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  • Japan: Hiking the Nakasendo Trail
Overview

DISCOVERY OF TRADITIONAL AND MODERN JAPAN

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.

What Our Guests Have To Say About This Tour

Another Great Adventure

★★★★★
5 5 1
My wife Karen and I originally were scheduled to do this trip in 2021 but due to Covid we have been cancelled twice so the expectation of finally getting to travel made us excited from the get go. I could not think of a negative thing to say about the company, the guide, the amenities along the way, or the wonderful trip planned and executed by Boundless Journeys. We have also travelled with BJ to Bhutan and am now thinking about scheduling another great adventure perhaps to South America.

Incredible

★★★★★
5 5 1
The perfect introduction to Japan in 10 days. Big cities and small towns, castles, shrines and temples galore, insights into historical and contemporary life. Authentic activities, from tea to meditation to music. INCREDIBLE food at intimate restaurants

Exceptional Guides

★★★★★
5 5 1
The guides always make the trip. Akko was excellent at getting us where we needed to be and making sure everything worked seamlessly. Maru absolutely made the trip from a personality-wise. He was so joyful about sharing his country and his culture with us. And, he was incredibly diligent about making sure we were cared for. He always went the extra mile to make things work better, to make everyone happier and just in general, be a wonderful traveling companion. You should use Maru on every one of your trips!!!

Outstanding trip

★★★★★
5 5 1
Kristen was very helpful, always.

Excellent guide

★★★★☆
4 5 1
Our guide Ryoko was smart, knowledgeable, funny, sophisticated, super organized and scary fit. I would travel with her anywhere!

Knowledgeable Guides

★★★★★
5 5 1
Our guides were nice and knowledgeable people. The itinerary and restaurants were well chosen but it was the guides' positive energy that was the biggest factor in making this a good experience.

An Excellent Option

★★★★☆
4 5 1
Boundless Journeys is an excellent option for visiting places where we don't speak the language. It is also a great option for traveling with a small group of interesting people, so socializing in the evenings is also very enjoyable.

Exceeded Expectations

★★★★★
5 5 1
The trip to Japan exceeded our expectations. We lucked out with perfect April weather and the cherry blossoms peak. The excellent food was a plus!

Transported in Time

★★★★★
5 5 1
Hiking on the Nakasendo trail transported us back in time and place to the days of the shogun and taught us about Japanese culture and history through our interactive experience.

Our 4th Trip with Boundless

★★★★☆
4 5 1
We just experienced our 4th trip with Boundless by hiking the Nakasendo Trail in Japan. The cultural immersion our guide Miho and our fellow travelers made this trip another 10. Can't wait fro #5!

Beautiful Country

★★★★★
5 5 1
I've long wanted to visit Japan, and this Journey was a wonderful way to do so. The contrast between Kyoto and Tokyo and the towns on the Nakasendo is pronounced and wonderful to experience. Miho, our guide, generously shared her knowledge and was greatly patient with us as we made our way through her beautiful country.

Excellent Adventure

★★★★★
5 5 1
Boundless Journeys gives you an excellent adventure, that is why they have so many returning guests. They find the most unique places and experiences that a traveler could not find on their own! I can't imagine never wanting to travel with Boundless!

A better value than other companies

★★★★☆
4 5 1
I find that Boundless Journeys provides better value and smaller group size than other companies we have traveled with. Similar companies are more expensive and the trips are shorter with much less ground covered.

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Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Kyoto sightseeing - Nijo Castle; Tea Ceremony

  • Activity Overview: Walking, sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours

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.

Accommodations
Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo

Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo
Kyoto, Japan

The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo 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.

Day 2

Hiking from Kurama to Kibune; Sake Brewery Visit

  • Activity Overview: Walking, hiking, sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: Approximately 4 miles (3 hours) with 1,077' elevation gain and 1,381' elevation loss

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.

Accommodations
Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo

Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo
Kyoto, Japan

The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo 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.

Day 3

Zen Meditation; Fushimi Inari

  • Activity Overview: Walking, hiking, sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 4-5 hours

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.

Accommodations
Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo

Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo
Kyoto, Japan

The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo 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.

