Japan Kyoto to Tokyo Walking Tour

Ancient Trails, Sacred Temples & Bamboo Forests


This enchanting journey through Japan combines stunning vigorous walks with timeless tradition. Beginning in the old imperial city of Kyoto and ending in modern Tokyo, our itinerary follows the Nakasendo, a network of ancient trade routes once used to travel from Kyoto via the provincial towns of the Kiso Valley to Tokyo. By way of temples, shrines, and hamlets, you'll take in ethereal landscapes of lush gardens, misty forests and possibly the bloom of cherry blossoms. Along the way, enjoy generous Japanese hospitality in a shukubo (temple lodging) and family-run inns, and the contrasts between old and new in this magical land.

11 Days

From: $7,995

This enchanting journey through Japan combines stunning vigorous walks with timeless tradition. Beginning in the old imperial city of Kyoto and ending in modern Tokyo, our itinerary follows the Nakasendo, a network of ancient trade routes once used to travel from Kyoto via the provincial towns of the Kiso Valley to Tokyo. By way of temples, shrines, and hamlets, you'll take in ethereal landscapes of lush gardens, misty forests and possibly the bloom of cherry blossoms. Along the way, enjoy generous Japanese hospitality in a shukubo (temple lodging) and family-run inns, and the contrasts between old and new in this magical land.

Highlights


  • Explore Kyoto's ancient temples, UNESCO-listed Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji, and the bamboo forest of Arashiyama

  • Journey to Nara's Todai-ji, scenic and sacred Mount Koya, and electric Tokyo

  • Follow shoguns' shadows along ancient trade routes through medieval towns, lush valleys, and misty forests

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Japan Kyoto to Tokyo Walking

Start: Kyoto, Japan  End: Tokyo, Japan

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Arrive in Kyoto

    Day 1

    Welcome to Japan! Meet the group at the hotel in Kyoto and convene for a welcome dinner at a restaurant in the city center. With over 1,000 Buddhist temples, sublime gardens, and excellent cuisine, it's easy to see why Kyoto has been voted Travel+Leisure's Best Overall City two years in a row!

    Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto

    Meals: Dinner

  • Explore Kyoto's Magnificent Temples & Gardens

    Day 2

    This morning transfer to Arashiyama, a beautiful area in northwest Kyoto known for spring cherry blossoms, dramatic autumn foliage, forested mountains and Togetsu-kyo Bridge over the Katsura River. Visit the famous bamboo groves and Tenryu-ji Temple. We'll then have an early lunch before we continue on to Ryoanji to see its famous rock garden. Then, we head to the extraordinary 14th Century Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion - named for its top two stories covered in gold leaf. Explore the Zen Buddhist temple's magnificent Japanese strolling garden and mirror pond before we return to our hotel to freshen up before dinner.

    Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Travel the Scenic Nankai Railway and Follow the Pilgrim's Trail to Mount Koya

    Day 3

    We travel by train along the scenic Nankai railway line to Mount Koya, a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees 2600 feet up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century, when the priest Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) founded the first temple and the shingon sect of Buddhism, 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 will visit Kongobu-ji temple before arriving at one of the elegant shukubo (pilgrims' lodgings), run by the monks, and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). Your luggage will be transferred by courier this morning from Kyoto, so you will be without your luggage for two nights, and will need a bag or pack to carry your overnight items.

    Accommodation: Shojoshin-in Shukubo-Koyasan

    Transportation: 3-hour train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Ride the Train to Nara

    Day 4

    This morning you will have the opportunity to get up early to join in the Buddhist service at the temple. After breakfast 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. We then travel onward by funicular and trains to Nara. On a much smaller scale than Kyoto, Nara was established in 710 AD as Japan's capital, and is home to the famous Nara park, where the semi-tame deer roam. We walk to Kasuga Taisha Shrine, a Shinto shrine established in the 8th century. Stone lanterns line the path to the entrance, and inside hundreds of bronze lanterns hang from the building. We continue to Mount Wakakusa for a walk that gives us a view of the city.

    Accommodation: Hotel Nikko NaraAccommodation: Piazza Hotel Nara

    Activity: 2 hours/3 miles hiking

    Transportation: 2-hour train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Explore Nara and the Kiso Valley

    Day 5

    This morning, we visit Todaiji temple - the world's largest wooden building - which houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha. We then travel by train to the Kiso Valley, part of the ancient 'Nakasendo' trail passes through the valley, linking Kyoto and Edo (medieval Tokyo). Meaning 'road through the mountains', the Nakasendo has villages known as 'post towns' located along its route. Many of these have been preserved through the effort of the local residents, and we will enjoy the hospitality of villagers who have converted their traditional 'machiya' houses into inns. We arrive at our Japanese style inn on time for dinner. Your luggage transferred from Kyoto will be waiting for you.

