Oku Japan Insights

Welcome to the Oku Japan blog, full of our latest news and stories about Japan. Here you can find anything from practical information for your next trip, interesting stories of the local people living along our trails, or trivia about the Japanese culture.

Oku Japan's activities in Tsumago

Samantha Marino

After more than a decade of working with the local community, in 2019 Oku Japan became the first and only tour operator to open a branch office in the Nakasendo post-town of Tsumago.

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Understanding Dining Etiquette on Your Trip to Japan

Ilse Montald

While there is a plethora of rules connected to Japanese cuisine, the truth of the matter is that they have become quite relaxed over the years as foreign cuisine started to mix with mainstream culture.

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Do you want to become a Dual Pilgrim?

Oku Japan

The Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, and the Kumano Kodo, are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites because of their cultural and historical significance. In fact, these two pilgrimage routes are the only ones with UNESCO status in the world.

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The Ohenro Pilgrims of the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Oku Japan

The white-clad figures that pop up frequently during a search about the famous Shikoku 88 pilgrimage have an official name. They are called Ohenro. It is not an exclusive term - anyone can become one when walking the trail.

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When is cherry blossom season in Japan?

Oku Japan

In March and April, cherry blossom mania begins - forecasts as to when and where the blooms will appear first and when they will peak make the morning weather reports. Sakura -flavored items make their way into restaurant menus, coffee shops, and supermarkets.

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Okunoin Cemetery on Mt. Koya

Ilse Montald

The bridge to Okunoin serves as a boundary between worlds, and the cedar trees lining the path seem to open a barrier that welcomes you into the spirit world.

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Spirituality on pilgrimages in Japan

Ilse Montald

I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person following any specific devout path and surprisingly, such feelings are shared with a lot of Japanese people as well.

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What is solo travel in Japan like?

Ilse Montald

Japan is a country that is very friendly towards solo travellers. Historically, people walked trails by themselves as wandering merchants, ronin (‘masterless samurai’) or religious pilgrims.

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History on the Nakasendo

Kanata Ide

While there are other notable towns along this legendary route, one of the most memorable aspects of a visit to this area is the human connection made with the local residents.

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