Day 1: To Tokyo
- Overnight flight to Tokyo Narita
Day 2: Tokyo -
Afternoon arrival and transfer to our accommodation in central Tokyo
(2 nights). There will be some free time to explore before a welcome
Day 3: Tokyo - Full
day guided walking tour of Tokyo and its collection of different
districts, each with their own individual character. From the
ultra-modern to historic temples and gardens, a guided stroll around
the city gives us an insight into Japanese life.
Day 4: Yudanaka Onsen &
the "snow monkeys" - Journey through rural Japan
to the traditional hot spring village nestled in the mountains of
Nagano. A short walk takes us to visit the "snow monkeys",
bathing in the hot springs. The monkeys started coming to warm
themselves in the outdoor springs here over 40 years ago, and a
local lodge owner built them their own bath after feeling sorry for
them during the cold winters. Our accommodation in nearby Yudanaka
has its own natural hot spings (humans only!), where you can
relax this evening.
Day 5: The Nakasendo Path
- Over the next two days we walk in the remote Kiso valley,
exploring rual Japan, an area of the country that few overseas
visitors reach. We walk by day from village to village, staying
by night in small, family‐run country inns (ryokan) and
country guesthouses (minshuku). We carry our overnight items in a
small daypack, while our luggage is taken ahead to Kyoto. We begin
at Nagiso, one of the 11 'post-towns' along the Kiso valley section
of the Nakasendo. Post-towns were resting places, where travellers
could find accommodation as they walked between Kyoto and Edo (now
Tokyo). In days past this route was used by traders, feudal lords,
and samurai as they made their way to and from the imperial capital.
We walk to the charming Tsumago, one of the best preserved
post-towns, and our accommodation in a traditional minshuku.
Day 6: Nakasendo Path - A
lovely walk again today, from Tsumago to Magome. After some free
time to explore Tsumago in the morning, we continue our journey over
the Magome Pass, to the small village of Magome. Here we stay
overnight in a minshuku, where our friendly host may introduce us to
‘minyo’, traditional rural dances and singing.
Day 7: To Kyoto -
Transfer to Kyoto, the western end of the Nakasendo Way and
Japan’s ancient capital, now a World Heritage Site, for a 3
night stay. Evening walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district
where there is always the possibility of seeing a geisha or maiko
(apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.
Day 8: Kyoto -
Morning guided walking tour to Kinkaku‐ji, the Golden
Pavilion, surrounded by a Japanese garden, and originally built by
the Ashikaga Shogun at the end of the 14th century. From
there, walk to the nearby Ryoan‐ji to see its famous Zen rock
garden. This afternoon walk along the ‘Philosopher’s Path’, a
delightful walk beside a canal lined with cherry trees in eastern
Kyoto, followed by some free time to explore the area further or
shop for crafts.
Day 9: Kyoto - Today
is free to explore Kyoto. Your guide will be happy to help with
suggestions of places to visit, such as Nijo Castle, the former
residence of the Shogun in Kyoto, or Kiyomizu Temple with its
wonderful view of Kyoto.
Day 10: Hakone -
to Hakone, a famous hot spring town with wonderful views of Mount
Fuji (weather permitting). We stay at a lakeside hotel, with
wonderful views of Mount Fuji. The hotel has its own hot spring
baths. After checking in, we walk to the Hakone Check-Point Museum
before enjoying some free time before dinner.
Day 11: To Hakone National
Park - A full day in Hakone, beginning with a walk along
the 'sugi-namiki', lined with Japanese cedar trees, to Lake
Ashi-no-ko where we may be able to see demonstrations of Japanese
parquetry in the workshops there. We then continue on the old
Tokaido highway, once the alternative to the Nakasendo, stopping for
lunch along the way.
Day 12: Hakone &
Tokyo - A morning boat ride across Lake Ashi-no-ko, to
travel on a series of funicular railways through the Hakone volcanic
ranges. We walk to see the volcanic fumaroles bubble up, before
enjoying lunch on the other side of the mountain. After lunch we
take the bus back to Tokyo for the evening.
Day 13: Departure day - Morning
transfer to Narita Airport.