Nakasendo Trail walking tour, Japan

Description of Nakasendo Trail walking tour, Japan

The Nakasendo trail linked Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ (as opposed to the Tokaido route which travelled the Pacific coast) travelled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants, and travelers. Along the route were 69 ‘post towns’, where weary travelers could rest before continuing on the next leg. Our journey will start in Tokyo, known as Edo during Japan’s period of rule by the Shoguns. We will then spend four days walking along the Nakasendo. By day we will walk along the ancient route as it passes through beautifully-preserved villages along an easy path, and by evening we will stay in traditional country inns enjoying exquisite regional cuisine prepared from the freshest ingredients, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy the warm hospitality of our hosts. Enjoy bathing in hot spring water after a day on the trails!

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Meet in Tokyo. Meet your guide at the tour hotel in central Tokyo. In the evening, there will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2:Sightseeing in Tokyo. Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, visiting Ueno and the Tokyo National Museum, as well as the grand Meiji shrine. In the evening your tour leader will be on hand to help you with ordering dinner. Overnight in city centre hotel.
Day 3:Nakasendo Trail walking day 1. Our journey through rural Japan begins with a journey from Tokyo to the remote Kiso valley. Over the next three days we will walk by day from village to village, staying by night in small, family-run country inns (ryokan). After a lunch of buckwheat noodles in the local town of Shiojiri, we will walk 2 miles to Narai from Hirasawa, one of 11 ‘post-towns’ along the Kiso valley section of the Nakasendo. Post-towns were resting places, where travelers could find accommodation and food as they walked between Kyoto and Edo (as Tokyo was then called). Hirasawa is known for its locally-produced lacquer ware, and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. Stay in Narai, a beautifully-preserved post-town. Our lodgings will be an atmospheric traditional ryokan.
Day 4:Nakasendo Trail walking day 2. On our second day there will be a 5-mile walk from Narai to Yabuhara over Torii Pass and then we will continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. There we will stay in a lovely traditional ryokan with its own natural hot spring. Soak in the indoor baths made of cypress wood or try the outdoor baths surrounded by trees
Day 5:Nakasendo Trail walking day 3. We will transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train, and then walk 12 miles along the Nakasendo Way to Tsumago, passing along the way through delightful small villages and rice fields. Another of the post-towns on the former Nakasendo trail, Tsumago has been preserved by strict self-imposed rules that prohibit the sale, rental or destruction of the handsome houses. It’s a living museum, but one which is still inhabited by the local residents. We will arrive in the afternoon, with a little time to wander the streets, tasting gohei-mochi, skewered balls of pounded sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts.
Day 6:Nakasendo Trail walking day 4 & Osaka. From Tsumago we will walk the 4 miles to Magome, our last stop in the Kiso Valley. You will have lunch in Magome and time to explore the many small shops. We will transfer by train to Osaka and check in to our hotel.
Day 7:Nara. In the morning we will transfer by train and have a guided walk of Nara. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Our visit concentrates on the area near Nara Park, where the Todaiji temple, Nigatsu-do and Sangatsu-do halls, Kasuga shrine, Shinyakushi-ji temple, Kofuku-ji temple, Shosoin treasure house, and Isuien garden are located. The park is also home to a thousand or more free-roaming deer. Todaiji's Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, and houses a 16- metre tall bronze image of the Rushana buddha.. Prior to being rebuilt three hundred years ago, the awesome structure was even bigger than it is today. In the afternoon, there will be free time to relax or wander through the old town.We will return to Osaka in the evening.
Day 8:Yoshino. From Osaka our journey takes us to the ridge top village of Yoshino, and a comfortable ryokan. We will visit Yoshimizu Temple (connected to historical figures such as Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Emperor Godaigo, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi), and explore the area.
Day 9:Mount Koya. From Yoshino we will take the scenic train to Mount Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees 800 metres up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century, when the monk Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) founded the first temple and the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have shukubo (temple lodgings). We will stay in one of the elegant temples, run by the monks, and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). There will be a guided walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery, with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries.
Day 10:Transfer to Kyoto. There will be the opportunity to get up early and join the Buddhist morning service if you wish. Afterwards, we will visit Kongobu-ji temple, the head temple of the Shingon sect. After lunch, we will travel by train to Kyoto. After checking in at the hotel, we can enjoy an evening walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district and there is always the possibility of seeing a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.
Day 11:Kyoto. There will be a half-day walking tour this morning. First of all we will visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. From there, we will visit Ryoan-ji, with its famous rock garden of raked gravel and 15 moss-covered boulders. It is not possible to see all 15 boulders at once from any place in the garden. It is said that if you can see all 15 you have achieved enlightenment. Afterwards, we will visit the famous Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, originally built by the Ashikaga Shogun in the 15th century as a place of contemplation and rest. There will be free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts. In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner with your guide.
Day 12:Tour ends. On our final day we say farewell. If you wish to stay a few days longer we will be happy to help.

