tain ridges, where the women would have caught glimpses of the holy shrine. Koyasan is still a bustling monastic centre, as evidenced by frequent sightings of monks with closely shaved heads in bright saffron robes. Flocks of tour buses full of pilgrims (a pilgrimage can take any form, I learn), are everywhere, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of this town, which has me snapping photo-after-photo of exotic traditional architecture and Japanese maple trees. There are over 100 temples in Koyasan, and we stay in one of the many that offer accommodation for tourists (shukobo). Like most traditional accommodations, at shukubos there is an onsen, or public hot springs bath, meant for socializing and enjoying the mineral waters’ healing powers. Here, I let all sense of modesty drop, as tradition holds you don’t wear a bathing suit (male and female baths are separate), and by the end of the journey, I am in love with this relaxing before-dinner ritual. Dining here is shojin-ryori, traditional vegetarian, made with simple ingredients like goma-dofu (sesame tofu), seasonal wild mountain edible plants, sweet-and-sour seaweed, familiar favourites like miso soup and tempura veggies and, of course, rice. Our energetic, ginger-haired British guide, Ben, tells us it is considered polite to finish every grain of rice to show respect, as the Japanese way of growing rice is time-consuming and laborious. Ben has lived in Japan for 12 years and married a Japanese woman, so he is full of historical tidbits and cultural anecdotes. At dawn, I join sutra chanting and a goma fire ritual, where we are invited to write a wish on a wooden stick called a gomagi, and the monks burn them, to represent Buddha burning away the root of our suffering. After that, we get a ride to the Taki-jiri entrance, a popular starting point for the Nakahechi, and we start our journey to the first of the three shrines. Unlike Canadian hiking trails, here you will often spot statues, like the one we see after our steep ascent up the Hashiori-toge Pass, called gyuba-doji, which depicts Kazan, (968-1008), one of the first emperors to pilgrimage to Kumano, riding a horse and a cow as a boy. Two-and-a-half days of trekking through misty mountain passes, quaint villages, bamboo groves, mossy Japanese cypress forests, terraced rice fields, rows of hanging dried fish and vegetable gardens, brings us to Hongu-Taisha, the first shrine. Here, we start to meet more Japanese henros (pilgrims) on the trail, often clad in traditional conical straw hats and carrying walking sticks with a bell. A dramatic entrance up 158 stone stairs, and we see four small shrines in a row with traditional roofs showing spectacular workmanship with layers of foot-thick cypress bark. The next day, our pilgrimage continues. I’ve left behind my busy life, my senses are heightened, and I can tune into the quiet of the forests. We pass waroda-ishi (round-shaped cushion rock), where the Kumano deities are believed to meet and chat over tea. The three carved symbols are bonji Sanskrit characters assigned to buddhas and bodhisattvas, and I swear I can hear whispers of the ancestors in the wind. The final two-days of hiking are through the most difficult
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Visit all the places made famous by the popular Downton Abbey TV series.
England’s Treasures JUNE 10 - 25 2016 th
16Castle, Days • 41 Downton’s Highclere theMeals Lake District, Cotswolds and Cornwall
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Highlights: London, Highclere Castle, Buckingham Palace, Coventry Cathedral, York, Yorkshire Dales, Lake District, Liverpool, Cotswolds, Blenheim Ends Palace, Glastonbury Abbey, Cornwall, Ives, Salisbury, Stonehenge Jan 3St. 1 st 2016
Highlights: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Rüdesheim, Miltenberg, Wertheim, Glass Museum, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Wachau Valley, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Evening Budapest Cruise, Folklore Show
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Regular Rates: Lower Outside Cabin Rates: Double $6,899 CAD Middle Outside Cabin Rates: Double $7,424 CAD Upper Outside Cabin Rates: Double $7,829 CAD Double $5,999 Single $7,199 Suite Cabin Rates: Triple $5,949...CAD Dollars!! Double $9,454 CAD
Included in Price: Included in Price: Round Trip Air from Vancouver Intl Airport, Air Taxes and Round Trip Air from Vancouver Intl Airport, Air Taxes and Fees/Surcharges of Fees/Surcharges of $670 per person $540 per person (subject to increase until paid in(subject full), Hotelto Transfers increase until paid in Full), Hotel Transfers.
Not included in price: Cancellation Waiver and Insur* All Rates are Per Person and are subject to change ance of $350 per person. Round Trip Air from Victoria **This tour was priced in USD and converted to CDN at a $1.20 exchange. ***Price is locked in against any currency fluctuation. Intl Airport add $50 per person.
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Call CallYour YourLocal Local Marlin Marlin Travel Travel for for Reservations: Reservations: Broadmead Village • Oak Bay 250-370-1222 Broadmead Village250-383-5414 250-383-5414 • Oak Bay 250-370-1222 Place 250-383-6101 Cadboro Bay250-383-6101 250-595-1181 • •Sussex Sussex Place Westshore 250-478-1113 • Sidney 250-656-5561 • Duncan 250-748-2594 Westshore 250-478-1113 Sidney 250-656-5561 • Duncan 250-748-2594 Ladysmith 250-245-7114 •• Nanaimo Ladysmith 250-245-7114 Nanaimo250-758-3924 250-758-3924 Parksville 250-248-2041 • 604-532-0507 Parksville 250-248-2041 • Langley Kelowna 250-868-2540 West Kelowna 250-768-6875 Kelowna 250-868-2540 Langley •604-532-0507
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