See Autumn colours in the central alpine region
Visit Sensoji Temple in Tokyo
Enjoy zazen meditation at a rural temple in Iiyama
Walk two sections of the beautiful Shinetsu Trail
Enjoy rural home-style cooking at Iiyama
Walk two sections of the Nakansendo
Stay in two historical post-town inns on the Nakasendo
Stay and walk Kamikochi, the roof of Japan
Walk the World Heritage listed village of Shirakawago
Visit the lovely city of Kanazawa on the Japan sea
Enjoy Riki's special walking tour of Kyoto
Transport and entry to all places described
Accommodation and meals described
The services of Riki Inamura, the tour escort
Airport-hotel transfers in Japan
Shinetsu Trail section 2 (11km)
Shinetsu Trail section 3 (13km)
Nakasendo: Magome to Tsumago (9km)
Nakasendo: Yabuhara to Narai (6km)
Kamikochi valley (varies)
Shirakawago valley (varies)
Tokyo: Mitsui Garden Hotel Ueno
Madarao: Madarao Resort Hotel
Togari Onsen: Kanoe Minshuku (local inn)
Tsumago: Daikichi (post-town inn)
Narai: Iseya (post-town inn)
Kamikochi: Nishi Itoya Sanso (lodge)
Kanazawa: ANA Sky Hotel
Kyoto: Gracery Hotel
Travel to Tokyo by Thu 10 Oct 2019
Arrive at Narita or Haneda by own arrangement with transfers provided into Tokyo.
Join Riki for a walk around the old downtown area of Tokyo, including Kappabashi (Kitchen town) and Asakusa. In the evening, group together for our welcome dinner at a local Izakaya (nice Japanese style pub).
Tokyo to Iiyama & Madarao BD
Today, we will take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to the rural town Iiyama in northern Nagano prefecture. Here you can explore this temple town and enjoy a zazen meditation experience at one of the temples to wish for safe walking ahead. Riki will preview the heart sutra with you before we arrive. We will then transfer to our mountain resort for an onsen and a dinner.
Walk Shinetsu Trail section 2, stay Togari Onsen BLD
After breakfast, we'll head for section 2 of the Shinetsu Trail, an 11km walk between Aka-ike Pond and Wakui Village. The walk through the beech forests in Autumn colour, as well as through Numanohara wetlands and by Lake Nozari should be delightful. After our walk, we will transfer to a lovely local rural inn, which will be our base for the next two nights.
Walk Shinetsu Trail section 3, stay Togari Onsen BLD
Section 3 of the Shinetsu Trail (13km) takes us by some important historical and natural points of interest. Mt Kuroiwa is a dedicated natural monument, known for its rare habitats of butterflies and frogs. Around Tomikura Gap, we will see the remnants of old trading routes and also the site of Kenshin Uesugi's mountain keep.
Togari Onsen to Tsumago via Nakasendo walk BD
Today, we'll travel by local train and express train to Nakatsukawa, from where we can access one of the nicest walks on the Nakasendo, Magome to Tsumago. It's quite an easy 9km walk on a well marked path. We will cross Magome Pass before heading down into the forests above Tsumago, where you'll see waterfalls and a lovely tea-house. Our stay tonight will be at Daikichi, one of our favourite post-town inns in all of Japan. We are sure you will enjoy your stay in this family run accommodation in the atmospheric town of Tsumago.
Tsumago to Narai via Nakasendo walk BD
After breakfast, we will take a short 3.5km walk down to Nagiso Station, and if time and weather permits visit the old Tsumago castle site, from where great views can be had back towards Magome Pass. Once we get to Nagiso, we'll take a short local train ride to Yabuhara, and from there, we will walk over the Torii Pass into the post-town village of Narai, our stay for the night. The 6km trail between Yabuhara and Narai is not particularly difficult, but it is a hill to climb up and down, in beautiful Autumn colours. We will stay in another historical post-town inn, where the local food served is particularly good.
Narai to Kamikochi BD
From Narai, it is a fairly short local train ride to Matsumoto, where we can stop by the 16th century Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's best. Then we will travel by train and bus to the roof of Japan, the spectacular Chubu Sangaku National Park, where we will stay in a mountain lodge for the next two nights.
You could just relax in this spectacular setting, or join Riki for a walk to Myojin Pond passing by the curious Japanese monkeys and river wetlands. Keen hikers can add a 2 hour climb to Dakesawa, which has grand views of the valley. Some care is needed, however, because of the loose surface which is steep in parts. Make sure you have walking poles for this!
Kamikochi to Kanazawa via Shirakawago B
Today, we will travel by bus through the mountains to Shirakawago, the world heritage listed village of thatched roof houses, known as gassho-zukuri or minka, in a quiet rural valley by Mt Hakusan. There will be time to walk about the village, before we head for Kanazawa on the Japan sea side, where we will stay for the next two nights.
This will be a free day at leisure. There are many lovely things to explore in Kanazawa including Kenroku-en Garden (possibly Japan's finest), the 21st Century Museum, the samurai district, the tea district and Omicho Markets.
Kanazawa to Kyoto B
After breakfast, we will travel by express train to Kyoto, and in the afternoon, you will be free to explore this lovely historically and culturally significant city as you wish. Tomorrow, Riki will take you on his guided tour of his hometown.
Join Riki for a tour of Kyoto, including the Golden Pavilion, the Silver Pavilion and the Philosopher's Path, plus some other special places that Riki will show you. Kyoto is a fairly easy place to get around and you'll be using both taxi and local buses.
Today will be a free day for you to enjoy Kyoto as you wish. If you would like to do some more walking, you may want to try some of the recently opened Kyoto Trail, or explore Mt Kurama in the northern hills. Alternatively, you could visit Fushimi-Inari Taisha, for the thousands of red gates lining the mountain path.
Kyoto to home on Thu 24 Oct 2019 B
Enjoy your last day in Kyoto, and then transfers to your departure airport (Itami or Kansai) for your flight home.