While Japan has long been known for its dynamic cities, only recently has the beauty and culture of the Japanese countryside begun to gain attention. On this trip we experience both, spending time in the beginning in Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, and at the end in Tokyo, a mixture of ancient and modern. In between we will hike some of the best parts of the Nakasendo Way, which linked the two cities during Japan's feudal period. It was the 'road through the mountains' travelled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants, and travelers. Each day we will walk a different section of this ancient route, avoiding those parts that have become busy roads. Each evening we will stay in one of the small "post" towns where we'll enjoy the warm hospitality of a traditional country inn, feasting on freshly prepared dishes from the regional cuisine. If you have been wanting an in depth introduction to Japan's history, nature, and culture, please join us. Maximum group size: 12
What's not included: Travel to and from Japan, airport transfer outside the trip dates, beverages at meals, snacks, 1 lunch and 2 dinners, guide gratuities, travel insurance.
This trip is designed for women who want to combine hiking off the beaten track in the Japanese countryside, visits to two of the main cities, and learning about Japanese history and culture while enjoying fresh regional cuisine. Women should be in good physical condition and able to hike for three to five hours a day with elevation gain over a 1,000 feet; and one longer day with elevation over 2,000 feet. Rating: 1 2 4 5
This is a hiking and sightseeing trip, where our emphasis is more on experiencing Japan's history and culture than on covering miles. In several places on the Nakasendo Way we will avoid more built up parts by taking taxis or buses.
We will be staying in three different types of accommodation. In Kyoto, Nara, and Tokyo, we will stay in modern western-style hotels (6 nights). While rooms are generally smaller than in the US and Canada, all have en-suite facilities. In Kiso-Fukushima we will stay at a hot springs ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn, usually older wooden buildings with rooms in the Japanese style with tatami (straw) matting and futons laid out in the evening by the ryokan staff. Evening meals are served communally in the dining room, and are exquisitely prepared multi- course meals. Many ryokan have both en suite bathrooms (with the exception of some older buildings) and communal hot spring style baths (segregated by sex). In two towns we stay in minshuku, which are smaller family-run inns. They are more informal and less likely to have ensuite bathrooms. Both ryokan and minkushu are classic Japanese experiences.
Please note: Vegetarian options are available, but limited. Strict vegetarian diets, vegan diets, or gluten free diets will be not be possible to accommodate due to the pervasiveness of the fish-based stock dashi and the use of soy sauce and miso in Japanese cuisine.
Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.
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