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Ancient Trails of Japan

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.

SKU: N/ACategory:
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

Accommodation 7 nights in western hotels and 6 nights in Japanese style minshuku and ryokans
English Speaking tour leader Bilingual tour leader throughout (subject on minimum numbers being met)
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, 1 lunch & 5 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)


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Dates: Upcoming Tours:
Jul 21 ~ Aug 2, 2018 | Sep 15 ~ Sep 27, 2018 | Nov 24 ~ Dec 6, 2018
Apr 13 ~ 25, 2019 | Sep 07 ~ 19, 2019 | Nov 02 ~ 14, 2019
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: Small Group Tour with Bilingual Tour Leader Throughout
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: Standard Western hotels in cities, Japanese style minshiku's in Kumano Kodo area, and ryokan stay with onsen (hot spring baths) in Kiso Valley area

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 when you will taste the freshest sushi in the world.

The Natural Beauty of Hakone & Mt Fuji

For those of you who will join our July and August tours you will get the opportunity to climb this majestic giant (Fuji-san) with a local guide. Overnight in a mountain hut (don’t expect luxury!) and watch the sun rise from 3,880m above sea level. For those who would prefer to enjoy the view without the climb, you will stay at a 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. 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 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.


To break up the journet a little we will spend one night in Nagoya, home to the world-famous Toyota company. Your tour leader will take you to a local izakaya to sample tebasaki (marinated chicken wings) one of the cities most famous local cuisines. 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.


Day 1: Tokyo (2 nights)

Your tour starts today when you arrive into Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport to be greeted by your driver before transferring to your hotel directly. You will have some time to relax and recuperate after your flight or you can explore the area around your hotel in the afternoon. At 5pm or 6pm all members of the group will assemble in the hotel lobby and your tour leader will take you out for an evening in Shinjuku. Towering skyscrapers dominate the Shinjuku skyline in the heart of the commercial downtown. Shinjuku station is the world’s busiest train station, serving over two million passengers every day. Check out amazing views of Tokyo from the observation decks at the nearby Metropolitan Government Office before delving down into one of Shinjuku’s many subterranean malls, or take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and find sanctuary in Shinjuku Gyoen (in spring this park is of Tokyo’s premier cherry-blossom viewing spots. Tonight you will enjoy dinner with your group in a local izakaya style restaurant.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel (or similar)

Day 2: Tokyo Full-day private guide

Today you will be explore Tokyo with one of our local friendly guides. Our day trips around Tokyo usually involve a morning trip to one of the worlds busiest fish markets, Tsukiji Fish Market. You will have time to wonder around the outer market which is quite an interesting place, even if fish does not whet your appetite.

Hamarikyu Garden is located close by offering quite the contrast from the towering sky scrapers in the background to the calm surreal ambience. After lunch we head to the old part of town known as Asakusa. Learn more about the history of Edo (Tokyo) at the Edo Museum, see the Sumo Stadium (if tournament is on, you’ll have the chance to see it), and also Tokyo’s most impressive Temple.

This evening you are free to do what you like but either way, your tour leader will make sure you are satisfied with your plan.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel (or similar)

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

Today we will move to Kawaguchiko where you will marvel at one of the most iconic sights in Japan, Mt Fuji. Those members of the group who wish to climb this sleeping giant (July Only) will start from Kawaguchiko 5th station where they will meet our experienced Mt Fuji climb guide and from where they will begin their ascent. Make your way up to the 8th station where you will stop off in a mountain hut for dinner and some rest. Wake in the early hours and continue your hike all the way to Mt Fuji’s summit where you will wait for Fuji’s spectacular sunrise.

Many people prefer the views of Mt Fuji from its surrounding lakes. For those who would rather not tackle the hike you will enjoy lunch at a local Kawaguchiko restaurant before visiting nearby Oishi Park which is 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: Wakakusa No Yado Maruei Ryokan (or similar)

Day 4: Kyoto (3 nights)

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.

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto (or similar)

Day 5: Kyoto Full Day with local guide

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

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto (or similar)

DAY 6: Free day in Kyoto

Today you can have a full day off from touring giving you the opportunity to either take a break from it all and/or go see the sights in Kyoto that you really want to see. Your tour leader will be available in the morning to help you orientate your day. If you need ideas, he/she will also be there to fill your day with other Kyoto highlights such as the Philosophers Walk or Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. If you are still full of energy and keen for some sight-seeing we recommend an optional day-trip to either the ancient capital Nara, Himeji Castle or Hiroshima & Miyajima Island.

Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto (or similar)

DAY 7: Kii Peninsula (Kumano Kodo) (1 night)

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. We will move by chartered vehicle to Takijiro area where lunch will be served at a local farm restaurant, serving delicious local food in a Japanese cottage style building. From here we will drive to Takijiri-Oji and visit the Pilgrimage Centre. Takajiri-Oji is considered the sacred entrance into the Kumano mountains. The trail climbs up hill most of the way to the small village of Takahara and takes about 2 hours to complete. If you are not up for walking, you can go by car. Tonight we will overnight at a very quaint minshiku with mountain views sure to take your breath away. Dinner is included tonight, considered locally as heaven for organic food lovers.

