Welcome to Japan!

Kirchoff Fitness Adventures provides a once in a lifetime experience in global travel which will not only challenge your body but will open your mind and soul to other cultures. Our commitment to getting you physically prepared along with giving back to the local communities around the world guarantee that when you travel with Kirchoff Fitness Adventures you will have a truly unique experience whether you are trekking in Nepal, or Cycling in Vietnam, hiking in Peru, kayaking in Croatia, doing yoga on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

We begin our adventure in Kyoto, Japan’s capital for a thousand years and the repository of much of its cultural heritage. At first glance, the city has a modern appearance, but it does not take long to scratch the surface to discover they city’s ancient traditions.

Highlights of Kyoto include:

  • Visiting Imperial Palaces and Shogun’s castles
  • Enjoy a tea ceremony
  • Discover one of Kyoto’s small but beautiful strolling gardens, and historic Higashiyama

The most unique part of our journey is undoubtedly the mystical ‘Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range ‘UNESCO World Heritage site. We head south to the Kii Peninsula, and over six days we follow in the footsteps of Emperors along this 100-year-old pilgrimage route known as the Kumano Kodo – the Old Road of Kumano. You will hike along on hilly terrain amongst startling 1000-year-old trees. During your walk, you will be accompanied by a yamabushi, or mountain ascetic priest who will teach about the training of yamabushi and the Shugendo faith.

Highlights of the Kumano Pilgrimage route include:

  • Spiritual Sites: The Kumano Kodo is dotted with Shinto and Buddhist shrines and temples, including the three grand shrines of Kumano Sanzan. We will practice Zen meditation with the monks
  • Hiking in Nature and the Scenery: You’ll hike through diverse landscapes, including cedar forests, bamboo groves, and picturesque valleys. The autumn foliage adds to the pilgrimage experience.
  • Onsen hot springs: After a day of walking, you’ll relax relax in traditional Japanese onsens (hot springs), which are believed to have healing properties. Yunomine Onsen, is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan.
  • Local Cuisine: Enjoy local delicacies along the route. Wakayama Prefecture, where the Kumano Kodo is located, is known for its fresh seafood, kudzu-root dishes, and traditional Japanese cuisine.
  • Ryokan staying in traditional accommodation

We will end our adventure in Osaka, “the nations kitchen” known for its amazing street food and lively nightlife. Join Kirchoff Fitness Adventures in experiencing the local culture, beautiful landscape and spiritual side of Japan.

Length: 10 nights/ 11 days (in Japan)

Walking level: moderate, ranging from level countryside paths to hilly trails of up to 9.3 miles and 3,200 ft of ascent

Day 01 Thu, Oct 24, 2024 USA Kyoto
Welcome Dinner
Day 02 Fri, Oct 25, 2024 Kyoto
Nijo Castle, Tea Ceremony
Day 03 Sat, Oct 26, 2024 Kyoto Koyasan
Visit to Okunoin, Danjo Garan
Day 04 Sun, Oct 27, 2024 Koyasan Takijiri Takahara
Morning prayer service at the temple, travel to Takijiri, hike from Takijiri to Takahara
Day 05 Mon, Oct 28, 2024 Takahara Chikatsuyu
Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu
Day 06 Tue, Oct 29, 2024 Doyugawabashi Hongu Grand Shrine
Hike from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu Grand Shrine and for the Yamabushi monk
Day 07 Wed, Oct 30, 2024 Koguchi Mount Nachi
Hiking from Koguchi to Mount Nachi
Day 08 Thu, Oct 31, 2024 Daimonzaka Nachi Grand Shrine
Hike Daimonzaka to and waterfall, visit Seiganto-ji and Nachi Grand Shrine, afternoon at leisure to enjoy the onsen at your accommodation
Day 09 Fri, Nov 1, 2024 Iseji-Hadasu Kumano City
Hiking along a section of the Iseji Pilgrimage route, afternoon at leisure to enjoy the baths
Day 10 Sat, Nov 2, 2024 Kumano City Osaka
Travel by train to Osaka, visit Shitennoji temple,
Farewell Dinner
Day 11 Sun, Nov 3, 2024 Departure
Farewell Japan — Back to USA

Tour Summary: Itinerary in Brief

DAY 01 | THU, OCT 24, 2024


Nohga Hotel or similar

Kiyozumi Dera, Kyoto


Welcome to Japan! Meet as a group at the hotel in Kyoto and convene for a welcome dinner at a restaurant in the city center. With over 1,000 Buddhist temples, sublime gardens, and excellent cuisine, it’s easy to see why Kyoto has been voted Travel+Leisure’s Best Overall City for a number of years!

