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Kunisaki Trek

Duration

10 Days, 9 Nights

Physical Level

Start / Finish

Hakata / Yufuin

Technical Level

A walking tour following paths once trod by monks in Kyushu. Guided exploration of the little-known Kunisaki Peninsula; excellent walks along ridge trails once used by Buddhists monks in meditation in beautiful and remote countryside; atmospheric inns, local cuisine, onsen hot spring baths and a wealth of interest. March, April, May, October & November.
The Kunisaki Trek is a fully guided tour we recommend for the reasonably fit who can walk comfortably for 5 ~ 6 hours. The route is mainly on forest trails and includes some rock scrambling and some short, steep climbs. If you would prefer a more relaxed experience of Kunisaki please see our Kunisaki & Yufuin Walk and Kunisaki Retreat tours. Please read more on Tour Levels here.

 

A 10 day, 9 night tour starting in Fukuoka and finishing in Yufuin. Accommodation is Japanese inns, many with thermal spring baths, a temple and a hotel. The maximum group size for this tour is 12 persons.


 

Walk Japan’s Kunisaki Trek follows in the footsteps of monks, who have walked through the mountains of the Kunisaki Peninsula for more than a thousand years. Any experienced trekker will thoroughly enjoy the ancient trails, which are now largely forgotten. These provide excellent walking through sleepy hamlets, verdant forests, along craggy ridges and over towering cliffs. On route we pass many stone Buddha statues, large and small, and the caves where monks once found shelter. As with all our tours, on Kunisaki you will be immersed in Japanese culture of the past and present, enjoy Japanese cooking at its best, luxuriate in hot springs and simply gaze at the beautiful scenery. This, of course, all with expert guidance of the Walk Japan tour leader.

 

The Kunisaki Peninsula is nestled into the western end of Japan's Inland Sea on Kyushu, the most westerly island of the Japanese archipelago. But the peninsula may as well have fallen off the map, for few Japanese, and even fewer foreigners, know of its existence. Modern Japan has left this quiet haven of rural life largely untouched. It was, though, for many centuries an important centre of Shugendo. Shugendo is a syncretism of the indigenous, animistic Shinto religion and Buddhism brought from China and Korea. Kunisaki's once-powerful religious institutions are long gone, but delightful temples and wayside shrines are some reminders of its deeply religious past.

 

Mine-iri, a monk's practice of traversing sacred mountain paths in prayer, has been part of the religious life of Kunisaki since the 9th Century. Although now rare, the practice still continues today in Kuniskai, one of only a few places in Japan where it still does so. Our trek follows in the monk's footsteps. Occasionally we pass through picturesque hamlets and temple grounds, but otherwise our trek is largely off-road on little-known mountain paths. The climbs are usually short but they can be steep and require a degree of stamina to reach the peaks. Once there, though, the rewards include tremendous views and, as we negotiate narrow ridges and bridges, heady thrills. A reasonable head for heights is necessary.

 

Just to the south-east of Kunisaki is Yufuin, a small, up-market town in the shelter of the towering Mount Yufudake, an extinct volcano. Many of Japan's top writers have found, and still find, a haven here to put pen to paper. Perhaps because of this and the many onsen, hotsprings, found here the town boasts some of the finest ryokan, Japanese inns, that Japan offers. Yufuin is also ideal for some browsing and shopping. We spend two nights here interspersed with an ascent of Mount Yufudake. Lunch at the top of this mountain is enjoyed with a backdrop of grandstand views over Kunisaki and beyond.

 

The Kunisaki Trek tour includes some high, narrow ridge trails and short climbs requiring the use of fixed chains. It is recommended for fit individuals who are comfortable with heights. Please contact us for guidance if you are not sure about this tour's suitability for yourself.

 

Price: JPY428,000 (JPY = Japanese Yen) per person. Single accommodation is available on a limited basis at JPY20,000. Please contact us for further details. Please use the currency converter on the right-hand side of this page to find the current rate in your local currency. See Booking Conditions.

 

What is included and not included? A fully guided tour including local travel from tour meeting point to finishing point; accommodation for 9 nights; 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 9 evening meals; baggage transfers and entrance fees . Not included are flights, transfers to the tour meeting point and from the tour finishing point, 2 lunches and drinks.

 

Group size: The small, intimate nature of the inns makes the maximum group size 12 people. We have no minimum size. If we accept a booking we guarantee to run the tour.

 

Please see the Itinerary for the tour and Tour Dates for dates and availability by clicking on the buttons found further up this page.

Please contact Walk Japan for more information and to book this tour.

Please visit the Custom Tours page to find out about arranging Walk Japan tours tailored to your specific requirements.

This itinerary is ground only beginning in Fukuoka and ending in Yufuin. Instructions will be provided in English and Japanese for travelling to the tour start point in Fukuoka.

 

Day 1 Fukuoka - Yamaga

The tour group meets in Fukuoka at 14:30 pm before travelling by the award-winning Sonic Express train for a one-and-half-hour journey to Usa (pronounced ousa), the gateway to Kunisaki. From here we travel by taxi to Yamaga, where we will spend the night.