    Accommodation: Tajimaya Minshuku-Magome, Kiso ValleyAccommodation: Hanasarasa Inn

    Transportation: 5-hour train and bus transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Discover Magome & Hike a Forested Trail to Tsumago

    Day 6

    Explore the small town of Magome before walking over Magome Pass (2,625') to the village of Tsumago-juku. The trail rises gently, passing through another small village before reaching Magome Pass and then descending on a mixed paved and dirt trail through forest to Tsumago-juku. 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 miso and nut-based sauce. After sightseeing Tsumago, we'll have a short drive to our accommodation.

    Accommodation: Daikichi Minshuku-TsumagoAccommodation: Hotel Kisoji

    Activity: 3 hours/5.2 miles walking with 1,070' elevation gain & 1,400' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Follow the Old Nakasendo from Tsumago to Nojiri

    Day 7

    We continue our journey along the Kiso Valley and Nakasendo today, walking from Nagiso through the forest until just before Nojiri. The trail takes a lovely route along empty country lanes and paths that weave their way beside rice fields and the gardens of village houses. At Nojiri, we continue by a short train ride to Kiso-Fukushima, and stay at a ryokan with its own hot spring. There are more than three thousand named hot springs in Japan, fed by Japan's abundant volcanic activity. Enjoy a soak after your hike, to relax your muscles and enjoy a quintessential Japanese experience!

    Accommodation: Komanoyu Ryokan-Kiso Fukushima

    Activity: 4 hours/9 miles with 2,265' elevation gain & 2,112' elevation loss

    Transportation: 30-minute or 45-minute train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Climb to Torii Pass & Explore Narai-juku Village

    Day 8

    After a short train ride to Yabuhara, climb to Torii Pass, with good views over the Kiso Valley. In early spring, snow may dust on the mountaintops, but from mid-April onward the scenery is lush, green forest. Come early afternoon arrive in the well-preserved village of Narai-juku. Your ryokan dates back over 200 years and is typical of the merchant houses that line the village's main street. Take time to explore the atmospheric village, and perhaps try one of the local specialties. Your luggage will be transferred by courier this morning to Tokyo, so you will be without your luggage for one night, and will need a bag or pack to carry your overnight items.

    Accommodation: Iseya Ryokan-Narai, Kiso Valley

    Activity: 3 hours/4 miles walking with 1,130' elevation gain & 885' elevation loss

    Transportation: 45-minute train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Walk the Nakasendo from Narai to Hirasawa, Transfer to Tokyo

    Day 9

    After breakfast in Narai-juku, set out for a short walk to Hirasawa, renowned for its lacquer-ware artisans. Stop in at a workshop and meet local artisans before transferring to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, where you'll have free time to explore before dinner at your leisure. The luggage transferred from Day 8 will be waiting for you.

    Accommodation: Park Hotel-Tokyo

    Activity: 1 hour/1.6 miles walking

    Transportation: 3.5-hour train ride

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Tour Tokyo's Top Sights

    Day 10

    Today's Tokyo tour includes walks around Nihonbashi, the elegant Ginza shopping district, and the Imperial Palace. The contrast of the Imperial Palace's large grounds, deep moat, and historic buildings with downtown Tokyo's modern office buildings reflects Japan's twin identities of modernity and tradition. Continue to Harajuku for lunch and to visit the Meiji Shrine, a beautiful place of quiet reflection located within an evergreen forest. Then walk along the fashionable, tree-lined Omotesando - the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo - to the bustling entertainment area of Shibuya. Return to the hotel before your farewell dinner.

    Accommodation: Park Hotel-Tokyo

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Depart from Tokyo

    Day 11

    Your guide is on hand this morning to help you transfer to Narita Airport for homeward-bound flights.

    Meals: Breakfast

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Dates & Prices


  • 2023
  • Go Private
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2023

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

  • Mar 26 - Apr 05, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Apr 02 - 12, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Apr 09 - 19, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    WaitlistConfirmed
  • Apr 18 - 28, 2023
    $8,270 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Going FastConfirmed
  • May 14 - 24, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    AvailableConfirmed
  • Sep 24 - Oct 04, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Oct 01 - 11, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Oct 15 - 25, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Oct 24 - Nov 03, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available
  • Nov 05 - 15, 2023
    $7,995 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,400 single supplement
    Available

Go Private

Go Private


Gather your favorite travel companions to share an MT Sobek adventure on an easy-to-book Private departure.

Choose from the selection of dates below for your group or if your preferred date is not available, we'll create a departure just for you.

Call or email us to get the ball rolling.

*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.

Private Trip Pricing:


2022 Pricing

8 to 9 guests from $8,295 per person double occupancy

10 guests from $7,895 per person double occupancy

2023 Pricing

8 to 10 guests from $7,995 per person double occupancy

Additional Costs:


Private pricing excludes potential additional costs such as internal airfare, single supplement, or any park fees that may be required for the trip.

