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Ancient Trails of Japan

Ancient Trails of Japan

13 Nights/14 Days Small Group Tour

From €5,350 / £4,500 / US$5,570 / AU$7,550 per person sharing

“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.








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).

Accommodation: Shibuya Tokyu Excel Hotel (or similar) for 2 nights.

Meals: Breakfast daily & Welcome Dinner included.







Day 2: Tokyo Sightseeing

Breakfast at your hotel
WITH LOCAL GUIDE 09.00 – 17:00
• Tsukiji Outer Wholesale Market
• Hamarikyu Garden
• Tokyo River Cruise to Asakusa area
• Asakusa Kannon Temple & Shopping Street
• Edo Museum or Skytree (if museum is closed)
Evening free time / Your tour leader will give you guidance on where to go after dark!

Accommodation: Shibuya Tokyu Excel Hotel (or similar) for 2 nights.

Meals: Breakfast








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. Those of 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.

Accommodation: Kasuitei Oya (or similar) (1 nights – Japanese Ryokan]

(Mountain hut for Climbers in July & August tour)

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner







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.

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Grande Kyoto (or similar) for 3 nights

Meals: Breakfast daily







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.

✪ KYOTO City Sightseeing ✪
WITH LOCAL GUIDE 09.00 – 17:00


• Nijo Castle
• Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)
• Lunch at local restaurant
• Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
• Fushimi Inari Shrine

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Grande Kyoto (or similar) for 3 nights

Meals: Breakfast daily







Kyoto Highlight: Afternoon Tea with Geisha (Maiko)

You will have the rare chance to sit and have tea with one of Kyoto’s beautiful young Maiko in their mama-san’s teahouse. ‘Maiko’ are better known as a young ‘Geisha’. Training to become Geisha usually starts at a young age (some start at 13/14). Trained in various Japanese traditional arts such as Kimono wearing, flower arranging, traditional dance, shamisen (string instrument), and so on, they spend many years perfecting how to walk, talk, and breath like a Geisha. If successful in their progression, they then move to be a Geisha, usually by the age of twenty or so. Such an interesting experience that you will only find in Kyoto. This experience is not sold on the high street. This really is a special occasion on our tour that we have been proud to offer for many years. So be sure to bring your camera and be prepared to ask questions. Our Maiko are very open and love sharing and listening to your stories too.







Day 6: Free day in Kyoto

Today will be a well deserved day off to spend as you choose in Kyoto. Suggested itinerary and access maps will be provided for you in your travel pack. If you are very tired you can take it easy today! Many of our clients have specific places in mind that they would like to see in Kyoto. So, why not let us know in advance, and we can be prepared to give you the correct information on how to get to the places you would like.
1. Ancient Nara & Modern Osaka (Self-Guided / No booking needed)
2. Hiroshima & Miyajima Island (Self-Guided / No booking needed)
3. Kyoto Cultural Experiences* e.g. Kimono Wearing, Ikebana Workshop, Cookery Class, etc.
*Pre-Booking Essential before departure

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Grande Kyoto (or similar) for 3 nights

Meals: Breakfast daily







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 transferring to your accommodation in Kawayu Onsen.

✪ KUMANO KODO Sightseeing ✪

Lunch at local restaurant (Pay locally)
Enjoy a 2 Hour Walk today with your guide (If you are not able to walk, your guide will advise you on what to do in the local area)

Transfer to Kawayu Onsen with your guide

Dinner & onsen (hot springs) at your minshuku

Seasonal Highlights:

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

Accommodation: Kawayu Onsen Minishiku (for 2 nights / Japanese style)

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner on both nights







Day 8: Kumano Kodo

Breakfast at your minshuku

  • Walkers:
    Enjoy a leisurely 13km hiking trail around Kumano Hongu Taisha with your guide
    [Picnic Lunch Provided]
  • Non-Walkers Option:
    Take a bus to Kumano Hongu & some of the local villages. Your guide will give you orientation on where to go and how to go there in the morning (self guided, details provided)
  • All Group:
    • Dinner & onsen at your minshiku







Day 9: Kii Katsura

Breakfast at your minshuku

Continue on the Ancient Kumano Trail with your guide. Today is suitable for both walkers & non-walkers. Travel will be using chartered vehicle or public transfer (depending on group size).

