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Ancient Trails of Japan

Ancient Trails of Japan

13 Nights/14 Days Small Group Tour

From €4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,150 / AU$7,200 (Per Person sharing twin/double/triple room)
From €5,350 / £4,700 / US$6,000 / AU$8,500 (1 Person with own Single Room throughout)

“The perfect choice for an adventurer in search of stunning scenery, mystical trails, hot springs and culinary delights”

Japan is blessed with some of the most spectacular National Parks in the world, many of which are hidden miles away from the bright lights of Tokyo and Osaka. Some of the ancient trails within these National Parks have been crossed for centuries. Thousands of pilgrims from all walks of life including retired Emperors and samurai leaders were keen travellers on these trails. Our particular favourites include the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Sacred Mountains of the Kii Peninsula’, Fuji National Park, and the two samurai villages of Tsumago and Magome.

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Ancient Trails of Japan - Video Overview

Day 1: Tokyo (1st of 2 nights)

Arrive in one of Tokyo’s International Airports (Haneda or Narita) where you will be transferred to your Tokyo hotel. You will have free time in Tokyo until tour orientation in the evening where you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group. Meeting time is usually 6pm. Enjoy a welcome dinner at local izakaya (Japanese style casual restaurant).

Day 2: Tokyo Sightseeing

After breakfast, your group will meet in the hotel lobby for a full day of sightseeing in Tokyo with one of our local guides, including:
  • Tsukuji Fish Market & Outer Shopping Streets
  • Hamarikyu Garden
  • Lunch in local restaurant (pay locally)
  • Asakusa Sensouji Temple & Shopping Street
  • Ueno Area including Tokyo National Museum

Day 3: Mt Fuji & Lake Kawaguchiko (1 night)

Today we will move to Kawaguchiko to marvel at one of the most iconic sights in Japan, Mt Fuji. Thoseof us who who wish to climb this sleeping giant (July & August only) will meet our experienced Mt Fuji climbing guide at Kawaguchiko 5th station to begin our ascent. We will make our way up to the 8th station and stop off in a mountain hut for dinner and some rest. We’ll wake in the early hours and continue your hike all the way to the summit to await Mt Fuji’s spectacular sunrise.

Many people prefer the views of Mt Fuji from its surrounding lakes. Visitors outside of climbing season and those who would rather not tackle the hike will enjoy lunch at a local Kawaguchiko restaurant before visiting nearby Oishi Park, famous for its stunning views of Mt Fuji over Lake Kawaguchi and the surrounding natural landscape. Voyage out across Lake Kawaguchi on the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Boat before settling in for dinner at your hotel.

Day 4: Kyoto (3 nights)

After breakfast we’ll move on to the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Flowing with tradition, Kyoto is the ultimate destination for anybody who wants to soak up time-honoured Japanese culture. Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals and delicate cuisine, all of which make much of the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons.

On first glance however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, timeless teahouses nestling among modern businesses and mysterious geisha rustling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details and whether you’re here for three days or three years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.

Day 5: Kyoto Sightseeing Day with Local Guide

Today you will receive the best possible introduction to Kyoto as our expert local guide leads you around the city’s most spectacular sights. You will visit Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavillion), Kiyomizu Temple, and the Gion district famous for its geisha and maiko (geisha in training). In the afternoon, spend time with a real Kyoto geisha at a local tea house and take part in a traditional tea ceremony.

Day 6: Free day in Kyoto

Today you have a full day off from touring: an opportunity to take a break from it all or make your own discoveries. Your tour leader will be available in the morning to help you orientate your day, or to help you fill it with other Kyoto area highlights such as the Philosophers Walk or Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Full of energy and keen to see more sights? We recommend an optional day-trip to either the ancient city of Nara or Hiroshima & Miyajima Island.

Day 7: Kii Peninsula

This morning we leave Kyoto and head south to begin our adventure in the Kii Peninsula!
The entry point to the World Heritage Nakahechi Route lies at Kii Tanabe, where we will start off with a nice easy walk through the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain range’. Upon arrival to Kii-Tanabe station, one of our local experts will greet the group and share the plan for what lies ahead. After lunch, you will have the option to do a short walk before transfering to your accommodation in Kawayu Onsen.