*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.

Take Over One of These Dates


Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Tomomi Shimazu

Tomomi Shimazu

Tomomi was born and raised in Tokyo. After completing her degree in international relations, she studied in the UK and the US. Later she lived in Hawaii and Israel for years and traveled extensively in Europe, the US and Middle East. She now lives in Tokyo, close to its center and loves gardening, walking, cycling and yoga. Tomomi enjoys guiding and sharing her knowledge of both traditional and urban cultures of Japan. Meet Tomomi on MT Sobek's adventures in Japan.

Toshi Kida

Toshi Kida

Toshiyuki Kida was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and grew up in Sekiyama in Niigata Prefecture. His interest in travel became apparent from the very moment he played with a globe as a child and it turned into a life-long passion. After graduating from university in 1978, he moved to Canada and now divides his time between Canada and Japan. Toshiyuki Kida has guided the Nakasendo and Kumano Kodo trails since 2013. He has traveled to over 200 cities in 25 countries in America, Europe, and Asia.

Michiharu Namba

Michiharu Namba

Michiharu lives in Nishinomiya city in Japan's Hyogo prefecture. He majored in English literature in university and later joined the travel industry, where he has worked as a tour leader for the last 10 years. Michiharu has traveled throughout Japan (as well as across Asia, Africa and Europe), and is interested in history, culture, art, and literature. He is also an avid hiker and enjoys leading MT Sobek's Japan adventures. He looks forward to sharing the wonders of Japan with you!

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Welcome to Japan! Meet the group at the hotel in Kyoto and convene for a welcome dinner at a restaurant in the city center. With over 1,000 Buddhist temples, sublime gardens, and excellent cuisine, it\'s easy to see why Kyoto has been voted Travel+Leisure\'s Best Overall City two years in a row!

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Your guide is on hand this morning to help you transfer to Narita Airport for homeward-bound flights.

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Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 3. You will be walking 1-3 hours and 5-9 miles a day through the Japanese countryside, visiting idyllic villages, ancient temples, traditional inns, and renowned artisanal workshops. Elevations are between 500 and 3,500 feet. You need to be in good health and physical condition for this trip.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 4

2 hours/3 miles hiking

Day 6

3 hours/5.2 miles walking with 1,070' elevation gain & 1,400' elevation loss

Day 7

4 hours/9 miles with 2,265' elevation gain & 2,112' elevation loss

Day 8

3 hours/4 miles walking with 1,130' elevation gain & 885' elevation loss

Day 9

1 hour/1.6 miles walking

Accommodations


Enjoy stays in traditional ryokans (inns) - many with onsen (hot springs) - and comfortable hotels with modern amenities.

Park Hotel-Tokyo
Park Hotel-Tokyo

Park Hotel is a luxury hotel ideally located in Shiodome, a bustling center of Tokyo's business and culture. The hotel's art theme is reflected in the 17 artist-designed guest rooms, the various art installations and exhibitions the hotel displays, and the creative cuisine served in its many restaurants. The Park Hotel Tokyo offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a modern setting.

Daikichi Minshuku-Tsumago
Daikichi Minshuku-Tsumago

We use two minshuku (guesthouse) in Tsumago: Daikichi and Matsushiroya. Daikichi is a traditional, family-run inn with five tatami-mat guest rooms. The family serves dinner consisting of many small dishes featuring locally grown ingredients. Guests lay out their own futons in the evening and take turns to use the bath privately - and soak in the bathtub made from Kiso cypress.

Iseya Ryokan-Narai, Kiso Valley
Iseya Ryokan-Narai, Kiso Valley

Iseya is a traditional minshuku established in 1818. The friendly, family-run inn occupies the original wooden building and a newer annex. There are 10 tatami-mat guest rooms, several guest toilets and wash basins, plus two rooms with Kiso umbrella pine tubs for bathing. Wi-Fi is available in the rooms. Meals are Japanese-style set menus featuring local specialties.

Komanoyu Ryokan-Kiso Fukushima
Komanoyu Ryokan-Kiso Fukushima

Komanoyu has lovely, big onsen baths with indoor and outdoor sections (separate baths for men and women). Just grab your traditional Japanese towel for modesty and pad down to the bathing space for complete relaxation. Sleep well atop futons in the spacious guest rooms, and enjoy traditional Japanese dishes. Wi-Fi is available in the lobby area.

Shojoshin-in Shukubo-Koyasan
Shojoshin-in Shukubo-Koyasan

Shojoshin-in is a shukubo, or lodging, in a Buddhist temple. In fact Shojoshin-in is attached to one of Mount Koya's oldest Buddhist temples! Built as a thatched hut more than 1,150 years ago, today it boasts attractive 150-year-old buildings with 22 guest rooms and two large communal bathing areas - one for men and one for women - with beautiful Hinoki cypress wood bathtubs.

