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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • An English speaking Japanese leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in the main towns
  • Staying in traditional minshuku, ryokan and shukubo (temple), on a twin-sharing basis, in outlying places
  • Baggage transfer as per the itinerary
  • All road transport, by private vehicles, buses and trains
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

Gentle Trekking Nakasendo Trail

Walking & Trekking

Japan | Walking & Trekking

Gentle Trekking Nakasendo Trail

Suitable for people who enjoy easy-paced walks or exploring the countryside on foot.

Find out more...

Grade: Gentle ? Gentle
Duration:  13 days from the UK  
On Trek: 4 days
Walks on: 2 days

Flight inclusive from £4,785,
Land only from £3,595

Book now or call 01453 844400

Easy walking on the Nakasendo trail exploring the heart of traditional Japan.


  • Trek on Japan's Nakasendo trail with beautiful scenery, picturesque villages and historic post-towns
  • Stay in traditional accommodation, enjoy hot spring baths and get under the skin of Japanese life
  • Discover modern high-rise Tokyo and the cultural city of Kyoto
  • Explore the many temples and monasteries of atmospheric Mount Koya


Staying in Ryokan, Minshuku and Temples was a definite plus as it enabled us to experience the traditional side of Japan.
Miss W, Harrow

This was a lovely holiday. Travelling everywhere by public transport, staying in a ryokan, minshukus and a temple, and walking every day were unexpected highlights. As well as the Nakasendo Trail itself, we particularly enjoyed our stay at the temple in Koya-san and walking the Yamanobe No Michi trail, as well as visiting Nara and Kyoto.
Andy, Hertfordshire

I liked the variety in the program in that we visited cities and rural areas. I enjoyed the experience of staying in the different types of accommodation, not just hotels.
Mrs G, Hampshire

Japan is a fascinating country, and it was particularly nice to be able to explore on foot, walking through beautiful unspoilt rural areas. I very much enjoyed immersing myself in Japanese culture, sleeping on futons and bathing in outdoor hot spring baths. Experiencing train travel was another bonus, especially negotiating the Tokyo underground at rush hour, thankfully led by our wonderful...
Seraphina Berry, Mountain Kingdoms

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After starting your journey in Tokyo you travel to the remote Kiso valley to start walking for four days on the Nakasendo trail, one of Japan’s principal trade routes during the time of the shoguns. The trail originated in the 8th century and linked Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo), winding through secluded, wooded mountain scenery, across the heart of Honshu Island.

A scenic train ride takes you next to picturesque Mount Koya, set high in the hills of the Kii Peninsula. It has been a place of pilgrimage since the 9th century and is renowned for its numerous historic monasteries and temples - one of which you will spend the night in. From Mount Koya you travel to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan and home to eight UNESCO World heritage sites, before walking the Yamanobe‐no‐michi - literally the ‘path beside the mountains’. This ancient trail takes you through villages and farming land at the edge of the fertile Nara plain. Your final stop is Kyoto, Japan’s capital for many centuries, where you can visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, which was once at the western end of the Nakasendo trail that you walked earlier in the holiday.

This itinerary has been carefully created to immerse you in Japanese life and culture – both traditional and contemporary. Led by your expert guide, you will travel on the efficiently run local trains and buses - an essential ingredient of modern-day Japan - whilst your main luggage will be sent by courier to make the road and train transfers more relaxed.

One of the highlights of the holiday is the traditional accommodation you will enjoy whilst trekking. Villagers have converted local houses into inns or minshuku and ryokans - both have Japanese-style rooms with tatami mat floors and futon beds and many have communal hot spring baths for your relaxation. At the end of each day’s trek, you will be warmly welcomed by your local hosts who take great pride in their beautifully kept accommodation and provide the highest levels of service. Exquisite meals are prepared using the freshest local ingredients that showcase the very best regional cuisine. At each inn, a cotton robe (yukata) and slippers are provided for your comfort and it is normal to wear these for dinner as well as whilst relaxing in the evening. Toiletries will also be in your room. This means, that on the few nights that your luggage is being couriered to your next destination, you will only have to carry a minimal change of clothes with your day pack (please see ‘Special notes’ and the ‘Accommodation’ section of this itinerary for further information).

