Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours
Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan: The Nakasendo Kyoto to Tokyo Walking Tour

from US$2,365

In feudal times people travelling between Kyoto and Tokyo would use the Nakasendo way – the road through the central mountains – one of a network of ancient highways. Along the route travelers rested at juku - post towns -and it is still possible to walk the original route by ... Read More

  • Reviews
    No reviews yet
  • Difficulty
    Fit: 3/5
  • Tour Type
    Self guided or Guided Hiking Level 3
  • Availability
    April through November
  • Duration
    9 nights/10 days
  • Distance
    8-16km per day

Kyoto

Your tour begins with your arrival at your hotel or ryokan in Kyoto. On our Standard tour, accommodation options include the Hearton Hotel or the Kyoto Royal Hotel – modern, western style hotels with private en-suite facilities. You can also opt for the informal, Japanese-style Yoshimizu Ryokan where you will sleep on futons in tatami-mat rooms; as with the Japanese inns you will experience on the Nakasendo Trail, bathroom facilities are not attached to your room but ‘along the hallway’. Our premium tour options include the luxurious Granvia and Hyatt Regency hotels. Daily breakfast is included with all options. Transfers are not included, but whether you are flying into Osaka Kansai airport or arriving by train from Tokyo, we will happily advise you on the best way to reach your accommodation. Normally we recommend flying to Kyoto and we can book a private transfer for $55 supplement. Arm yourself with your favorite guide book and begin your discovery of the city of Kyoto – Japan’s cultural and historical capital.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa


Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Sightseeing in Kyoto

A day to explore Kyoto with your own personal guide. One of our knowledgeable, friendly and professional guides will meet you at your hotel after breakfast and lead you on a full-day tour of Kyoto. You can opt to travel by bus and subway, or by taxi – you pay for travel and entry fees on the spot. We have devised five different itineraries for you to choose from; we have included some of the most famous sights and some lesser-known spots. There are even options to join a Zen Meditation session or Tea Ceremony experience. We are proud of our guides – we engage them directly and not via agencies or other third parties. Your guide will return you to your hotel around 5pm or, if you prefer, will leave you in an alternative location of your choosing.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa


Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Sightseeing in Kyoto

Another day in Kyoto to explore the city’s riches. Or travel by train to the older capital city of Nara – there are regular Japan Railways departures from Kyoto to Nara. The journey takes under an hour and the fare is around JPY700 each way. Buy your tickets from the self-service tickets machines at Kyoto station.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa


Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Nakasendo Day 1 - transfer to Magome and walk to Tsumago

Send your main luggage ahead from your accommodation before the Nakasendo Trail to the ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima where you will stay tomorrow night. You can manage with your overnight essentials in your daypack for your stay in Tsumago tonight. Alternatively, if you are accustomed to travelling light, you may prefer to send your main luggage from your accommodation before the Nakasendo Trail to wherever you are staying after the trail. You would then manage with overnight essentials in your daypack for all four nights on the trail. Use one of the wonderful Japanese luggage-forwarding services which are ultra-efficient and secure. We supply train tickets for your journey from Kyoto or Tokyo to Nakatsugawa, including a ride on the world-famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Nagoya. At Nakatsugawa, you board a local bus for the short journey to Magome. There is a walk of around 3.5 hours over Magome Pass to Tsumago, one of the best-preserved and most evocative of the Nakasendo post-towns. Overnight at a family-run minshuku in Tsumago, with a delicious home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast included. After dinner, enjoy a stroll though the village streets in the magical quiet of the evening, wearing the yukata gown supplied by your inn. Walking distance: 8.3km / 5.2 miles Elevation gain: 326m / 1,069 feet of ascent and 430m / 1,410 feet of descent Time required: About 3 hours

Minshuku Tsumago


Minshuku Tsumago

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Nakasendo Day 2 - Tsumago to Nojiri

The longest day (about 6 hours) involves a beautiful and varied hike from Tsumago to Nojiri. There is an alternative option with just 1 hour of walking instead. The trail travels through small valleys and past forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar, through some of the least-developed scenery on the tour. Continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. Stay at a lovely hot spring ryokan set in a remote valley above the town (complimentary pick-up from the station is provided by the ryokan). The ryokan has lovely indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths. Japanese dinner with fresh local produce and breakfast are included. If you sent your main luggage ahead to Kiso-Fukushima, it will be waiting for you when you arrive at the ryokan. The ryokan concierge will help you send it onwards again tomorrow morning to wherever you are staying after the Nakasendo Trail; remember to pack overnight essential in your daypack for your remaining two nights on the trail. Longer option: Walking distance: 18.4km/ 11.5 miles Elevation gain: 723m / 2,275 feet of ascent and 644m / 2,112 feet of descent Time required: About 6 hours Shorter option: Walking distance: 3.7km / 2.3 miles Elevation gain: 101m / 331 feet of ascent and 117m / 384 feet of descent Time required: About 1 hour

