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Group at Kongobuji Mount Koya

Trail down to Koguchi

John meditating on the falls

Group at Yunomine

Monument to mother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Group at Nachi

Water babes

Water boys

Whispers at the feet of a bodhisattva in Nara

The Walls of the Honmaru at Nijojo

Mike and Mignon in Nara

Ceremony at Okunoin

Above Hongu


The Imperial Pilgrimage Tour

May 2007

In moments of quiet reflection, the monk's words come back to me, ‘good and bad, good and bad, …'. Indeed, there is a rhythm to the journey, and much to reflect on during an Imperial Pilgrimage Route tour. The steps, for example - those seemingly eternal steps, the measured haiku poems, the constant song of the Japanese nightingales ( uguisu ) along the path through the forests, and the diverse and wonderful manifestations of Buddha we see as we travel on our journey.


Drive a narrow road
Drunken monk says ‘Good and bad'
Is this Nirvana?


We were blessed with warm and sunny weather this May. The countryside was saturated in fresh green. The ground firm beneath our feet.


Fresh green leaves through steam;
Hot spa water clouds my brain
Shall I sleep again?


Green temple garden
Thick grey clouds fill the sky – then,
Wind from the mountains


We were also blessed to be accompanied by thousands of children on school trips at the sites we visited.


Millions of children
The temple stands serenely
Japan 's Disneyland ?


The food, as usual, was excellent. Kyoto ramen noodles were as popular as the very special ryokan dinners (and breakfasts!).


Jonathan and Jane
Mike, Mignon, Gillian too
Eat Japan with Bob


The food was so good, that it was suggested we change the name from Hike Japan to Eat Japan ! Who needs gourmet tours when it comes as standard on a Hike Japan holiday?


Eat , not ‘Hike Japan '
Ball of algae in my soup
Crunchy eel backbones


In Asuka, we were the first visitors from overseas to see one of frescos that had been removed from the 1400-year old Takamatsuzuka imperial tomb. Indeed, we were amongst the very first people fortunate enough to have had the chance to see it since the 7 th Century. The ‘ genbu ' mural, depicting a snake entwining a turtle, was on display for a limited time to the public prior to further restoration work.



The journey ended happily, and now, like the hot spa water that clouds our brains, our memories dissolve into dreams.


Lost in my dreams
Flutter by a butterfly
Who is dreaming who?


Click to read haiku poems from this tour.

Mike wins the haiku prize!

Group at Ginkakuji

Trail above Oyama

Group at Nachi Ni no Taki

John at the Kamigoten Inn

Nachi Taisha

Group at start of Nakaheji Route

Sexy thighs!

Asuka temple buddha

Yoshino ryokan

Indigo dyeing

Gillian and her  raven stick at Yunomine

Another wayside stopping place for a stamp in our passports to the Promised Land!

Sunset from Amakashi no Oka in Asuka

Black laquer shoes at a Shinto shrine

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