Meet sacred treasures and jewels of ancient Nara
A two-day trip to Nara, Japan’s former capital, visiting many national treasures and experiencing Japanese spiritual culture at the fundamental dojo of Shugendo.
●A special tour of the World Heritage site of Kinpusenji Temple by a priest who has undergone rigorous training in Shugendo.
●Visit and worship at some of Japan’s most famous temples, and participate in morning prayers with the monks.
●Experience the charm of Nara’s famous products such as soy sauce, washi paper, and Yoshino cedar.
Day 1: Visit some of the historic shrines and temples, and stay at Nara’s oldest “soy sauce warehouse”.
[Kasugataisha Shrine, Lunch, Yakushiji Temple]
The first stop on the tour is Kasugataisha Shrine, the headquarters of the approximately 3,000 Kasuga Shrines across Japan. In addition to visiting the east cloister of the main sanctuary, which is normally closed to the public, the Mikasayama-Ukigumonomine Yohaijo, the place to pay respect to the summit of Mt. Mikasa, and the Kasugataisha Museum, you will be guided to the sacred primeval forest where hunting and logging have been prohibited for over 1,100 years.
At lunchtime, you can enjoy a sumptuous meal filled with seasonal ingredients at the famous Japanese restaurant “Hanagaki” while admiring the sophisticated Japanese garden.
After lunch, you will travel by car to another world heritage site, Yakushiji Temple, where you will take a special tour guided by a monk and see Buddhist statues that are some of the best examples of oriental art from the era of active exchange with the countries of the Korean Peninsula. Take a moment of peace to pray at the Yakushi Nyorai, the principal object of worship, and the Sho-Kanzeon Bosatsu statue, a national treasure.
[Soy Sauce Pressing Workshop, Accommodation]
Nara’s oldest soy sauce brewery, Maruto Soy Sauce, is well known for its naturally brewed soy sauce and allures professional chefs with its superior taste. The soy sauce warehouse has now been renovated and is being used as an accommodation facility. You will stay here for this tour. During your stay, you will be able to enjoy some rare experiences, such as pressing soy sauce and tasting the freshly pressed soy sauce.
For dinner, dishes made with plenty of fresh local Yamato vegetables will be served. The creative dishes based on Japanese cuisine and seasoned with soy sauce are highly reputed.
Day 2: Spend a sacred time at Mt. Yoshino
[Hasedera Temple, Washi Paper Making Workshop, Lunch]
Early in the morning, you will attend the Buddhist service at Hasedera Temple, the head temple of the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism. The voice of the monk reading the sutra in the main hall, which is filled with the aroma of incense, is powerful enough to break the silence. After experiencing the sacred morning, you will return to the inn for breakfast.
After checking out, you will head to “Fukunishi Washi Honpo,” which has a history of 1,300 years and offers washi paper-making workshops. Under the guidance of the sixth-generation owner, you will discover the charm of washi by learning the traditional techniques with traditional tools, and visiting a field of mulberry, the ingredient of washi.
Lunch will be served at “Yamato-an”, a well-known soba noodle restaurant. Their Japanese buckwheat noodles are handcrafted from stone-ground buckwheat flour and are known for their rich aroma and firm texture.
[Special Cultural Experience] Getting to the Root of Mountain Beliefs with Monks in the Heart of the Sacred Mountain
Mt. Yoshino has been visited by emperors, aristocrats, and other high-ranking people in ancient times and has been revered as a sacred mountain. It is considered a sacred area where even the individual trees and the flow of water can be inhabited by the gods. There are many temples and shrines of various sizes in the rugged mountains. One of the most important is Kinpusenji Temple, a World Heritage Site and the fundamental dojo of Shugendo.
In this special cultural experience, you will be guided by a monk who has practiced and undergone rigorous training in these mountains to the national treasure “Zaodo” (main hall), and “Nancho Myohoden Hall,” which is usually closed to the public. It is a rare opportunity to meet the monk, and you may also be able to meet the chief abbot if the schedule allows.
[Nyoirinji Temple, Yoshino Cedar Workshop]
After visiting Kinpusenji Temple, you will stop by the nearby “Nyoirinji Temple”. The 10th-century temple is surrounded by lush green trees and the precincts are filled with seasonal flowers and wildflowers. You will pray to the main deity, Nyoirin Kannon (Cintamanicakra Bodhisattva), and appreciate cultural assets such as the statue of Zao Gongen, the Yoshino Mandala, and others that are normally closed to the public. You can also try chanting a sutra while drumming on a wooden fish.
After descending Mt. Yoshino, you will visit the final stop of the tour, “PROP.” This is a woodworking studio that specializes in custom-made furniture and woodwork made from Yoshino cedar. During the hands-on workshop, you will learn how to smooth wood surfaces with a plane, an essential tool in Japanese wood architecture, and build a wooden tray. The finished tray and plane can be taken home as a memento.
Starts at JPY 1,068,000 for a party of two.
●Deadline for reservations:
One month before the tour (based on demand, no guarantee)
Maximum one per month
●Minimum number of participants:
Nara Station / Yoshino Jingu Station
・Please note that the programs provided by the individuals mentioned in the itinerary may be canceled or changed due to unavoidable circumstances including health concerns. Thank you for your understanding.
・ Participation is limited to those aged six or above (school aged children).
・ See here for our usage agreement for your application.
Please inquire for reservations for the individual lodgings or restaurants mentioned on this page.
【About this tour】
This tour has been planned as part of our efforts to help achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. A portion of tour fees paid by all participants will be used to maintain and pass on the tangible and intangible cultural assets of Kansai, the origin of Japanese culture, to the next generation. This aims to create a positive cycle of cultural tourism; we look forward to your participation.
【Sponsored Travel Agent】
AIR WORLD CO.,LTD.
Licensed by Ministry Transport Tourism Agency No.961