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Location

Japan

Difficulty

4-6

Length

11

Trip Cost

From $4650 pp
twin share

Overview

Combine the ancient and modern cities of Kyoto and Tokyo with a hike along the historic Nakasendo Way, discovering the regional treasures of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai 

  • A journey through the heart of Japan following in the footsteps of the Tokugawa Shogun and the Samurai during the Edo period (1603–1868).
  • Explore Kyoto, the cultural and historical heart of the country on a half-day private guided tour with further time to visit it’s temples, shrines and gardens.
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley on the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years.
  • Visit the well-preserved post towns of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai.
  • Discover the old and the new of Tokyo on your private, guided half-day tour of the city.

In ancient times, during the feudal period,  the Nakasendo Way connected Kyoto to Tokyo via a network of 69 post towns.  You will begin your journey on the 69th post town of Kyoto where you’ll have 3-nights to explore the splendours of this stunning city of shrines, temples and gardens before making your way by train to Nakatsugawa to commence your walk on the Nakasendo Way. Over 5 days you’ll travel on ancient paved paths known as ishidatami, past hidden waterfalls and through stunning cedar and cypress forests and numerous wayside shrines, staying in family-run ryokans and tasting the local delights of the Kiso Valley and Gifu Prefecture along the way. You’ll discover the well-preserved post towns of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai. From Narai, the end point of your walk, take a train journey to the capital Tokyo, where you’ll have 3-nights to explore the city’s incredible melting pot of modern yet traditional.

Are you a first-time or solo traveller?

We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Kyoto

Make your way to the historic city of Kyoto. This fascinating city was once the capital of Japan and the residence of emperors for over 1000 years. During the Edo era, the Nakasendo Way stretched 534km between Kyoto and Tokyo as an important trade route. Once you have checked into your hotel, you have the rest of the day to start exploring.

Day 2: Tour of Kyoto

Today our local, experienced guide will introduce you to the wonders of Kyoto in a half-day tour that explores the highlights of this great city. You will be captivated by the vibrant orange Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine, a stunning visual experience. Explore the bustling Gion district known for its atmospheric restaurants, bars and tea houses. Cross the famous Kamo River on your way to the Nishiki market where you will learn about the local and seasonal cuisine. The market is truly remarkable for the intricate and myriad of foods on display, many of which you will have never seen before. Your guide will depart from the market, and you have the rest of the day to explore Kyoto.

Meals: B

Day 3: Free day in Kyoto

Today is a day to explore Kyoto and its surrounds. You may like to wander along the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove following the path through this natural forest of bamboo. Perhaps visit some of Japan’s most iconic attractions, the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji), Kiyomizudera Temple or stroll along the Philosopher’s Path. 

Meals: B

Day 4: Train from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa

Today you will make your way from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa, travelling via Nagoya (approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes). We recommend arriving around lunch time so you have time to wander around the old-town area where you will find many of the old buildings and shops still working today. 

Alternatively, there is the option of joining our local guide on a ‘Backstreets Walking tour’ of Nakatsugawa. You will be escorted through the town’s narrow winding streets, discovering the myriad of well-preserved wooden buildings, residences and warehouses (kura) originally constructed during the historical Edo Period. This was a time when the town prospered with a population of over 1000 people and around 200 houses. This is an opportunity to learn of the town’s rich history and gain an understanding of local village life as you encounter local people along the way. (Additional cost applies and subject to availability – please enquire at time of booking)

Meals: B, D

Day 5: Nakatsugawa to Tsumago (16km)

Setting off on your walk this morning, you will soon come across a red torii gate as you’re leaving Nakatsugawa. There will be some steep slopes today before Ochiai and then you will be walking on an old cobblestoned way. It’s on this route that you will be walking up to the entrance of Magome, one of the highlights of the Nakasendo Way. It truly is a reminder of how the post towns were during the Edo period. You will have time to stroll through the small shops along the main street of Magome.

The Nakasendo Way continues through the centre of Magome past old shops and inns. The trail begins to climb up to the small settlement of Touge, and there is a good rest break here. You will then walk over the Magome Pass and slowly descend through peaceful woodland. You’ll hear the roar of the waterfalls, which slowly fade as you pass streams and rice paddies coming into the small village of O-Tsumago.

Leaving O-Tsumago, the trail descends into the enchanting village of Tsumago. The street is lined with traditional Japanese wooden houses, shops and ryokan. You might want to stroll through the streets after dinner wearing a traditional yukata gown provided by your inn.

Meals: B D

Day 6: Tsumago to Kiso-Fukushima (17km walking; 30km train travel)

Today’s walk takes you through Nagiso and the beautiful Yogawa Forest, before descending to Nojiri where you will take the train on to Kiso-Fukushima and your accommodation for the night. The trail will take you along some road sections broken up with interesting villages and scenic bamboo and cedar forest. It is quite hilly today and the Nenouetoge pass has some steep, sustained ascents and descents. A highlight are the streams and rivers running alongside the trail.

