Let us introduce you to the real Japan, where ancient shrines and glass skyscrapers coexist in peaceful contrast, and where the splendid cultural panoply complements the incredible natural beauty found away from the bustling cities.
On this journey, we’ll discover Japan’s rustic history and high-tech modernity, its warm hospitality and outstanding cuisine, and its unique culture and striking landscapes. We’ll explore Kyoto and Tokyo, as well as spending a few days walking The Nakasendo Trail, a historic inn-to-inn walking route that linked Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. This ‘road through the mountains’ was traveled by lords and their retinues, samurai, and merchants with 69 ‘post towns’ where weary travelers could rest before continuing on their next leg. Join us to uncover traditional Japanese culture that few have the opportunity to experience.
Kyoto sightseeing - Nijo Castle; Tea Ceremony
Our introduction to Kyoto commences this afternoon in the lobby of our Kyoto hotel. Meet the guide and embark on a cultural exploration of Kyoto beginning with a visit to Nijo Castle to learn about Japan's Edo period, the rule of the feudal Japanese military government called the "shogunate", and its importance in relation to the Nakasendo Trail.
Next, we participate in a tea ceremony. Learn about the fascinating traditions surrounding this centuries old ritual.
In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at a restaurant in Kyoto's famous Gion District.
Royal Park Hotel the KyotoKyoto, Japan
The Royal Park Hotel is located in Kawaramachi-Sanjon, the heart of Kyoto. Close to many popular tourist destinations, the hotel features a clean, modern design and an onsite restaurant and bar.
Zen Meditation; Fushimi Inari
We begin our day with a visit the Tofuku-ji Temple and tour its elegant grounds and see its famous classic Japanese rock garden.
Next, have the opportunity to join a meditation session, or Zazen, at a local temple. This unique experience allows you to explore the serenity of this ancient Zen Buddhist practice.
Our final stop this afternoon is to the stunning Shinto shrine complex of Fushimi Inari, which is most famous for its numerous red torii gates.
Hiking from Kurama to Kibune; Sake Brewery Visit
Venture a bit outside of Kyoto to the Kitayama Mountains to hike from Kurama to Kibune. Here in the 12th century, Samurai trained with mountain Buddhist practitioners. Along the trail, we'll stop to take in the lovely scenery and spend time at the shrines and smaller temples along the way, learning more about Japanese history, culture, and religion as we go.
In the afternoon, we'll visit a local sake brewery and learn how this iconic Japanese drink is made. We sample some of the locally-made sake and gain a new appreciation for how it is produced.
Depart Kyoto for Nara, which was Japan's first capital and is second only to Kyoto in significance of cultural legacy. Nara contains eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and is best known for its free-roaming spotted deer. According to legend, a god named Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a deer to guard the newly-built capital. Ever since, the deer here have been regarded as sacred animals and protectors of the city.
Hike up to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the town of Nara, visting Nara's unique and notable sites along the way. This evening is yours to explore Nara on your own, enjoy dinner, and relax before tomorrow's first hike on the Nakasendo Trail.
Hotel Nikko NaraNara, Japan
Hotel Nikko Nara is conveniently located, being walking distance to many of the popular sites in Nara, as well as close to many restaurants, shops, and the train station.
Hiking from Magome to Tsumago
Travel via bullet train to the post-town of Magome, where we begin our hike along sections of the Nakasendo Trail. We hike our first portion of the Nakasendo Trail between the charming towns of Magome and Tsumago, with today's hike crossing Magome Pass, one of the more challenging sections of the trail. Upon arrival in Tsumago, we have our first opportunity to enjoy a traditional hot springs Japanese bath at the inn's onsen.
Yamaka no yu RyokanKiso-machi City, Japan
This traditional ryokan boasts views of Mt. Ontake. Rooms are Japanese style with tatami flooring and futon bedding. Relax in a semi-outdoor hot spring bath.
Hiking the Kaida Kogen
Hike the Kaida Plateau, where we'll explore a particularly beautiful part of the Nagano Prefecture. These higher elevation highlands offer views of Mt. Ontake in the distance and are home to native Kiso horses. We'll hike through alpine forests until ending at Karasawa Falls.
Onyado TsutayaKiso-Fukushima, Japan
This traditional Japanese-style inn has a large open-air onsen bath overlooking the Kiso River. Meals are prepared using local, fresh ingredients.
Hiking from Nagiso to Mukaida
Hike along the Nakasendo beginning in the quaint post town of Nagiso and ending in Mukaida. This is our longest distance hike, which travels through quiet villages, small valleys dotted with rice paddies, and forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar. In the evening, enjoy a traditional folk music performance of Kisobushi songs — traditional folk songs from the Kiso District of the Nagano Prefecture that are about nature and historical local heroes.
Hiking from Yabuhara to Narai
Today we begin with a visit to reconstructed Edo-period historical buildings—the Fukushima checkpoint and the Yamamura residence. These buildings allow us to learn more about the history of the Nakasendo Trail and house a number of Edo Period relics, including original documents, ceramics, weapons, and clothing.
Along our hike today we cross the challenging Torii-toge Pass while hiking from Yabuhara to the picturesque post town of Narai.
Iseya MinshukuNarai, Japan
Originally founded in 1818 as a small general store, this traditional inn features the architectural styles of the late Edo Period. Rooms are bright, cozy, and give an authentic sense "Old Japan" along the Nakasendo Trail.
