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Kathie Callum

Oku Japan operates guided, self-guided and custom tours around Japan. Our main office is in Kyoto, and some of our sales staff are based in the UK. In spring 2015, Oku Japan opened a branch office in the village of Chikatsuyu, where we are proud to be part of the local community.

Our mission is a simple one; to introduce visitors to Japan to the beautiful scenery, delightful towns and villages, and above-all the lovely people, we have discovered on our travels. We are a small team of people passionate about Japan, and every one of us speaks Japanese and knows the country intimately. We have travelled the length and breadth of the country; stayed at hundreds of hotels, Ryokan and Minshuku, taken trains, planes, ferries and buses to the far corners of this amazing country, to discover the best food, best accommodation and best service that you can expect.

We strongly believe in travel having a positive impact on both the traveler and the local people. Our tours travel both to the famous sites, but also to the lesser-known places that have not made it into the guidebooks. You may find yourself on a super-fast bullet train one day, and the next sitting in a small country hot spring miles from the nearest town.

We try to strike a balance between easy, comfortable travel, with seeing places that require a degree more effort to get to. Some of our destinations are not visited by any other tour company, and that's because they are not suited to mass-market tourism. Our favourite inns may not have internet access or even their own website, but they have the freshest food and personal service you can't reproduce on a large scale.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"We specialize in rural off the beaten path Japan and have a strong expertise in the Nakasendo, the Kumano Kodo, and the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage route. In addition we are pleased to offer walking and stays at Mount Koya, Nara, and Asuka and can arrange tours that include many other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"Oku Japan has been bringing travellers to Japan for over 10 years."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"Enjoying a traditional shamisen performance in our office on the Kumano Kodo in Chikatsuyu"

Kathie is part of the following groups: Japan Travel Agents
Ishite-ji, Temple 51 on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/fumoto_s
Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Self-Guided Walking Tour - 10 Days

Spend 10 days walking and hiking Shikoku's 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, visiting historic Buddhist temples along the way. You'll see pilgrims, easily identified by their white clothing and walking staff, who spend weeks on the trail visiting all 88 temples. As you explore castles, small villages, and larger communities, sample local specialties and stay in traditional inns or pilgrims' lodgings, you'll get a real taste of Shikoku's unique culture.

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Island, Japan
In the Shadow of Mountains: From Sea to Sea in Southern Japan - 12 Days

Explore the coast of the Sea of Japan, then head across southern Japan to visit towns and islands on the Seto Inland Sea. You'll spend twelve days discovering Japanese history and culture as you visit shrines, temples, castles, museums, and even a preserved silver mine. See how miso paste, sake, and pottery are made and soak in hot spring baths. You'll come away with a true appreciation for the traditions and history of southern Japan.

Great Torii at Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island
Self-Guided Active Japan: Cycling, Hiking, Kayaking - 9 Days

Indulge your sense of adventure while soaking up history and taking in the scenery of Hiroshima, the Seto Inland Sea, and Shikoku. You'll walk, hike, cycle and paddle to temples, islands, shrines, and memorials and get a true sense of life in Seto Inland Sea communities.  This trip is designed to accommodate travelers who are used to easy walks, hikes, and bicycle trips and is suitable for children ages 12 and up.

Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, Photo Courtesy of Simon Desmarais, CC BY-SA 2.0
Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Self-Guided Walking Tour - 4 days

Spend four days exploring the historic Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail in Ehime Prefecture on this self-guided tour. You'll meet white-clad pilgrims dedicated to walking the entire trail as you visit several of Ehime's iconic Buddhist temples and discover Shikoku's pilgrimage traditions. Relax in a hot spring bath after a visit to Matsuyama Castle and enjoy local hospitality in shukubo (pilgrim lodgings) and ryokan (traditional inns).

Kyoto's Kinkaku-ji Temple.
Shoguns & Samurai: Tokyo, Kiso Valley, Mount Koya & Kyoto - 14 days

Embark on a journey through Japan’s cultural past with this immersive two-week itinerary. Starting in the modern capital of Tokyo, you’ll travel north to traditional mountain hot springs before making your way through the historic post towns of the ancient Nakasendo Trail. Wander through the 16th-century architecture of Takayama, discover the alpine valleys and traditional straw-thatched houses of Shirakawa-go, and step back in time to Imperial Japan in the historic capital of Kyoto. Spend a night with Buddhist monks at the mountaintop temples of Mount Koya before returning to Tokyo for a final evening in the city that never sleeps.

Japan's Nakasendo Trail
Nakasendo Trail: Tokyo to Kyoto - 12 Days

Perfect for active walkers, this trip combines a four-day walk on Japan's Nakasendo Trail, which connected Tokyo and Kyoto during the days of shoguns and samurai, with a visit to three historic Japanese capitals, Tokyo, Nara, and Kyoto. You'll begin your trip in Tokyo, then take to the trail and stay in post towns once used as feudal-era stopover points.  You'll visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nara, Yoshino, and Mount Koya, then spend two nights in Kyoto, where geisha still entertain well-heeled guests and Buddhist temples beckon.