The combination of stunning scenery, easy walking on ancient trails and experiencing Japan’s unique culture, cuisine and traditions, make this gentle trekking holiday an unforgettable experience.

At a glance

Grade: Gentle

Duration:  13 days from the UK  
On Trek: 4 days
Walks on: 2 days

Max. Altitude: 900m/3,036 ft

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Tokyo

Accommodation types: Hotels, Ryokan, Minshuku, Temple

Meal arrangements: All breakfasts and 6 dinners are inlcuded. Lunch is not included and your guide will help you organise your lunches which may be picnics or meals taken in local restaurants or cafes.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
Fly to Tokyo. Sightseeing tour
Trek the Nakasendo trail in the Kiso valley
Mount Koya. Visit temples and historic sights
Visit Nara and the Todaiji Temple
Walk the Yamanobe no Michi trail
Visit Kyoto. Sightseeing and evening walk
Transfer to Osaka airport and fly home
Leader: Local Leader, Japan
Local Leader, Japan

Your trip will be led by an English-speaking Japanese guide. They are all highly experienced, and will greatly enhance your experience on holiday. They will both guide you on the trail, and accompany you on all train and road journeys.

Gentle Trekking Nakasendo Trail Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo. Group transfer to hotel.

    Fly overnight London to Tokyo.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Tokyo. Group transfer to hotel.

    You will fly in to Tokyo international airport where you will be met and transferred to your hotel, conveniently located in the central business district.

    Please note that you may not be able to check in to your hotel until 2pm. However, you will still be able to use the hotel's luggage storage facilities as well as the hotel's bar/restaurant. You may also like to go out to explore what the city has to offer.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shiba Park Hotel or Similar
  3. Day 3 - Sightseeing in Tokyo.

    Your first full day in Japan will be spent enjoying a walking tour of the Yanaka and Ueno areas of the city. Yanaka is an old quarter of Tokyo which still retains the charm of the Edo period, with many traditional houses, narrow streets and small temples. Popular with artists for its scenic quality, this area survived the bombing of World War II and gives a flavour of what Tokyo was like before it became a huge, concrete metropolis. The local shopping street, Yanaka Ginza, with its traditional shops stands in sharp contrast to high end Ginza district beloved by international brands.

    You will stroll through peaceful neighbourhoods, visit Yanaka Cemetery and discover historic Tenno-ji Temple. In the afternoon, you continue on to Asakusa where you walk through the lively Nakamise shopping street and visit Kappabashi Kitchen Street. Asakusa is an old quarter in Tokyo's shitamachi ('low city') which still displays some narrow streets reminiscent of the Edo period of Tokyo's history. Its main attraction is Senso-ji, a large Buddhist temple with a five-storey pagoda, dating originally from the 7th century and rebuilt after its destruction during World War II. With Asakusa Shrine nearby, the complex serves as the site for several religious festivals throughout the year. Leading up to the main temple buildings is the Nakamise-dori, a pedestrian street lined with shops selling a variety of Japanese arts, crafts and souvenirs. At the end of the street is the Kaminari-mon, the famous entrance gate to the temple.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shiba Park Hotel or Similar
  4. Day 4 - Transfer to the Kiso Valley, Walk to Narai - 2 miles, 1 hour.
    gentle trekking nakasendo trail walk to narai.

    Today brings the start of your journey through rural Japan in the remote Kiso valley region. Over the next three days you will walk by day from village to village, staying by night in small, family-run country inns (ryokan and minshuku).

