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The Northern Trail featuring Sado Island


The Northern Trail featuring Sado Island tour has been designed for those looking to escape the summer heat in Japan’s cities to fresh mountain air and fun rural festivals. These northern Japanese towns offer something unique and special and don’t feature on most regular tourist trails. Still including the highlights of Tokyo and Kyoto, this tour of Japan offers a very different way to experience this beautiful country.

The Northern Trail Route MapUnique Japan Tours Tokyo Rainbow BridgeUnique Japan Tours Matsumoto CastleUnique Japan Tours Kurobe Alpine Route MidagaharaUnique Japan Tours Kurobe Alpine Route Kurobe DamUnique Japan Tours Nara Nigatsu-do HallUnique Japan Tours Nikko Toshogu Shrine
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Duration: 13 Nights/14 Days Self-Guided Adventure
Route: Tokyo - Kinugawa Onsen - Niigata - Sado Island - Tateyama - Matsumoto (via Kurobe Alpine Route) - Kyoto
The Northern Trail Self Guided Adventures


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Duration: 13 Nights/14 Days Self-Guided Adventure
Starts: Tokyo
Ends: Kyoto
Route: Tokyo - Kinugawa Onsen - Niigata - Sado Island - Tateyama - Matsumoto (via Kurobe Alpine Route) - Kyoto
Tour Type: Fully escorted tour with private and bullet train transfers
Prices from: From €1950 per person (based on two people sharing twin or double room)
Accommodation Category:


Tour Highlights


Begin your journey in Tokyo. Our local guide will meet you on the second day to help orientate you in this gigantic city and prepare you for what is to come. Take a morning trip to the famous Tsukiji FIsh Market and follow up with a leisurely stroll through Hamarikyu Garden before crossing by train to Asakusa. Here you can get a real sense of old-town Tokyo and also visit one of the capital’s newest attractions – Tokyo Sky Tree –  which towers over the city at 634 meters tall.

The Northern Trail begins and ends in Tokyo where you will be given a brief over view of the cities highlights plus some free time for self-exploration at the end.

Nikko & Kinugawa Onsen

Nikko, for centuries a training centre for Buddhist monks, is home to the mausoleum – built in the 1600s and locatred at Toshogu Shrine – of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokugawa established the shogunate that ruled Japan for more than two hundred and fifty years before it came to an end in 1868 with the Meiji Restoration. Nikko National Park is blessed with stunning mountain landscapes, scenic lakes and waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails. Just a short distance from Nikko is the hot spring town of Kinugawa where you will spend one night soaking in hot springs and sampling kaiseki dinner at a local ryokan.

Niigata & Sado Island

Famous as the source of Japan’s purest water, Niigata’s rice and sake (rice wine) are widely regarded as the best in the country. Here you will visit a local sake brewery and samurai house bringing you back to Japan’s feudal days. Spend one night in Niigata enjoying a more rural city night life at a local izakaya. Just a few hours by ferry will take you to Sado Island – Japan’s sixth largest island. Spend three nights here meeting the locals, exploring the sights, and taking part in local workshops like Taiko drumming. We highly recommend planning your trip around the annual Earth Celebration, a three day music festival featuring the world famous Kodo drummers, held around July/August every year.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

From Sado, you will return to a different port on the mainland and make your way to Tateyama where you will spend your first night along the Kurobe Alpine Route in a mountain lodge. Located in Japan’s Northern Alps, between Toyama and Nagano (Omachi Town), this route is traversed by various means of transportation including mountain buses, cable cars, and ropeways. Along this adventure you will see not only Japan’s most incredible views of wildlife and landscape, but also the world’s highest and most impressive dam, the Kurobe Dam, which stands at 186 meters tall.

Winter Snow Walls & Matsumoto

If you are here during the spring months (mid-April – early June) you will see the famous snow walls measuring up to 20m high either side of you. In the summer and autumn months, enjoy the dramatic colours and stunning backdrops along this route. After a full day trekking through the Japanese Alps you will be looking forward to a relaxing evening in the castle town of Matsumoto.


No tour to Japan is complete without a few days in the ancient capital Kyoto. We will spend three days/nights exploring the side streets, performing an authentic tea ceremony, glaring at Geisha in downtown Gion, visiting the magnificent temples, with one free day thrown in to do your own thing. Use this free day to visit Hiroshima, Himeiji, Miyajima using your Japan rail pass or spend the day relaxing in the bamboo forest in the Arashiyama area.

Inclusions and/or Prices


Service Standard Superior Deluxe
Airport Transfers (Arrival & departure / door to door service) Mini-van or Limousine Bus Mini-van or Limousine Bus Private Vehicle
Accommodation 3 Star Western x 8 nights

Standard Ryokans x 2 nights

Minshiku x 3 nights

4 Star Western x 8 nights

Superior Ryokans x 2 nights

Minshiku x 3 nights

5 Star Western x 8 nights

Deluxe Ryokans x 2 nights

Minshiku x 3 nights

Meals 13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners 13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners 13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners
Transport Public transport inc. 7 day Ordinary Japan Rail Pass Public transport inc. 7 day Ordinary Japan Rail Pass Public transport inc. 7 day Green Japan Rail Pass.

Full day private vehicle in Tokyo & Kyoto

Tokyo Guide Included Included Included
Kyoto Guide Included Included Included
Authentic Tea Ceremony Shared Tea Ceremony Private Tea Ceremony + Geisha Meet & Greet Private Tea Ceremony + Geisha Meet & Greet
Hiroshima & Miyajima Guide Optional Extra Optional Extra 4 Hours Private Service Included
UJT’s Essential Travel Pack Included – 2 weeks prior to departure Included – 2 weeks prior to departure Included – 2 weeks prior to departure

Per Person Prices from:

Tour Category EUR GBP US$ AU$
Standard €1,800 £1,500 $2,100 $2,700 AUD
Superior €TBC £TBC $TBC $TBC AUD

Prices quoted are based on two people sharing a Twin or Double Room. Single Travellers may incur a supplement, depending on hotel category and availabilty of Single Occupancy Rooms. Exchange rate fluctuations may lead to price changes. All prices are based on July 2015 exchange rates. Peak Season Supplements Apply: Cherry Blossom Season, Autumn Leaf Season, National Holiday Weekends Inside Japan.

How to Book

1. Choose your favourite Self-Guided Tour

If you like one of our ready-made self-guided tours as they appear on this website, and are ready to book now, move to Step 2 below.

If you like a tour but need more information and/or have some additional places to add or take out, fill out the “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…

Paying your deposit today will enable us start your booking process immediately. *Terms and conditions apply .

3. Pay deposit later

If you have more questions and prefer to pay this after seeing a detailed quotation and itinerary, simply fill out the “Got a question?” form below and one of our Japan Travel Consultants will be in touch with you right away.

You will then have a discussion via Email/Phone/Skype with your Japan Travel Consultant.
Following this will be approval of your itinerary before booking commences.

You will then pay deposit once itinerary approved.


4. Tour Confirmation (takes 3-5 working days upon receipt of tour deposit)


5. Manage your Booking

View your complete travel documents & manage your own booking on your own personal travel portal, entering details required before travel pack stage.
You may also pay the final balance securely online (or by bank transfer if preferred).


6. Receive your Essential Travel Pack

Our custom made essential Travel Pack will be sent to your home address (worldwide) 2-3 weeks before your departure date.
If your starting date is less than 2 weeks from booking, you will receive it on arrival in Japan.


7. See you in Japan!

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Total price of this tour

2,695 per person