Ancient Capitals: Nara & Asuka
- The rural countryside and terraced ricefields of the small village of Asuka
- Follow a pretty forested trail to the atmospheric Tanzan Shrine
- Explore Todaiji temple in Nara, housing a 16-metre tall golden buddha
- Follow in the footsteps of ancient warriors on the Yagyu Kaido walk to Nara
- Enjoy two nights in a lovely hot-spring ryokan in Nara
ItineraryDay 1 Travel to Asuka from either Kyoto or Osaka 5.5 miles / 9 km
Leaving Kyoto (1h15m) or Osaka (1h) by mid-morning, you should reach Asuka by lunchtime. Call in at your minshuku and leave your bags with them before heading out to explore. We recommend doing the Asuka Monuments walk today which introduces you to the history and landmarks of the village. This fascinating place is rich in history, being where the first Japanese emperors established their capitals so some of the oldest shrines and temples in Japan can be found here.
You can choose to simply relax around the village today or if you prefer, follow a pretty forested trail to the atmospheric Tanzan Shrine.
Return to your minshuku and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal.
530m Ascent, 300m Descent
Continue by train to Nara today (45m), the first permanent capital of Japan. Featuring no less than 8 World Heritage Sites, Nara’s highlights include the world’s largest Buddha statue, Daibutsu, and Nara Park with its famously tame deer as well as numerous other beautiful temples and Japanese gardens.
The Yamanobe no Michi Trail is one of the oldest roads on Japanese records and connects various of Nara’s shrines and temples.
The Yagyu Kaido walk follows in the footsteps of ancient Japanese warriors who walked this route to the sword-making village of Yagyu. Finish with a stroll through Nara Park, famous for Todaiji temple housing a 16-metre golden buddha and wild roaming (and very friendly!) deer.
240m Ascent, 535m Descent
Enjoy one final morning of sightseeing before making your way back to either Kyoto or Osaka by train (30m).
Other InformationIs it for me?
Combines perfectly with any of our Kumano Kodo tours, and perfect if you would like to explore further cultural highlights of Japan.
Slower Adventures | Where walking and cycling meet easy-going exploring, our Slower Adventures are the perfect combination. Most days are filled with picturesque journeys with some free time to dive into the destination and experience the people, local food and culture as you go.
Multi Centre Walking | With a mix of loop and point-to-point walks stay 2 or 3 nights in one place which offers the chance to slow down and really explore a destination.
As the activity is flexible and your choice on this tour, we grade this tour as easy.
In Asuka you will stay in a small Minshuku and in Nara you will stay in a lovely hot-spring Ryokan. Minshuku are generally simply furnished and less formal, but have excellent food and wonderful personal service. Ryokans are simply but elegantly decorated Japanese inns also offering wonderful service. Most Ryokan and Minshuku have large, communal segregated baths. Traditional accommodations do not have western-style beds but futons. Futons are slightly harder than western mattresses, however, when laid on tatami matting they are really quite comfortable. Japanese futons are simple single mattresses, much lighter than in the west and not supported by a wooden frame.
Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on this tour. Your trip includes 4 breakfasts and 4 evening meals.
Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan.
This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.
- 2 Nights in minshuku accommodation in Asuka
- 2 Nights in ryokan accommodation in Nara
- 4 Breakfasts
- 4 Evening meals
- Round trip train tickets from Kyoto or Osaka
- Detailed information pack with local travel information, walking route notes and sightseeing suggestions
- Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative
- International flights
- Travel to/from Kyoto or Osaka
- Local buses
- Entrance Fees
- Drinks with meals
- Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged
- Travel insurance
- Additional nights
You can start this tour on any day of the week subject to availability. Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December to 04 January), Golden Week (29 April to 05 May) and O-bon (13 - 15 August).
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. Japan can get very hot and humid during the summer months so you should keep this in mind if planning to travel at this time as it will make walking more difficult. Japan also experiences occasional tropical cyclones from June through to October. However, we usually get plenty of notice of these and very rarely should they affect your walk.
By Air: The best airport to arrive at is Osaka International Airport (KIX), which has flights from many international destinations.
Your package includes round trip train tickets from either Kyoto or Asuka. The public transport system in Japan is world-class and your pre-departure information pack has detailed information on how to use your tickets and the trains. Local buses are not included and should be paid for locally. Again your information pack will have detailed information on how to do this and it is very easy.
Luggage transfer is not included during this tour. In Japan there is an overnight luggage forwarding service which is cheap, reliable and costs about £12 per bag per day if you would like to have your bags transported for you. We provide full details of this in your pre-departure information pack.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.
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. US Nationals can visit www.state.gov to check on entry requirements.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
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9 Days 8 NightsCombine Kyoto with the 11th century Kumano Kodo pilgrim's trail.Highlights
- Imperial Kyoto, heart of Japan’s culture.
- Follow in the footsteps of Japan's Imperial family
- Overnight in traditional minshuku and ryokan.
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- Walk on an ancient highway, the Nakasendo Trail.
- Kyoto, the heart of Japan's traditional culture.
- The bright lights of bustling Tokyo.
8 Days 7 NightsTravel from Kyoto to Osaka, walking the highlights of of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trailHighlights
- The UNESCO Heritage Site of Kyoto
- Stay in Ryokan guesthouses and a Shukubo temple
- Enjoy beautifully presented Japanese cuisine
At Macs, we don’t do tour buses, groups, or guides. Instead, we give you the freedom and confidence to have your own self-guided walking or cycling adventure.
This is active travel led by you.
You choose your departure date and who you travel with, we do the rest.
We sort accommodation and luggage transfers and provide your route in an easy-to-use app.
We give you everything you need to travel independently but we're here 24/7 if you need us.
Getting from A to B under your own steam is intensely rewarding. With Macs, you'll see the world, and yourself, differently.