Ancient postal towns along the Nakasendo trail, Nachi falls on Kumano Kodo, the stunning Ise Shima region and Kyoto by bike - this is truly getting out and actively seeing Japan!

Nakasendo trail? Kumano Kodo? Kyoto on a bike? or Southern ilses on a kayak? This is the Japan you want to experience in an active way! We walk through the tranquil ancient post towns along the famous Nakasendo trail, hop on a bike along the beautiful Kamon river in Kyoto and sweat our way on the legendary Kumano pilgrim trail and kayak the beautiful bay at Ise Shima.

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Start
Tokyo, Japan
Finish
Osaka, Japan
Country
Japan
Style
Original
Code
CJXH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • We can't think of a better way to enjoy the many facets of Japan than by hiking, biking and kayaking your way around some of the country's most amazing natural and cultural sites.

  • Temple hop in Kyoto as you wind your way through the city by bike, stopping off for lunch for a vegetarian meal on the way.

  • The Kumano Kodo is one of only 2 UNESCO listed pilgrimage trails in the world. We trek one of the best legs of the route, which includes the spectacular Nachi Falls.

  • Stay overnight in the tranquil towns of Narai, Magome and Kugochi along the ancient Nakesendo Highway that once linked Tokyo and Kyoto.

  • Earn some well earned time out on the water or on the beach after all that effort in stunning Ise Shima.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The active nature of this trip means that the fitter you are, the more you will be able to enjoy it. It is expected that travellers joining this trip will have had some experience hiking and cycling before and can swim. Hiking distances vary from 3-15km per day with no more elevation change than 60-900m on one hike.

  • The hikes on the Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo include sections rather than the entirety of the trails, so give a great, accessible taster without needing to commit multiple days to strenuous treks.

  • In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon matresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information.

Itinerary

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them here. After the meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Tokyo in the morning and hop on our first train to Matsumoto. Admire the magnificent Matsumoto castle, one of the oldest castle in Japan with 400 year old history. Nicknamed "Karasujo" (Crow Castle), Matsumoto castle was painted in black to sow fear in the attackers back in 1595.

After the visit, hop back on the train and continue to the tranquil town Narai on the famous Nakasendo post way that linked the ancient Tokyo and Kyoto. Narai was once the most wealthy post town along Nakasendo and marked the half way between Kyoto and Edo (ancient name of Tokyo). Wander along the streets in Narai lined by the preserved or restored old houses and rest for the night.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel to Tsumago where we'll visit Waki- Honjin, the former inn that served the high-ranking officials back in the days. This is where we get to have a glimpse of what it was like - what their life was like, how the furniture was positioned, even how to use the toilet.

Then we'll hike from Tsumago to Magome, part ofthe Nakasendo trail. About 8 km long, this part of the route is well maintained. Enjoy the tranquil Kiso valley with villages dotted among the fields and locals working on them. Arrive at Magome in the afternoon where we'll rest for the night.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tsumago - Waki Honjin
  • Nakasendo Trail - Tsumago to Magome hiking
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue our hike along the Nakasendo trail from Magome to Nakatsugawa (approx. 3 hrs), from where we'll take the train to Kyoto via Nagoya.

Originally founded as Heian-kyo (literally “tranquillity and peace capital”) by Emperor Kammu in 794, Kyoto had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years (the name means “Capital City”) but the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in.

Arrive at Kyoto, and we'll visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings.
Included Activities
  • Nakasendo Trail - Magome to Nakatsugawa hiking
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, we pick up our rerntal bikes and bike along the Kamon River. Kamon River is the perfect place to get away from the Kyoto crowds and see the locals go about their daily business. During the ride, we'll visit Tofuku-ji Temple, the head temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, built about 800 years ago. We'll also pass by Toji temple, Nishi Honganji temple, Nijo Castle and Daitokuji Temple (visits optional, entry not included).
Our lunch is included at the fabulous vegetarian Izusen restaurant. In the afternoon, we'll bike to visit the glamorous Golden temple, Kinkakuji and then back to our bike shop.
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Kyoto Cycling
  • Kyoto - Tofuku-ji Temple
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Today, we'll visit Ginkakuji, also know as the Silver Pavillion, which was built more than 500 years ago after the model of the Golden Pavillion Kinkakuji. Then perhaps take the optional walk down the Philosopher pass through Nanzenji big gates to Heihan Jingu Tori gates.

