The Nakasendo way linked Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ travelled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants and travellers. From Tokyo, spend four days walking along the Nakasendo. By day travel along the ancient route as it passes through beautifully-preserved villages along an easy path, and each night stay in traditional country inns, enjoying regional cuisine and warm hospitality.
This is a small-group guided tour with many departures in 2018 & 2019.

  • Village to village walking on the loveliest parts of the old Nakasendo trail
  • See the exquisitely-preserved villages of Narai, Tsumago and Magome
  • Bathe in the thermal waters at a hot-spring Ryokan
  • Visit the historic Imperial cities of Kyoto and Nara with its free-roaming deer
  • Stay in monastery lodgings in the temple town of Mount Koya
  • Ride the Bullet train

This is a small-group guided tour with many departures in 2018 & 2019.

Day 1 : Tokyo

Meet at the hotel in the evening. There will be a welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Accommodation : Hotel

Day 2 : Tokyo

The first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, visiting Ueno or the Kappabashi district (famous for selling kitchenware and the plastic models of plates of food used in restaurant displays), as well as the Meiji Shrine. In the evening the guide will be on hand to help with ordering dinner.
Accommodation : Hotel
Total walking: approx. 4km

Day 3 : Walking the Nakasendo Trail day 1: Shiojiri to Narai

The trip through rural Japan begins with a journey from Tokyo to the remote Kiso Valley. Over the next few days, walk by day from village to village, staying by night in small, family-run country inns (ryokan & minshuku). Luggage will be taken separately by road, allowing walking with just a light daypack. After a lunch of buckwheat noodles in the the town of Shiojiri, walk 2.5km to Narai from Hirasawa, one of 11 post-towns along the Kiso Valley section of the Nakasendo. Post-towns were resting places where travellers could find accommodation and food as they walked between Kyoto and Edo (as Tokyo was then called). Hirasawa is known for its locally-produced lacquer-ware, and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. Stay in Narai, a beautifully-preserved post town. The lodgings will be an atmospheric traditional ryokan.
Accommodation : Japanese Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)
Total walking: 2.5km, 1 hour

Day 4 : Walking the Nakasendo Trail day 2: Narai to Kiso-Fukushima

On the second day there will be a 5-mile walk from Narai to Yabuhara over the Torii Pass, then continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. Stay in a lovely traditional ryokan with its own natural hot spring. Soak in the indoor baths made of cypress wood or try the outdoor baths surrounded by trees.
Accommodation : Japanese Inn with onsen thermal hot spring baths
Total walking: 6.2km, 3 hours

Day 5 : Walking the Nakasendo Trail day 3: Kiso-Fukushima to Tsumago

Transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train, then a short taxi ride. Walk along a lovely section of the Nakasendo Trail through small settlement and rice fields to Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago. Only 20 years ago it was falling into disrepair, but through the concerted efforts of its residents, it has been saved and restored. Another of the post-towns on the Nakasendo, Tsumago has been preserved by strict self-imposed rules that prohibit the sale, rental or destruction of the handsome houses. It is a living museum, but one which is still inhabited by the local residents. Arrive in the afternoon, with a little time to wander the streets, tasting gohei-mochi, skewered balls of pounded sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts.
Accommodation : Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)
Total walking: 14km, 4.5 hours

Day 6 : Walking the Nakasendo Trail day 4: Tsumago to Magome

From Tsumago walk to Magome, the last stop in the Kiso Valley. The trail from Tsumago to Magome is the most beautiful and best-preserved part of the Nakasendo. Time to eat lunch in Magome and explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street. Then travel by regular train and then Bullet train to Kyoto, connecting onwards to Nara, to stay at a western-style hotel.
Accommodation : Hotel
Total walking: approx. 8.3km, 3 hours

Day 7 : Nara

A guided walking tour of Nara in the morning. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Todaiji Temple, Kofuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, NAra Palace, Gankoji, Yakushi-ji and Toshoda-ji. Many of these sites are in or near Nara Park, home to around 1,000 freely-roaming deer. Visit two of these World Heritage Sites including Todaiji Temple: its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16m tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. Prior to being rebuilt 300 years ago, the awesome wooden structure was even bigger than it is today. In the afternoon, visit Nigatsu-do or the Kasuga Shrine. Then free time to relax or wander through the old town.
Accommodation : Hotel

Day 8 : Yoshino

From Nara travel to the ridge-top village of Yoshino, and a comfortable ryokan. Visit Yoshimizu Temple and explore the area.
Accommodation : Ryokan