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.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
14 Nov 2019
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 14 Nov 2019 departure
23 Mar 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 23 Mar 2020 departure
30 Mar 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 30 Mar 2020 departure
05 Apr 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 05 Apr 2020 departure
07 Apr 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 07 Apr 2020 departure
16 Apr 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 16 Apr 2020 departure
05 May 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 05 May 2020 departure
11 May 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 May 2020 departure
15 May 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 May 2020 departure
18 May 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 18 May 2020 departure
01 Jun 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 01 Jun 2020 departure
15 Jun 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 Jun 2020 departure
07 Sep 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 07 Sep 2020 departure
15 Sep 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 Sep 2020 departure
21 Sep 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Sep 2020 departure
06 Oct 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 06 Oct 2020 departure
09 Oct 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 09 Oct 2020 departure
18 Oct 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 18 Oct 2020 departure
02 Nov 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 02 Nov 2020 departure
05 Nov 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 05 Nov 2020 departure
08 Nov 2020
£3710
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 08 Nov 2020 departure
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Nakasendo Trail walking tour, Japan

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

1. Protection of Local environment
Our tours are all small-group, both avoiding the need for large vehicles and hotels, and ensuring we don’t overwhelm the places we visit.
Where our tours use mountain or countryside trails, we ensure that we don’t damage vegetation by using only established trails. We leave what we find, so no taking of plants, rocks, archaeological artefacts, etc.

2. Wild life
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 ‘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.

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

Community

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.

5 Reviews of Nakasendo Trail walking tour, Japan

5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
5
0
0
0
0

Reviewed on 30 Oct 2019 by

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


Staying in ryokans and minshukas and the food provided in the inns was a great experience. Enjoyed the stunning scenery.

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


Travel light - no need for toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, paste, etc. Use local services where possible to transport bags from village to village, even when the inns don’t offer the service. We found it very helpful to have a Japan Rail Pass, rather than pre-arranged tickets as there was no need to exchange tickets when alternative travel times were required.

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


Definitely feel it helped the local economy. It also makes it possible for people to walk and use public transport rather than drive.

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


Fabulous. It is a great way to see the countryside, experience the ‘real Japan’ and meet people from all over the world. It was unfortunate that weather meant we couldn’t walk on the last day but these things happen. My only disappointment was the lack of communication from the operator regarding this. Having been advised on the second last day that the trail was open and walkable, we only heard from another walker that one of the guides had spoken to some people and advised that heavy rain has made the last part of the trail hazardous. We could very easily have missed this and gone ahead. Standard communication to all walkers should have been sent out, in my view. That apart, the selection of inns and towns selected for accommodation was excellent. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to see more than cities and enjoys being off the beaten track.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your kind words Margaret, we do appreciate this review and all client feedback.

We were saddened to learn about your experience regarding the final walk. We encourage guests to contact us directly if they have any concerns; at this point the local authorities had not closed the route, nor issued any information regarding the safety of this trail. Conversely we had received reports of walkers safely completing the trail up until the date of your walk.

We do pro-actively reach out to guests in many situations, even when trails have been established to be safe to walk, we do also provide emergency contact details to ensure all guests are able to reach us. We will look at ways to make the most up-to-date information available to all guests further. We hope that this situation did not impact too much on your overall enjoyment of the trail and Japan. Thank you again for joining our tour.

