Nakasendo Trail

Nakasendo Trail

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour


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

From Tokyo, you will walk the Nakasendo Trail in this smallgroup guided tour. You will spend 4 days walking this historic trail, visiting the perfectly restored villages of NaraiTsumago and Magome and staying in traditional ryokans much like samurai, merchants, and travellers did during the Edo period. After walking this ancient trail, you will also visit the historic imperial capitals of Kyoto and Nara – a city famous for its free-roaming deer! You will also stay in a monastery in the temple town of Mount Koya and have a glimpse into the lives of the Buddhist monks that reside there.  


  • Day
  • 1
Meet in Tokyo 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Welcome Dinner

Meet at the tour hotel in central Tokyo. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. 

  • Day
  • 2
Sightseeing in Tokyo 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast

Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, starting at Nihonbashi (the ‘Japan Bridge’) considered to be the ‘centre of Japan’ and the zero marker point for all Japan’s main roads since the Edo period. Afterwards, we visit Ueno and the Tokyo National Museum to see exhibits illuminating Japan of the Edo era, the heyday of the Nakasendo Trail. (If the Museum is closed because of a national holiday, we will visit the Kappabashi district, famous for selling kitchenware and small plastic models of food used in restaurant displays.) We continue on to the grand Meiji shrine and the fashionable Harajuku district. In the evening your tour guide will be on hand to offer suggestions for restaurants for dinner.

  • Day
  • 3
Nakasendo Trail from Kiso-Hirasawa to Narai 
  • Walking  2.5km
  • World Heritage site  negligible ascent and descent 
  • Walking  1 hour 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)  
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Our travels through rural Japan begin with a journey from Tokyo to the remote Kiso valley. Over the next three days we will walk from village to village, staying in small, family-run country inns (Ryokan and Minshuku). After the opportunity to enjoy a lunch of buckwheat noodles in the local town of Shiojiri, we walk from Kiso-Hirasawa to Narai. Kiso-Hirasawa is known for its locally-produced lacquerware and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. Stay in Narai, a beautifully-preserved post-town. Our lodgings will be an atmospheric traditional Minshuku. 

  • Day
  • 4
Narai to Kiso-Fukushima 
  • Walking 6.2km 
  • World Heritage site 270m ascent, 344m descent 
  • Walking  3 hours  
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Onsen Ryokan (Hot spring Travellers Inn)  
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

On our second day on the Nakasendo Trail, we walk from Narai to Yabuhara over the Torii Pass and then continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. There we will 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. 

  • Day
  • 5
Kiso-Fukushima to Tsumago 
  • Walking 14km
  • World Heritage site  344m ascent, 723m descent 
  • Walking 4.5 hours 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)  
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

We transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train and then by a short taxi ride to the Nenoue-Toge pass.  We walk along a lovely section of the Nakasendo Trail through delightful small settlements and rice fields to Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago. Only a few decades ago, Tsumago was neglected and falling into disrepair, but through concerted efforts by its residents it has been saved and restored. Now this post-town on the Nakasendo Trail is 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. We will arrive in the afternoon. 

  • Day
  • 6
Tsumago to Magome; onwards to Nara 
  • Walking 8.3km
  • World Heritage site 430m ascent, 326m descent 
  • Walking 3 hours 
  • Hotel Hotel 
  • Meal Breakfast

From Tsumago we walk to Magome, our last stop in the Kiso Valley. The trail from Tsumago to Magome is the most beautiful and best-preserved part of the Nakasendo Trail. There will be time to eat lunch in Magome and explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street. You might also try gohei-mochi, skewered sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts. We will travel by regular train and then Bullet Train to Kyoto, connecting onwards to Nara, where we check in to our western-style hotel. 

  • Day
  • 7
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast

In Nara, we have a guided walk in the morning. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites - Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, Nara Palace Site, Ganko-ji Temple, Yakushi-ji Temple and Toshoda-ji Temple. Many of these sites are in or near Nara Park, home to a thousand or more free-roaming deer. We will visit two of these World Heritage sites, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji temple -its 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. There will byakue some free time to relax, visit a Japanese garden or wander through the old town. 

  • Day
  • 8
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Ryokan (Travellers inn) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner 

From Nara, our journey takes us to the ridge-top village of Yoshino, and a comfortable Ryokan. Yoshino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous places in the whole of Japan for viewing cherry blossom in the spring. We will visit Yoshimizu Shrine (connected to historical figures such as Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Emperor Godaigo, and ToyotomiHideyoshi), and explore the area. 

  • Day
  • 9
Mount Koya 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

We take the scenic train to Mount Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century 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). We stay in one of the temples and dine on shojin-ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. We visit Kongo-buji temple and walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery. Tomorrow morning, there is an opportunity to rise early and join the Buddhist morning service.   

  • Day
  • 10
Transfer to Kyoto 
  • Hotel Hotel 
  • Meal Breakfast

We take the train to Kyoto and check into our hotel. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for many centuries and is still regarded as the country’s cultural heart. In the evening, we enjoy a walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district and there is the possibility of seeing a geiko (fully-fledged geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets. 

  • Day
  • 11
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Farewell Dinner

There is a guided half-day walking tour this morning. We first visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. We continue to Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid-13th century. We then stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the clear waters of a small canal. The path ends near Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. There is free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts. In the evening, there is a Farewell Dinner with your guide. 

  • Day
  • 12
Tour ends 
  • Meal  Breakfast 

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



Tour Length 

12 days 


From $7,210 per person, twin share

Type and 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.   

What is Included
  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide 
  • 11 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan, Minshuku and Shukubo) 
  • Due to the rural nature of this tour, some properties will only have Japanese-style bedding and shared facilities
  • Daily breakfast & 7 dinners 
  • All transportation between tour locations 
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group’s itinerary 
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 3 occasions 
What’s Not Included
  • Flights 
  • Airport transfers 
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches 
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels 
  • When the group stays at Japanese-style properties you might be asked to share a room with another group member of the same gender
Important Due to the rural nature of this tour, slight alterations of the itinerary are possible.


07 SEP, 15 SEP, 21 SEP, 06 OCT, 09 OCT, 18 OCT, 02 NOV, 05 NOV, 08 NOV


22 MAR, 29 MAR, 06 APR, 15 APR, 04 MAY, 10 MAY, 17 MAY, 01 SEP, 14 SEP, 05 OCT, 08 OCT, 17 OCT, 28 OCT, 04 NOV, 09 NOV

< 2020s30s40s50s60s70+

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour