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!
6 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: TokyoDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Kyoto
Arrive in Kyoto.
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).
Day 3 : Yamanobe-no-michi
We take a short train ride from Kyoto to Miwa shrine near Nara, and then walk along the ‘Yamanobe-no-michi’, literally the ‘path beside the mountain’. Reputedly the oldest road in Japan, it was mentioned in the historical Kojiki and Nihonshoki texts, and runs along the eastern edge of the Yamato plain, from Nara to Sakurai, linking many temples, shrines and other sites associated with the early Japanese nation. There are several keyhole-shaped tombs, huge earthworks surrounded by moats, burial places of the early Emperors. The path is mostly level with a few slopes, and passes through small villages, fields of strawberries and tangerines, and along tranquil forest paths. We will stop for a lunch of noodles at one of the small restaurants along the way.
We 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 Mount Koya, home to more than 100 monasteries, many of which host travelers in shukubo, or temple lodgings.
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).
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.
Day 9 : Hirasawa – Tokyo
A short morning hike to the town of Hirasawa, renowned for its lacquer-ware artisans. We'll stop in at one of their workshops before transferring to 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 Shinjuku commercial area.
Day 11 : Departure
DATES: Best time to go: April - May, September - November Departures: Sep 22, 2013 - Oct 2, 2013 Oct 14 - 24, 2013 Nov 17 - 27, 2013
Welcome to Iseya Ryokan. This Ryokan Hotel has 55 Japanese style rooms, including 27 with private baths (not hot spring baths) and toilets and 28 with private toilets only. Recently, 5 rooms have been renovated and now include private outdoor hot spring baths. In addition, there are 2 indoor and 2 outdoor public hot spring baths (same gender only).
Shiba Park Hotel
Welcome to the best in Japanese hospitality, the Shiba Park Hotel. It’s been our tradition to serve the Japanese and overseas guests alike, with our well-trained, friendly and helpful staff.
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 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