Reviewed on 18 Jul 2019 by

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


There were many great parts but if forced to pick we’d say our stay at the Tsuruya Ryokan and our walk from Karuizawa to Yokokawa

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


(1) Be prepared for some steep ascents & descents.(2) The days can feel rushed at times given the number of connections you need to make to and from the trail. Give yourself plenty of time.

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


Yes. We stayed at local inns, used only public transportation, and walked “softly” on the trails.

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


Excellent. The agent was very helpful, even assisting with the airlines to ensure that our “lost” bag arrived safely just a few days into our trip.

Reviewed on 12 Dec 2018 by

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


It’s difficult to choose a highlight as it was all so varied and interesting! I loved Nara and all the amazing temples there. The meals we had were ridiculously good, especially the farewell meal and the vegan food at the temple lodgings in Koyasan. The post towns on the Nakasendo Trail were beautiful, and some of the traditional lodgings we stayed in were just stunning. Having a room with a view of Mt Ontake was amazing!

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


This tour may appear more expensive than other similar ones, but the standard of the hotels, the guides, and the included meals were way superior to the tour I took in Japan last year with a different company. I spent far less additional money as so much more was included in the tour.

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


We stayed in locally-owned traditional hotels for about half the tour. The post towns on the Trail had small shops for souvenirs that were run by elderly locals, so I think we were helping to augment their pensions! We mostly used public transport. The meals that were prepared for us used mostly local seasonal produce. Not sure about conservation.

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


Absolutely brilliant! A great balance between very small towns in the Kiso valley, days spent waking, and the days in big cities staying in western style hotels. Very knowledgeable guides.

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2018 by

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


The beauty of the Japanese landscape and the friendliness of the people we met. The wonderful foods, some of which we had never experienced before.

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


Relax and enjoy!

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


Yes. It was a walking holiday walked so not producing carbon emissions. We bought produce from local people.

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


It was a great holiday. Perfectly geared to our abilities. The information pack provided was perfect as well as the communications.

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2018 by

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


It was outstanding and hard to pinpoint a single thing. Experiencing the Onsens, seeing a whole valley flowering with cherry blossom, eating lots and lots of extraordinary food. A guide who was always patient and smiling and couldn't do enough to make sure every single person got what they wanted. Walking though beautiful valleys and mountains..... I could go on and on.

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


Carry as little as possible - all the ryokans and hotels do provide sleepwear and toiletries and you really need very little. Layers are essential if you go early spring - it went from 27 degrees (sunhat needed) to 12 degrees and windy. In the villages they are still very traditional and covering shoulders is appropriate so t-shirts not vest tops. Take a small pillow. Japanese pillows are often filled with grain and hard to get used to. Choose your level - I did 'active' but could have done 'challenging - however the leisurely pace allowed for lots of photos'. Do bother to learn a few japanese phrases - it is so appreciated.

Be chilled about seeing the cherry blossom - nature is fickle!. I went early so didn't expect to see much and the flowering was two weeks early so I was
extremely lucky everywhere and it was outstanding. But by the time the next group went sadly it would be over. It is luck so make sure that there are plenty
of other things you want to get from your holiday.

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


Definitely - all the inns were small and very traditional. My group happened to be small so we ate in a range of restaurants all very unique. Tourism is definietly growing and essentail to keep the villages thriving.

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


The tour company were excellent in every way - from communication at the start when I booked through every aspect. Our guide Taichi was exceptional. Can't rate them highly enough.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Ruth - thank you for taking the time to review our tour. We are delighted that you enjoyed your time with us and hope that we might have the pleasure of welcoming you on another of our trips in the future. Jeremy Spencer

Popular similar holidays

Japan self guided walking holiday, Nakasendo Trail

Japan self guided walking holiday, Nakasendo Trail

Self-guided walking along Japan’s ancient Nakasendo trail

From £865 - £1225 5 days excluding flights

Honshu hiking holiday in Japan

Honshu hiking holiday in Japan

A challenging walking and hiking holiday in Japan

From £3630 17 days excluding flights

Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

Self guided walking on the Kumano Kodo Trail

From £855 - £1990 6 days excluding flights

Kumano Kodo walking holiday, Japan

Kumano Kodo walking holiday, Japan

Village to village walking in the sacred Kii Peninsula

From £2915 9 days excluding flights

Convert currencies