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Kongobuji Koya san

Takahara Oji

Jizo statues on Koya

Tsuboyu in Yunomine onsen

 Leaving a ryokan in the morning

Kaitenzushi heaven

Lonesome pine at Daijagura

Team photo on top of Odaigahara

Nachi falls in morning mist

Walking in Asuka.

Great results from the dyeing session

Nara deer.

Miko dancing at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Taima temple

The Imperial Pilgrimage Tour

9th to 23rd May 2004

The rains meant that this was to be a tour into the lushly green forests of the Kii mountains. The haiku poems talk not only about the rain, but about the emerald green moss and trees of a 'thousand greens' where we walked.

The food on this tour turned out to be sensationally good. Indeed the tour was referred to as a 'gourmet tour'! Pot noodle lunches on the trail aside, one of the highlights was the excellent kaitenzushi (revolving sushi bar) lunch in Kumano on our way to Yoshino and Odaigahara. The ryokan, particularly in Kyoto, served exceptionally good dinners. In Kyoto was it a ten course dinner? I forget.

One thing I will always remember from this tour, and this must be because the tour is in May, was how, as we walked for four days along the Nakaheji pilgrim trail, we were serenaded by nightingales. They sang ceaselessly, uncaring of the rain. Suddenly coming across a large family of monkeys was exciting too.

The mountain priest, Kosho, entertained us in his usual inimitable style.

The detour to Yoshino proved to be a good decision in terms of the weather. Again we ended up in a lovely little restaurant. Yoshino was quiet. The cherry blossom viewing crowds had left for another year.

We were all happy when the sun came out during a great guided walk around the Odaigahara Plateau. There were good views of the Kii mountains and the Omine ridge from the rocky Daijagura outcrop. We were fortunate to be able to meet the family who were the first, and are the only, family ever to have lived there.

We had a lovely meal in Asuka after a short walk past the old imperial burial mounds, although by that time we were all so full of good food that we simply couldn't finish all the delicious home-made buckwheat noodles.

Going off-the-beaten track and finding the quieter parts of Japan was appreciated by everyone. ' the chance to see part of Japan that was not big bustling cities was why I came.'

Click to read haiku poems from this tour.

Yunomine oji

Nonaka

Team photo at Nachi.

Hongu Taisha

Searching for pole tip in mud

Akayashio blossom

Our faithful companion sniffs the air

More stone steps down to the falls

Following the yellow hats into Todaiji.

Surrounded by trainee guides at Hayatama Shrine


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