Day 4

Exploring Nara

  • Activity Overview: Walking, hiking, sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: Approximately 6 miles (5 hours)

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.

Accommodations
An Grande Hotel

An Grande Hotel
Nara, Japan

An Grande Hotel is well located at the edge of the scenic Nara Park, yet still walking distance to restaurants, shops, and the popular tourist sites.

Day 5

Hiking from Magome to Tsumago

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: Approximately 5 miles (4 hours) with 1,069' elevation gain and 1,410' elevation loss

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.

Accommodations
Yamaka no yu Ryokan

Yamaka no yu Ryokan
Kiso-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.

Day 6

Hiking the Kaida Kogen

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: Approximately 3 miles (2 hours) with 770' elevation gain and 1,095' elevation loss

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.

Accommodations
Onyado Tsutaya

Onyado Tsutaya
Kiso-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.

Day 7

Hiking from Nagiso to Mukaida

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: Approximately 6 miles (4 hours) with 1,555' elevation gain and 604' elevation loss

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.

Accommodations
Onyado Tsutaya

Onyado Tsutaya
Kiso-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.

Day 8

Hiking from Yabuhara to Narai

  • Activity Overview: Sightseeing, hiking
  • Activity Level: Approximately 4 miles (3 hours) with 1,128' elevation gain and 885' elevation loss
  • Activity Length: Moderate

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.

Accommodations
Iseya Minshuku

Iseya Minshuku
Narai, 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.

Day 9

Sightseeing in Tokyo

  • Activity Overview: Sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours

Our time hiking the Nakasendo Trail has come to an end and we depart for Tokyo. We'll finish our tour with an afternoon of sightseeing in Japan's capital, visiting the popular Asakusa district and seeing the Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine.

Accommodations
Tokyo Prince Hotel

Tokyo Prince Hotel
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Prince Hotel is just steps away from the popular sites of Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park, and has easy access to other areas of downtown Tokyo.

Day 10

Departure

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.

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Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2024
Trip Length

10 Days

Trip Dates

Oct 8-17, 2024

Nov 2-11, 2024

Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.

2024 Land Cost

From $8195 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$1095

Additional:$1595

See single supplement policy below.

2025
Trip Length

10 Days

Trip Dates

Apr 13-22, 2025

Oct 7-16, 2025

Nov 6-15, 2025

Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.

2025 Land Cost

$8195 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$1095

Additional:$1595

See single supplement policy below.

Pricing Notes

MAKE IT PRIVATE

9+ Guests: $8,195 per person

5 to 8 Guests: $8,695 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.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals as noted in the itinerary
  • Local sake and beer with included dinners
  • All on-tour transportation
  • All gratuities except those for your guide and driver, which are at your discretion
  • All activities as noted in the itinerary
  • Explorers Club savings on your next scheduled, small-group trip (conditions apply)

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability.

Single Supplement for Scheduled Group Departures. 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. 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 request a roommate but one is not available, you will receive a $500 reduction from the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary for your specific trip).

Single Supplement for Custom Tours. Custom Tour prices are generally based on two or more participants; therefore, single supplements for “solo” Custom Tours will vary and are available upon request.

What To
Expect

What To Expect

Trip Rating

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.

Meeting Point

Our group will meet at the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo on Day 1 of the tour

Departure Point

The tour ends after breakfast on day 10 in Tokyo.

Traveling to and From

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.

Weather

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.

Kyoto

April

High: 66
Low: 44

October

High: 58
Low: 51

Tokyo

April

High: 64
Low: 50

October

High: 69
Low: 58

When to Go

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.

Cuisine

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.

Guides

Featured Guides

About Our Guides

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.

From $8195 / person* *airfare not included
10 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Oct 8-17, 2024
    Nov 2-11, 2024
    Apr 13-22, 2025
    Oct 7-16, 2025
    Nov 6-15, 2025
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
Extend This Tour Complement this tour with other journeys

Japan: Hiking the Nakasendo Trail

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...

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Activity Level 2+ Easy to Moderate

Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 3-6 hours per day.

Read about our Activity Levels
  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests

Make it Your Own!

This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.

Prefer a Custom Tour?

Questions?

Our dedicated team of travel experts are here to help.

1-800-941-8010

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