Nakasendo Trail (Walk Only)

5 Days & 4 Nights 4.8 Read 25 reviews
  • The beautifully preserved Nakasendo post towns such as Tsumago & Narai
  • Walking through the beautiful Kiso Valley on the Nakasendo Trail.
  • Following in the footsteps of the Tokugawa Shoguns on the road through the mountains.
  • Staying in small beautiful traditional ryokan and minshuku.
  • Sumptuous evening meals beautifully presented at the family table.
  • Discovering the beauty, tradition and hospitality of rural Japan
Walk The Nakasendo Trail, a route used since feudal times and part of a network of ancient highways which links Kyoto and Tokyo through the central mountains. This tour includes only the walking section of our longer Nakasendo Trail from Kyoto to Tokyo and starts on day 1 when you catch the train and bus to Magome, where your 5-day walk on the Nakasendo Way begins. Following ancient paved village paths and mountain trails, you walk between perfectly preserved Nakasendo post towns such as Tsumago, Nojiri, Yabuhara and Hirasawa. Each night you will stay in small local minshuku or ryokan where you will be welcomed as one of the family. Impeccable service, beautiful rooms and delicious food are the hallmark of these charming establishments, which will no doubt be a highlight of your trip. Your walk ends in Yokokawa where you catch the train to Tokyo.

What To Expect

There really is no better way to discover rural Japan than on foot at your own pace. Wonderful scenery, rich tradition and culture, beautiful lodgings and amazing food make the Nakasendo Trail a unique experience. This five day walk on the Nakasendo Way fits really well with a longer visit to Japan.

Tour Style:

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

Activity:

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

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Foodie Adventures, Elegance & Unique Stays, Historical Journeys

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Activity Level & 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.

Accommodations

In Kyoto and Tokyo, we use carefully selected 3 or 4* hotels. We use local family-run accommodations on the walking section. They 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.

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.

Meals

Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on the Nakasendo Trail. 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 and minshuku 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 minshuku (guest house) accommodation on the Nakasendo trail.
  • 4 Breakfasts
  • 4 evening meals
  • Train tickets from either Kyoto or Tokyo to the start of the walk and from Yokokawa to Tokyo
  • 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.
  • Drinks with meals
  • Lunches
  • Local bus is on day 4, and should be paid locally (around ¥800, £5 or $9).
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arrang
Extras
  • Extra Nights in Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka (prices on request for Kyoto & Osaka)
  • Daily luggage transfers (Magome to Narai)

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 Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations. Ideally, you should book an open-jaw ticket departing from Tokyo 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) to Kyoto (3h30).

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.

Getting from the End

By Air: The best airport to depart from is Tokyo Narita (NRT). Alternatively, you may take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo back to Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) 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.

Luggage Transfer

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard and you have a couple of options here. The first option is to arrange luggage transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs approx £12 per day. With this service, your bags will not be moved each day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple of nights later. On the Nakasendo Trail, we recommend forwarding your luggage from Kyoto (or wherever you are staying before the walk) to Kiso-Fukushima. You carry overnight essentials in your daypack for your night in Tsumago. You then forward your luggage from Kiso-Fukushima to Tokyo (or wherever you are staying after the walk); you carry your overnight essentials for your nights in Narai and Karuizawa. Our information pack has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy.

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.

The other option is to arrange a daily baggage transfer service if you prefer to access your bag every night and this can be booked in advance through ourselves. Daily Luggage Transfer offers the option of bringing luggage by train and bus to the trail and then having it transferred from inn to inn on a daily basis. However, as it can be quite difficult to navigate public transport with luggage, we recommend Takkubin as the most convenient method. On the Nakasendo Trail, this service is available from Magome through to Narai. You will need to carry your bags with you from Narai onwards.

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.

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.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Nakasendo Trail - Transfer to Magome and walk to Tsumago 5.2 miles / 8.3 km Day 2 Nakasendo Trail - Tsumago to Nojiri 11.4 miles / 18.4 km Day 3 Nakasendo Trail - Yabuhara to Narai 3.9 miles / 6.2 km Day 4 Nakasendo Trail - Narai to Hirasawa 1.6 miles / 2.5 km Day 5 Walk from Karuizawa to Yokokawa: 6hrs & Train to Tokyo 10.6 miles / 17 km

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