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Ancient Trails of Japan [featuring Magnificent Mountain Walks]

Prices from 4,450

“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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SKU: N/ACategories: ,
Duration: 13 Nights / 14 Days
Route: Tokyo (2) ➞ Mt Fuji (1) ➞ Kyoto (3) ➞ Kii Peninsula (Kumano Kodo)(3) ➞ Nagoya (1) ➞ Tsumago/Magome (2) ➞ Tokyo (1)

Prices and Inclusions

ServiceDescription
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
  • Minimum 6 / maximum 16 people
  • 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)

Details

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Ancient Trails of Japan - Small Group Tour
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
by ttt on Ancient Trails of Japan - Small Group Tour
Love this tour

Great tour! Loved it.


Dates: Upcoming Tours:
2018: November 24 - December 07
2019: April 14 - 27, June 28 - 11, August 19 - 01, November 29 - 12. 2019/2020: December 24 - 06
2020: April 12 – 25, July 01 – 14, August 17 - 30, November 27 - 10, December 24 – 06
Duration: 13 Nights / 14 Days
Starts: Tokyo
Ends: Tokyo
Route: Tokyo (2) ➞ Mt Fuji (1) ➞ Kyoto (3) ➞ Kii Peninsula (Kumano Kodo)(3) ➞ Nagoya (1) ➞ Tsumago/Magome (2) ➞ Tokyo (1)
Tour Type: Fully Escorted (6 or more people) or Semi-Escorted (less than 6 people)
Prices from:
€4,450 / £3,800 / US$5,300 / AU$6,950 (Per Person sharing twin/double/triple room)
€5,050 / £4,300 / US$6,000 / AU$7,900 (1 Person with own Single Room throughout)
Accommodation Category: 7 nights in city centre comfortable & convenient western hotels
6 nights in Japanese style minshiku’s & ryokans with hot spring baths (onsen) in rural areas (Kumano Kodo, Mt Fuji & Tsumago)

Tour Highlights

Metropolitan Tokyo

Tokyo is the start and end point of this tour and stands in stark contrast to the spiritual and old-world feel of most of your trip. You will spend a full day with a local guide who will show you the various sights in this behemoth of a city. Visit the Tokyo SkyTree and ride 350 meters up into the sky and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city skyline. Venture to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and whet your appetite for later with the freshest sushi in the world.

The Natural Beauty of Hakone & Mt Fuji

Enjoy the Mt Fuji view without the climb! Stay at a beautiful ryokan and bathe in a lakeside hot spring.

On our November tour, we will visit Hakone instead and enjoy the sights around this popular area during the breathtaking kouyou (autumn colours) season.

Ancient Kyoto

No trip to Japan would be complete without a few nights stay in the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia. Home to 17 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, time-honoured teahouses nestling among modern businesses and mysterious geisha scuttling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details and whether you’re here for four days or four years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.

Here we will enjoy a mix of free time and visits to the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Temple of the Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. You will also take part in an authentic tea ceremony at a local machiya (tea house), and have the pleasure of being entertained by a geisha or maiko geisha-in-training at a local restaurant.

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route

Located in the magnificent Kii Peninsula (3 hours from Osaka) is the breathtaking Kumano region, one of the oldest sacred sites and pilgrimage routes for more than 1,000 years. It is blessed with lush mountains, awe inspiring waterfalls, a rugged coastline, soothing hot springs and rich traditional culture. We will spend five unforgettable days discovering Japan’s spiritual roots, stopping at the three grand shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha along the way.

Nagoya

We take a break from stunning natural vistas with our night in Nagoya, home to the world-famous Toyota company. Your tour leader will take you to a local izakaya to sample regional favorite dishes and drinks.  Nagoya has lots of lively night spots so if you feel like letting your hair down don’t forget to set your alarm!

Samurai Towns of Tsumago & Magome

The next morning we will take the train north to Nagano prefecture, disembarking in Tsumago, a beautifully preserved samurai postal town on the nakasendo road, once used as the main access route between Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto. The region has a rich history and provides an untarnished view of a more traditional Japan. On our second day here some (or all) of us will walk the mountain trail from Tsumago to Magome, which is approximately eight kilometres long. For those who prefer an easier route, a bus service connects Tsumago to Magome giving you more time to explore both villages.

Nara

Nara is renowned for the wealth of its Buddhist and Shinto heritage. Nara was formerly the end of the Silk Road and was for this reason the area which first saw Buddhist teaching making the transition across the ocean from China. The daibutsu or big Buddha is hugely impressive as is the huge wooden structure which houses it, to this day the world’s largest wooden building despite the current structure being a third smaller than the original. The myriad of shrines and temples are all set against the backdrop of the low lying mountains and in the midst of Nara Park, which is famously home to a vast population of pesky deer. Given half a chance they’ll happily munch on your guide books, umbrellas, scarves, and about anything else they can get their noses into! You can also buy official deer cookies to feed them with but do so at your own peril!

Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

Hiroshima is a city that needs little introduction. It is of course infamous for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. Despite it’s tragic past, Hiroshima is now a bustling and vibrant city which has risen phoenix-like from the ashes. The Peace Park and Museum are a poignant reminder of the reason for Hiroshima’s fame and everyone should spend an afternoon in this part of town. Other attractions in Hiroshima include Hiroshima Castle and the baseball stadium. The Shukkei-en garden is well worth an afternoon stroll with a number of tea houses dotted about the grounds. The Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art contains some wonderful paintings by both Japanese and Western artists. There is also the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art which has many pieces inspired by the 1945 bombing. There are also some great views of the city from here. The local food is okonomiyaki, a kind of Japanese savoury pancake. You choose the ingredients and then cook the pancake yourself at your table.

Miyajima Island, located just off the coast of Hiroshima, is one of Japan’s most loved places with a charming rural atmosphere to match the beautiful surroundings. The island is perhaps best known for the red torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine which appears to be floating in the sea. There are many pleasant walks on Miyajima among the temples and along the bustling shopping street in the island’s small village. You may also see some of the island’s native fauna; the sacred deer are easy to spot as they roam freely, but you’ll have to work a little harder to spot any of the resident monkey population; keep your eyes peeled! Miyajima is a wonderful place to slow down, unwind and relax, so take your time and let the magic of this island enchant you!

Itinerary

Day 1: Tokyo (1st of 2 nights)

Your tour starts today when you arrive in Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport. You will be greeted at the airport before transferring to your hotel. At 6pm everyone will meet in the hotel lobby and your tour leader will take you to a local restaurant where you will enjoy dinner with your group.

Accommodation: Standard Hotel in Shinjuku or Shibuya District

Day 2: Tokyo Sightseeing with Private Guide

Today you will explore Tokyo with one of our local friendly guides. These trips around Tokyo usually involve a morning visit to Tsukiji, one of the world’s busiest fish markets. You will have time to wander around the outer market, which is quite an interesting place in itself, even if fresh fish does not whet your appetite first thing!

Nearby, Hamarikyu Garden offers quite the contrast from its towering skyscrapers backdrop, with a calm surreal ambience. After lunch we head to the old part of town known as Asakusa. Learn more about the history of Edo (Old Tokyo) at the Edo Museum, see the Sumo Stadium (if tournament is on, you’ll have the chance to watch a match), and also experience Tokyo’s most impressive temple.

This evening’s activities are up to you! Your tour leader will make sure you are satisfied with your plan.

Accommodation: Standard Hotel in Shinjuku or Shibuya District

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.

Accommodation: Kasuitej Oya (or similar) Japanese Ryokan

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 Kyoto (or similar)

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.

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto (or similar)

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.

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto (or similar)

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.

Accommodation: Kawayu Onsen Local Riverside Minshuku (Japanese style)

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).

Accommodation: Ki Katsuura Ryokan (or similar)

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: Nagoya Sakae Tokyu Inn (or similar)

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.

Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa (Japanese Style)

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)

Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa (Japanese Style)

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.)

Accommodation: Standard hotel in Shinjuku or Shibuya District

DAY 14: Sayonara

Your Ancient Trails of Japan Tour will finish after breakfast. Your transfer to the airport will be pre-arranged which your tour leader will inform you of the night before. Transfer back to either Narita or Haneda Airport before boarding your own scheduled flight. (Onward journeys from Osaka or Nagoya can also be arranged.)

How to Book

Step 1: Pay booking deposit 250 Euro (or equivalent)

By paying your deposit today, we secure your place on this chosen small group tour. You will be sent a receipt of payment on the following business day (Mon-Fri). All online deposits are refundable up to 7 days after payment has been made through this website.

[Booking Terms and Conditions]

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Step 2: Book Your Flight

Once you have secured your place on our tour, you should book your flight to Japan from your home country. To find the best available routes and flights, check out skyscanner.com.

 

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Step 3: Manage your Booking

Once deposit is paid, log into your secure Unique Japan Tours Travel Portal. Check your documents and fill out as much information as possible, to ensure we give you the best service possible (dietary requirements, passport info, flight details, and so on). This travel portal can also be used to make payments towards your tour (installments are permitted).

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Step 4: Receive your Essential Travel Pack

All of our clients receive an Essential Travel Pack which is sent to your home address (worldwide) 2-3 weeks before your departure date. If your starting date is less than 2 weeks, you will receive it on arrival in Japan. All documents will be sent via email in advance also.

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Step 4: See you on Day 1 in Japan!

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