Our grading system explained
- Expedition Grade
Japan is an exhilarating mix of old and new. It blends a 21st century love of technology with a profoundly spiritual and traditional culture, and alternates ultra-modern, high rise cities with secluded, mountainous countryside dotted with monasteries, temples and ancient trails. This world of contrasts, together with a language, cuisine and lifestyle so startlingly different from the west, makes Japan a fascinating place to visit.
The popular perception of Japan is of a frenetic, overcrowded country, but since mountain ranges cover about 80% of the islands, the vast majority of the population are concentrated in cities and urban centres built on the fertile plains and valleys. The mountains and countryside are therefore surprisingly undeveloped and little-populated – home to small, remote villages and the Kami – the spirits and gods.
The mountains are criss-crossed by networks of pilgrimage trails and ancient trading routes that once linked
sacred and commercial centres. Following in the footsteps of pilgrims, merchants, noblemen and even emperors, these paths now offer superb trekking opportunities. Walking through a landscape that has inspired poets and painters; visiting isolated monasteries, natural hot springs and traditional post towns, and staying in authentic country inns there is no better way to discover Japan’s ancient way of life and natural beauty.
We offer two trekking holidays in the hills and mountains of Japan: Gentle Trekking Nakasendo Trail that treks along the historic Nakasendo Trail in the Kiso Valley, as well as visiting historic Nara and beautiful Mount Koya – famed for its numerous temples and monasteries; and the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trek that follows the ancient pilgrimage routes of the Kii Peninsula before travelling to Mount Koya and cultural Kyoto. Accommodation for both is in traditional inns – ryokan and minshuku – renowned for their warm hospitality, delicious cuisine and high standards of service.
Travelling by ultra-efficient Japanese trains, and with time also spent in modern-day Tokyo or Kyoto, these holidays are an immersive experience, encapsulating the many contrasts between ancient and modern that make any holiday in Japan so absorbing, intriguing and utterly enjoyable.View our holidays here