Kansai
Religious & Spiritual Activities

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Our most recommended Kansai Religious & Spiritual Activities

Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

1. Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

Accompanied by your tour guide, head straight to one of Nara’s top historical sites and one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, the Todaiji temple. Its famous centerpiece is the 15-meter bronze statue of the Great Buddha, Vairocana. On our way, you will be greeted by the friendly deer of Nara. The deer are divine protectors of the ancient capital living in perfect harmony with the locals. Next stop is the second of the seven great temples of Nara, Kofukuji. Make a brief stop at the Sarusawa pond, well known for its turtles and the pretty scenery surrounding it; this is considered a perfect spot for a romantic evening walk in Nara. Move forward into the quiet alleys and backstreets of Nara-machi, the well preserved former merchant's district, where you will be able to see and experience unique traditional arts and crafts. As the best way to experience a city is through its food, you will get the chance to test some of our favorite local delights. The last stop of your journey will take you to a shopping street, where you can find colorful and diverse shops, perfect for souvenir hunting. Both the JR Nara station and the Kintetsu station are within comfortable walking distance from the finishing point of the tour. Your guide will be happy to help you with directions to your hotel or to provide a restaurant recommendation for lunch. Do not forget to ask for more hints and tips on what else there is to do in Nara during your time here. 

Kumano/Tanabe: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail Private Tour

2. Kumano/Tanabe: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail Private Tour

Discover Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails on a private tour alongside a licensed local guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour option and receive a meet-and-greet service at your accommodation or from the main train station in Kumano or Tanabe. Let your guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. You can also pre-plan your itinerary in advance. Benefit from a guide that holds a Nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter Certification issued by the Japanese government, which certifies that your guide holds good knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture and history. Explore an ancient network of pilgrim trails dating back more than 1,000 years connecting historic shrines and temples running through the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. The most popular route, Nakahechi, along which past emperors traveled, crosses the width of the Peninsula from Tanabe town on the west coast to Shingu and Nachi-Katsuura towns on the east. Hikers of all levels can enjoy quiet mountain hamlets and onsens. Popular 6-hour itinerary - Hossinmon-Oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha: Experience a route that is a good mixture of ridge-top settlements and forest trails. Walk through Kumano Kodo to Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine and learn about its history and cultural importance. After lunch, visit the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine, one of the three grand shrines, standing on a small ridgeline in the north of the Hongu village. Admire the 800-year-old austere pavilions that are made of wood with impressive cypress bark roofs which architecture style.

Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

3. Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

Explore Himeji in your own way with a private licensed guide. Choose the 6 or 4-hour option depending on what fits with your schedule. Let the guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. All guides hold the nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter certification. It is issued by the Japanese government and requires a good understanding of Japanese culture and history. This tour features a morning pickup at your hotel in Himeji, then a visit to any number of possible sites. You can customize your itinerary according to the places you want to visit. See a suggested itinerary below: First stop is Himeji Castle, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji Castle dates back to 1333, and has survived natural disasters, WWII bombing, and the effects of the weather. In 2015, it underwent restoration works, which helped return its facade to a brilliant white. Visit the castle with a local knowledgeable guide and learn about the castle's architecture. Next is Mt. Shosha, a picturesque temple area located in the mountains behind Himeji Castle. Take the ropeway cable car up to Mt. Shosha. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extremely energetic, you could hike up the mountain in an hour or less. Then stop by the Engyo-ji Temple. With so much to explore on the temple grounds, plan to spend around an hour here to see the main structures. The trails that lead through the grounds reveal Mt. Shosha's gorgeous flora, and little details that create a magical atmosphere. For lunch, you enjoy delicious local food around Himeji Station, such as amen, gyoza, tonkatsu, and sushi. The local shopping street arcade is another charm of Himeji, and your guide will pick out the best shops for you to visit. Other popular places to visit on this tour could be the Himeji City Museum of Literature, the Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, or the Hiromine Shrine.

Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

4. Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

Meet your knowledgeable guide at the meeting point and begin your cultural half-day walking tour of Japan's first historical capital. As you walk by the shopping arcade, explore a Japanese old town extremely different from a metropolis like Tokyo. Walk between the historical buildings, and go inside a traditional merchant's house to see how people around here live in the past. Next, take a break from walking to observe the mysterious pyramid-shaped structure in the middle of the quiet town. Admire the view of the city of Nara from the hill, then visit Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Learn about the distinct Japanese religious culture as you see a huge temple with a great Buddha statue, then explore a beautiful shrine housing hundreds of lanterns. In this area, meet and feed the wild deer living in Nara Park. For over 1,200 years, locals have believed that deer are sacred divine messengers. Interact with them and see how polite they are. At the end of the tour, savor a delicious Japanese lunch dish made only using local Nara vegetables and fresh meat.

Kumano Kodo: Private Full-Day Pilgrimage Trip

5. Kumano Kodo: Private Full-Day Pilgrimage Trip

Embark on an adventure to see all the key sights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in a single trip. Admire all three shrines and pause at the beautiful Nachi falls to watch water crashing down from 133 meters in the air. After pickup from your hotel, start with a visit to the Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine. Learn about the sun goddess Amaterasu at a location which is the head of over 3000 Kumano shrines across Japan. Admire the biggest torii gate in the world which, at 33 meters tall, dwarfs visitors passing under it. Next, head to the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, located in Shingu City. This shrine has occupied the same spot on the Kumano Riverbank since at least the 12th century. Learn about the Shinto creation myth which claims how three deities descended to earth nearby. Head back in the vehicle for the drive to Kumano Nachi Taisha, located near the coastal hot spring Katsuura. Admire the fusion of Buddhist and Shinto influences that is particular to the Kumano region. Finish your pilgrimage with a stop at Nachi Falls, Be awed by Japan's tallest waterfall with a single uninterrupted drop of 133 meters. Feel the power of a sacred site where a ton of water drops down the cliff every second.

Kyoto: 4-Hour Arashiyama Walking Tour

6. Kyoto: 4-Hour Arashiyama Walking Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga-Arashiyama station North Exit. Skip the regular and crowded route which leads directly to the bamboo forest, and make your way to the lesser-known Saga-Toriimoto area.  Visit the local gift shops and beautiful local temples and shrines. Learn about the local stories and legends of the area from your guide. Enjoy the beauty of the bamboo forest and learn about its significance for the locals.  Next, visit Tenryu-Ji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous its beautiful Sogenchi pond and garden which was once owned by local aristocrats. Walk towards Arashiyama's iconic Togetsukyo bridge. Then, enjoy a traditional lunch with typical Kyoto cuisine. Enjoy the views over the Togetsukyo bridge from the restaurant while you are eating.

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What people are saying about Kansai

Overall rating

4.2 / 5

based on 97 reviews

Really very good ! My guide spoke enough English to explain everything to me and above all she took me to little places not touristy at all (traditional house, making motchi etc.) in addition to the big sites. She was also very interested in where I came from, we talked about our two cultures, what we liked and what we didn't. Very pleasant ! I recommend !

Very nice the tour. Deer, the great Buddha and the guardians, temples, and ends in a commercial area with restaurants. 4h tour The guide very attentive and walking at our pace.

Fumiko great guide excellent person

Wonderful place and Fumiko's explanation very good