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Kunisaki Peninsula Trip: A Journey into Japan’s Mystical Past


Follow an ancient pilgrimage route through dramatic mountain landscapes home to esoteric Buddhist culture.


The Kunisaki Peninsula in northeast Kyushu is home to an ancient variant of Buddhism intermingled with elements of Shinto nature worship. This 5-day tour, conducted partly on foot and partly on e-bike, goes deep into the peninsula’s mountains, encompassing multiple shrines, temples, old stone statues, and carvings along the way. It is a slightly shortened version of a pilgrimage route pioneered by the ascetic monks of old who found the divine in forests, mountains, and caves. 


Day 1 sees the tour participants assemble in the evening at a beachside guest house for orientation. Day 2 is when things really get going with a bike ride along the Niourindo Cycling Path. Highlights of the day include the castle town of Kitsuki, the timeless rural landscape of Tashibunosho, and visits to three important temples. 



Day 3 gets off to a serene start with some early morning meditation, then it’s on with your hiking boots and off onto the Kunisaki Hantou Michi Long Trail. This route, the same one that ascetic monks walked 1,300 years ago, is dotted with craggy peaks, rock carvings, hidden temples, and caves. In the evening, it’s over by ferry to the island of Himeshima. The next morning (Day 4), you will get to learn about the traditional Himeshima Fox Dance and to paint a fox mask for yourself. After cooking a traditional Himeshima dish with the locals at lunchtime, you will spend the afternoon trekking around the island’s dramatic landscape, before returning to the mainland by ferry. Day 5, the last day of the tour, kicks off with standup paddle boarding in Beppu bay. After a kaiseki lunch at a historic inn, the tour culminates in a visit to the ruins of the castle in Hiji, a town that still retains something of its old Edo-Period (1603-1867) atmosphere.


The Kunisaki Peninsula trip is your chance to follow an age-old route replete with history and natural beauty.     


Access: Nada Beach House, where the tour starts, is about a 25-minute drive from JR Kitsuki Station or about a 7-minute drive from the Aki Interchange on the Oita Airport Road.    




A trip to the Kunisaki Peninsula: Experience nature and lifestyles from the ancient past (Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone)


231-10 Nada, Kitsuki-shi, Oita-ken (Nada Midori-sou)


five days




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