Day 9 : Mt. Koya

From Yoshino, take the scenic train to Mt Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees 800 metres up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th Century, when the monk Kukai founded the first temple here and the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Mount Koya has been a place of devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have shukubo (temple lodgings). Stay in one of the elegant temples, run by the monks, and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). 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.
Accommodation : Shukubo (pilgrims’ lodging)

Day 10 : Mt. Koya - Kyoto

An opportunity to get up early and join the Buddhist morning service if you wish. Afterwards, visit Kongobu-ji Temple, the head temple of the Shingon sect. After lunch, travel to Kyoto. After checking in at the hotel, enjoy and evening walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district; there is always the possibility of seeing a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 11 : Kyoto

A half-day walking tour this morning. Visit the Sanjo-ohashi bridge – the western end of the Nakasendo. Continue to Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid 13th century. Stroll along the ‘Philosopher’s Path’ with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the small canal. The path ends near Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. There will be free time in the afternoon to explore the area further or shop for crafts. In the evening, a farewell dinner with the guide.
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 12 : Tour ends

The tour ends today after breakfast at the hotel in Kyoto. The guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homewards flights, or for onward travel if you are extending your stay in Japan.

£ 3,245

per person sharing twin room

This group tour is sold as “land only”, leaving you to buy flights. But we can also arrange flights for you, if you wish: please ask us for a quotation.

Single room supplement:  £ 347

The single supplement guarantees you a room to yourself at the western-style hotels on the tour. At the Japanese inns on the tour, tatami-mat rooms are culturally less ‘intimate’ spaces that western bedrooms and Japanese guests travelling with acquaintances are accustomed to sharing. We follow this Japanese custom and will ask you to share a tatami-mat room with another group member of the same gender. You will never be asked to share with someone of the opposite gender or someone outside the group. If you are a solo traveller willing to share a room throughout the tour with another solo traveller of the same gender, please let us know. The single supplement will be refunded to you if a room-mate is found before the tour starts.


  • Day1 - 12: group tour by OKU Japan, including:
  • - 11 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • - OKU Japan tour leader for duration
  • - 7 dinners
  • - Entrance fees for visits with your tour leader to museums etc.
  • - Baggage transfer service where applicable

Not included

  • flights
  • airport transfers (can be arranged on request)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Any meals, beverages, accommodation or travel arrangements not shown in the above itinerary
  • Incidental costs such as personal laundry, drinks, snacks
  • Passport and other visa document fees (UK citizens do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days in Japan)
Departing Finishing Price Status
2018 04 November 15 November £ 3,205
08 November 19 November £ 3,205
11 November 22 November £ 3,205
2019 24 March 04 April £ 3,205
01 April 12 April £ 3,205
07 April 18 April £ 3,205
09 April 20 April £ 3,205
16 April 27 April £ 3,205
18 April 29 April £ 3,205
05 May 16 May £ 3,205
13 May 24 May £ 3,205
17 May 28 May £ 3,205
20 May 31 May £ 3,245 unavailable
15 July 26 July £ 3,205
02 September 13 September £ 3,205
09 September 20 September £ 3,205
23 September 04 October £ 3,205
01 October 12 October £ 3,205
11 October 22 October £ 3,205 unavailable

To book, please contact us with the following information for the lead booker:
Name, address, email, phone
Nationality, date of birth, gender
Passport number, place of issue, issue date, expiry date
Emergency contact in the UK
Dietary requirements (for all in party), any medical conditions
A deposit of 20% is required in order to confirm your booking (full payment required if less than 2 months before departure) and the balance is required 2 months before departure.

Type & level of trip

ACTIVE: 4 days of walking and hiking from 2 to 5 hours per day on flat paths and mountain trails with some short climbs. This tour is suitable for those who are in reasonable shape and can walk over rough ground for up to 5 hours. Whilst on the trail you will need to carry a small to medium daypack.

Luggage transfers

On this small-group guided tour your guide takes care of luggage arrangements for you. On tour, larger items of luggage are sent ahead by Takkyubin Courier to make long-distance transfers by bus and train more relaxed. This means you do not have to handle your larger items of luggage through railway stations and on trains. However, those larger items of luggage do not rejoin on the same day and you do not have access to them on certain nights. So please bring a backpack to carry your overnight essentials.
All Japanese inns on the intervening nights provide cotton yukata gowns and slippers for you to wear after arrival for dining, relaxing, exploring outside and sleeping. They also provide small towels, soap, shampoo and hairdryers. You don’t need a change of clothing for the evening, so it really is possible to manage with just a medium daypack. Takkyubin Courier of one larger item of baggage per person is included in your guided tour price; if you choose to travel with two larger items of baggage, then your tour guide will happily arrange Takkyubin Courier for both items and simply ask you to pay locally for the second one.