Tajimaya Minshuku-Magome, Kiso Valley
Tajimaya Minshuku-Magome, Kiso Valley

Experience an authentic minshuku at charming Tajimaya. Located in Magome along the Old Nakasendo, Tajimaya offers traditional Japanese-style rooms where guests share all bathroom facilities. The Japanese irori (hearth) is over 100 years old and still in use. Tajimaya's owners serve fresh, local cuisine, and guests can relax in the wooden tubs after a long day's hike.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto

The Hotel Granvia Kyoto is a four star property easily accessible within the JR Kyoto Station. Its sleek architectural decor is paired with modern amenities in each room, such as complimentary Wi-Fi, electric kettles and flat screen TVs. Guests can choose to relax in the hot tub, wander through the thousands of pieces of art work on the property or walk over to the Kyoto Tower.

Hotel Nikko Nara
Hotel Nikko Nara

Situated in the center of Nara prefecture, Hotel Nikko Nara is a four-star relaxing retreat with a Japanese-style bath house, fitness center, spa and massage facilities. Each room offers complimentary Wi-Fi, a coffee/tea kettle and a flat-screen TV. Dine at one of the hotel's four restaurants featuring European, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine or take short stroll to any of the local restaurants nearby.

Piazza Hotel Nara
Piazza Hotel Nara

A fusion of Japanese and European sleek design, the Piazza Hotel Nara is a short walk from Nara Park and offers many modern amenities, including complimentary Wi-Fi. Watch as chefs cook authentic Teppanyaki-style dishes in front of your table at the live dining restaurant. Afterwards, head over to the hotel's jazz bar for live musical performances or relax with cocktails on the rooftop terrace.

Hotel Kisoji
Hotel Kisoji

Immerse yourself in nature in this European-style onsen resort surrounded by hot springs water. As one of Japan's largest bathing facilities, take a moment to relax in one of the open-air springs under a starry night to soothe away the miles from your hike. Hotel Kisoji offers spacious rooms in a minimalist style with flat screen TVs and internet access.

Similar Accommodation
Hanasarasa Inn
Hanasarasa Inn

Hotel Hanasarasa is located in the Nakatsugawa Onsen area, sitting at the base of Mount Ena. It is close to Magome, gateway to our walk on the Nakasendo Trail. The hotel's baths are onsen baths (mineral hot springs) and the baths in this area are known for their beautifying properties! Adjoining the hotel is a larger onsen facility with a selection of indoor and outdoor hot springs baths and swimming pools. Meals at the facility showcase local cuisine, including river fish and the Hida beef of Gifu prefecture. Rooms are equipped with en suite toilets and other amenities.

Weather


Spring and fall temperatures range from 50°F to the high 70°'s F. In springtime, there is a fair chance of rain.

 
Mar
Apr
May
Sep
Oct
Nov
Kyoto 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Kyoto
56
38
68
47
77
56
84
67
73
55
63
45
Tokyo 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Tokyo
56
41
66
50
74
59
81
69
71
58
62
49

Know Before You Book


Meals
Many of the inns visited will be smaller, family-run establishments that have limited resources so dining choices might be much simpler for gluten or fish allergies. The inns do offer a wide variety of dishes to enjoy, so you can ask to trade a dish with another companion or leave something you dislike off to the side.

Sitting on the floor for meals is a long standing tradition in Japan. You should be comfortable with sitting down and standing up from the floor to fully enjoy this experience.

FAQs


Who will meet me on arrival?

You will make your own way to the limousine bus desk to take a limousine bus to the hotel, where your guide will meet you in the evening for a trip briefing and dinner.

What days will I be without my luggage during this trip?

You will be without your luggage, carrying only your essentials in your daypack, on days 3, 4 and 8. Your luggage will be transported by courier to your accommodation on the following day.

Can I travel to Japan if I'm gluten-free?

Yes, you can, but please let us know as soon as possible so we can manage your request.

Can you manage food alleries like fish or shellfish?

Fish is a more challenging allergy to manage due to the ubiquitous nature of dashi (fish broth), but we can usually still manage it.

What is staying in a ryokan or minshuku like?

The ryokans vary significantly, but usually have tatami mats for flooring and futon beds that are laid out each night. Baths may be communal and divided by gender.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Guest Reviews


"A finely tuned and brilliantly led trip that gives the traveler a great take on Japanese culture."

John W.
MT Sobek Guest, Japan Kyoto to Tokyo Walking

"Our three-generation family had a wonderful experience hiking village to village on the Nakasendo Trail with MT Sobek."

Mary and David O.
MT Sobek Guest, Japan Kyoto to Tokyo Walking