Ryokan Komanoyu


Ryokan Komanoyu

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

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Nakasendo Day 3 - Yabuhara to Narai

The ryokan will drive you back to Kiso-Fukushima after breakfast. Use the tickets we supply to travel by train from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara, then hike over the Torii pass to Narai (about 3.5 hours). Explore this evocative village before check-in at your Edo-period minshuku (family-run inn for travellers) in the heart of the village. Your hosts will serve a home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast. Walking distance: 6.2km / 3.9 miles Elevation gain: 344m / 1,128 feet of ascent and 270m / 885 feet of descent Time required: About 3 hours

Minshuku Narai


Minshuku Narai

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

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Nakasendo Day 4 - Narai to Hirasawa

After breakfast, follow our map and walking instructions on the short walk (about 1 hour) to the small town of Kiso-Hirasawa, famous for its lacquerware. There are many small shops selling beautifully-crafted tableware and furniture. After spending a little time exploring the town, you board a train at Kiso-Hirasawa station with the train tickets we provide for your onward journey to Karuizawa, your final overnight stay on the Nakasendo Trail. You ride first to Matsumoto where you can visit the famous castle before connecting onwards to Karuizawa via Nagano – total travel time from Kiso-Hirasawa to Karuizawa is around three hours, not including the optional break of journey in Matsumoto. On arrival in Karuizawa, stroll along the streets of this hill-resort town and arrive at your accommodation in time for a wonderful dinner with local produce. Walking distance: 2.5km / 1.6 miles Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent Time required: About 1 hour

Ryokan Karuizawa


Ryokan Karuizawa

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Nakasendo Day 5 - Karuizawa to Yokokawa and by train to Tokyo

After breakfast, your final walk on the Nakasendo Trail is from Karuizawa to Yokokawa (about 5-6 hours). Leaving Karuizawa, the trail takes you over the Usui-toge Pass and down a gentle descent along one of the most beautiful sections of the Nakasendo, and certainly the least-developed.From Yokokawa, you use the train tickets we provide to board the local train to Takasaki and change there for your ride on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Tokyo. The train journey takes around two hours and you will arrive in Tokyo in the late afternoon or early evening. If you sent your main luggage on ahead, it can be waiting for you at your hotel. In Tokyo, the hotel choices are the Shiba Park Hotel, Niwa Hotel, or upgrade to a superior Park Hotel. Walking distance: 16.7km / 10 miles Elevation gain: 372m / 1,220 feet of ascent and 862m / 2,828 feet of descent Time required: About 5-6 hours The walk can be shortened by 3.3km / 2 miles by a taxi ride at the start of the day.

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map

Tokyo

Day 9: You will have a full day in Tokyo to explore this vibrant city. Our Standard hotel option is the Shiba Park Hotel - just eight minutes on foot from Hamamatsucho station on the Yamanote loop line, so ideally located to reach any part of Tokyo. Our Premium hotel option is the Park Hotel, located on the upper floors of a tower in the newly-developed area of Shiodome, just a few minutes on foot from Shimbashi station on the Yamanote loop line. Visit the glittering Ginza area with elegant department stores and food halls crammed with all kinds of unfamiliar delicacies. Or spend time among the skyscrapers of Shinjuku and pass through Shinjuku station, the busiest transport hub in the world. Eat and drink in one of the myriad small bars and restaurants which cluster around most railway stations, or splash out on an elegant meal in an upscale restaurant.


Day 10: Your Self-Guided tour ends today after breakfast at your hotel. If you are flying home, there are direct scheduled bus services from the Shiba Park Hotel and the Park Hotel to Narita Airport. Your hotel concierge will help you book a seat on the appropriate departure and sell you a ticket for the journey. Alternatively, you may choose to spend a few days longer in Tokyo or continue your travels elsewhere in Japan.

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Japan self guided and guided hiking tours

Overview Map
The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.

・ standard-grade hotels, or upgraded hotels, in Kyoto and Tokyo and our regular inns along the Nakasendo trail, all booked and pre-paid
・ train tickets starting from Kyoto and finishing in Tokyo (pay locally for a bus journey on Day 4)
・ detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking directions
・ topographical maps
・ local telephone support
・ one day of private guiding in Kyoto
・ 9 breakfasts & 4 dinners (pay locally for drinks with meals, for lunches, and for evening meals in Kyoto and in Tokyo)
・ daily luggage transfer is available as an optional extra service - 2 options available, see Highlights section
・ all pre-trip planning and documentation

