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
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
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
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