Meals: B D

Day 7: Train from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara and trek to Narai (8km)

Today you can have a leisurely start to the day and spend some time in Kiso-Fukushima before catching the train to Yabuhara to start your trek.  From Yabuhara, the Nakasendo Way climbs up to the Torii Pass, named after the Shinto torii gate, which marks one of four protective sites surrounding Mount Ontake. At 1197m, the Torii Pass is a great vantage point for views of Mount Ontake on a clear day. Our descent takes you along narrow mountain paths until you emerge at the outskirts of Narai, a lovely post town and the wealthiest along the Nakasendo Way. Explore and relax in the cafes and shops of this well-preserved and atmospheric town.

Meals: B D

Day 8: Train from Narai to Tokyo

Today, you’ll depart Narai by train and head to the modern capital of Tokyo. Formerly known as Edo, Tokyo became the capital city of Japan in 1868. This metropolis is now one of the world’s largest cities offering a great mix of cultural sights, large public gardens, shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Once you’ve checked in to your hotel you have the remainder of the day to explore.

Meals: B

Day 9: Tour of Tokyo

This morning, our local guide will further introduce you to Tokyo on a private half-day tour that explores some of the highlights of this electric city. You will kick off your tour by discovering the atmospheric Asakusa Old Town. During the Edo period, this area was once the main entertainment district. You will now find charming temples, shrines, and a popular shopping street. From here you will relax to the rhythm of a river cruise (own expense) along the Sumida River before exploring the beautifully landscaped gardens of Hamarikyu Park.

Tsukiji Market is your last stop and you will be guided along the bustling narrow streets to discover retail and wholesale shops selling produce and fresh and dried seafood. From here you can return to your hotel or your guide can give you some suggestions for other options to explore for the remainder of the afternoon.

Meals: B

DAY 10: Explore Tokyo

Today you are free to explore the city at your leisure. There are a number of fascinating museums to visit, including the Edo-Tokyo Museum which provides a wonderful overview and insight into the Nakasendo Way. If you prefer a bit more activity, you may like to hire a bike and cycle around the Yanaka neighbourhood. Perhaps shopping, wining and dining may interest you more; or if you’re after a more relaxing experience, perhaps a stroll through Todoroki Valley may be of interest. Either way, the choices are endless.

Meals: B

Day 11: Depart Tokyo

Today is a departure day and your tour ends after breakfast.

Meals: B

 

Dates

Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.

Note that if booking for a trip that leaves in 30 days or less, please be aware we cannot guarantee that your departure will be possible unless we have confirmed this via email first.

2020 Pricing – Twin Share $4650 per person / Single Supplement $3100

 

  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY

Inclusions

Included:

  • 4 nights accommodation along the trek in traditional Japanese guesthouses/inns (ryokans)
  •  3 nights accommodation in Kyoto (Western Hotel)
  • 3 Nights accommodation in Tokyo (Western Hotel)
  • Half-Day Tour of Kyoto with a local guide
  • Half-Day Tour of Tokyo with a local guide
  • Daily meals as listed in the itinerary
  • Online GPS map (wifi required)
  • Luggage transfers on your hiking days
  • Briefing in Nakatsugawa at the start of your trek
  • Pre-departure pack including track notes, information packs, maps and a Japanese phrasebook  (1 pack per 2 clients travelling together)
  • Local and Australian emergency contacts

Not included:

  • Bus and train tickets
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Drinks other than water at meals
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Lunches
  • Single supplement

Map & Guide

Reviews

Jennifer Bryant, Cape Otway (VIC) – June 2019
We had such a great trip. The itinerary was perfect – with a mixture of forest walking, exploring villages and open farmland. The accommodation was excellent and the meals a real highlight. The planning by RAW Travel was excellent – thanks so much. An exceptional experience overall.

Helen Newbiggin, Alexandra Headland (QLD) – June 2019
Loved the traditional accommodation and exquisite Japanese food. Loved walking through the sensational scenery and meeting the Japanese people. Everything was well mapped out. A truly exceptional experience.

Lynette Payne, West Beach (SA) – May 2019
We loved that everything was organised for us and everything went smoothly. All we had to do was walk!

Graham Schultz, Killarney Heights (NSW) – April 2019
The meal on the first night at Nakatsugawa was probably one of the best I have ever had anywhere in the world. It was superb! The overall experience for the night was also great. The hot tub and food in Kiso Fukushima was also very good and the people in general along the way were so wonderful.

Kim Elise Brodie, Bulimba (QLD) – April 2019
Our ‘Highlights of the Nakasendo Way’ self-guided walk was everything we could have hoped for. The local accommodation and food were exceptional. The immersion in local culture fabulous and the mixture of trails through small villages, forests and farmland kept us stimulated and intrigued. What a wonderful experience. My only complaint would be that we didn’t want it to end! Thank you RAW Travel – our walking tour was definitely the highlight of our Japanese sojourn.

Peter and Helena Coon, Turramurra (NSW) – March 2019
The 5 day self-guided walk organised by RAW Travel provided us with all the highlights of the Nakasendo Way that we were seeking. Three days of beautiful mountain, rural and urban walking was complemented with the unique experience and high levels of service in the ryokans. Overall, a wonderful journey that is highly recommended.

