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Nakasendo Trail - Walking Tour

Nakasendo Trail Group Tour of 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!

Itinerary Details:

Day 1 Meet in Tokyo
Meet at the hotel in central Tokyo in the evening and walk to a local restaurant for our welcome dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 2 Tokyo
Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, visiting Ueno and the Kappabashi district (famous for selling kitchenwares and small plastic models of food used in restaurant displays), as well as the grand Meiji shrine. In the evening your guide will be on hand to help you with ordering dinner. Overnight in city Centrex hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

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). Our luggage will be taken by road allowing us to carry just a light day pack. After a lunch of buckwheat noodles in the local town of Shiojiri, we will walk 1.5 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.

Walking: 1.5 miles, 1 hour (negligible ascent or descent)
Accommodation: Minshuku (country inn)

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.

Walking: 5 miles, 3 hours (ascent and descent of 885 feet)
Accommodation: Hot spring Ryokan (Japanese inn)

Day 5 Nakasendo Trail walking day 3
We will transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train, and then there is short transfer by taxi, followed by a 9-mile walk along the Nakasendo to Tsumago. Only twenty years go it was falling into disrepair, but through a concerted effort of its residents, it has been saved and restored. We arrive in the small village in the afternoon, 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.

Walking: 9 miles, 4 hours (ascent 2035 feet and descent 2820 feet)
Accommodation: Minshuku (country inn)

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.

Walking: 4 miles, 2.5 hours (ascent 1150 feet and descent of 660 feet).
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 7 Nara Day Trip
We will take the train to Nara and have a guided walk in the morning. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites - Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, Nara Palace Site, Ganko-ji Temple, Yakushi-ji Temple and Toshoda-ji Temple. Many of these sites are in or near Nara Park, home to a thousand or more free-roaming deer. We will visit two of these World Heritage sites including Todaiji temple -its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. Prior to being rebuilt three hundred years ago, the awesome wooden structure was even bigger than it is today. In the afternoon we will visit Nigatsu-do or Kasuga Taisha Shrine. There will then be some free time to relax or wander through the old town before returning to Osaka by train.

Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

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.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Japanese inn)

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 2600 feet 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.

Accommodation: Shukubo (temple lodging)

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.

Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

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. From there, we will visit the Gion district then stroll through Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka streets where there are many old shops. Afterwards we will visit the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple - built in the 8th century - which has one of the most beautiful views of the city. 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.

Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

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.

Walking Level:
Easy/moderate - 4 days of walking and hiking from 2 to 5 hours per day on flat paths and mountain trails with some short climbs. This tour is suitable for those who are in reasonable shape and can walk over rough ground for up to 5 hours. Whilst on the trail you will need to carry a small to medium day pack.

Tour Accommodation:
We have chosen each accommodation carefully for their comfort, service and personal service. On several nights we use Japanese-style accommodation with shared bathrooms and toilets. These generally have separate male and female bathing areas. Couples or those traveling together will have their own room, while single travelers' may be asked to share with another member of the group (same gender only).

Please note that single rooms are normally only available in hotels – where a single room supplement may apply. Single travelers may be asked to share a room (same gender).

To make sure you get the most of your Japan experience, Japan Road tours offer a wide variety of Japanese cuisine to enjoy. You will have the chance to eat local specialties in small Japanese diners and sample some of the more 'refined' Japanese cuisine.

Tour Guidance:
Full time services of a Japanese and English speaking tour leader.

This 12 day tour begins and ends in Japan.

If you have any questions or if you are ready
to make a reservation please Contact Us or call at +1-248-747-4048

American Society of Travel Agents MemberJapan Travel SpecialistJapan Endless Discovery

Tour schedules are subject to change.
If any changes should be made it will be done in the best interest of the travelers.
Japan Roads will at all times aim to offer you the most interesting tour possible.

Dates 2016
March 21 to April 1
March 27 to April 7 (full)
April 4 to 15 (full)
April 11 to 22 (full)
April 18 to 29
May 8 to 19
May 16 to 27
July 11 to 22
September 5 to 16
October 3 to 14
October 12 to 23
October 16 to 27 (full)
November 6 to 17

The above dates are subject to change

Price 2016
per person.

Tour price includes all transportation between destinations, accommodation, entrance fees, full-time services of tour leader, all breakfasts and 10 evening meals. Single supplement is US$450.

12 days.
Full time services of Japanese/English speaking tour leader.
Four days of village-to-village walking on the old Nakasendo trail – Imperial Nara and Kyoto – modern Tokyo - the mountaintop village of Yoshino - visit sacred Mount Koya and stay in a shukubo (temple lodging) – relax in the bath at a lovely hot spring ryokan – travel on the bullet train
Mode of Travel
Train ('shinkansen' bullet train and local trains), bus, and your legs..
Group Size
Minimum 5, maximum 12 participants
Age Restrictions
Participants should be at least 12 years old. Everyone younger than 20 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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