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Nakasendo Trail, Tokyo, Kyoto, Mount Koya & Nara

11 Days & 10 Nights 4.5 Read 2 reviews
  • Tokyo, the modern capital of Japan.
  • Following the ancient Nakasendo Trail.
  • Staying in traditional ryokan and minshuku.
  • Exploring the largest wooden building in the world, Todaiji temple in Nara which houses a 16-metre tall bronze Buddha.
  • Taking part in morning prayers at your temple lodging in Mount Koya.
  • Exploring fascinating Gion, Kyoto's geisha district
Combine four days of walking along the Nakasendo Trail with time to explore Japans' highlights; vibrant Tokyo, ancient Nara, Mount Koya & Nara. You’ll discover the highlights of Japan over 11 days, including four days hiking the Nakasendo Trail, a historic highway used since feudal times. Explore the former imperial capital of Nara with its numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, Mount Koya with its beautiful forest and wonderful location high in the mountains, and Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto with its 400 shrines and 1600 temples and famous Geisha district.

What To Expect

Perfect if you want to combine walking, culture and cities. Wonderful scenery, a rich history, fascinating cities and beautiful lodgings combine to make this tour a great overall insight into Japan.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night

This trip is suitable for:

Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Foodie Adventures
  • Luxury & Unique Stays
  • Historical Journeys

Grade & Terrain

The route is graded as moderate. The walking is mostly on paved village paths and unpaved mountain trails, with some gentle ascents and descents. On most days you will be walking for between 2 and 6 hours and ideally, you should be a regular walker to get the most from the trip or do some training prior to the trip. The walk is highly customisable and we can advise which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.

Navigation

The route is waymarked (in English and Japanese) and we provide detailed route notes and topographic maps so you should have no problem following the trail.

Accommodation Information

In Tokyo and Kyoto, we use carefully selected 3 or 4* hotels. We use local family-run minshuku and ryokan for the 3 nights on the walking section and in Nara. And in Mount Koya, you stay in monastery temple lodging. The minshuku, ryokan and temple lodgings are generally simply furnished and less formal, but have excellent food and a wonderful personal service. Here are some examples of the accommodation we use most often.

Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.

Meals

Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on this tour. Your trip includes all breakfasts and 4 evening meals whilst on the trail.

Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast in western-style hotels usually includes more familiar choices.

Dinner and breakfast in ryokan, minshuku and guesthouses are set meals, usually with a whole succession of different dishes which will delight you. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan.

Included
  • 4 Nights hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
  • 5 Nights minshuku or ryokan (guest house) accommodation on the Nakasendo trail and in Nara.
  • 1 Night in temple lodging in Mount Koya.
  • 10 Breakfasts
  • 4 evening meals
  • Train tickets from Tokyo to the Nakasendo Trail, for intermediate journeys on the Nakasendo Trail, from the Nakasendo Trail to Nara, from Nara to Mount Koya, and from Mount Koya to Kyoto.
  • Detailed information pack with local travel information, detailed route notes, topographical maps and hints and tips.
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative.
Excluded
  • International flights.
  • Travel to Tokyo/from Kyoto
  • Transportation costs - at the start of the Nakasendo Trail, the bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome is payable locally, the Osaka city subway rides between Shin-Osaka and Namba are payable locally.
  • Drinks with meals
  • Lunches
  • Evening meals in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto
  • Local buses
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged.
Extras
  • Additional nights
  • Guided sightseeing tours in Tokyo and Kyoto.
  • Extra Night in Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka (prices on request for Kyoto and Osaka)

When To Go

This trip is available to start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April and November.

Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December to 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (13 - 15 August). Please note, that during these peak holiday times, prices will be confirmed according to what availability there is for certain accommodations.

Time of Year

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the summer months from June to September are also great as are the autumn colours in October and November.

Getting to the Start

By Air: The best airport to arrive at is Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), which has flights from international destinations. Ideally, you should book an open-jaw ticket departing from Osaka Kansai (KIX) which is the closest airport to Kyoto or alternatively try and get your airline to throw the internal flight in.

You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo (3h30).

Getting from the End

By Air: The best airport to depart from is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations. Alternatively, you may take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto back to Tokyo Narita (NRT) for onward travel. 

The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. For timetable information please visit http://www.westjr.co.jp/global.en/travel-information/timetable. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.

Baggage Transfer

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk. Your accommodations during the walk provide robes to wear in the evening and shoes are not worn inside, so you only need your hiking gear and can travel very light. In Japan there is an overnight luggage forwarding service which is cheap, reliable and costs about £12 per bag per day.

On this tour, we recommend forwarding your luggage from Tokyo (or wherever you are staying before the walk) to Kiso-Fukushima (Day 4), from Kiso-Fukushima to Nara (Day 6), and from Nara to Kyoto (Day 10). You carry overnight essentials in your daypack for your nights in Narai, Tsumago and Mount Koya. Our information pack has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. 

Visas

Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.

British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit www.fco.gov.uk for up to date information.

Equipment

Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

When is the best time of year?
What personal equipment do I need?
Do I need to speak Japanese?
Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?
Which is the best airport to fly to?
How do the baggage transfers work?
How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Tokyo Day 2 Tokyo Sightseeing Day 3 Nakasendo Trail - Transfer to Magome and walk to Tsumago 5.2 miles / 8.3 km Day 4 Nakasendo Trail - Tsumago to Nojiri 11.4 miles / 18.4 km Day 5 Nakasendo Trail - Yabuhara to Narai 3.9 miles / 6.2 km Day 6 Nakasendo Trail - Narai to Hirasawa & Train to Nara 1.5 miles / 2.5 km Day 7 Free Day to explore Nara Day 8 By Train and Cable Car to Mount Koya Day 9 By Train to Kyoto Day 10 Free Day to Explore Kyoto Day 11 Onward Travel

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