DAY 02 | FRI, OCT 25, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nohga Hotel or similar

Nijo Castle

Sightseeing Kyoto: Nijo Castle, Tea Ceremony

On our first full day in Kyoto, we delve into the city’s history. We begin with a visit to Nijo castle, the seat of power in Kyoto of the Shoguns. The castle has an outer and inner moat, and the central Ninomaru Palace has five separate but connected buildings. An interesting security feature of this palace are the ‘nightingale floors’, constructed so they would squeak like birds when walked upon, in order to notify occupants of intruders or assassins. The rooms have sliding doors decorated by artists of the Kano school. Today we discover some of the delights of the Higashiyama area. The beautiful and story-book Higashiyama district winds its way along the eastern mountains encircling Kyoto. Here we will find traditional wooden machiya style buildings that house shops offering traditional crafts, and small temples and shrines. Then, we’ll enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. We will learn about the way of tea and the tea ceremony. The way of tea was developed into an art form and includes ritual preparation and drinking of green tea as a reflection of the aesthetic concepts of wabi sabi. Imperfection is treasured. Also at the core of the tea ceremony is the concept of ichi-go ichi-e – each meeting is unique and can never be reproduced, and thus is a treasured experience.

Activity: Sightseeing
Distance: 3 miles | negligible elevation gain
Walking Type: Paved city streets

DAY 03 | SAT, OCT 26, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Shukubo lodgings, Koyasan

Okunoin Cemetery


Travel to the mountain monastery complex at Koyasan, Zazen meditation, Overnight in Buddhist Temple pilgrims’ lodgings.

Today we travel by train to Osaka, and then cross town to travel along the scenic Nankai railway line to Koyasan, a bowl-shaped valley filled with cedar trees 800 meters up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony since the 9th century, when Kobo Daishi founded the first temple and the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Today there are more than a hundred monasteries, many of which have Shukubo lodgings for pilgrims and other visitors. We will enjoy a zazen meditation. Time permitting, we will explore Okunoin cemetery, where Kobo Daishi is said to rest in eternal repose. The cemetery is atmospheric with graves that are centuries old, as well as some quirky looking new additions left by more modern devotees. Tonight, we stay in one of these temple pilgrim’s lodgings run by monks and dine on shojin-ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine.

DAY 04 | SUN, OCT 27, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yunominesou or similar

Kumano Kodo Pilgrim Route


Transfer to the Kii Peninsula and hiking on the Kumano Kodo.

After breakfast, and the morning prayer service at our Temple, we travel by train along the coast to Takijiri, on the Kii Peninsula. We then set off on the Nakahechi trail, part of the network of ancient pilgrimage routes known as the Kumano Kodo. The rich spiritual history of the region is evident along our route, which links three important Shinto/Buddhist shrines and is scattered with smaller shrines called oji. The first challenging leg of the hike ends at the village of Takahara. The view makes up for today’s ascent! We then continue on to our hot springs inn at Yunomine Onsen.

Activity: Hiking
Distance: 3 miles, 2 hours | 820 feet ascent

DAY 05 | MON, OCT 28, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yunominesou or similar

Jizo Statue


We return by coach to Takahara to pick up the Kumano Kodo once again. From Takahara, we continue eastwards along the Nakahechi pilgrimage trail. Along the path you pass small jizo bodhisattva statues, placed there by locals to protect travelers. There are also the sites of old cha-ya (tea houses), which provided rest to pilgrims right up until the early 20th century. We’ll also pass Gyuba-douji – a small stone statue depicting a man riding astride a cow and horse. The statue is of the 10th century Emperor Kazan who buried a sutra he had copied on this site. We then descend to the village of Chikatsuyu before travelling by private vehicle to our inn for dinner.

Activity: Hiking
Distance: 7 miles, 4-5 hours | 1,150 feet ascent, 1,180 feet descent

DAY 06 | TUE, OCT 29, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yunominesou or similar



This morning, we’ll hike from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu, passing through ridge-top villages. The symbol of the shrine is the mythological three-legged raven, representing the Hongu, Nachi, and Hayatama shrines – the same motif as the one used by the Japan Football Association. The three-legged crow was in mythology sent to guide Emperor Jimmu, on his journey from Kumano to the Yamato Plain. Our walk today is made extra special as we shall be accompanied by one of the few female Yamabushi monks or ascetic mountain priests. Where we’ll have a chance to learn more about the shugendo faith. We will then have the opportunity to visit Oyunohara – the large torii gate that dominates the landscape and marks the approach to the shrine. We may also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Activity: Hiking
Distance: 4 miles, 2.5 hours | 395 feet ascent, 1,180 feet descent

DAY 07 | WED, OCT 30, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel Urashima, Manseiro, or similar


The final section of trail takes us from the small hamlet of Koguchi, over the Ogumotorigoe Pass, with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. We then begin our descent to Mount Nachi, the location of the Nachi Grand Shrine, where we shall visit tomorrow. Today’s hike is one of the most challenging on the trip but worth the effort!