 

Our accommodation is a small, onsen thermal hot spring resort set in verdant countryside. After refreshing in the hot springs we our enjoy our first sumptuous meal together. Your Tour Leader provides the tour briefing as we tuck into dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

 

Accommodation: Onsen thermal hot spring resort.

Meals: Dinner provided.

Total walking: N/A.

 

Day 2 Yamaga - Fuki-ji

After breakfast our main luggage is taken on to our evening's accommodation and all we take with us on our trek is what we need for our walk in a daypack. A short taxi journey, via a shop to buy a picnic lunch to take with us, brings us to the start of our first walk and a climb of Kumo-ga-take, or Cloud Mountain. On a cloudy day, our climb leads us up through mists through which we catch sight of the first of many ancient Buddhist statues that are a vivid indication of the rich history of Kunisaki. On a clear day, the views afforded across the verdant valleys and mountains of Kunisaki and the rest of Kyushu can only raise our expectations of our trek on the Kunisaki.

 

After our climb of Kumo-ga-take a gentle path leads to the neighbouring peak of Omoto-san, one of the most sacred mountains in Kyushu. Omoto-san is the oku-no-in, the remoter interior shrine, of Usa Jingu, one of the least known but most important Shinto shrines in Japan. A simple, rustic shrine building on the peak is in startling contrast to the scale and opulence of Usa Jingu, which is far below us on a farming plain at the foot of Omoto-san.

 

Our path down to the Jingu follows the route that the shrine priests used over the ages. However, these days the priests make the trip by car and few others walk this way any more. A comfortable descent largely through forest brings us to the end of our day’s walking at Usa Jingu. The shrine deifies the protector god of Japan, Hachiman, and was also instrumental in the development of Buddhism on Kunisaki.

 

Another short minibus ride brings us to our accommodation for the next two nights and the first of our Japanese inns, which are now a feature for the rest of the tour. Set in a delightful rural, hamlet our inn is adjacent to Fuki-ji, a temple that includes one of the simplest and most beautiful Buddhist structures in Japan. Our inn also has the first of many onsen thermal hot springs, we enjoy throughout the tour. The onsen is a great way to relax after our exertions of the day and dinner, taken in our inn, is a feast of locally caught fish and locally grown farm produce.

 

Accommodation: Japanese inn with onsen thermal hot spring baths.

Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.

Total walking: 5 hours walking of approx. 8 km (5 miles).

 

Day 3 Fuki-ji - Tashibu - Fuki-ji

After a traditional Japanese breakfast, another short minibus ride to Makiodo. Although a rather basic temple building, Makiodo has become a treasure house of Buddhist relics saved from many of the temples that, over the centuries, have fallen into ruin on Kunisaki. It is also the beginning of today’s walk, which includes little climbing and takes us through Tashibu-no-sho, a charming village with some of the most picturesque countryside found in Japan. En route we come across stone and wooden Buddhist statues perched in caves overlooking farmland scenery that seems to have changed little since Kunisaki was chosen as a Buddhist centre some 1200 years ago.

 

Our winding path takes us through forests, over a low mountain ridge, along the edges of paddy fields and past the carefully tended gardens of the local farm houses before we eventually end up back at our accommodation.

 

Accommodation: Japanese inn with onsen thermal hot spring baths.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 4 hours walking of approx. 8 km (5 miles).

 

Day 4 Fuki-ji - Matama

After breakfast at our inn and, as usual sending our main luggage on ahead, a minibus takes us on a short journey deeper into the Kunisaki Peninsula and very soon after today’s start we find ourselves in verdant forest and remoter countryside. We visit some secluded temples before enjoying lunch in a small, rural restaurant. The afternoon's trekking includes a short but stiff climb, in part with fixed chains to assist us on our way. A cliff-hugging descent brings us down to road level and our last temple for the day. From here it is a 45 minute walk to our accommodation and more well-deserved thermal hot spring bath for the night.

 

Accommodation: Onsen thermal hot spring resort.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 6 hours walking of approx. 10.5 km (6.5 miles).

 

Day 5 Matama - Himeshima

Main luggage sent on by taxi. We travel by minibus a short distance to the beginning of Nakayama Senkyo, a ridge climb that takes us up to some spectacular views over the surrounding countryside and the Seto Inland Sea. Today's walk also includes some short climbs with fixed chains to aid passage. Lunch is a delicious bento box. Beyond here we wind our way up over a pass before descending to a quiet hamlet before meeting our transport to nearby Imi Port. Himeshima, a small island, is 20 minutes away on the ferry and our inn for the night is a short walk from the quay. The island is a delightful place with the main settlement a maze of streets, houses and little vegetable plots. Our dinner is focused on locally caught, fresh fish from some of the best fishing grounds in the Inland Sea.

 

Accommodation: Japanese inn.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 5 hours walking of approx. 8 km (5 miles).