Sharyn Bailey, Preston (VIC), December 2018
What an amazing trip my son Patrick and I had on the Nakasendo trail. The journey took us through the mountains and villages of Japan, with beautiful inns, amazing hosts, and traditional food. The trek itself was breathtakingly stunning, but the real highlight was the places we stayed along the way.  All the accommodation was truly beautiful and the hospitality shown by the hosts was sublime.  The food they all provided for both breakfast and dinner was beyond our expectations.  This was a truly memorable trip. Thank you for providing such a well-organised, stress-free experience.

Beth Gales, Byawatha (VIC) – November 2018
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on the Nakasendo Way. The organisation of the trip and the notes were very helpful. We met like-minded people from our country and walked the whole way with them. Loved the local cuisine at each destination and enjoyed walking through the local farming areas, trying to guess their processes. The weather was perfect and the local people very helpful and friendly. It was good to have everything organised and paid for before we left home.

Geraldine McDonald, Mullaloo (WA) – October 2018
Absolutely loved the whole experience, from being picked up at the station in Nakatsugawa by courtesy vehicle and being dropped off the following morning to start the walk. With suitcases taken care of, my husband and I just had to don our daypack and set off for our new destination each day meandering through beautiful forests, villages and historic towns, arriving at our traditional accommodation where we could enjoy a well-earned shower then hot bath or onsen followed by the most amazing Japanese dining experience dressed in our yukatas then retiring for the night on beautifully made up futons. Breakfast was another culinary delight and there was so much food that we could manage the rest of the day with an apple, banana, nuts and muesli bar. The walk is very well signposted and the detailed information and pictures provided by RAW Travel make the self-guided walk a breeze. The helpful hints from Ukky (our tour orientation guide) and having his number as a contact if needed gave us confidence in our ability to manage the hike by ourselves. We loved it so much we were sad when it ended and we had to say goodbye to the peace and tranquility of the forest as we emerged from the path into Narai.

Dianne Averis, Kingswood (SA) – October 2018
Fabulous experience in a unique environment. Everything worked liked clockwork. Had two stupendous dinners that required photographs of practically every exquisite dish. It was great to enjoy our private onsen in Kiso–Fukushima looking across at the mountain range. The walks were wonderful, accompanied by gushing streams and waterfalls or the silence of tall, dark forests. Except for the Magome–Tsumago leg, which was full-on, there were very few other walkers around. And even the weather was perfect. The only downer was the accommodation in Tsumago, where the stairs were nearly vertical, but the other places were great. We enjoyed the little cultural insights too – the kimonos to wear for dinner, special socks and slippers, the procedure before bathing in the onsen. Such an interesting experience from a cultural, environmental and culinary viewpoint!

Aimee Scurr, Scarborough (QLD) – July 2018
I loved the service that was provided – the RAW Travel team and the hosts went above and beyond expectations to make sure I was comfortable and well-equipped for the experience. I experienced a side of Japan I would have missed if I had only visited the major cities.

Heather Buxton, Lenah Valley (TAS) – October 2017
The organisation and information provided were top-notch. Japan is very safe with lots of natural beauty and is a wonderful cultural experience. Thank you.

Sally Goodchild, Sydney – September 2016
We loved the peace and the beauty of the walk and the Japanese culture. The accommodations you booked were delightful, and amazing food was provided each evening.

What our Clients Say

We had such a great trip. The itinerary was perfect - with a mixture of forest walking, exploring villages and open farmland. The accommodation was excellent and the meals a real highlight. The planning by RAW Travel was excellent. An exceptional experience overall.

Jennifer Bryant, VIC – June 2019

Loved the traditional accommodation and exquisite Japanese food. Loved walking through the sensational scenery and meeting the Japanese people. Everything was well mapped out. A truly exceptional experience.

Helen Newbiggin, QLD – June 2019

We loved that everything was organised for us and everything went smoothly. All we had to do was walk!

Lynette Payne, SA – May 2019

The meal on the first night at Nakatsugawa was probably one of the best I have ever had anywhere in the world. It was superb! The hot tub and food in Kiso Fukushima was also very good and the people in general along the way were so wonderful.

Graham Schultz, NSW – April 2019

Everything we could have hoped for. The accommodation and food was exceptional. The immersion in local culture fabulous and the mixture of trails through small villages, forests and farmland kept us stimulated and intrigued. What a wonderful experience.

Kim Elise Brodie, QLD – April 2019

Three days of beautiful mountain, rural and urban walking was complemented with the unique experience and high levels of service in the ryokans. Overall, a wonderful journey that is highly recommended.

Peter and Helena Coon, NSW – March 2019

The trek itself was breathtakingly stunning. All the accommodation was truly beautiful and the hospitality shown by the hosts was sublime. The food they all provided was beyond our expectations. This was a truly memorable trip.

Sharyn Bailey, VIC - December 2018

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Trip Expert

Zoe Rees – Japan

(03) 5976 3763

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Trip Grading

This trip has a difficulty rating of 4-6 out of 10.