adventure travel

Kyoto and Wakayama - experience the softer side of adventure travel

With its tranquil Zen gardens, sacred shrines and temples, and majestic castles, Kyoto, Japan, is a popular destination for travelers. It was once the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years. Kyoto’s rich culture, heritage, and history make it a must-visit. Kyoto is also the home of one of Japan’s three most scenic views.

Wakayama sits south of Kyoto and is home to some of Japan’s most sacred sites and beautiful nature spots. If you’ve ever wondered why you go to Wakayama, it is where locals and travelers often visit to escape from city life. Many shrines, temples, and pilgrimage routes that have existed for more than a thousand years still exist and can be visited by travelers and pilgrims. For those wondering how long to stay in Wakayama, we recommend spending at least two days there as you will find many things to do in the area.

When you hear “adventure travel,” you may think of hardcore outdoor activities like skiing down steep slopes or scuba diving deep under the sea. While Japan has its fair share of exciting activities, it also has a softer type of adventure for travelers who still want to experience Japanese culture beyond urban tourist destinations.

Think glorious treks through nature at a calm pace, hands-on experiences that take you to a cultural exchange with the locals, and deep-seated learning about the history of Japan.

Kyoto and Wakayama's best adventure travel activities

Are you looking to explore the Kansai Region more? Why not book a JAL vacation package and go on a Wakayama and Kyoto adventure you’ll never forget?

Take your trip beyond the ordinary and to the next level with our adventure travel package through Kyoto and Wakayama, Japan. Go beyond the usual tourist spots and explore the local culture through a diverse range of activities. Here are several activity highlights in Kyoto and Wakayama.

Experience Zen Meditation at Ryosokuin

Experience Zen Meditation at Ryosokuin
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Step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a 2-hour zazen seated meditation in Ryosokuin Temple, located in the historic Gion district in Kyoto. Ryosokuin is one of the oldest monasteries in Kyoto, and its Zen Buddhism temple and tea garden are a must-see.

Ryosokuin’s major attraction is zazen seated meditation under the precepts of Buddhist philosophy. Zazen seated meditation is all about absolute relaxation and goes beyond awareness to actually freeing yourself from the constraints of your mind.

You can experience this meditation yourself, as led by Toryo Ito, the vice-head priest of Ryosokuin Temple, who has been in charge of zazen meditation and instruction at Ryosokuin for 15 years. The session takes place in front of the tea garden and will teach you to become more aware of your surroundings and your body.

What is Zen in spirituality? Zen in spirituality focuses on concentration and meditation as a way of being at peace with your thoughts and self-aware of the universe. Zen Buddhism is a meditation that gives you a better insight into your body and mind.

But how do you experience Zen? You experience Zen by meditating and becoming more aware of your mind, body, and surroundings.

Enjoy a Tea Ceremony and Walking Tour at Daitokuji Temple

Enjoy a Tea Ceremony and Walking Tour at Daitokuji Temple
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At the center of the Japanese tea ceremony is Daitokuji Temple, a large, walled Japanese temple complex located in northern Kyoto. The complex contains several sub-temples and is one of the best places to visit to see Zen gardens and architecture and experience Zen culture.

Much of Daitokuji suffered severe damage during the Onin War in the 1400s. After its reconstruction, it became a center of the tea ceremony—a rich cultural craft you can experience. Under the tutelage of tea master Dairik Amae, you’ll be guided through the temple, where generations of tea masters and Zen monks have practiced their craft. The last stop is a tea room where you can experience the tea ceremony.

Activity 3: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Walk

Activity 3: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Walk

In the southern reaches of Japan’s rugged Kii Peninsula lies Kumano Kodo, a sacred site of nature worship, believed to be the abode of the gods since ancient times.

In the 6th century, indigenous beliefs merged with Buddhism, creating a unique spiritual landscape that led to the formation of a diversity of sacred rites. Today, these are linked by a network of pilgrimage routes known as the Kumano Kodo Trail.

Go on an immersive highlight walking trip through this thousand-year-old path traveling through remote villages and lush countryside. You’ll experience rich cultural traditions and the natural environment in the central and southern parts of the Nakahechi route. The pilgrimage takes you near Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine and Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine.

The Nakahechi trail is one of the oldest routes and is a mix of uneven dirt roads often lined with cobblestones and paved roads in the villages you will pass by. Stay overnight in traditional Japanese-style accommodations featuring hot springs. Get a taste of local, authentic Japanese cuisine through your meals.