 

Day 6 Himeshima - Monjusen-ji

We return by ferry to Imi Port. After sending our luggage on, we have lunch at a local restaurant-cum art gallery before catching a local bus to the start of today's trek. We soon pass through the grounds of Kyu-Sento-ji, a once powerful temple that the monks left many years ago. Little is left of this once-powerful institution except stone Buddha statues and hundreds of monks' gravestones. The latter include Ninmon's last resting place. Nimon was the monk that is reputed to have first brought Buddhism to Kunisaki some 1,100 years ago. A climb to Itsutsu-tsuji Fudo provides impressive views across the Inland Sea to Honshu and Shikoku, respectively Japan's first and fourth main islands. We also have a grandstand view of Hime-shima. On through forests to Monjusen-ji, a temple perched below a sheer cliff.

 

Accommodation: Temple.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 4 hours walking of approx. 8 km (5 miles).

 

Day 7 Monjusen-ji - Baien-no-Sato

If the priest is in residence, and for those who wish, we join him at the break of dawn in prayer and for a rare visit into a hidden cave for some holy spring water. Otherwise, there is time after breakfast to climb a cliff overlooking the temple, or just relax and soak up the atmosphere. As usual our main luggage is forwarded by taxi to our evening's lodgings before we start our trek. Today we pass through virgin forests and cedar plantations before we descend to an old village and join a little-used old track to Futago-ji, the principal temple on Kunisaki.

 

After lunch at a local restaurant a minibus pick us up to take us to our nearby accommodation for the night. The accommodation’s onsen thermal hot spring baths, though, are trumped by a giant, 65cm reflecting telescope. A Japanese evening meal is followed, weather permitting, by an opportunity to look at the stars above Kunisaki through the telescope. The skies here are frequently very clear and a cloudless night can provide spectacular vistas of the heavens.

 

Accommodation: Onsen thermal hot spring resort.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 4 hours walking of approx. 7 km (4.4 miles).

 

Day 8 Baien-no-Sato - Yufuin

A shorter day of walking but no less spectacular. First a visit by minibus to Walk Japan’s local office, which is in a renovated farmhouse. The office is also at the centre of Walk Japan’s Community Project in the area. We walk through this delightful area to see what we are doing to help support and revive the immediate locality while learning about the problems of depopulation and an ageing society. Rejoining our taxi we travel a short distance to the beginning of our next walk on Nokogiri-yama, an impressive ridge trek. We finish at the Kumano Magaibutsu, the largest Buddha relief carvings in Japan.

From here we transfer to Yufuin by our minibus to our evening accommodation, an upper-class Japanese inn, with thermal hot spring baths. Here we stay two nights.

 

Accommodation: Japanese inn with onsen thermal hot spring baths.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Total walking: 4.5 hours walking of approx. 6.5 km (4.1 miles).

 

Day 9 Yufuin - Mt. Yufu-dake - Yufuin

We take a minibus to the start of our climb, at 700m, of Mt. Yufu-dake (1,583m). At the mountain's peak a grand panorama across Kyushu to an active volcano and Beppu Bay awaits us, and makes a wondrous backdrop to lunch. We all head down for our triumphant walk into Yufuin for another night in our delightful ryokan in the middle of town. Re-invigorating thermal hot spring baths here are followed by another Japanese feast for dinner.

 

Accommodation: Japanese inn with onsen thermal hot spring baths.

Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.

Total walking: 6 hours walking of approx. 10 km (6.2 miles).

 

Day 10 Yufuin

The tour ends after a Japanese breakfast. Travel back to Fukuoka Airport by direct express coach from Yufuin, or onward travel elsewhere in Japan by air and rail is easily accomplished.

 

Accommodation: N/A.

Meals: Breakfast provided.

Total walking: N/A.

 

Itinerary subject to change.

 

Walk Japan Ltd. will provide information and advise about places to visit for those wanting to extend their stay in Japan beyond Day 10.

 

Please see Tour Dates for scheduled tours and their availability.

Please contact Walk Japan for more information and to book this tour.

Please visit the Custom Tours page to find out about arranging Walk Japan tours tailored to your specific requirements

Map image
The itinerary for the Kunisaki Trek is ground only beginning in Fukuoka and ending in Yufuin.
The nearest airport to the meeting point of Hakata Station is Fukuoka International Airport, with domestic flights departing frequently from Tokyo and Osaka’s airports. While the group meets at Hakata Station in Fukuoka before transferring to the accommodation, direct access to the accommodation is achievable from Oita Airport. Please contact us for more details.
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FROM FUKUOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (FUK)
From Fukuoka International Airport, please either take the City Subway line, which costs about JPY260 and takes approximately 5 minutes. The journey by taxi costs about JPY1,500 per person and takes approximately 15 minutes.
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Tour participants are advised not to book themselves out on an early morning flight at the end of the tour. The earliest bus from Yufuin arrives at Fukuoka at approximately 8.20 am.
After receiving the booking and deposit we will provide detailed instructions for travelling to the meeting point, complete with a map of the vicinity of the first night’s accommodation for those travelling directly.
Please note that Walk Japan is unable to reserve train tickets, with these being easily purchased on the day or in advance after arrival in Japan.

Please contact us if you require further advice.

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