The journey from Tokyo through Nagoya and on to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka is well travelled and known as Japan’s Golden Route. By making a detour off this route, you can enjoy enriching cultural experiences and see unique parts of Japan. Here are our Second Golden Route suggestions.
The North route: Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
Experience the history and tradition of Japan in Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa, a short detour to the north of the Golden Route.
DAY 1 Nagoya – Takayama
Takayama is a beautiful, historical town with projecting latticework and eaves of uniform heights.
DAY 2 Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
Get lost in a World Heritage listed village with thatched roof farm houses built in the traditional gassho-zukuri style.
DAY 3 Kanazawa – Kyoto
Experience the history and culture in Kanazawa, the old capital of Hokuriku.
• Nagoya – 2hr 20min by JR Limited Express – Takayama
• Takayama – 50 min by Nohi bus – Shirakawago
• Shirakawago – 1 hr 15 min by Nohi bus – Kanazawa
• Kanazawa – 2hr 10 min by JR Limited Express – Kyoto
The South route: Ise Shima – Kumano Kodo – Koyasan
Venturing south of the original Golden Route will take you through Mie and Wakayama prefectures on the Kii Peninsula, a very sacred and spiritual part of Japan. Follow in the paths of pilgrims who have been making the journey to this region for centuries.
DAY 1 Nagoya – Ise Jingu/ Toba
Visit Oise-san, a serene and most sacred shrine and the peaceful Toba Bay area, the centre of Japan’s pearl industry.
DAY 2 Ise/Toba – Kii Katsuura (Kumano Nachi Taisha ) – Hongu
Kumano Kodo is one of the only two UNESCO World Heritage listed pilgrimage routes.
DAY 3 Kumano Hongu Taisha- Koyasan
Hike the ancient trail to and around Hongu Taisha and then soak yourself in an onsen (hot spring) to revitalise.
DAY 4 Koyasan-Osaka
Try Shukubo lodging in Koyasan, headquarters of Shingon esoteric Buddhism.
• Nagoya – 1hr 20 min by JR or Kintetsu Rapid Service – Ise-shi – 2 hr 40 min by JR Limited Express – Kii Katsuura
• Nagoya – 1hr 40 min by JR or Kintetsu Rapid Service – Toba
• Kii Katsuura – 30 min by bus – Kumano Nachi Taisha
• Kii Katsuura – 15 min by JR – Shingu – 1hr 20 min by bus – Kuamano Hongu Taisha
• Kumano Hongu Taisha – 3hr by bus – Koyasan (Limited service for summer)
• Kumano Hongu Taisha – 1.5 hr by bus – Tanabe Station – 3.5 hr by bus – Koyasan
• Koyasan – 5 minutes by cable car – Gokurakubashi – 90 minutes by Nankai line – Namba/Osaka
For detailed access in Kumano area, visit Tanabe Tourism Bureau website.