    To begin, a train takes you from Tokyo to Shiojiri where there is the opportunity to enjoy a lunch of buckwheat noodles. You then start your walk from Kiso-Hirasawa which is known for its locally-produced lacquer ware. There may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work before setting off for Narai - about 1.5 miles along the trail that follows the river. Narai is one of 11 'post-towns' along the Kiso valley section of the Nakasendo Trail. Post-towns were resting places where travellers could find accommodation and food as they walked between Kyoto and Edo (as Tokyo was then called). Narai marked the half-way point of the route between the two centres and remains one of the most beautifully preserved of all the post-towns. It is a fascinating place to wander round, and time permitting you can visit the re-built cedar bridge and the shrine just above the small town.

    Your luggage today will be sent ahead from Tokyo to Kiso-Fukushima (where you will stay tomorrow) allowing you to carry just a light daypack on your short walk, with your overnight essentials. Your accommodation tonight is a delightful, minshuku inn in Narai.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shimada Minshuku or Similar
  5. Day 5 - Walk to Yabuhara over the Torii Pass. Transfer by train to Kiso-Fukushima - 4 miles, 3 hours.

    Narai grew as a post town because it lay at the start of the highest pass on the Nakasendo Trail, and travellers would gather here to wait for good weather. It is a 270 metre/885feet climb on the extremely well graded path to the Torii pass, through beautiful mixed forest of chestnut, cedar and walnut trees. The pass is marked by a small re-built and uninhabited tea-house. There are beautiful views back down the hill to Narai from here. The descent from the pass is again on a very good path, with small shrines along the route. This is bear country, and there are bells to ring along the route to warn the bears to keep away! You walk into the small town of Yabuhara, where you will have lunch before continuing a short distance by train to Kiso-Fukushima.

    Here you will stay up a secluded valley in a lovely, traditional ryokan with its own natural hot spring. You may soak in the large indoor bath or try the outdoor baths surrounded by trees. Many of the inns you stay in on your trek have been owned and run by the same family for many, many generations, so they take great pride in their high standards of service, comfort and cuisine. Your luggage, sent from Tokyo, will be waiting for you.

    270m/885ft ascent, 344m/1128ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Komanoyu Ryokan or Similar
  6. Day 6 - Transfer to Nojiri. Walk the Nakasendo Trail to Tsumago - 9 miles, 6-7 hours.

    Your luggage will be sent ahead this morning to Mount Koya. You will transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train and, after a short taxi ride, walk for just under 9 miles along the Nakasendo Way to Tsumago. En route you will pass through delightful small villages, rice fields and scenic countryside. The path is undulating, with stretches of giant bamboo forests, cedar forest and deciduous trees. The small farming hamlets are incredidly picturesque and neat, with fields of rice well protected by fences from the bears, deer and wild-boar that inhabit this hilly landscape. Another of the post-towns on the former Nakasendo trail, Tsumago has been preserved by strict self-imposed rules that prohibit the sale, rental or destruction of the handsome houses. It’s a living museum, but one which is still inhabited by the local residents. You will arrive in the afternoon and have a chance for a quick look around before continuing for a short distance to your accommodation at the attractive hamlet of O-Tsumago.

    344m/1,128ft ascent, 723m/2,275ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Tsutamaraya Minshuku or Similar
  7. Day 7 - Explore Tsumago, walk to Magome - 5 miles, 3 -4 hours.
    gentle trekking nakasendo trail magome.

    In the morning, you will have a leisurely start to the day, enjoying some time in Tsumago and have the opportunity to eat lunch there before continuing on to walk the five miles to Magome, your last stop in the Kiso Valley. The trail from Tsumago to Magome is the most beautiful and best-preserved part of the Nakasendo Trail and your walk is a delight from start to finish. Climbing gradually from Tsumago you reach a tea-house that has been used as a luggage depot for hundreds of years. After you enter the forest, you ascend on an ancient path to reach the two waterfalls of Odaki and Medaki. After climbing a little further you reach the Ichikokutochi tea-house. This large, wooden building, set in a pretty clearing, is little changed since the Edo period, and it is still possible to have a cup of Japanese tea here. You are almost at the highest pass of the day here, and it is a stunning walk down from the pass with beautiful mountain views to reach the post town of Magome. Magome is a busy tourist spot by day, but in the evening it becomes much quieter and you will have the chance to explore the many small shops and wander the streets. You may also like to try gohei-mochi - skewered sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of soy sauce, sesame and walnuts; a local treat.

