person walking along Nakasendo Trail
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Walking the Nakasendo

Classic Inn to Inn 7 days Leisurely  From $3750

Walk the Paths of Ancient Japanese Emperors

Want to taste the Japanese cuisine in a traditional Ryokans? Join our Japan walk along the ancient Nakasendo route used by the emperors during the Edo period. Follow in the footsteps of Edo Period Emperors as you walk among valleys and forests, explore ancient villages, and dine on authentic cuisine!

The Japanese Walking Tour follows Nakasendo Way, the very path that Emperors once took on their journey to Kyoto. As you take this historic trail, you will encounter the preserved post-town of Tsumago, the peaceful hot-springs at Kiso-Fukushima, and the sacred Gongentaki Falls, whose god - the story goes- brought victory to a Japanese General. On foot and on train, gaze out at the picturesque mountains and weave through enchanting forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar. The route takes you to villages with artisan shops, restaurants and inns with delicious traditional dishes, and even the ancient Matsumoto Castle, one of the country's premier historic landmarks. As you walk in the shadow of the emperors, spend your nights in luxurious Ryokan and family style minishuku, traditional Japanese lodgings for the royalty and lesser members of the entourage.

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Scheduled Dates
21 Oct 2024
14 Apr 2025
Classic Inns $3750 per person

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garden of ryokan along Nakasendo trailstone lanterns amid fall colors on treeswalking through village on Nakasendosun shining on shinto shrine in foresttraditional Japanese meals served at rykanolder wooden Japanese houses

Japan walking tour day by day details  

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.
Travel: Train to Magome
Eat: on your own
Sleep: Hanasarasa  

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.
Walk: 5.2 mi / 8.3 km Ups & Downs: +326m / 1,069 ft and -430m / 1,410 ft
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sleep: Daikichi Minshuku  

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.
Walk: 11.5 mi / 18.4 km Ups & Downs: +723m / 2,275 ft and -644m / 2,112 ft
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sleep: Komanoyu Ryokan  

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.
Walk: 4.3 mi / 7 km Ups & Downs: +632m / 2,075 ft and -637m / 2,090 ft
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sleep: Komanoyu Ryokan  

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.
Walk: 3.9 mi / 6.2 km Ups & Downs: +344m / 1,128 ft and -270m / 885 ft
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sleep: Iseya Minshuku  

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.
Walk: 1.6 mi / 2.5 km, Land: flat
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sleep: Nakadanaso Ryokan  

Onward travel to Tokyo
After breakfast we begin our journey back to Tokyo where our tour ends.
Travel: Train to Tokyo
Eat: Breakfast

Good Eats

Always ranked in the top ten of cuisines worldwide, Japanese food is a delight both visually and for its taste. Dinners at the minshukus and ryokan on this tour are traditional Kaiseki Ryori, with many small dishes of vegetables, fish, meats and more.

A typical dinner could consist of: shiizakana (appetizers served with Japanese sake),mukouzuke (sashimi – slices of raw fish), kuchitori (a small side dish), suimono (a soup), nimono (simmered vegetables), kounomono (Japanese pickles), yakimono (grilled fish) and more.

typical Japanese dinner

Good Sleep

Our Nakasendo trip features a number of nights in traditional, historic inns either minshuku or ryokan. These inns orginated back in the era of when the emperors and their courts walked from palace to palace and these inns sprung up along the trails to accommodate the parties.

Arriving at a ryokan is an experience in itself. The hostess, okami , dressed in a kimono, comes to welcome the guests. Once you take your shoes off , put on the slippers made available at the entrance. An employee, still in a kimono, then comes to take over from the okami and accompany the customers to their room.

Japanese minshuku entrance

Getting There

The Walking the Nakasendo tour meets in Tokyo, Japan at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel and ends at Tokyo Station.

Guests should plan their flights to arrive in Tokyo before 06:00 (6 am) on Day 1 of the tour and their departing flights after 12:00 (noon) on Day 7.

Narita Airport code: NRT   Haneda Airport cdoe: HND     Local Time: GMT+9

  Travel Tip:   Most flight schedules require arriving in Tokyo the day before. Accommodation at Shinagawa Prince is available.


Documents Please

Passports are required for all guests. Visas maybe required depending on your nationality, check with the nearest Embassy of Japan.

Whatcha Gonna Get

  • Expert local bilingual guides
  • Entrance and activity fees
  • Handpicked lodges, ensuite rooms, double occupancy
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, snacks*
  • Dinners featuring fine local cuisine*
  • Unlimited drinking water**
  • Train and bus travel*
  • Pre-tour hotel in Tokyo

*as noted in itinerary
**during activity

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