The Imperial Pilgrimage Tour
It was most refreshing to have a group almost entirely from Australia on this May's Imperial Pilgrimage Route tour. The witty conversation and good humour kept us going up all those long hills and endless steps!
I became aware during this tour with this group, and the subsequent tour with another couple from Sydney, of how little rain Australia gets and how little free flowing water there is compared to Japan. Here, at this time of year, the mountains and country are a verdant green and the rivers and streams full. We had a couple of misty days with light rain towards the end of the trek and in Yoshino, but the rest of the time we had sunshine and clear skies. Yet there was water everywhere
Green bamboo, cedar
Baby shrines on mountain paths
Blue sky, pink petals
As standard on a Hike Japan tour, we enjoyed excellent food. I copy the menu from one ryokan we stayed at below as an example:
Boiled wasabi and soya sauce
Itadori (Japanese knotweed) with sesame sauce
Chestnut, pickled ume, cucumber with butterbur and miso sauce
Lightly grilled venison with tataki sauce
Shiitake mushrooms, royal fern, carrot, bamboo shoots, mangetout peas, Japanese pumpkin
Amago (small trout) and local ayu (sweet river fish)
Hitomi manju (rice bun covered with a mix of minced chicken and potatoes)
Vegetable tempura (including eggplant, pumpkin, beans, shiitake mushrooms, king trumpet mushrooms)
Local Kishu chicken and wild boar stew
Devils tongue (Arum root) jelly with sweetened vinegar
Fruit jelly with local Wakayama mango and strawberry sauce
The western breakfast at this ryokan - fresh fruit and bread, yoghurt, salad .. is sensational too, not to mention the fine natural hot spring tubs. We really didn't want to leave!
We made one or two little discoveries as we always do on tours. This time a friendly couple who have opened up their home for coffee and tea along the Yamanobe no Michi between Miwa Shrine and Isonokami Jingu in Tenri.
Discovering unique Japanese earthquake countermeasures for buildings in Nara was interesting, and enjoying the Aoi Matsuri festival and delicious ramen noodles were hits in Kyoto. The Miho Museum was looking sensational, too, but I'm not sure we'll be revisiting it soon, however, given its links with the Soka Gakkai …
It was such a successful tour that one or two members are hoping to return to Japan, one to climb Fuji. Many a kind word of praise was received. “Wonderful hiking in beautiful scenery – past Japanese farms and houses. An inkling of life in Japan! Thanks for all the scrumptious food – taste, presentation, and variety. New insights into another culture.”
Long climb to hill top
Butterfly floats on by
Soak into hot tub
Hope to walk with you again soon (either here in Japan, down under, or in Scotland)!
Click to read haiku poems from