    430m/1,410ft ascent, 326m/1,069ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Magomechaya Minshuku or Similar
  8. Day 8 - Transfer to Mount Koya, walk in afternoon around the temples and vast cemetery.

    Today you will take a local train out of the mountains before travelling on the bullet train to Osaka, and then on to Mount Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees 900 metres up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century, when the priest Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) founded the first temple and the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have shukubo (temple lodgings). You will stay in one of the temples, run by the monks, and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). You will also visit Kongo-buji temple and there will be a guided walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery, with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries. Your luggage, sent from Kiso-Fukishima, will be waiting for you at your inn.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Ekoin Temple or Similar
  9. Day 9 - Transfer to Nara, afternoon sightseeing including the Todaiji Temple.

    We will send your luggage ahead this morning while you travel by cable car and train to Nara. Nara was Japan's first permanent capital and many of its remarkable temples are spread throughout the beautiful park situated in the heart of the town. In the afternoon you will visit Todaiji Temple, one of the eight UNESCO World heritage sites in Nara.Todaiji temple’s Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. Prior to being rebuilt three hundred years ago, the awesome wooden structure was even larger than today.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fujita Nara Hotel or similar
  10. Day 10 - Walk the Yamanobe No Michi - 8 miles, 4 hours.

    This morning, following breakfast at your hotel, you will transfer to the trailhead to walk along the historic Yamanobe-no-michi, said to be the oldest road in Japan. This trail winds its way along the base of the hills which mark the edge of Yamato Plain, south of Kyoto and Nara, associated with the early Yamato clan who were the founders of the first unified Japanese state. The route is dotted with old shrines and burial mounds of the first emperors. In between are small villages together with fields of rice, vegetables, strawberries and other fruits. Also famous are the thin Miwa somen noodles, served with a light broth. Small shops along the way sell snacks such as mochi (rice paste), cakes covered in kinako (soya flour) and matcha (powdered green tea).

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fujita Nara Hotel or similar
  11. Day 11 - Train to Kyoto, evening walk in Gion.

    You will take the train to Kyoto and check into your hotel. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for many centuries and is still regarded as the country’s cultural heart. Luggage sent from Mount Koya will be waiting at your hotel. Kyoto is a very accessible city, with the delightful river-side path a lovely place to wander. There are numerous temples, museums and shops to visit, and in the evening you can enjoy a guided walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district, where there is the possibility of seeing a geiko (fully-fledged geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Hearton or Similar
  12. Day 12 - Morning walking tour of Kyoto, afternoon free for shopping and further sightseeing.
    gentle trekking nakasendo trail kyoto ss.

    There will be a half-day walking tour this morning. You first visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge which marks the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. You continue to Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid-13th century when the Emperor Kameyama built his retirement villa here and later converted it into a temple. You then stroll along the Philosopher's Path with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the waters of a small canal. The path ends near Ginkakuji - the Silver Pavilion. There will be free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts and last minute souvenirs. By now you will be well-versed in tackling Japan's extremely efficient public transport system on your own! We would highly recommend visiting the Nishiki food market, and perhaps one of the very popular vintage shops selling second-hand kimonos. In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner with your guide.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Hearton or Similar
  13. Day 13 - Group transfer to Osaka airport. Fly to London.

    Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.


Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek


Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 21 Sep - Thu 3 Oct 2019 Available£3755 Book£4785 Book
Sat 19 Oct - Thu 31 Oct 2019 Guaranteed£3755 Book£4850 Book


Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 9 May - Thu 21 May 2020 Available£3595 BookContact us
Sat 26 Sep - Thu 8 Oct 2020 Available£3595 BookContact us
Sat 10 Oct - Thu 22 Oct 2020 Available£3595 BookContact us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

Optional supplements
  • Single Room Supplement - Hotels
    From £575
  • Single Room Supplement - Hotels only
    From £535
  • Cover starts from £134
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • An English speaking Japanese leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in the main towns
  • Staying in traditional minshuku, ryokan and shukubo (temple), on a twin-sharing basis, in outlying places
  • Baggage transfer as per the itinerary
  • All road transport, by private vehicles, buses and trains
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees for Japan
  • Some meals (see itinerary for meal plan)
  • Airport transfers (if your flights do not coincide with the group flights)
  • Tips

Review your holiday


Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 9 reviews)

The trip was well thought out and organised          

The different places we visited provided a good introduction to Japan. We especially liked travelling by public transport, (not by road in a coach or minibus), staying in the minshuku and ryokan, and the meals provided there. It was our first visit to Japan and we would like to go again.

A wonderful trip          

This trip was extremely well organised and all the travel arrangements etc worked perfectly. Aya was a very good guide giving us loads of insights into local culture and making requested amendments to the itinerary (we only asked for a few small ones!) with conscientiousness and good humour. The group size was ideal and everybody was very friendly and helpful to each other. Overall this was a wonderful trip in so many ways and I shall never forget it. Japan is such a beautiful and exciting country - made extra special by weather to die for, almost continuous wall to wall blue skies and warm sunshine every day but one!

A few Japanese cities, plus alpine trekking, historic villages and some temples - a great mix!          

MK's Nakasendo Trail's gentle trekking trip gave us a taste of a few cities and staying in hotels, the challenge of reducing luggage to what we carried on our backs (letting our main bags be transferred very efficiently for occasional access, and which enabled such easy luggage-free public transport travel everywhere); and then what seemed a real privilege to be trekking in alpine countryside, with accommodation in small privately owned minshukus, inns, ryokans and even a Buddhist temple (surprisingly luxurious!). We were blessed with good walking weather, and the beginnings of autumn foliage, and could hunt out the occasional chrysanthemum display. Learning the etiquette of onsen-use involved ditching British reserve(!), but those hot communal baths offered a great way to relax after a day's walking, and we would then all assemble dressed in our yukatas and slippers for dinner. Thanks, MK, for another really well researched trip, and also for organising our Hiroshima extension, to which travel was easy in that we were by then public transport experts!

Amazing adventure          

This was my first solo trip without family and friends so I was excited and nervous. I loved Japan and the people, experiencing the very modern working alongside the very traditional. The mix of trekking, visiting temples, cities and seeing traditional crafts was great. Staying in the Minshuku and Rayakans was a real experience and gave us a flavour of the past. Overall an amazing adventure that I shall treasure.

Japan at a civlized pace          

We loved this trip. We wanted to see Japan but not at the frantic pace of most tours. This itinerary allowed us to experience Japan in all its glory, without the feeling of rushing between its various sites. From our first outing in Tokyo, visiting a beautiful Shinto shrine, to our final walk along the Philosophers Trail in Kyoto, the whole trip was spectacular. Our guide was excellent, managing to herd us gently and expertly, always ready to help, translate, explain and enlighten us on any matters Japanese. The minshuku and ryokan were all very comfortable and welcoming, with lovely food. Our particular favourites were: staying at the Ekoin Temple, enjoying the hospitality of the monks and witnessing their morning ceremonies; and taking the 7 different modes of transport it took to get there! The transport in Japan is so clean, so timely, so efficient and even the rush hour in Tokyo was well mannered. This meant that far from being the tiring, trying experience that it may be in England, the 7 different modes of transport were a joy, an adventure, adding to the overall experience and so much better than being ferried around on a bus!

Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email and we will be pleased to help.

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