Move from Kawayu Onsen towards Kii Katsuura stopping off at:

  • Shingu, Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine

Continue to Kii Katsuura to visit

  • Kumano Nachi Taisha & Seiganto-ji
  • Nachi Waterfall

Hill walk required to reach Pagoda for best view of waterfall

Return to the local village

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

December Seasonal Highlight:

Japanese people usually celebrate the end of the year at their local temple. You will experience this first-hand by wishing your new year in at Kumano Hayatama Shrine and Nachi Taisha. A very special and unique experience found only in Japan.

Accommodation: Katsuura Gyoen Ryokan (1 night / Japanese style)

Meals: Breakfast








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.

Accommodation: The Royal Park Canvas Nagoya (1 night)

Meals: Breakfast







Day 11: Tsumago and Magome (2 nights)

Breakfast at your hotel

Walkers: Enjoy a leisurely 8km walk along the Samurai postal road that once linked Tsumago and Magome. Look out for plenty of bear bells around -be sure to ringthem! This area is known for having wild bears.

Non-Walkers: Take local bus along the Samurai postal road.

Meet group for tea before making your way to your ryokan.

Dinner and onsen at your ryokan

Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa (2 nights / Japanese style)

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner







Day 12: Tsumago and Magome Free Day

Breakfast at your ryokan

Today you have a free day. If feeling energetic, why not try the Nakasendo trail in the opposite direction. Or, just relax at your ryokan and enjoy country life in this magnificent Kiso valley.

Farewell Dinner & Onsen at your ryokan.

Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa (2 nights / Japanese style)

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner







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

Triple Room€5,050 £4,250US$5,250 AU$7,550
Single Room€7,220£6,050US$7,500AU$10,750








Tour Starts:

March 24, 2023

Tour Ends:

April 06, 2023
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Tour Starts:

July 08, 2023

Tour Ends:

July 21, 2023 (Mt Fuji Climbing)
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Tour Starts:

September 01, 2023

Tour Ends:

Spetember 14, 2023
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Tour Starts:

October 20, 2023

Tour Ends:

November 02, 2023
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Tour Starts:

November 12, 2023

Tour Ends:

November 25, 2023
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Tour Starts:

March 20, 2024

Tour Ends:

April 02, 2024
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Tour Starts:

April 1

Tour Ends:

April 13, 2024
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Tour Starts:

July 12, 2024

Tour Ends:

July 25, 2024 (Mt Fuji Climbing)
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Tour Starts:

September 09, 2024

Tour Ends:

September 22, 2024
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Tour Starts:

October 22, 2024

Tour Ends:

November 04, 2024
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Tour Starts:

November 16, 2024

Tour Ends:

November 29, 2024
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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
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).
Getting Around
  • Reserved Seats on all long-distance trains including bullet train seats.
  • Luggage transfer when using shinkansen (one bag allowed per person)
  • Chartered vehicles, local taxis/minivans/coaches on private city tours
  • Arrival & Departure Airport transfers to & from Tokyo hotel (door to door service)
Private Tour Guides Private guides will meet you along the way in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kumano Kodo & Tsumago Area (5 days in Total)
Entrance Fees
 Included to all sights listed on this itinerary
Cultural ExperiencesTokyo Sights by Day & Night including karaoke, izakaya night out, Sumida River Cruise, urban Japanese garden, and local markets/museums etc.

  • Up-close-and-personal with Mt Fuji! Opt-in to climb on our July/August tours.
  • Overnight in rural ryokans experiencing unique Japanese hospitality and onsen (hot spring baths) & incredible R&R time!
  • Unesco World Heritage Kyoto: glorious sites, traditional back-streets, stunning shrines, manicured gardens, gorgeous geisha, and authentic tea ceremony just some of the highlights!
  • Afternoon tea with young Geisha
  • High speed bullet train journeys throughout
  • Scenic mountain drives taking in the magical landscape that makes up c.75% of Japan’s terrain
  • Kumano Kodo nestled in the Unesco World Heritage Kii Peninsula (Visit all three major sites along the Kumano Kodo trail)
  • Nakasendo Walking Trail experiencing a time warp in the old Samurai days
Meals Breakfast daily, Welcome Dinner, 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)








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