Take a dip in the isolated hot spring baths and heal your mind and body at the end of the day. You’ll get to experience Kawayu-Onsen Minshuku (Onsen-Minshuku Oomuraya, Minshuku Tateishi, or Minshuku Sumiya, or same standard level Minshuku) and Katsuura-Onsen Minshuku (Onsen Minshuku Kosakaya, Minshuku Wkatake, or same standard level Minshuku).

Activity 3: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Walk

There are two ways to take the trip: by yourself (self-guided tour) or through a guided walk. This 2-day, 3-night activity includes two nights of accommodations, daily luggage shuttles, and trip resources.

How long does it take to hike the Kumano Kodo? The entire Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail is 43 miles (70 kilometers) long. While it depends on your pace, you can hike it anywhere from three to five days, stopping along the way for rest and food.

The Nakahechi route, which is part of this JAL itinerary package, is 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) long and can take approximately seven hours to complete.

Which Kumano Kodo route is best? The most popular Kumano Kodo route is the Nakahechi, which runs from Takijiri-Oji to Hongu to Nachi Falls. It’s the best route for non-seasoned trekkers and has the best infrastructure among all the trails. It’s also the safest among the Kumano Kodo walks.

How to get to Kyoto and Wakayama

How to get to Kyoto and Wakayama

You can easily travel to Kyoto and Wakayama from Tokyo International Airport with the help of the JAL Japan Explorer Pass. It is a 1-hour flight to Osaka International Airport, where you can then take a train or bus to Kyoto or Wakayama. You can also take the bullet train to Kyoto from Tokyo (approximately two hours travel time). While there is no direct bullet train to Wakayama, you can take the bullet train to Osaka and then another train to Wakayama (approximately three hours travel time).

Why should you book with the JAL Vacation Package?

When you book with JAL Vacation Packages, you can build your trip the way you want by booking flights, accommodations, and activities. You can choose to book only a flight or hotel or both. You can also book activities in various destinations and even rent a car aside from your flight and accommodations.

FAQs about adventure travel in Kyoto and Wakayama

FAQs about adventure travel in Kyoto and Wakayama

How far is it from Tokyo to Kyoto?

Kyoto is 283 miles (445 kilometers) from Tokyo. How long it takes to get there depends on your mode of transportation. You can ride a plane or take the high-speed bullet train (shinkansen).

How long is the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto?

If you take the fastest bullet train “Nozomi” from Tokyo to Kyoto, you will arrive in Kyoto in a little over two hours.

Why is Kyoto so famous?

Kyoto is the home of hundreds of shrines and temples, traditional-style ryokans, and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Kyoto is also Japan’s old capital, and you will be able to see traces of it through the old Imperial Palace and other buildings.

When you make your way around Kyoto, you may also spot women wearing beautiful kimonos with traditional hairstyles and unique makeup. These women are geisha and they are a part of Kyoto’s rich culture and heritage.

What is the easiest way to get around Kyoto?

With its trains, subways, and bus lines, Kyoto has a well-developed transportation system. You’ll be able to hop from one place to another easily and take advantage of the many available taxis in the city.

If you plan to go around a lot, you may want to get a Japan Rail Pass, as that is one of the most convenient ways to travel. You can also use this on bullet trains and several bus lines.

How long does it take from Osaka to Wakayama?

Wakayama Prefecture is just south of Osaka. You can travel from Osaka to Wakayama in just one hour by express train from Namba Station.

Can tourists visit Japanese shrines?

Yes, tourists can visit Japanese shrines, temples, and other sacred sites in Japan. Please keep in mind, however, that visitors must observe specific customs and etiquette when visiting any of these hallowed places.

How many World Heritage Sites are there in Japan?

UNESCO's goal is to preserve and promote the growth of various intellectual and cultural properties around the world. One of its roles is to designate World Heritage Sites that show “outstanding universal value.”

Currently, Japan has 25 World Heritage Sites. Twenty of these are cultural sites, while the other five are natural ones.

Book your adventure today

With JAL Vacation, you can construct your own trip package of activities, flights, and accommodations. Book the JAL Vacations Kyoto and Wakayama Adventure Package, and enjoy a soft adventure travel journey through the beautiful Kansai Region.

Visit the JAL Vacations page to select your desired package.

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