Accommodation: Local Minshiku

DAY 8: Kawayu Onsen (1 night)


We leave Takahara’s lovely locals and move on to Hosshinmon-Oji where we begin our hike to the first of the Grand Shrines, Kumano Hongu Taisha. This is a very nice half day walk on the pilgrimage route. It goes through a mixture of ridge top settlements and forest trails. There are some great panoramic lookout spots along this trail. A local mountain expert will accompany us throughout our hikes which will add to the adventure and ease the pain of navigating our way through. Halfway through this hike, we will stop at a local hut and have a picnic (bento lunch box) before visiting the Grand Shrine and then Oyunohara, considered Japan’s largest Torii gates ever built.

In the afternoon, we will meet our driver and settle into our river view ryokan in Kawayu Onsen. Dinner, swimming, bathing in the river &/or hot springs at your ryokan are just what your body needs after today’s exhilarating walk. Kawayu Onsen is famous for its river bank that, in the Winter, becomes a bubbling outdoor river hot spring (Sennin Buro). In the Summer months, you can dig up your very own hot spring and soak in one you make yourself. Tonight, after dinner, we will visit the nearby training clubhouse of the local Taiko Group (Japanese drum) called Oku Kumano Taiko. Enjoy a mini-concert by the locals or even join in yourself! This is a wonderful chance to meet and interact with locals who are only too happy to show off their traditional drum playing skills.

Accommodation: Kawayu Onsen Local Riverside Minshiku


DAY 9: Kii Katsuura (1 night)

Today we move from Kawayu and head to the 2nd famous shrine along this route, Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine.

Following a brief stop here, we continue on to Kii Katsuura which is most famous for the magnificent Pagoda with waterfall in the background. A short (but steep) hike up to the top (or take bus if you can’t walk) to the famous Nachi Waterfall and Shrine.

This evening we will relax at a lovely ryokan with dinner & hot springs our treat again!

Accommodation: Ki Katsuura Gyoen (or similar)

DAY 10: Nagoya (1 night)

From Nagoya, we take another express scenic journey to the Kiso Valley, getting off at Nagiso, the nearest station to our hotel. Overnight for the next two nights will be in the area’s best hot spring hotels with great food and irresistible hot springs on our door-step. On day 14 we will set off on our trek from Tsumago to Magome, an 8km walk along the river walkways, mountain passages, and tiny villages. If you feel like you’ve done enough walking for the trip, the option of taking the local bus to each village is also available which your tour leader will be more than happy to assist you with. After the breathtaking walk we will return to our hotel where once again, we can soak in the healing baths to relax the legs and sore muscles some of us might have! Dinner also served tonight.

DAY 11: Tsumago/Magome (2 nights)

Tsumago was once a post town on the old Nakasendo highway linking the ancient capital of Kyoto with Matsumoto. Today, Tsumago is loved for the residents’ efforts to preserve the town’s Edo Period ambiance. Power lines are hidden away and cars banned from the main roads during the daytime so that the beautiful, traditional buildings and flag-stone streets can be seen in their true glory.

A stay in Tsumago is to step back in time and experience old Japan; a world away from the robots, gadgets ‘n’ gizmos that many people associate with modern Japanese cities. Tsumago is situated in the picturesque Kiso Valley and the hike between Tsumago and Magome along the old post route is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Upon arrival to your hotel, you will get the chance to soak in what we might consider one of Japan’s best hot spring baths. With a choice of more than 6 different baths, many of which are outside, you could easily spend up to two hours sampling the variations on offer. Dinner will be served tonight – buffet style!


DAY 12: Tsumago/Magome

After breakfast, we will set off on our trek from Tsumago to Magome, an 8km walk along the river walkways, mountain passages, and tiny villages. If you feel like you’ve done enough walking for the trip, the option of taking the local bus to each village is also available which your tour leader will be more than happy to assist you with. After the breathtaking walk we will return to our hotel where once again, we can soak in the healing baths to relax the legs and sore muscles some of us might have! Dinner also served tonight.

DAY 13: Tokyo (1 night)

After breakfast, we will make our way back to the capital for some last minute shopping and excitement. Or, if your onward journey is from Osaka or Nagoya, you have the option of staying at either city instead of going back to Tokyo.

Either way, it is important to inform us of this in advance so we can make the necessary arrangements with hotels. Our final night we will spend on the town sampling some Tokyo night life with your tour leader. 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.

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.

How to Book

1. Choose your favourite Small Group Tour

If you know which small group tour you want to join, then move to Step 2 below.

If you like a tour but need more information and/or have some “Got a question?” form below. Either way, one of our Japan Travel Consultants will be in touch with you right away.


2. Pay deposit now* or…

By paying your deposit today, we secure your place on this chosen small group tour. *Terms and conditions apply .


3. Manage your Booking

Once deposit is paid, you will be sent your own personal travel portal, giving you the freedom to check your documents and send us as much information as you can, to ensure we give you the best service possible (dietary, passport info, flight details, etc.). You may also pay the final balance securely online (or by bank transfer if preferred) at once, or in installments if this suits you better.


4. Receive your Essential Travel Pack

All UJT 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.


5. See you in Japan!

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Total price of this tour

Prices from 4,450 per person

Pay a deposit of 250 per item
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