Day 8: Kumano Kodo

Today the hikers among us will enjoy a leisurely 13km trail around Kumano Hongu Taisha. You will also have the option of taking a bus to Kumano Hongu to visit some of the local villages.

We will return to our minshiku for a dinner and relaxing onsen.

  • April Tour Highlight: Stunning Cherry Blossom walks & photographic opportunities around Kawayu Onsen area
  • July & August Tour Highlight: Magical clean and fresh water for swimming in from the banks of Kawayu River (outside your minshiku)
  • November & December Tour Highlight: Soak in the naturally hot river onsen (walking distance from your minshiku)

Day 9: Kii Katsura

Today we move from Kawayu to Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine. Along the way we will visit Shingu, Kumo

Following a brief stop here, we continue on to Kii Katsuura, most famous for a magnificent pagoda with a waterfall behind it. A short (but steep) hike up to the top (or a busride!) will bring you to the famous Nachi Waterfall and Shrine.

This evening we will relax at another lovely ryokan. We will eat dinner at a local resturant (please pay locally).

Day 10: Nagoya (1 night)

Today we’ll travel by train from the Kii Peninsula to Nagoya for a one-night stop in Japan’s third-largest city. Here we’ll enjoy some izakaya fare, with the opportunity to sample tebasaki marinated chicken wings, and get a taste of the city’s night life at some popular hot spots.

Day 11: Tsumago and Magome (2 nights)

After breakfast we will set off on our trek along the Samurai postal road, an 8km journey of river walkways, mountain passages, and tiny villages. There will also be an option to take a local bus.

Following this breathtaking journey we will return to our hotel to once again soak in the healing baths to relax any sore muscles and joints! Dinner also served tonight.

Day 12: Tsumago and Magome Free Day

Today you will have a day free from touring to relax and enjoy the country life in Kiso Valley. If you’re still feeling energetic, why not try the Nakasendo Trail in the opposite direction (start in Magome and end in Tsumago)

Day 13: Tokyo (1 night)

After breakfast, we will make our way back to the capital for some last minute shopping and excitement. We will spend our final night on the town sampling some Tokyo night life together. Or, if you prefer to relax, you can opt out of this. We will arrange a farewell dinner for those who wish to join which again will be optional. (Onward journeys from Osaka or Nagoya can also be arranged.)

Day 14: Tour Ends

Ancient Trails of Japan comes to an end after breakfast today and you will be provided with an airport transfer service from your hotel. If you would like to stay longer in Tokyo, discuss some post-tour options with your travel consultant.

Dates and Prices

Tour Starts:

November 27

Tour Ends:

December 9, 2020


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

December 24

Tour Ends:

January 6, 2021


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

March 14

Tour Ends:

March 27, 2021


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

April 07

Tour Ends:

April 20, 2021


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

July 09

Tour Ends:

July 22, 2021


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

August 06, 2021

Tour Ends:

August 19, 2021


€5,400 / £4,750 / US$6,350 / AU$8,650 pp
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Tour Starts:

November 26, 2021

Tour Ends:

December 9, 2021


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
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Tour Starts:

December 24, 2021

Tour Ends:

January 06, 2022


€4,400 / £3,950 / US$5,050 / AU$7,250 pp
Book Now


Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyo

Three Nights

Located in the heart of where everything young, funky, and social happens in Tokyo. Known for its vibrant and energetic location, the three-star Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu is above the fashionable Mark City shopping mall, and surrounded by other countless malls, restaurants and bars. This 408-room hotel likes to focus on the individual needs of the guests.


Kasuitei Oya (Japanese Style)

One Night

Peacefully situated on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi in the scenic Mount Fuji area, Japanese-style hot spring hotel Kasuitei Oya features rooms with a terrace and stunning lake views, some boasting a private open-air hot spring bath. The hotel features a hot tub, massage treatments and karaoke rooms. Guests can relax in indoor or outdoor public baths with lake views, unwind in the sauna, or browse the large hotel shop. Free WiFi is available, and a free shuttle to/from the station is provided. Authentic Japanese cuisine with local ingredients can be enjoyed at the dining room, which presents a Japanese breakfast and a traditional multi-course dinner.

Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto

Three Nights

Newly opened in August 2016, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Ekimae offers accommodations with free WiFi. The hotel is directly connected to JR Kyoto Station and a 4-minute walk away. The hotel is ideally located for convenient access to many of the major sights inside this World Heritage City. Rooms are available in different categories from standard to deluxe.

Kumano Kodo Local Guesthouses (Japanese Style)

Four Nights

You will move from village to village staying in local guesthouses run by the friendliest of hosts. You won’t get better hospitality than this! Generally there won’t be beds available so expect to sleep on the futons on all four nights. Dining in the restaurant each evening too to the local/seasonal cuisine. Your luggage will be moved by car so don’t worry about this too. Bring a light day bag for your hikes.

Hotel Hanasarasa (Japanese Style)

Two Nights

If what you’re looking for is a conveniently located property in Nakatsugawa, look no further than Hotel Hanasarasa. From here, guests can make the most of all that the lively city has to offer. With its convenient location, the property offers easy access to the city’s must-see destinations such as Magome or Tsumago. The property features 40 beautifully appointed guestrooms, many of which include linens, slippers, sofa, towels, air conditioning. The ryokans host of recreational offerings ensures you have plenty to do during your stay incluing a swimming pool and various onsen choices.

Tour Testimonial

Unique Japan Tours
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
by Helen and Leslie Kaye on Unique Japan Tours
The small group worked very well and we all had a wonderful time.

We have now been home for a week and fortunately the jet lag is starting to subside!

We wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our trip.  It was very well planned and organised, and we could not have had a better tour leader than Yuuca. Her attention to detail was faultless, and she was unfailingly kind, patient, well informed and very good company.

The small group worked very well and we all had a wonderful time.  We would have no hesitation in recommending Unique Japan Tours to all.

Very best wishes and every success in the future

Helen and Leslie Kaye

Whats Included

Accommodation 7 nights in western hotels and 6 nights in Japanese style minshuku and ryokans
English Speaking tour leaderWhen 6 or more are on the group you will be escorted by our English speaking tour leader. If your group is less than 6 people, you will be doing the tour on a semi-escorted basis (Met in each area by our local assistants and guides).
Airport Transfers Arrival/Departure airport/hotel transfers included
Private Tour Guides Private guides will meet you along the way in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kumano Kodo region
Entrance Fees
 Included to all sights listed on this itinerary
Cultural ExperiencesTokyo sights by day & night, Kyoto Tea Ceremony, Geisha Meet & Greet, World Heritage Temples and Shrines, bullet train journeys, garden visits, 4-day rural journey through the World Heritage ‘Sacred Mountains of the Kii Peninsula’, meeting locals, river boat cruise, Samurai Castle visit, Tsumago to Magome light mountain trek (optional), Mt Fuji, ryokan stays, hot spring baths, and much more.
Meals Breakfast daily, packed lunch in Kumano Kodo & 5 Japanese evening meals
Other Inclusions:
  • Comprehensive Travel Pack
  • Local Emergency Contact
  • All Taxes & Accommodation Surcharges
  • Fixed Price Policy
  • No hidden Costs!!
This package does not include:
  • International Flights [Arrange own flights into and out of Tokyo’s Haneda or Narita Airports – Always check the arrival date on your flight e.g. if flying from Europe/US, you will arrive into Tokyo the following day (depending on airline you use)]
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary. Generally, you can expect to pay 1,000yen for lunches and anything from 2,500yen for your evening meals.
  • Beverages consumed at any meal (Water served freely)
  • Baggage Handling (You are requested to carry your own bags so be careful when packing! Your tour leader will help you arrange luggage forwarding on some journeys by the reliable ‘Takkyubin Service’)
  • Tour Leader Or Driver Gratuity – can be arranged among your group (Optional)

Enquire about this tour

Have a few questions before booking your tour to Japan? Please fill out this form and one of our Japan travel consultants will get right back to you.

  • Please include your country prefix (eg Ireland is +353)
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