You say Camino and I say Kumano
Adventure travel specialist, World Expeditions, reports surging interest in its range of Japanese pilgrim trail walks, such as the World Heritage listed Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route.
Like the well-known Spanish Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is an ancient pilgrim route that offers walkers opportunities to walk historic trails – in scenically stunning surrounds – at their own pace.
World Expeditions CEO, Sue Badyari, said the Japanese trails are rapidly gaining in popularity, with confident trekkers attracted by the historical and cultural significance of the trails, the delicious food, polite and friendly locals as well as opportunities to stay in traditional ryokans along the way.
“We’ve seen a 20% growth in bookings for our Japan walks already in 2019,” Ms Badyari said. “The combination of historic trails, organized accommodation and luggage transfers that has long been popular in Europe is definitely catching on in Japan.”
World Expeditions’ active European brand, UTracks, is a leading operator of self-guided walks throughout Europe, including numerous Camino de Santiago walks in Spain, France and Portugal, so the company is experienced with the model.
“The popularity of the European Camino has educated the market about the attractions of these historic trails and the market has embraced the Japanese offering,” Ms Badyari said.
The connection between the Camino and the Kumano has been recognized through the Dual Pilgrim program, which was set up to recognize the achievements of people who have walked both Japan’s Kumano Kodo and Spain’s Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago).
The Dual Pilgrim certificate can be collected in either Santiago de Compostela, Spain or in Kumano Hongu Heritage Centre, Japan after both the UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage routes are completed.
World Expeditions offers guided and self-guided Kumano Kodo walking holidays that qualify for the Dual Pilgrim program, including:
• Kumano Kodo Self-Guided Hike – A 5 day adventure, including a 3 day self-guided hike on Japan’s World Heritage Kumano Kodo pilgrim trail.
• Kumano Kodo Coast to Coast Self-Guided Hike – A 10 day Japanese immersion, including a 8 day self-guided hike on Japan’s World Heritage listed Kumano Kodo pilgrim trail.
• Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Hike – a five day adventure, including a three day guided hike through the UNESCO-listed Kii Mountains, with accommodation in traditional minshuku inns along the way.
World Expeditions’ Japan program also includes culinary trips, including the new 12 day Taste of Japan with Adam Liaw and the 13 day Food Lover’s Japan, both of which are designed for travellers keen to discover the delights of Japanese cuisine.
World Expeditions most popular Japan itinerary is the 15 day Backroads of Japan, a meticulously crafted touring itinerary designed to reveal a fascinating society shaped by deeply ingrained values, with many living traditions. Accompanied by expert leaders, the trip features opportunities for short hikes through places of natural beauty and hinterland sites of deep significance.
Another popular World Expeditions’ itinerary, especially for repeat travellers, is the 16 dayJapan Northern Explorer, which explores lesser known highlights such as the famous World Heritage shrines and temples of Nikko, Sado Island in the Sea of Japan, the old castle town of Hirosaki, the young city of Sapporo, with plenty of time along the way to soak in natural hot springs, sample an amazing array of fresh local foods and learn more about Japanese culture, history and heritage.
Visit www.worldexpeditions.com or call 1300 720 000 for more information.