Activity: Hiking
Distance: 9.3 miles, 6-7 hours | 3,215 feet ascent, 3,020 feet descent

DAY 08 | THU, OCT 31, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel Urashima

Nachi Grand Shrine


This morning, we will rise early to visit the tuna market that takes place on Kii Katsuura harbor. On days that the tuna market is closed, we will enjoy a visit to the local market before we travel to the start of the Daimonzaka, a traditional approach to the waterfall at Nachi Grand Shrine, the beautiful pagoda of Seiganto-ji, and finally the shrine itself. With this visit, we have completed our pilgrimage and havevisited all three of the Grand Shrines of Kumano. The waterfall is said to be inhabited by the kami spirit Kiryu Gongen and is the waterfall with the largest drop in Japan of 135m. Then following our visit, you have free time for a noodle lunch or to try local sweets at one of the shops on the approach to the shrine. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure.

DAY 09 | FRI, NOV 1, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel Urashima

Kumano Kodo


After breakfast we journey to Hadasu to begin our half day of walking on the Kumano Kodo Iseji. We walk along the coast to Odomari Beach, then continue onto Kumano City before returning back to our accommodation for the evening and enjoying the hot springs bath.

Activity: Hiking
Distance: 3.5 miles, 2-3 hours | 1,017 feet ascent, 1,033 feet descent

DAY 10 | SAT, NOV 2, 2024

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel Monterey Grasmere, or similar

Shitennoji Temple


After breakfast, we travel by train via Osaka. Enjoy a visit to the Shitennoji Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in Japan, and then enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your guide.

DAY 11 | SUN, NOV 3, 2024



Your tour ends today following breakfast. Make your way to your departure airport using the easy links from your hotel.

Trip Cost & Payment


  • Private English-speaking guide
  • Kirchoff Fitness Tour Leader
  • Group hike training for the Kumano Kodo
  • Accommodations as noted, based on double occupancy (including Ryokan, traditional inns and Shukubo, temple lodging)
  • All ground transportation and baggage handling from meeting to departure
  • All meals and non-alcoholic beverages
  • All activities as indicated on itinerary
  • Applicable taxes


  • Travel to and from the arrival departure location
  • Additional hotel nights outside the trips scheduled dates
  • Gratuities for guides
  • Trip insurance
  • Other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)
  • any meals not specified after each itinerary day
  • optional activities, airport departure taxes
  • additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as medical immunizations (if any)
  • passports and visas


  • $6,995 (11-14 members)
  • $7,229 (8-10 members)

To offer the lowest possible cost, our trips are priced according to the number of participants on the trip. All costs are per person, based on double occupancy. If you wish to have a single room, please note additional costs will apply.

  • Single supplement: $1,200
  • *Note: Optional Single Supplements are available in Kyoto and Osaka only (3 nights). Ryokan (traditional inns on trail) and Shukubo (Temple stay) are double occupancy only.


    At time of reservation: $1,000 non-refundable down payment
    90 days prior to departure: Balance due: $5,995 (11-14 members) or $6,229 (8-10 members)


    91+ days prior to departure: down payment
    61-90 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
    31-60 days prior to departure: 75% of trip cost
    30 days or less: 100% of trip cost

    *Cancellation and transfer schedules for certain group trips, as well as cruises, private departures, extensions, and Special Events are often more strict. These exceptions are clearly indicated in the detailed itineraries for each of these trips.

    Rates are based on group participation and no partial refunds will be given for unused trip arrangements for any reason whatsoever. Once you have been confirmed on a trip that requires a medical certificate signed by a doctor, normal cancellation penalties apply if your doctor does not sign the certificate.


    • Meeting Place: Nohga Hotel
    • Date: October 24, 2024, evening
    • Suggested Arrival Airport: Kansai International Airport (KIX)
    • Suggested Flight Time Arrival: 4pm or earlier

    We suggest that you arrive at Kansai International Airport in the afternoon, so you have plenty of time to transfer to your hotel and meet for the team dinner that evening.

    Upon arrival at Kansai International Airport, you’ll need to clear customs, and immigration. There is a currency exchange on the arrival floor right outside the customs area should you wish to change money into Japanese Yen (¥).

    From the airport it is suggested to take the Haruka express train which runs every 30 min to Kyoto Station. It takes 75 min and costs ¥2,850 ($20) From Kyoto station you can take a taxi to the hotel in Kyoto.


    • City: Osaka, Japan
    • Date: November 3, 2024
    • Suggested Departure Time: Any time on November 3rd
    • Suggested Airport: Kansai International Airport (KIX)


    We will do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, all travel involves some degree of risk, and we strongly recommend that you take out appropriate travel insurance for your adventure. Your insurance protection should include cover for cancellation, medical and repatriation expenses, personal injury and accident, death and loss of personal baggage and money and personal liability. If you arrive early no problem, we will have your bags stored. World Nomads is one that many of our clients use.


    You are responsible for making your own arrangements flights to from Japan. There are many online consolidators for booking travel like kayak.com or expedia.com but for more personal Depending on your routing, it is necessary to depart from the U.S. one Day 1 of the trip itinerary.

    The name on your airline ticket must match the name on your passport exactly, and your passport must be valid for at least six months after your date of return to the U.S.

    Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule. It is your responsibility to ensure your flight times coordinate with the arrival and departure logistics for this trip.