Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Ancient Capitals Extension: Nara & Asuka
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Highlights

  • 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

Visit the historic capitals of culturally rich Nara and rural Asuka on this 5 day extension which can be easily combined with any of our Kumano Kodo itineraries.

Travelling by train from either Kyoto or Osaka you make your way to Asuka, a peaceful rural village where life moves at a lovely slow pace. Enjoy a couple of walks here or perhaps hire a bike to cycle through the lush terraced rice fields. Continue by train to Nara, the first capital of Japan, which features no less than 8 World Heritage Sites. Walk in the footsteps of ancient warriors from Yagyu to Nara and explore Nara Park, with its famous deer and temples. Finally make your way by train back to either Kyoto or Osaka.

Overnight stays are in a small minshuku in Asuka and a lovely hot-spring Ryokan in Nara, giving you a truly authentic experience of these ancient capitals.

Day 1: Travel to Asuka from either Kyoto or Osaka

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.


Walk: 9km, 4hrs, 420m Ascent/Descent


Dinner & Overnight: Asuka


Day 2: Asuka Tanzan Shrine Walk

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.


Walk: 13km, 5hrs, 530m Ascent, 300m Descent


Dinner & Overnight: Asuka


Day 3: By Train to Nara, Walk the Yamanobe no Michi

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.


Walk: 16km, 5hrs, negligible ascent/descent


Dinner & Overnight: Nara


Day 4: Walk the Yagyu Kaido in Nara

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.


Walk: 11km, 5hrs, 240m Ascent, 535m Descent


Dinner & Overnight: Nara


Day 5: Onward Travel to Kyoto or Osaka

Enjoy one final morning of sightseeing before making your way back to either Kyoto or Osaka by train. (30m)

Accommodation

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 a wonderful personal service. Ryokan 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.


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 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.


Single Rooms

Single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.

Availability

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 (09 - 17 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.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

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


Grade & Terrain

As the activity is flexible and your choice on this tour, we grade this tour as easy.


Equipment

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.


Baggage Transfers

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.


Travel Insurance

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.

Getting to and from Japan

By Air: The best airport to arrive at is Osaka International Airport (KIX), which has flights from many international destinations.


Getting around

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.


Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.


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. US Nationals can visit www.state.gov to check on entry requirements. 

Included

  • 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 Asuka
  • Detailed information pack with local travel information, walking route notes and sightseeing suggestions
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative.

Excluded

  • International flights.
  • Travel to/from Kyoto or Osaka
  • Local buses
  • Entrance Fees
  • Drinks with meals.
  • Lunches.
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged.

Extras

  • Additional nights
  • Singe room supplement if single rooms required.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is extremely popular especially during the spring and autumn months. However, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka International Airport (KIX), which has flights to many international destinations. Train tickets are included from either Kyoto or Osaka to Asuka and from Nara back to either Kyoto or Osaka.

Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?

Yes, please just let us know at the time of booking.  It is worth mentioning however that many dishes do contain the ubiquitous Japanese fish stock called dashi which is an ingredient in many soups and sauces so it is helpful if you are able to accept dishes containing this.

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