Other Information

Find my trip

Currency Location:

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.

Duration: 13 Nights/14 Days Self-Guided Adventure
Route: Tokyo - Kinugawa Onsen - Niigata - Sado Island - Tateyama - Matsumoto (via Kurobe Alpine Route) - Kyoto

Prices and Inclusions


Airport Transfers (Arrival & departure / door to door service)Mini-van or Limousine BusMini-van or Limousine BusPrivate Vehicle
Accommodation3 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

Meals13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners13 Breakfasts + 5 dinners
TransportPublic transport inc. 7 day Ordinary Japan Rail PassPublic transport inc. 7 day Ordinary Japan Rail PassPublic transport inc. 7 day Green Japan Rail Pass.

Full day private vehicle in Tokyo & Kyoto

Tokyo GuideIncludedIncludedIncluded
Kyoto GuideIncludedIncludedIncluded
Authentic Tea CeremonyShared Tea CeremonyPrivate Tea Ceremony + Geisha Meet & GreetPrivate Tea Ceremony + Geisha Meet & Greet
Hiroshima & Miyajima GuideOptional ExtraOptional Extra4 Hours Private Service Included
UJT’s Essential Travel PackIncluded – 2 weeks prior to departureIncluded – 2 weeks prior to departureIncluded – 2 weeks prior to departure

Per Person Prices from:

Tour CategoryEURGBPUS$AU$
Standard€1,800£1,500$2,100$2,700 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.


Submit your review

Create your own review

Self Guided Tours - The Northern Trail featuring Sado Island
Average rating:  
 0 reviews

Dates: From Mid-April to End of November
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: Self-guided tour with private and bullet train transfers
Prices from: From €1950 per person (based on two people sharing twin or double room)
Accommodation Category: Standard, Superior Or Deluxe Plans Available. Prices vary accordingly.

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 nightlife 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.


Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! You will be met in the arrivals hall by your driver who will hold your name on a sign board. Transport to your hotel taking in all the new sights and signs along the way. Relax, chill out, and enjoy some free time to explore your local area, necessary after landing from any long haul flight. We will include suggestions on what to do in your area today so don’t worry, you won’t need to think!
Tokyo Accommodation x 2 nights includes breakfast daily :
Standard: Shiba Park Hotel or similar
Superior: Park Hotel or similar
Deluxe: Hyatt Regency Tokyo

Day 2 - Tokyo City Sightseeing with local guide

After breakfast, our friendly local Tokyo guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel. Today you will travel like a local, with a local! Our usual escorted day trip includes:

  • Tsukiji Fish Market (if this repulses you, we will choose somewhere else)!
  • Hamarikyu Garden
  • River Boat to Asakusa followed by lunch (pay locally)
  • Asakusa Temple & Sensouji Shrine
  • Edo Museum & Sumo Stadium (exterior only but a small exhibition is attached to the stadium and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the giant wrestlers hanging about between training sessions! Tokyo Sumo Tournament Tickets can be arranged if you are here in March, May, July, September, or November for the Grand Sumo Tournament. Ask your travel consultant to arrange).

At some stage today, your guide will also assist you in exchanging your Japan Rail Pass for your train tickets needed for the rest of your trip. We will provide you with a full list of trains that are recommended to reserve in advance, especially during the busy seasons.

If you prefer to go somewhere different than our suggested plan above, let us know. We will inform your guide in advance and he/she will choose the best route and options for you on that day. And remember, perhaps you are not used to having a guide with you on your travels, but trust us, Tokyo is one of those places that overwhelms even the most adventurous of us. This day will be fun, educational, and hugely beneficial for you starting your self-guided adventure on your own from tomorrow onwards.

Day 3 - Nikko (& Kinugawa Onsen)

After breakfast in Tokyo, you will travel to Nikko by train (approx 2 1/2 hours).

You will follow the map in your travel information pack to locate your accommodation and after check-in you are free to enjoy the world heritage sights and splendor Nikko has to offer.

As your hotel is located in the Kinugawa Onsen resort area, your hotel will have a traditional volcanic hot spring bath (onsen) to enjoy after dinner at your hotel.

Soaking your muscles in a therapeutic thermal spa is perhaps the best possible way to unwind after a day hiking past temples, shrines, waterfalls and beautiful woods.



Day 4 - Niigata City

After breakfast in your hotel in Kinugawa Osen, you will have an opportunity to explore the wonderfully scenic foothills of Nikko for some more time before returning to your hotel to pick up your bags and begin your travel to Niigatta city.

You will arrive in Niigata, and after checking into your hotel near the station, you can explore the city-center to choose one of the many restaurants in the area. Don’t forget to try the local Sake (rice wine)  before retiring to your hotel for the night.

Day 5, 6 & 7 - Sado Island

Just a few hours by ferry will take you to Sado Island – Japan’s sixth largest island. You will spend three nights here meeting the locals, exploring the spectacular sights of the rugged coastline, barron landscapes and old wooden villages preserved like a time capsule to explore on foot. You will take part in local workshops like Taiko drumming.

The Island has several museums such as the Sado Island History Museum (rekishiden setsukan) complete with robot actors playing scenes of times gone by & hologram displays. An old gold mine has been transformed into a tourist attraction and presents another option to visit on the Island.

Day 8 - Tateyama Alpine Route

After checking out of Sado, you will take a ferry back to the mainland and make your way by train to Tateyama. You will check-in to your mountain lodge accommodation in Omachi town on the Kurobe Alpine Route. You will check-in to your mountain lodge accommodation in Omachi town on the Kurobe Alpine Route. You will explore the route by means of mountain buses, cable cars, and ropeways experience some of the most stunning scenery in Japan before returning to your mountain lodge to rest for the night.

Day 9 - Alpine Route & Travel to Matsumoto

You will spend several hours further exploring the stunning Tateyama alpine route. The may include traveling through the famous snow-walls that can reason up to 20m high on either side (March until late June) or witness the breathtaking views of  Autumn foliage covering the landscape (from late Sep to early November). You will finish the day in Matsumoto castle town.

Day 10 - Matsumoto

You will have a full day exploring attractions such as the wonderful Samurai castle at Matsumoto and accompanying Japanese gardens.

Day 11, 12 & 13 Kyoto

After checking out of your hotel at Matsumoto, you will travel to Kyoto where you will spend the next three days and nights. On the second Day in Kyoto, you will enjoy a full day guided tour by our knowledgeable and friendly bi-lingual local guide.

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!

Got a Question?

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)
  • We will find the closest date available for you. Or select actual date of the tour if you know it.
  • This form collects your details above so we can contact you back in relation to your enquiry. Please see our privacy policy for more information.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Total price of this tour

2,695 per person

WooCommerce Themes Free