Coast to Coast Pilgrimage: Walk, Savour, Connect (Kinkasan)

Walk in nature, savour local flavours and connect with the people and culture of Japan’s deep north.


Embark on a journey of ‘rebirth’ in Japan’s deep north – the Tohoku region.
This coast-to-coast journey connects the Pacific coast of Miyagi Prefecture to the Japan Sea coast of Yamagata Prefecture, showcasing the natural beauty of both coastal and mountainous areas and their respective cultural and culinary highlights.


Walk/trek your way through stunning scenery as you encounter three different ‘pilgrimage’ routes: the ancient spiritual training grounds of the Three Holy Mountains of Dewa (Dewa Sanzan), the inspiring ‘Michinoku Coastal Trail’ (including Kinkasan Island), and the ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’ followed by prolific Edo period Haiku poet, Matsuo Basho.


Along with your friendly guides you’ll have the opportunity to meet with local farmers, fishermen, artisans and Yamabushi (mountain priests) who will be your personal connection to the area. Follow the journey of each local ingredient you eat – from farm/ocean-to-plate – and be inspired by stories of family tradition, history and a deep respect for both the blessings and ferocity of nature.


Walk in nature, savour local flavours and connect with the people and culture of Japan’s deep north.


What’s Included

• 4 nights accommodation
• 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
• Oyster harvesting experience
• Lacquerware painting experience
• Yamabushi guided trekking and ascetic training program
• Agricultural harvesting experience
• All transport and transfers as listed in itinerary
• Some snacks and refreshments
• Travel insurance
• English speaking guides / interpretation

Not included

• Airfares and transport to/from start and end points.
• Personal expenses
• Alcoholic beverages with meals (unless stated otherwise).




Day 1 – Depart from Sendai City, hike Kinkasan Island

After meeting your guides and group at Sendai Station, you’ll depart for the Pacific Coast of Miyagi Prefecture. From Onagawa Port you’ll board a private boat to Kinkasan Island, one of the ‘three sacred lands’ of northern Japan. Here you’ll hike to the summit of Mt. Kinkasan (part of the Michinoku Coastal Trail / Sanriku Fukko National Park), taking in panoramic views of the coastline while befriending the 500 deer that inhabit the island (fresh local sushi lunch included).

After the hike, drive a little further up the coast to beautiful Kesennuma City, where you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal at the ‘brewer’s table’; after a brewery tour and tasting session at Otokoyama Honten sake brewery, dine on local cuisine made with freshly caught seafood and expertly paired with three-four varieties of sake by the head brewer himself!

Activity: Hiking | Distance – 3km | Time – 3 hours | Elevation – 445m Difficulty: 2

Accommodation: Kesennuma Plaza Hotel | shared room with ensuite | Onsen Included meals: Lunch, Dinner


Soak up incredible views of the morning sun rising over the Pacific as you walk along the picturesque Karakuwa Peninsula (part of the Michinoku Coastal Trail). Jump on a local fishing boat and be taken out to oyster farms in the middle of the bay. Be guided by a local oyster farmer as you enjoy an up-close view of each step of the cultivation process, whilst also hearing first-hand stories of how the industry has recovered following the disaster of 2011. For lunch, freshly harvested oysters will be the star of a meal made from locally sourced seafood and ingredients at an oyster-shack run by a fishing family.


Driving inland across the mountains of Miyagi Prefecture you’ll arrive at Naruko Onsen. Before it’s time to soak in the hot springs, drop-in to the studio of a local lacquerware artisan for a personal workshop from the master himself! Discover a unique fusion of ancient craftmanship and modern functionality by decorating your own lacquered bamboo ‘eco-straw’.


The personal connections continue over dinner as you tuck-in to a feast of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients at farmhouse restaurant ‘Satonowa’ overlooking the rice-fields. Savour the rare chance to share a table with the local producers who created the meal in front of you!

Activity: Hiking | Time – 1.5 hours
Difficulty: 2
Accommodation: Miyama Ryokan| shared room, Japanese style | Onsen Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Start your day with a morning hike along the Natagirikogen Mountain Pass – the same path followed by Edo Period Haiku poet Matsu Basho whilst composing his great compilation ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’. Stop for a coffee break in the forest as you take in the very same scenery that inspired his poems.


Crossing over the border into Yamagata Prefecture, discover why the diverse food culture of Tsuruoka saw the city recognized as Japan’s only ‘UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy’ at local restaurant ‘Alchecciano’ – Italian cuisine prepared by world- class Chef Masayuki Okuda, made solely from local ingredients including many heirloom vegetables.

