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Sample Itinerary

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.

Meet at the tour hotel in central Tokyo. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, starting at Nihonbashi (the ‘Japan Bridge’) considered to be the ‘center of Japan’ and the zero marker point for all Japan’s main roads since the Edo period. Afterward, we visit Ueno and the Tokyo National Museum to see exhibits illuminating Japan of the Edo era, the heyday of the Nakasendo Trail. (If the Museum is closed because of a national holiday, we will visit the Kappabashi district, famous for selling kitchenware and small plastic models of food used in restaurant displays.) We continue on to the grand Meiji shrine and the fashionable Harajuku district. In the evening your tour guide will be on hand to offer suggestions for restaurants for dinner.

Our travel through rural Japan begin with a journey from Tokyo to the remote Kiso valley. Over the next three days we will walk from village to village, staying in small, family-run country inns (Ryokan and Minshuku). After the opportunity to enjoy a lunch of buckwheat noodles in the local town of Shiojiri, we walk from Kiso-Hirasawa to Narai. Kiso-Hirasawa is known for its locally-produced lacquerware and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. Stay in Narai, a beautifully-preserved post-town. Our lodgings will be an atmospheric traditional Minshuku.

Walking distance: 2.5km / 1.6 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 1 hour

On our second day on the Nakasendo Trail, we walk from Narai to Yabuhara over the Torii Pass and then continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima. There we will stay in a lovely traditional Ryokan with its own natural hot spring. Soak in the indoor baths made of cypress wood or try the outdoor baths surrounded by trees.

Walking distance: 6.2km / 3.9 miles
Elevation gain: 270m/885 feet ascent; 344m/1,128 feet descent
Time required: 3 hours

We transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri by train and then by a short taxi ride to the Nenoue-Toge pass. We walk along a lovely section of the Nakasendo Trail through delightful small settlements and rice fields to Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago. Only a few decades ago, Tsumago was neglected and falling into disrepair, but through concerted efforts by its residents it has been saved and restored. Now this post-town on the Nakasendo Trail is preserved by strict self-imposed rules that prohibit the sale, rental or destruction of the handsome houses. It’s a living museum, but one which is still inhabited by the local residents. We will arrive in the afternoon.

Walking distance: 14km / 8.7 miles
Elevation gain: 344m/1,129 feet ascent; 723m/2,275 feet descent
Time required: 4.5 hours

From Tsumago we walk to Magome, our last stop in the Kiso Valley. The trail from Tsumago to Magome is the most beautiful and best-preserved part of the Nakasendo Trail. There will be time to eat lunch in Magome and explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street. You might also try gohei-mochi, skewered sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts. We will travel by regular train and then Bullet Train to Kyoto, connecting onwards to Nara, where we check in to our western-style hotel.

Walking distance: 8.3km / 5.2 miles
Elevation gain: 430m/1,410 feet ascent; 326m/1069 feet of descent
Time required: 3 hours

In Nara, we have a guided walk in the morning. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites – Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, Nara Palace Site, Ganko-ji Temple, Yakushi-ji Temple and Toshoda-ji Temple. Many of these sites are in or near Nara Park, home to a thousand or more free-roaming deer. We will visit two of these World Heritage sites, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji temple -its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. Prior to being rebuilt three hundred years ago, the awesome wooden structure was even larger than today. There will be some free time to relax, visit a Japanese garden or wander through the old town.

From Nara, our journey takes us to the ridge-top village of Yoshino, and a comfortable Ryokan. Yoshino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous places in the whole of Japan for viewing cherry blossom in the spring. We will visit Yoshimizu Shrine (connected to historical figures such as Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Emperor Godaigo, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi), and explore the area.

We take the scenic train to Mount Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Since the 9th century Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have Shukubo (temple lodgings). We stay in one of the temples and dine on shojin-ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. We visit Kongo-buji temple and walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery. Tomorrow morning, there is an opportunity to rise early and join the Buddhist morning service.

We take the train to Kyoto and check into our hotel. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for many centuries and is still regarded as the country’s cultural heart. In the evening, we enjoy a walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district and there is the possibility of seeing a geiko (fully-fledged geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.

There is a guided half-day walking tour this morning. We first visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. We continue to Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid 13th century. We then stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the clear waters of a small canal. The path ends near Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. There is free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts. In the evening, there is a Farewell Dinner with your guide.

Our tour ends today after breakfast at the hotel in Kyoto. Your guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homeward flights, or on onward travel if you are extending your stay in Japan.

What Our Customers Have To Say

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.

John Moawad

Classical Japan Tour

It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...

Marina Boyer

North Central Exploration

Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...

Edan Ecker

Shoguns and Samurai

I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...

Our Team Of Local Experts

Years after years we have selected the best specialists about Japan. They have at least lived a minimum of 10 years in the country. They are here to answer all your questions and to make your tour just the way you want it.

Jeff Aasgaard

Tour Sales Director

Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training & teaching Aikido.

Michiyo Kakiuchi

Tour Arrangement Manager

Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.

Noriko

Tour Arrangement team

Noriko was born in Nagoya. During her childhood she moved around Japan following her father’s office transfer. She especially liked her time in Shizuoka, facing Mt Fuji. She now lives in Minoo (in the suburb of Osaka). Noriko graduated from Hiroshima university. She’s been to Malaysia, Thailand and Europe (Germany and Bulgaria). Her hobbies are hiking, reading and surfing.

Why Rediscover Tours

Great trips don't just happen It takes a lot to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on us to make your trip a perfect Japanese Experience

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We handle your specific requests. We will inform accommodations, guides and partners of any meal requirements, allergies or disabilities you may have.

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Your Japan expert has lived in Japan for many years or is Japanese.


We know the hidden treasures of Japan.


Because most of our staff live in Japan we are always aware of what’s happening in Japan. Throughout our network of partners we get first-hand information that will benefit your trip.


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Our local guides are extremely professional and knowledgeable.


Your guide will listen to you, give you suggestions and show you sights you want. They are also very flexible and can make on the fly changes to fit your style, mood, weather and crowds.


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Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000.


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