Sightseeing in Tokyo
Our time hiking the Nakasendo Trail has come to an end and we depart for Tokyo. We enjoy lunch at our hotel and if time allows, some of sightseeing in Japan's bustling capital city.
In the evening we witness an hour long musical performance featuring traditional Japanese musical instruments. The performance is held at a small, intimate venue where we are able to learn about each instrument and its place in Japanese musical history and culture. Afterwards, we celebrate our successful journey along the Nakasendo with our final farewell dinner.
Park Hotel TokyoTokyo, Japan
Located on the 25th floor of the Shiodome Media Tower, the Park Hotel Tokyo offers city views and quality service.
You may extend your time in Tokyo and explore the city independently, or transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Apr 14-23, 2023
Oct 10-19, 2023
Nov 4-13, 2023
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $7,795 Per Person
First two reserved:$995
See single supplement policy below.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $7,795 per person
5 to 8 Guests: $8,295 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This trip is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Japan's fertile landscapes, rolling hills, and forest paths offer elevations ranging from sea level to 5,000 feet. Our walks and hikes range from 1 to 5 hours (3 to 6 miles), on well-established trails and paved city streets. Elevation changes range from negligable amounts on our city walks, to an approximate 2,500' ascent and 1,900' descent on our most challenging days.
Our group will meet at the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo on Day 1 of the tour
The tour ends after breakfast on day 10 in Tokyo.
International Airfare (into Osaka and out of Tokyo) is not included in the price of your trip. Please contact your local travel agency or the airlines directly to make any arrangements you may need. If you would like assistance booking airfare, Boundless Journeys can request flights from our travel agency partner.
Japan's average temperatures and weather patterns can vary greatly, with mountain climates and surrounding warm seas bringing rain and snow. Meanwhile, the western coasts are often rainy and windy while the Pacific coast sees dry, clear days. Summer is monsoon season, while spring and autumn tend to be the most pleasant.
The following are average temperatures you can expect during this tour.
You may obtain more detailed weather information at www. weatherbase.com.
Spring and autumn are generally the best times to visit Japan, when there is little rainfall and temperatures are mild. The delicate cherry blossoms in the spring and vivid hues of autumn leaves are visually stunning against the landscape.
Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast options in Western-style hotels may include more familiar choices. The base ingredient of most Japanese dishes is sticky white rice. Soybeans are another staple, as they are used in miso soup, tofu, bean curd, and soy sauce. Donburi is a common dish that translates literally to "rice bowl," and refers to a bowl of fried rice with a topping such as a deep-fried pork cutlet with an egg, or beef and onion. Bowls of soba or udon noodles are also popular, often served in broth with egg, onion, and deep-fried tofu. Perhaps Japan's most well-know food export, sushi (with rice) and sashimi (fresh sliced raw fish) are also quite popular, though relatively more expensive and therefore eaten less frequently. Grilled and fried meat dishes are a more recent addition to Japanese cuisine; beef, pork, and chicken are now common in tempura dishes, which are batter fried, and in teppanyaki, which refers to meat grilled on a hot plate. Western-inspired dishes are also popular even in rural areas. Vegetarian options are available, but may be limited. Strict vegan or gluten-free diets may not be able to be accommodated due to the prevalence of dashi, miso, and soy sauce.
Atsuko was born in Osaka, an old merchant city, and grew up in Kamakura, an ancient capital of the samurais. From the time she was a child, she visited many temples and shrines, which fostered her love for Japanese culture at a young age. She attended Sophia University in Tokyo, where she studied French. Atsuko then spent time exploring the world, and lived in Los Angeles, Bangkok, London, and Paris. After returning to Japan, she discovered a passion for introducing Japanese culture to foreign visitors, and worked in the Edo-Tokyo Museum as a volunteer guide for seven years. Now she works as a tour guide, and leads active walking and cultural tours in both English and French. Throughout her tours, she always tries her best to show guests the real beauty of Japan and help them connect with the Japanese way of thinking and living. Atsuko looks forward to welcoming you to her country!
Hiroko lives in her native home in the Chiba prefecture. She began her career in tourism when she worked on an island in the Maldives as a tour operator in the late 1980s. Hiroko returned to Japan and became a tour leader for Japanese group tours overseas, thereby gaining practical experience and communication skills working in different cultures. Hiroko briefly worked in education, but came back to tourism with an earnest desire to spend time with travelers from all over the world! Her goals as a guide are to facilitate memorable experiences full of interactive opportunities and for her guests. In her free time, Hiroko loves to cook, read, and visit rustic Onsen (hot spring) places in the countryside after trail walks. In recent years, she has enjoyed growing organic rice with her close friends.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 3-6 hours per day.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Matt Holmes
No exploration of a new destination is complete without interacting with and learning about the culture. Culture affects the landscape and vice versa. For us, a well-rounded, fulfilling journey means…
Read This Article
- or -
See Related Articles
By: Emily Trostel
I love the water. One could even say, I live for the water. Not only is my house on a pond, but I often swim before work, kayak and canoe…
Our dedicated team of travel experts are here to help.
Top 5 World's Best Tour OperatorsMulti-year Recipient
50 Tours Of A LifetimeMulti-year Recipient
Best Adventure Travel Company Winner