MIKISATO BEACH KAYAKING AND SHRINE PILGRIMAGE - Follow the Ancient Path of Edo Period Pilgrims by Kayak to Beautiful Asuka Shrine

MIKISATO BEACH KAYAKING AND SHRINE PILGRIMAGE - Follow the Ancient Path of Edo Period Pilgrims by Kayak to Beautiful Asuka Shrine

Mikisato beach is a stretch of beautiful white sand that slopes into the clear blue waters of Kata Bay in Mie Prefecture. The protected waters of the bay are perfect for open water kayaking and, with the help of a guide, can be navigated by beginners and experts alike. This area is well-known for having an abundance of fish and other seafood. Asuka Shrine is nestled deep into the natural beauty of the seaside and is home to a 1,000 year old camphor tree.

Visitors who join the Mikisato Beach Kayaking and Shrine Pilgrimage tour will follow a route similar to the one used by Edo Period pilgrims 200-300 years ago as they crossed the bay to visit Asuka Shrine. The full-day tour starts at 8:00 AM on Mikisato Beach and takes about seven hours to complete. This package costs ¥18,000 per person and includes an English speaking guide, basic kayaking training, all of your gear, a fresh seafood lunch and bathhouse access.

Caption: Hiro was the lead kayak out into the open waters of Kata Bay.

Once we got out into the middle of the bay, I handed my camera to Hiro and he took over the photography duties so I could focus on my paddling. I had no problem going faster, turning or stopping and I was soon able to fully appreciate the experience of being surrounded on all sides by the incredible natural beauty of Mie Prefecture.

Caption: I was confident enough to paddle harder and increase my speed.

When we reached the other side of the bay, we paddled within 20 meters of the base of the mountain where it met the water. This spot was absolutely stunning and the water was clear and amazingly blue. We stopped at this spot and Izumi and I chatted about her time in Canada. It was a major bonus to have a guide who could speak English and share some of her Canadian experiences with me.

Caption: We paddled over to a gorgeous cliff face on the other side of the bay.

As we moved along in the bay, we could see traditional fishing villages where residents had been making their livings from the sea for generations. Izumi was able to tell me some interesting facts about each town and we talked about how life in these villages is changing with the times. Being out on the water and looking from a distance, it was easy to forget that we live in a modern world.

Caption: The fishing villages on the edge of the water were amazing.

Before the final leg of our kayak trip, Izumi and Hiro stopped and pulled out some mikan (Japanese Mandarin oranges) for us to eat. They told me that they are also part-time mikan pickers in Mihama, a town where they can grow mikan all year round. The delicious little green oranges were great and a welcome snack after 1.5 hours of paddling.

Caption: My guides had some green mikan forus to snack on.

Caption: Izumi and I with our green mikan.

After our snack, my guides told me we would be heading to Asuka Shrine for lunch. I was feeling great and ready to go. It had been an awesome day so far and my guides made sure I had a perfect first open water kayaking experience.

Caption: The final stretch of our kayak journey.

Caption: Hiro and Izumi were amazing guides for the day.

When we arrived near Asuka Shrine, we docked our kayaks and climbed onto dry land for the first time in two hours. Before lunch, we would be using a public bath house and changing our clothes. Izumi gave some quick instructions on proper bathhouse etiquette and I was off to wash and get changed.

Caption: We used a public bathhouse to wash and change after kayaking.

After cleaning myself up, I was ready for a hearty lunch featuring some fresh locally-caught seafood. The food was amazing and I was even able to try some kinds of seafood for the first time. For example, we had some fresh sazae (a type of sea snail), which my guide explained was a popular delicacy in Japan. The chance to have new food experiences while enjoying a great day of outdoor activity was a real bonus for me on this tour.

Caption: The BBQ lunch was included and there was an impressive selection of meat and seafood.

There were also a few different kinds of fish that were common to the area and very fresh. It was great to try some of the local specialties in an awesome outdoor setting after our kayaking trip. I had definitely worked up a big appetite from all of the paddling. 

Caption: It was fun to grill our lunch together and relax after our long trip across the bay.

In addition to the seafood options, there was also some pork that was very tasty after being grilled on the open fire. It was the perfect meal to be enjoyed outside and we had a wonderful time chatting and sharing the food. It is always a pleasure to eat with locals and enjoy food produced in the area I am visiting. I could really feel the pride Izumi took in being from Mie and how much it meant for her to share the best of her home prefecture with me.

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