Japan ancient capitals self guided walking tour

“A five day, tailor made walking holiday, taking in the ancient cities of Kyoto, Nara and Asuka. Staying in traditional inns and travel from one to the next by train. A lot of wonderful walking in five days. ”


Kyoto | Asuka | Tanzan Shrine | Nara | Yamanobe no Michi Trail | Yagyu Kaido Trail | Nara’s Todai-ji temple

Description of Japan ancient capitals self guided walking tour

This Japan self guided walking tour is a five day trip around the ancient heart of the Kansai region, on the main island of Honshu. A tailor made itinerary, the route we have planned below can always be tweaked to suit your budget and time frame.

The walking holiday revolves around the region’s three ancient capitals of Kyoto, Nara and Asuka as well as the ancient walking trails that spread out from all of them. Easily accessible by train, you can explore the varied histories of each location, walking along the likes of Yamanobe no Michi Trail around Nara. This is part of Japan’s oldest road, known as the Shinkaido , and is peppered with shrines, temples and tombs. The Yagyu Kaido Trail is an ancient samurai trail in Kasuga Mountain's Primeval Forest, and is also accessible from Nara.

During this holiday we will organise for you to stay in small traditional inns, which boast superb authentic Japanese cuisine as well inimitable and outstanding 'omotenashi' service. There is also an option to upgrade to a stunning, recently renovated ‘machiya’ townhouse in Nara.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

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.

You will experience the ‘Satoyama’ landscape of rural Japan, the border area between arable flat land where rice is grown, and the mountains. Managed sustainably over centuries, it is biologically diverse and supports a wide variety of wildlife. We are conscious about our carbon footprint and this particular tour does not involve long-distance travelling within Japan. We use public transportation on our trips rather than chartered motor vehicles to lessen our environmental impact.
Our tour features a family-stay at an organic farm. This means that our accommodation suppliers value locally-produced food, which has a lower carbon footprint and further encourages economic activity in the community.
Choosing smaller lodgings such as this home-stay experience, or traditional Japanese inns in Nara for example, owned and run by local people, helps and supports local communities and businesses. This means we aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of natural resources, culture and society, treating them with respect and fairness.

The Impacts of this Trip

Focusing on the lesser-known walking routes of the Kansai area, this tour features a friendly family-stay at an organic farm. This immersive farm-stay fosters genuine interaction between local populations and visitors. Hosts at this organic farm-stay are examples of the 'I-turn' movement in Japan, whereby city dwellers return to the countryside, reversing the trend of recent decades, and re-create a lifestyle more closely connected to the land. We want to support this movement and allow our guests to experience the rural lifestyle. Bringing visitors to country communities, such as the peaceful agricultural community of Asuka, helps sustain their economic viability. Encouraging economic activity in the community means that their society and culture can endure, too. This is particularly important for rural areas, many of which faced decades of decline and depopulation as younger people moved away to the cities. There are now welcome signs that this tide has started to turn.


1 Reviews of Japan ancient capitals self guided walking tour

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2018 by

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

Probably staying in two historic ryokan but the travelling over 4 days to two different locations was great fun as well. And the best moment was the sudden
unexpected view of Mount Fuji from Oshino Hakkai.

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

We are in our mid sixties and I was nervous beforehand about our ability to figure out the transportation by ourselves. In fact, with the helpful information
plus clear ticketing, it was all very straightforward and went extremely smoothly. And local people just want to be helpful so assistance was always available.

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

I hope that staying in the ryokan helped to keep these traditional Inns in business. They make a unique offer of warm hospitality, excellent food and onsen baths.

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

Excellent in every way.

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