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Walking the Nakasendo

7 day Japan walking tour from $4750

creating active adventures since 1987

The Nakasendo trail linked Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ (as opposed to the Tokaido route which traveled the Pacific coast) traveled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants, and travelers. Along the route were 69 ‘post towns’, where weary travelers could rest before continuing on the next leg.

Our journey begins in Tokyo, where we board the world-famous bullet train and begin our journey into the Kiso Valley, to Magome, one of the many “post towns” along, what was the principal trade routes during the time of the shoguns. Our journey takes us along some of these ancient trails, experiencing Japan on foot and meeting the locals as we proceed slowly from village to village. Beautifully preserved post-towns (juku) lie along the route, and we will enjoy the hospitality of villagers who have converted their traditional ‘machiya’ houses into inns.

let the fun begin!
Arrive in Tokyo.
As most flights arrive late, accommodation is provided in Tokyo the night before the tour starts. The departure dates listed are for day 1.
Meals: None
Meet in Tokyo, travel by train and bus to Magome
Today you meet your guide for the trip and begin your journey on the Nakasendo Trail by traveling to the post town of Magome. Almost completely destroyed by fire in 1895, the town has been lovingly brought back to life with the combined hard work of the Japanese Government and the local residents. Once checked in to our traditional accommodation for the night, we have the remainder of the day to explore the small shops dotted along the main street of the town or walk up to a viewpoint that offers spectacular views of the area.
Meals: L,D
Walk from Magome to Tsumago
Our journey along the Nakasendo Trail truly begins today with a walk over Magome Pass to Tsumago, one of the best-preserved and most evocative of the Nakasendo post-towns. Spend the night at a family-run Minshuku in Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago, with a delicious home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast included.
Walking: 5.2 mi / 8.3 km, Elevation gain: 326m / 1,069 feet of ascent and 430m / 1,410 feet of descent , Meals: B L D
Walk from Tsumago to Nojiri
The longest day on the trail is a beautiful and varied hike from Tsumago to Nojiri. The trail travels through small valleys and past forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar, through some of the least-developed scenery on the tour. We will then continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. Stay at a lovely hot-spring Ryokan set in a peaceful valley above the town. Complimentary transfer from the station is provided by the Ryokan. The Ryokan has lovely indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths.
Walking: 11.5 mi / 18.4 km, Elevation gain: 723m / 2,275 feet of ascent and 644m / 2,112 feet of descent, Meals: B L D
Morning walk to Gongentaki Falls. Afternoon visit to local Sake Brewery
Today we’ll take a picturesque but short walk to Gongentaki Falls. During the Heian period, the General Kiso Yoshinaka fought fiercely with the powerful Heike clan. It is said that he prayed to the god of Gongentaki Waterfall, Ontake Daigongen, for victory. The trail will take us along a river path with a steep ascent to the falls, from here we’ll enjoy the gentle descent back into the town with its wonderful views.After lunch, we’ll visit a traditional sake brewery to learn about how sake is made. Sake is only brewed in the cooler months, when the delicate koji molds can work their magic and provide the necessary fermentation.
Walking: 4.3 mi / 7 km, Elevation gain: 632m / 2,075 feet of ascent and 637m / 2,090 feet of descent, Meals: B L D
Walk from Kiso-Fukushima to Narai
The Ryokan will drive us back to Kiso-Fukushima after breakfast for us to take the short journey from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara, the starting point for the hike over the Torii pass to Narai. We’ll have a chance to explore this atmospheric village before check-in to our family-run inn in the heart of the village for the evening.
Walking: 3.9 mi / 6.2 km, Elevation gain: 344m / 1,128 feet of ascent and 270m / 885 feet of descent, Meals: B L D
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Walk from Narai to Kiso-Hirasawa
After breakfast, we’ll begin the short walk to the town of Kiso-Hirasawa, famous for its lacquer ware. We’ll spend time exploring the small shops selling beautifully-crafted tableware and furniture, learning about the how these are made. From here we board a train at Kiso-Hirasawa station for your onward journey to Karuizawa for your final overnight stay. Ride first to Matsumoto where we visit the famous castle before connecting onwards to our final stop.
Walking: 1.6 mi / 2.5 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Onward travel to Tokyo
After breakfast we begin our journey back to Tokyo where our tour ends.
Meals: B
details, details

7 days / 6 nights
Fun: Walking
Sleep: Classic
Level: A

Hilly terrain following historic walking trails from Japan’s Edo period

Total: 26.5 mi / 42.4 km
Daily Avg: 5.3 mi / 8.5 km

Tour meets and ends in Tokyo, Japan. (HND or NRT)

Traditional Japanese Ryokan and Minshuku, 4 star hotel in Tokyo   

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What’s Included:
  • Expert local bilingual guides
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, snacks*
  • Dinners featuring fine local cuisine*
  • Handpicked lodges, double occupancy
  • Hotel accommodation night before tour
  • Sake tasting
  • Entrance fees
*as noted in itinerary

What’s Not:
  • Airfare to/from Japan
  • Gratuities for Guides and Crew
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa fees or service
  • Internet, laundry, phone services

Scheduled Dates

25 Oct 2020

Click Preferred Date to Book Trip

Make new friends join a scheduled group
  • Single room: $n/a

Go When You Want

When To Go? The tour is available year round, with walking during most of the year and snow shoeing during the winter months. Spring (March-May) and fall (Sept-Nov) are the best months for walking. Summer (June - August) can be hot and rainy. Snowshoeing departures are best in December & January.

Book Private Trip

Just the two of you with only 2 persons
  • Single room: $n/a
Bring the family 3 to 5 persons
  • Single room: $n/a
The gang’s all here 6 or more persons
  • Single room: $n/a
* All prices are per person in US Dollars. Seasonal supplements may apply on private trips.
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