Lodging

Ryokan & Minshuku
The classic Japanese inn, ryokan come in many styles, but they are united by flawless service and exquisitely-prepared food. Ryokan may be in modern or traditional wooden buildings, however rooms will always be Japanese style. Rooms are simply but elegantly furnished with Tatami (straw mat) floors, and futons are laid-out in the evening by the ryokan staff. Minshuku are similar to ryokan though usually run by a local family, and the style of service may be less formal and the rooms more simply-furnished. Guests typically lay out their own futons. 
Each ryokan prides itself on its cuisine, often featuring local ingredients and always prepared fresh each day. Meals will usually consist of many different courses, with a great variety of ingredients. The meal may start off with sashimi (raw fish), a thin broth, pickles, and vegetables, and then move on to a meat dish, a grilled fish dish, tempura, and end with rice.
As with ryokan, the meal at a minshuku is a highlight of the stay; many minshuku owners grow their own vegetables and fish, meat and other ingredients will be purchased fresh each day.
An added highlight of minshuku is that they may be inside older, more traditional buildings. In the Kiso Valley between Tokyo and Kyoto (Nakasendo Trail) local families have restored 'machiya' style houses in the old post-towns into small minshuku.
Both ryokan and minshuku usually provide cotton 'yukata' robes you can wear after checking-in. Feel free to wear them when going to dinner for a short stroll outside. Ryokan may have private bathrooms, but most minshuku because of the smaller, traditional buildings will have communal (segregated bathrooms). It is usually possible to have the bathroom all to yourself by going when the bathroom is less busy.
At the Japanese inns on the tour, tatami-mat rooms are culturally less 'intimate' spaces than western bedrooms and Japanese guests travelling in a group are accustomed to sharing. We follow this Japanese custom on our small-group tours and will ask solo travellers to share a tatami-mat room with another group member of the same gender.
More details and information about etiquette, bathing, etc will be sent in advance of travel.
Prices
Japan The Nakasendo- 9 nights
Double Occupancy - standard hotels:
US$2365/person
Double Occupancy - Upgraded hotels:
US$3225/person
Single Supplement - standard-upgrade hotels:
US$770-$1945/person

Single supplement is when 2 people or more are traveling together but require a single room. For Solo travelers, please inquire about supplement. LUGGAGE Transfers will also require a supplement, you have 2 choices; one very economical and the other more expensive. See the Hightlights tab.

Tour Details

Tour Highlights:
- Big City Visits to Kyoto and Tokyo
- deep country hiking trails and small village life
- traditional Japanese inns - known as Ryokan

Need to Know:
- Self guided hiking with telephone support, guided city walks
- Luggage transfer options not included - 1 of 2 choices must be made in advance; see below
- Orientation will be 9am on Day 2
 
Duration: 10 days / 9 nights
This trip as shown is Self-guided but can be done as a guided hiking trip by joining other existing departures. please inquire 

Total length: 42km for 5 hiking days.

Level: Fit Level 3
Train tickets between key cities included, you must pay other short local transport on hiking days as needed.
About Luggage Transfers:If your self-guided tour includes village-to-village trail walking, you will want to carry just a daypack on those days. There are two options for dealing with your main luggage while walking on the trail: Takkyubin Courier or Daily Luggage Transfer.

Local Coordinator

 All of our guides are professionally licensed and registered guides. Here are details of a selection of our guides.
Ritsuko Nakayama - Ritsuko is one of our regular guides and she knows a lot about Kyoto, Osaka and Nara area. Her knowledge of Japanese history is deep and wide. She is good at introducing it to clients with humour.
Masayo Uchimoto - Masayo knows Western Japan and especially Kyoto and Osaka well. She provides unique walking tours and loves to meet people and make their visit to Japan enjoyable.
Mie Takei - Mie leads walking and cycling tours in Kyoto and Sagano. She is excellent in providing the stories of Kyoto to visitors.
You will have telephone support during the self-guided hiking trip throughout this tour. A fully guided version of this trip is also possible. We work with Oku Japan, a local operator and outfitter adapted to working with western travelers.

Reviews

 This is a new tour for Pure Adventures in 2016, but our partners at Oku have been supporting this trip for North Americans for many years; ask us for trip review info.
On this trip we recommend:
- trekking shoes, well broken in
- trekking poles
- lightweight clothing that is wicking, convertable, sun protective
- other nice to have items will be included in your packing list sent prior to travel

A packing list is always sent at 60 days prior to travel. NOTE: luggage transfer is not automatically included in the trip price. There are 2 options, we recommend the one that uses local transport services in the region of this tour; it is very affordable and well done. This service moves bags ahead 2 days so that you will need to carry a day's worth of overnight items on your hikes. You should pack light and you won't need much at your hotel as some clothing is provided by your lodge owners. You should plan your pack in function of this.

Some other things you may want to bring:
- GPS
- Smartphone with GPS app, and local SIM card for low cost calling
- Hydration pack like the one shown - or a hydration bladder that fits in a larger day pack.
 

Request Additional Information

Request your free Destination Guide and get a PDF summary of this tour by email.

Our Destination guide will give you general travel info about this country; best time to travel, interesting sites, airports, weather, and more. We will include a PDF summary of this tour as well.