• Walking Japan: Village to Village

    Travel back in time as you follow in the footsteps of medieval shoguns and samurai while immersed in traditional culture

    Follow in the footsteps of shoguns, samurai and merchants who once traveled on foot or horseback on a network of ancient "kaido," or trails, linking the Imperial capital, provincial towns, and small villages that dot Japan's Kiso Valley.  (This entire trip is below 6,000' elevation).

    best times to go: April - May, September - November

    departures: 3 scheduled datesview departures

    pricing: from $5,295 see detailed pricing

    Southeast Asia

Also great as a private trip. Call for details

Travel back in time as you follow in the footsteps of medieval shoguns and samurai while immersed in traditional culture

Walking through the Japanese countryside, it is easy to see what has inspired the elegant simplicity of Japan’s traditional art: ethereal cherry blossoms, ancient temples, lush valleys, misty forests, and snowcapped peaks. Hiking through forested mountains, past hamlets and small villages, you’ll hear the echoes of shoguns, samurai and merchants who once traveled on this network of trails linking the Imperial capital with the provincial towns that dot the Kiso Valley. You’ll visit the old imperial city of Kyoto and see its magnificent temples, shrines, and the Gion Geisha district. You’ll walk through beautiful juku (post towns) and along the Nakasendo, one of Japan’s ancient trade routes. You’ll enjoy an ancient tea ceremony, soak in mountain hot springs, and stay in a traditional shukubo (temple lodging). Unlike other companies, MTS makes sure that you experience the gracious hospitality of small, family-run inns and exquisitely-prepared, multi-course Japanese meals every night. You’ll be able to contrast all of this tradition with the electric energy of Tokyo, where you’ll visit the Ginza shopping district, the Imperial Palace, and the Grand Meiji Shrine. Come experience Japan, MTS-style!


4 days of easy to moderate hiking along country trails and village roads


  • Explore the old imperial city of Kyoto, its ancient temples, the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, and the Gion Geisha district
  • Follow your local MTS guide over some of the oldest trails in Japan through medieval towns, lush valleys, and misty forests
  • Stay at traditional Japanese inns, including a night at a shukubo, a pilgrims’ lodging, soak in hot springs, and eat exquisitely prepared, multi-course Japanese meals every night—only with MTS
  • Experience the electric energy of Tokyo and visit some of its oldest sites, including the Imperial Palace and the Grand Meiji Shrine

Duration: 11 days Start Location: Kyoto End Location: Tokyo

Download Detailed Itinerary
BRIEF Itinerary
  • Day 1 : Arrive in Kyoto (This entire trip is below 6,000' elevation)

    Arrive in Kyoto.

  • Jap_day2_temple
    Day 2 : Kyoto

    Explore Kyoto: walk to nearby Ryoan-ji to see its famous rock garden and stroll the Philosopher's Path along a canal lined with mature sakura (flowering cherry trees).

  • Jap_day2_cherry
    Day 3 : Nara

    Visit the ancient capital of Nara and walk in the nearby hills.  Return to Kyoto in the late afternoon.

  • Day 4 : Mount Koya and Pilgrim’s Trail

    This morning we travel along the scenic Nankai railway, which brings us to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Koya, home to more than 100 monasteries, many of which host travelers in shukubo, or temple lodgings.

  • Jap_day_okunoin
    Day 5 : Mount Koya and Kiso Valley

    Tour the vast Okuno-in cemetery, with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords, shoguns, samurai, politicians and other luminaries. We then head by train to the Kiso Valley, where we’ll enjoy the hospitality of villagers who have converted their traditional machiya houses into inns.

  • Day 6 : Kiso Valley and Nakasendo

    In the morning, take time to explore the small post-town of Magome before we walk to the village of Tsumago-juku over Magome Pass. This small village has many restored machiya houses lining the main street and there are small shops selling local crafts as well as snacks such as gohei-mochi (rice paste covered in a miso sauce).

  • Jap_day_maiko
    Day 7 : Tsumago – Nojiri

    Continuing our journey along Nakasendo, we head to Nojiri via the route of your choice: a 13-mile hike or an abbreviated version (2.5-miles) with a train ride. Then a short train ride brings us to Kiso-Fukushima, where we'll stay at the Koma-no-yu Ryokan.

  • Day 8 : Yabuhara – Narai

    A short train ride takes us to the post town of Yabuhara, where we climb to Torii Pass for a stunning view of the Kiso Valley. Mid-afternoon finds us in Narai-juku, one of the best-preserved villages on the route. We have the unique experience of traveling without our luggage, as it will be transferred by courier this morning to Tokyo. You will need to pack a bag or pack to carry your overnight items.

  • Day 9 : Hirasawa – Tokyo

    A short morning walk to the town of Hirasawa, renowned for its lacquer-ware artisans. We'll stop in at one of their workshops before transferring to Tokyo.

  • Jap_day10_bgstk_tokyo
    Day 10 : Tokyo

    Hit the highlights of Tokyo: Nihonbashi, the elegant Ginza shopping district, and the spacious park around the Imperial Palace as well as the Grand Meiji Shrine and the famous Shibuya entertainment area.

  • Day 11 : Departure

    Depart Tokyo

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: April - May, September - November Departures: Sep 15 - 25, 2014 Oct 13 - 23, 2014 Nov 10 - 20, 2014


2014 Prices

$5,295 (5-12 members)

$700 single supplement (Single only guaranteed in Kyoto and Tokyo)

  • Iseya Ryokan

    Welcome to Iseya Ryokan. This is a minshuku with 10 rooms.

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.

Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.

  • Yumiko Arai

    Yumiko was born in Japan but spent several years living in the UK as a child, and returned to Japan to attend university. She has climbed many of highest peaks in Japan and had guided foreign visitors both on cultural and hiking trips. She has traveled to more than 80 countries, and is keen hiker, climber and cyclist. Yumiko's hobbies are also gardening, botany and architecture. She is member of the Japan Guide Association. Yumiko always looks forward to share her knowledge about her beautiful country

photo credits: ©MTS photo file


Itinerary for Walking Japan: Village to Village

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Activity Ratings


Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.


More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.


Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.


Departure Dates

Sep 15 - 25, 2014 Oct 13 - 23, 2014 Nov 10 - 20, 2014

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Emeryville, California 94608

Toll Free:1-888-831-7526