Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

“Eight days of guided snowshoeing or winter walking on Japanís most glorious ancient route, the Nakasendo Trail. Guided in a small group, with lots of hot-spring baths to enjoy along the way. ”


Kyoto | 4 days of Nakasendo Trail guided walks | Nakatsugawa | Magome | Tsumago | Kiso-Fukushima | Stays in traditional ryokan inns | Yabuhara | Torii Pass | Narai | Kiso-Hirasawa | Asama Onsen | Walking tour Tokyo | Hama-Rikyu gardens | Nihonbashi

Description of Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

An eight day guided snowshoeing or winter walking holiday in Japan that takes you not only on one of the countryís most heavenly hiking routes, the Nakasendo Trail, but also to Kyoto and Tokyo. This is, in fact, an ancient trail between these two cities dating back to the 8th century when Tokyo was still known as Edo. It is over 500km long, and was originally created so that feudal lords could traverse the mountainous terrain to access all their different territories. This trip includes five winter walks on the Trail, following in ancient footsteps on some of our favourite segments and taking you through traditional villages feel unchanged by time. Usually very popular with tourists at other times of the year, you are experiencing its beauty at a very tranquil and tourist free time.

We chose these particular sections of the Nakasendo Trail because they are not too challenging, with routes that will take between one and three hours, some on paved paths and others on rugged forest lined trails, and also because there are wonderful traditional inns known as ryokans in the stunning Kiso Valley along the way. These also have the all important Japanese traditional baths, some direct from volcanic springs which are typical of this volcanic region. A very important part of Japanese culture, water is almost sacred in these parts, as is the whole ritual of bathing. Food is also a fundamental part of the Japanese culture, of course, and so you wonít go hungry after a day of winter walking on the Trail, your hosts preparing some of the finest Japanese food for you.

One of the other joys of the Nakasendo Trail is that it connects up rather brilliantly with Japanís rail network, which enables you to visit the countryís heritage-rich cities of Kyoto and Tokyo too, starting in the former and finishing in the latter. With the services of our fine local expert guide to take you on a half day walking tour around Tokyo, visiting highlights such as the Hama-Rikyu gardens and also the Japan Bridge, or Nihonbashi, the traditional end point of the Trail.

Travel Team

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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.

1. Protection of Local environment
Our tours are all small-group, both avoiding the need for large vehicles and hotels, and ensuring we donít overwhelm the places we visit.
Where our tours use mountain or countryside trails, we ensure that we donít damage vegetation by using only established trails. We leave what we find, so no taking of plants, rocks, archaeological artefacts, etc.

2. Wildlife
We respect wildlife by avoiding quick movements, loud noises, getting too close and feeding animals. We help with the preservation of local culture by educating visitors about local traditions and crafts, and making the history and culture a central theme of their visit.

3. Energy
We reduce the consumption of energy by unplugging all electronic appliances when leaving the office. During the day when it is bright we use natural sunlight and avoid turning on the light. During the summers we use electric fans instead of air conditioners.

4. Waste
We follow the principles of ĎLeave no Traceí on our walking tours. We do not leave behind any waste on our tours. On our walking tours we dispose of all waste properly to avoid contamination of water sources. We avoid as much the use of paper, and do as much of our marketing as possible on-line, using internet fax and avoid printing out paper. When we do print we use double side as much as possible.

5. Transport
We use local public transport as much as possible where this is an option, lessening the environmental impact of extra vehicles on small country roads.
We encourage our employees to walk/bike to the office

The Impacts of this Trip

1. A fair deal
We work only with small local businesses rather than international chains, and where possible we source goods and supplies locally, using only small, locally-owned and run accommodation and restaurants. This ensures that as much as possible of the money remains within the local economy.

For our accommodations where possible we choose to use locally family inn run by family for generations. On this Nakasendo Trip we use Daikichi an accommodation that has run in the family for three generations.

We higher local staff and provide sickness and holidays benefits. The local staff is given full responsibility of tour operations encouraging great responsibility and fostering management skills.

Our tours often visit the lesser-known (but equally enchanting) areas of the countries we visit, and this helps to spread the economic benefit of tourism more evenly.

Small group tourism encourages young people who would otherwise leave to find work in the cities to stay and start small-scale sustainable enterprises that cater to visitors. We try to avoid the destinations that cater to mass-market tourism, taking our guest to the lesser-known but if not more rewarding places that larger tour companies tend to avoid due to their unsuitability for large groups. This means our clients money will end up in small community that may have little in the way of work for its young people.

2. Local Crafts & Culture
To offer unique, engaging and educative tours which take visitors to lesser-known countries and regions, and introduce them to the culture, history and traditions of the people who live there. We provide cultural classes which help spread and preserve the culture, knowledge and traditions of the locals. We also encourage our tour leaders to have a deep knowledge of the local people and culture. They have often lived and worked locally for many years. By travelling the quieter backroads and encouraging personal contact with the local people, we reveal a side of these countries that most visitors never see.


1 Reviews of Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 01 Mar 2018 by

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

The beautiful little post towns and the amazing food at the places we stayed at.

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

Wear lots of layers as it can get cold but you also need to be able to cool down by stripping back when you're hiking and the sun comes out.

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

I hope it helped the local communoities by enabling them to keep these beautiful old buildings functioning as they were meant to.

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

It exceeded expectations. We were all very well looked after by our guide and kept informed of the local history and culture of wherever we went. A five star experience throughout.

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