Nakasendo self guided walking tour
Description of Nakasendo self guided walking tour
Discover one of the world’s great pilgrimage routes as you walk Japan’s iconic Nakasendo Trail, starting from either Tokyo or Kyoto, with carefully curated routes available based on how far you want to go and how much time you have. Some of the itineraries include additional areas of magnificent hiking accessible from the Nakasendo Trail.
The Nakasendo Trail is one of the oldest roads in Japan, used since the 8th century by feudal lords and their samurai, as well as traders and religious pilgrims. It is also one of the most beautiful roads, surrounded by majestic mountains, passing through forests of bamboo and cedar, past lakes, waterfalls and the historic post towns that are dotted along the route.
A Nakasendo self-guided walking tour lets you set your own pace, stopping to take in the views along the way whenever you feel. Comprehensive route notes are provided, and you’ll have 24-hour emergency support should you need it. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to meet Japanese people, as well as walkers from all over the world, on their own journeys.
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this holiday however is your overnight accommodation. Every evening you’ll be welcomed into an inn, or ryokan, and served delicious home-cooked meals. At some of the ryokan, you will be able to soak in natural hot spring onsens too, soothing tired feet and legs. An onsen is a lovely way to experience traditional Japanese culture. This is one of the most popular activities in Japan and you’ll be enjoying it every night of your trip. Many of these properties have been owned by the same family for generations, who will use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients for your meals.
You can choose from 3-day, 4-day or 5 day walks for the classical Nakasendo Trail experience, or if you seek a more extended journey, we also offer 6-day or 10-day Nakasendo Trail walks that combine the Nakasendo with other beautiful areas for hiking nearby. Both start from either Kyoto or Tokyo according to your preference, and can include all your transport, such as shinkansen bullet trains and local trains, for total convenience. You’ll walk in Kamikochi and Oku-Hida, with the 6-day route finishing in the mountain town of Takayama, while the 10-day route carries on via Nikko to finish in Tokyo.
PlanetYou 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. The presence of small-scale tourism in the Kiso Valley has encouraged the conservation of these areas, and discouraged the development of golf-courses and other projects which have negative effects on the local biodiversity. We support conservation through the Nature Conservancy Council of Japan.
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.
We follow the principles of ‘Leave no Trace’ 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.
PeopleThe villages you will visit along the Kiso Valley section of the Nakasendo trail were, until the 1970s, falling into disrepair and with few jobs, young people were moving to the cities. The villagers then began a concerted conservation and restoration effort, repairing the old wooden houses, and turning some of them into small ‘minshuku’ guest houses. Over the past 30 years this gradual conservation has continued, and the Kiso Valley villages have enjoyed a steady stream of income and sustainable development from the visitors who come.
Many of the lodgings on this tour are owned and run by several generations of one family, and all income from visitors stays in the village and brings the benefit of jobs for the younger generation. Your food will be prepared from locally-sourced fish, meat, and vegetables. Many owners also grow their own vegetables and rice. We support The Japan National Trust which helps protect the traditional buildings of rural Japan.