TOUR RECORDS 2017
MOUNTAINS OF CENTRAL JAPAN TOUR AUTUMN 2017
This was the mountain trekking tour we run every year in September for our friends from Russia. Our journey started under the blue skies which followed one of the many typhoons which hit Japan this autumn season. We were then blessed with two weeks of fine weather.
We travelled East to West, visiting Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Matsumoto, Kyoto, Nara, Yoshino, and Mount Koya. Enjoying the best Japan has to offer in the way of historical towns, culture, and food, other highlights of the tour included a 4-day traverse of the North Japan Alps. Supporting one another, we all hiked the wonderful Omote Ginza trail. Whilst at 1,500m in the Kamikochi Valley the trees were still in their late summer green, climbing for 4 hours and reaching 3,000m, the rowans were resplendent in their bright red early autumn colours. Once at the higher altitude, the trail is a real adventure following rocky ridges, with scrambling and climbing and descending fixed ladders. Looking back at the trail we'd followed we enjoyed some incredible view; inspiring panoramas that focused on Yarigatake Peak, and reached as far Mount Fuji to the south.
Later on, in the mountains of Yoshino, spiritual home of the Shugendo Buddhist sect of mountain priests, learning about their traditions we all really felt as though we'd done our own similar, strenuous pilgrimage in the Alps!
The last couple of days featured Buddhist vegetarian shojin ryori at our temple on Mount Koya, and, in distinct contrast, fabulous teppanyaki dining featuring the best Kobe beef, in Tokyo.
Trip report by Ryoko, Japan mountain guide
To view pictures from this trip, click here
SLOW TRAINS TO KYOTO TOUR SPRING 2017
We've had a very busy spring, running half a dozen tours, and the rest of 2017 looks good for Quest Japan as we prepare for our summer and autumn trips. This is a brief report from just one of tour spring tours, with a link to some pictures. Enjoy!
Haiku poems are moments distilled in just a few words. These haiku were composed by folk on our recent, wonderful Slow Trains to Kyoto tour -
The leafless tree
The day was sunshine
When we started our journey, the cherry blossom were in bud or only just showing in the trees. When we reached out destination, the trees were in full bloom.
An almost palpable excitement sweeps Japan as the cherry blossom moves from the southern islands northwards to Hokkaido. People start scrutinizing trees and individual flowers. The flavour of the blossom and leaves infuse food and drinks. The whole country goes blossom bonkers.
Visiting Hiroshima, the rain on Miyajima cleared, but the sun shone on our visit to the Peace Park, and we enjoyed more sunny days as we made our way, on slow, local trains, along the Japan Sea Coast to Kyoto, from West Shimane, stopping at Matsue and Kinosaki Onsen on the way.
Snow still covered Mount Daisen. We walked as far as the inner shrine, and Daisenji Temple.
It's always a real pleasure to visit Matsue, and our time in the small city this April was no exception. Calm, friendly, very pretty, Matsue, as a base, offers good access to some most interesting sites, including the Izumo Grand Shrine, Mount Daisen, and the Adachi Museum of Art. Then, of course, there's the Lafcadio Hearn connection to learn about.
The food, as usual, was extraordinarily good. Our ryokan and the restaurants did us proud. We experienced the amazing range, and great qualities, of Japanese food culture.
‘I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for an amazing experience - the Slow Trains to Kyoto has set the bar high for me now regarding other trips I'll take. I really appreciated how you had put everything together - from the choice of cities and towns, and the hotels and ryokans, to the sights we saw in each place, the food we ate, the explanations you provided about all of it, and how well you looked after a group of people with varying needs and interests. Bravo!'