Honshu hiking holiday in Japan

“One of our most popular Japan holidays uses trains and trails to show you the country’s lesser-visited rural side. Hiking through forests, mountain valleys and tiny villages, you’ll stay at locally owned Minshukus, experiencing local life and home-cooked food.”


Tokyo | Mt. Takao | Matsumoto | Tsumago | Magome | Narai | Nakasendo Way | Kyoto | Walk in Kitayama Mountains | Five day hike on Kumano Kodo Trail | Osaka

Description of Honshu hiking holiday in Japan

With over 70% mountainous terrain, Japan is a hiker’s paradise. From the peaks of the Japanese Alps to valleys and ancient pilgrimage trails, there is an incredible array of routes to suit walkers of any level.

On this 16-night self-guided adventure you’ll cover some of the best hiking trails on the main island of Honshu interspersed with stays in a few of Japan’s top cities; Tokyo, Kyoto and Matsumoto.

Walking is very much the focus of this itinerary – amongst sightseeing in Tokyo, there’s an opportunity for a day-hike to Mount Takao where, on a clear day, you can see Mt Fuji from the summit. Matsumoto is the gateway to the historic Nakasendo Way in the Kiso Valley; an ancient samurai route dotted with little wooden postal towns and delightful forest paths. For keen hikers though, the highlight will undoubtedly be a five-day hike along the famous Kumano Kodo in the beautiful Kii Peninsula; voted one of the top ten regions in the world in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2018’. This is one of the top hikes in Japan, offering not only a fulfilling personal challenge, but also a great chance to learn about traditional Japanese culture, meet the locals and experience Japan’s rural side.

After all that walking, you’re sure to build up quite an appetite. The trip concludes in urban Osaka – nicknamed the ‘Kitchen of Japan’ on account of the wonderful array of Japanese street food on offer.

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Dietary requirements:
We can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Since this is first and foremost a walking holiday in rural Japan, the carbon footprint of this trip will be particularly low. The focus for this trip is getting out and about in the fresh air, embracing nature and promoting a sense of well-being.

In order to get to and from hub destinations, clients will be using Japan’s excellent public transport system and shared transfers only. There are no private car transfers included in this itinerary.

With this trip, we are also making a conscious effort to promote small towns that have taken valiant steps to act in a sustainable manner. Tsumago and Magome have made a huge effort to preserve the Edo Period ambience by hiding power lines and banning cards form the main roads during the daytime so that the beautiful, traditional buildings and flag-stone streets can be seen in their true glory. This is the side of Japan that we are keen to raise awareness of and support.

The Impacts of this Trip

As a general rule we include as many small, local and independent accommodation options in our trips as possible. As well as providing a quintessentially Japanese experience for our clients, in supporting these small businesses, we help to play a small part in keeping these traditional establishments alive.

Owing to the rural nature of this itinerary, this trip includes a particularly high number of nights in traditional family-run accommodation. Throughout the Kumano Kodo portion of the trip, clients will be staying in minshuku inns, eating home-made, locally sourced dinners, interacting with Japanese families and getting a taste of local, rural life. Likewise, in the Kiso Valley, clients will stay in small family-run minshuku and eat home-cooked seasonal specialities.

We also pride ourselves on employing local guides – serving the dual benefit of supporting local workers and offering clients a genuine and knowledgeable insight from people who have spent their lives getting to know the area.

This trip also includes a visit to a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Tsuboyu hot spring bath in Yunomine Onsen. This is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan and a lot of care has been taken to preserve this aspect of ancient pilgrimage tradition for future generations.


1 Reviews of Honshu hiking holiday in Japan

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The Roykans and the scenery were amazing. Beautiful walk.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Probably book with another operator. The information on the walk was totally inadequate. If we had not photographed the walk instructions from some people we met who were booked with another company we would have been totally lost on the last day. The major part of the last day walk has no sign posts for Nakasendo Way and we were provided with no map or instructions apart from a couple of lines. We might still be walking around rural Japan now if it hadn't been for the information we copied. It was a similar situation on day 2 but nowhere near as bad as this section was pretty well signposted apart from a
couple of areas that were a little confusing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Not really. The people were lovely and they have an amazing way of living that I truly hope tourism does not damage. I really hope it does not change in the way that Spain and Turkey have.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Japan in general has been amazing. An example to the rest of the world in how to live together. This part of our trip was equally great but I can not score it higher than three stars because it was only really great because of the info we got from some people who were booked with a different company. I am sorry but this operator really needs to improve the information they provide for the self guided tour itself. Everything else was great but the info for the walk itself was not good enough.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback, it is really appreciated. I'm thrilled you enjoyed your ryokan experiences and the walk itself did not
disappoint, though saddened to hear the resources we provided for you did not meet your expectations, and were not sufficient to enable you to complete
the hike. Having investigated further, I can see the routing we arranged for you was what we'd refer to as non-standard, covering 5 nights with a 2-night stay
in one location. Our usual practise for this hike is 2 or 3 nights. We will be reviewing our resources as a matter of urgency, and ensuring all future
documentation is sufficiently detailed should any future clients decide to follow a similar route. Thank you once again for your feedback, we hope you'll
return to Japan again some day!

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