From the afternoon, enter the spiritual realm of the Dewa Sanzan – the Three Holy Mountains of Dewa. For over a thousand years, pilgrims from across Japan have travelled to these holy mountains to train their bodies, minds, and souls deep in the pristine nature of Yamagata. The pilgrimage traverses through the world of the present in the towering cedar forests of Mt. Haguro, death and the afterlife on the high peaks of Mt. Gassan, and rebirth at Mt. Yudono, the most holy site of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa.
A journey to all three of these mountains is known as the ‘Journey of Rebirth’.

Starting with an introduction to the history and story of the area at Ideha Cultural Centre, take a guided hike to the five-story pagoda (a national treasure) and up the 2446 stone steps to the peak of Mt. Haguro / Dewa Sanzan Shrine guided by an authentic Yamabushi (mountain priest). After the hike, check-in to your lodging for the evening, ‘Miyatabo’ – authentic Shinto pilgrim lodging.


Dinner will be a spiritual experience in and of itself as you learn how to make and correctly savour traditional ‘Shojinryori’ vegetarian cuisine. Whilst widely associated with Buddhism, the ‘Shojinryori’ of the Dewasanzan is a fusion of both Buddhist and Shinto beliefs, and the consummation of the meal is seen to be a form of ascetic practice. Assist with harvesting the ingredients before watching how some of the dishes are prepared. Eat the meal in ‘mindfulness’ and experience Shinto ceremony to prepare your mind and body for the continuation of the pilgrimage the following day.

Activity: Hiking 1: Natagiritogei Mountain Pass | Time – 2.5 hours | Elevation – 475m Hiking 2: Mt. Haguro | Time – 2 hours | Elevation – 414m | 2446 stone steps

Difficulty: 3
Accommodation: Miyatabo Pilgrim Lodging | shared room, Japanese style | shared bath/toilet
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Wake-up early for a private Shinto prayer ceremony and breakfast of Shojinryori to prepare your mind, body and spirit for the pilgrimage ahead.

Day four will arguably be the most physically challenging of the itinerary as your group tackles the remaining two peaks of the Dewa Sanzan – Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono. Once again, you’ll be joined by a Yamabushi priest to not only guide the way, but to instruct you in the ascetic elements of the pilgrimage, including a visit to both Gassan Shrine and Yudono Shrine at the peak of each mountain. (Packed lunch included)

It is forbidden to speak of exactly what occurs during the blessing ceremonies at each shrine, but you will require an open-mind and a small towel…!

The pilgrimage of spiritual ‘rebirth’ is complete after ascending Mt. Yudono.
Leave the Dewa Sanzan and head towards the Japan Sea coast to watch a breathtaking sunset from the hot spring baths of Yudono Onsen. Indulge in a delicious ‘kaiseki’ course meal of fresh seafood and toast to the final night of your journey with local sake and wine!

Activity: Trekking: Mt. Gassan | Elevation – 1984m → Mt. Yudono| Elevation – 1156m | Time – 7 hours

Difficulty: 3
Accommodation: Ryokan (Yunohama Onsen)| Shared room, Japanese/Western (ensuite) | Onsen baths
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 5 – back to the grassroots!

Enjoy an easy morning and perhaps a stroll along the beach before setting off on the last day of activity. Today you’ll leave the mountains and ocean behind for the far-reaching plains of Shonai. Join a local farming family on their field and participate in the harvest of some seasonal vegetables/fruits like ‘Dadacha-mame’ (local variety of edamame bean) or grapes.


Be welcomed into the home of a friendly local family, the Chonans, at their farmhouse restaurant ‘Chikeiken’. Feast on locally sourced vegetables and seafood and enjoy a chat with the vivacious Mrs. Chonan who will make you feel right at home.

After a lazy lunch, your private transport will drop you off at Tsuruoka Station or Shonai Airport from where you can make your way back to Tokyo or onwards to your next destination!

Activity: Agricultural experience | vegetable harvest Difficulty: 1
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch


JR Sendai Station
Five days, four nights
10-16 pax
Sign-up Deadline
By request
Cancellation Policy
• Cancelled more than 21 days prior to departure: Zero fees.
• Cancelled between 20 and 8 days prior to departure: 20% of the Tour
• Cancelled between 7 days and 48 hours prior to departure: 30% of the
Tour Price.
• Cancelled between 48 and 24 hours prior to departure :40% of the Tour
• Cancelled within 24 hours of departure: 50% of the Tour Price.
• Cancelled on the day of departure: 100% of the Tour Price.
• *No refunds will be given after the tour has commenced.*
If the minimum number of participants is not met the event will be cancelled.


Basic Plan

Price 320000

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Are you looking for a ‘deeper’ kind of travel?

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You want to experience what’s unique to Tohoku. You want to visit the places where the locals go; the places not listed in guidebooks! You want to meet and interact with local people. You want to take your time exploring Tohoku so you need a guide, or perhaps an English-speaking driver...
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