Enjoy a free afternoon in Kyoto. Make the best of your time here in this charming ancient capital. Encounter a Geisha in the Gion district, enjoy a tea ceremony or continue your spiritual quest in one of the many temples in the city.
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Ginkakuji Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
We continue our journey on the train to Shingu. Visit Shingu shrine, one of the 3 main shrines that are part of the Kumano kodo network. Then we'll visit Kamikura Shrine, one of the oldest sacred shrine in Shingu which has a stunning view over the Shingu city and out to the Pacific ocean.

Change to a local public bus here to Koguchi, where we'll rest for the night and get ready for tomorrow's hike.
Included Activities
  • Shingu - Shingu Shrine
  • Shingu - Kamikura Shrine
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Early start! Today we'll hike part of the famous Kumado Kodo, one of the only two UNESCO listed pilgrim route.

The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that connect three major religious sites - known collectively as the Kumano Sanzan. Through centuries, the pilgrim route has been used by the royal families, the Samurai and the common crowds as part of their practice of the Buddhism, what is essentially a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto.

For the first 2.5h to 3h it is an uphill climb up that rises over 800 meters. After reaching the Echizen toge, we will follow the forest ridge for another couple of kilometers until reach the highest point, Funami-jaya teahouse at 868m. From here its another 4.4km to Nachi Taisha, mostly downhill.

Visit the Nachi Taisha, one of the 3 Kumano shrines, and the Nachi falls, then we'll take taxis down to Kii Katsuura for the night.
Included Activities
  • Kumano Kudo - hiking
  • Kumano Kodo - Kumano Nachi Taisha
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head to the biggest Tuna market in Japan in the morning. Nachikatsuura claims to have the highest volume of tuna fish hauls in all of Japan and the tuna which are caught in the coastal waters by longline fishing are sold at auctions here. Then we'll take the train to Ise Shima. Take in the great view of the Ago bay at the Shima Yokoyama Observation Deck before we head to our hotel.

The Shima Peninsula is home to Japan's most sacred Shinto shrines, the Ise Shrines, and is a popular leisure resort area among the urban population of Nagoya and Osaka.
Included Activities
  • Katsuura - Fish Market
  • Ise Ishima - Shima Yokoyama Observation Deck
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Set off to the sea today. We'll take our kayaks and kayak along the beautiful Ago Bay. Paddle towards an uninhabited island, and then move on to the inhabited island of Masakijima where we can disembark, go for swimming or wander on the island.
Included Activities
  • Ise Shima - Ago Bay Kayaking
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, explore the island intricate coastline with the sea cliffs and coastal caves on a bike. Hop back on the train and return to Osaka. Enjoy some free time in the city, maybe do some last minute shopping or visit Osaka Castle.
Included Activities
  • Ise Shima - cycling
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Our tour comes to an end today. There are no activity planned. You may depart your accommodation at any time of the day.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 lunch

Transport

Boat, Public Bus, Metro, Bullet Train, Train, Taxi, Walking, Bike, Kayak

Accommodation

Hotel/Ryokan (11 nights)

Included activities

  • Tsumago - Waki Honjin
  • Nakasendo Trail - Tsumago to Magome hiking
  • Nakasendo Trail - Magome to Nakatsugawa hiking
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto - Kyoto Cycling
  • Kyoto - Tofuku-ji Temple
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Ginkakuji Temple
  • Shingu - Shingu Shrine
  • Shingu - Kamikura Shrine
  • Kumano Kudo - hiking
  • Kumano Kodo - Kumano Nachi Taisha
  • Katsuura - Fish Market
  • Ise Ishima - Shima Yokoyama Observation Deck
  • Ise Shima - Ago Bay Kayaking
  • Ise Shima - cycling

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. As this is an active, multi-activity trip you will need to have an excellent level of fitness.
2. Your luggage will be forwarded to the next destination at different points of the trip, so you'll still need to be prepared to carry a small overnight pack while trekking. 
3. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.
4. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.