OVERVIEW

The Nakasendo Way, connects Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto via a mountainous inland route, featuring a network of 69 post towns spread along 540km.  We walk the most beautiful section including through the Kiso Valley also known as the Kiso-ji or the Kiso Road. This walk includes the 27km section that connects the four southernmost towns (Magome, Tsumago, Midono [Nagiso], and Nojiri), which has become a very popular hiking trail in recent years.

The Kiso-ji is a hilly path of ancient stone pavements and dirt trails that will lead you through landscapes alive with seasonal flowers, clear-water creeks, and tall old forests. Countless daimyo processions, including samurai, farmers, merchants, and others, travelled along the road during the Edo Period of the 1600s and beyond.

Highlights

  • Explore beautifully restored post towns
  • Enjoy stunning Japanese landscape, following trails along running streams and dense forest
  • The picturesque Kiso Valley and the famous Torii Pass
  • Grand mountainous views from Miharashidai
  • Walk pack free on well-graded ancient trails, soaking up the Japanese culture and wondrous views,  and bathe in onsens

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
5 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate

Grade 3 – Moderate

Short, steep hill sections. Chance to ride out on longer walks greater than 12km. A moderate active lifestyle and some walking experience is recommended.  C

PRICE FROM
$ 2195

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 310

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of a room when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5

DAY 1
ARRIVE IN NAKATSUGAWA

Today is a travel day for you to make your way to the town of Nakatsugawa, where the old post town (Nakatsugawa-juku) has been extensively restored. This is a great place to explore at leisure and includes a number of traditional shops (eg Japanese sweets, sake etc.).

Meals included: Dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Nakatsugawa

 

DAY 2
NAKATSUGAWA TO TSUMAGO

Take a gentle walk through the outskirts of Nakatasugawa to the small post town of Ochiai-juku. From here we head up into the hills along the famous “Ochiai-juku stone pavement” to arrive at Shinchaya. Then easier walking along quiet country roads to the beautifully restored post-town of Magome-juku. Take some time here and explore! Then continue along rugged tracks through the forest over Magometoge Pass and down into the post town of Tsumago-juku. This town has also been wonderfully restored.

Shorter options for today’s walk:
Walk from Nakatsugawa to Magome (approx. 9 km), then catch a bus to Tsumago.
Catch the bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome and start the walk from there to Tsumago. (approx. 8.5 km)

Total distance: 17 km
Approx. time: 4 ½ – 5 hr
Ascent: 633 m
Descent: 529 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Tsumago

 

DAY 3
NAGISO TO NOJIRI

Today’s walk is all about outstanding nature and enjoying the stunning Japanese landscape. Walk along trails that follow running streams and dense forest, and through small villages enjoying the Japanese cultural experience and friendly locals. The main route of the Nakasendo between Nagiso (Midono-Juku) and Nojiri-juku lay along the Kiso River. However, this route was often blocked due to flooding and landslides. At such times, the alternative “Yogawa Route” over Nenouetoge Pass was used instead. This is the trail you will walk today which takes you across the hills and through mountain villages, visiting forests of tall cedars and striking deciduous trees. In autumn, this landscape is a blaze of colour.

Total distance: 16 km
Approx. time: 4 ½ – 5 ½ hr
Ascent: 654 m
Descent: 533 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Kiso Fukushima

 

DAY 4
YABUHARA TO NARAI VIA TORII PASS

A shorter walk today and our last outing in the beautiful Kiso Valley. From the post town of Yabuhara, follow the Nakasendo Way over the famous Torii Pass to the beautifully restored post town of Narai. To get to the start of the walk in Yabuhara, take the train from Kiso-Fukushima. At the end of the walk in Narai, take the train to Nagano, then transfer to the Shinkansen to continue to Karuizawa for the night. Note that travel time from Narai to Karuizawa is approx. 2 ½ – 3 hr. You will need to factor this into your day.

Total distance: 7 km
Approx. time: 2 – 3 hr
Ascent: 355 m
Descent: 317 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Karuizawa

 

DAY 5
KARUIZAWA TO YOKOKAWA VIA USUI PASS

Now, far to the northeast of the Kiso Valley, we have one more opportunity to walk a section of the old Nakasendo Way. Today’s walk leaves Karuizawa on a delightful path that weaves its way up forested hillsides to Usui Pass. At the top of the pass, take in the grand mountain views from Miharashidai, enjoy a break at one of the teahouses nearby, or visit the Usui Pass Kumano Kotai Shrine. Note that there is a bus service between Karuizawa and Usui Pass. Beyond the pass, the gently undulating path leads over forested hills with an astounding display of autumn colours in season, before a steep descent leads to Yokokawa. The last few km are gentle once more as you follow the historic rail trail that parallels the Old Usui Line—a spectacular finish to your Nakasendo walking holiday.

With this option, you finish your walk here and make your way back to Tokyo. Alternatively, we recommend spending another night in Karuizawa and finishing your holiday after breakfast tomorrow morning. Please book the 6-day Nakasendo Highlights version of this trip in this case.

Total distance: 16.5 km
Approx. time: 4 – 5 hr
Ascent: 325 m
Descent: 883 m
Meals included: Breakfast

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk with a light pack, with luggage transfers most days from accommodation to accommodation (please see Luggage Transfer section in General Info for details)
  • 4 nights stay in a family-run or small traditional minshuku, ryokan or hotel
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

You will spend each night in a traditional Japanese Minshuku or Ryokan-style accommodation. These Japanese guesthouses come in a number of styles ranging from traditional wooden structures to more modern hybrid hotels.

A Minshuku is a family-run accommodation that are often found in rural Japan. There is a fine line between a Minshuku and some smaller Ryokans, making it hard to distinguish between the two. Most Minshukus are very small, with only a few Japanese-style rooms, a bit like a Bed and Breakfast Japanese style. Staying at a Minshuku has its advantages, as it is a good chance to meet the local people and get right up close to the Japanese culture.  The atmosphere is often like that of a home with traditional meals served much like at a Ryokan but with even more intimacy. Be prepared, as baths and toilets are often shared.

Ryokans have Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats, shoji sliding doors, and futons for sleeping on. Few Ryokan Hotels have rooms with actual beds. The rooms may or may not have ensuites, but be prepared for a little luxury when it comes to the heated toilet seats. The bathing area is often the pride of the Ryokan, especially when they’re located in an onsen area. These are usually communal and separated by gender.

Meals are elaborate affairs from a western point of view served in a traditional dining area. A traditional Kaiseki set meal is what is usually offered. Sometimes there is the option of a buffet at the larger Ryokans.

 

 

  • NIGHT 1

  • NIGHT 2

  • NIGHT 3

  • NIGHT 4

FITNESS GUIDE

It’s well worth investing some time and effort preparing for your walking holiday. The graph shows the average daily distance, elevation and terrain difficulty for your hike. The dotted line indicates the average across all our walks, which will give you a feel for how challenging your walk is compared to all – and the recommended type, and amount, of preparation needed.  Of course, you can adapt this according to your existing fitness levels and lifestyle.

The graph and the information below can be used in conjunction with the fitness guide to help you prepare for your walking adventure. Across all walks, average daily distance is 16.8km, average daily elevation is 448m, average terrain difficulty is 5/10.

ngraph

DISTANCE - BELOW AVERAGE

Distance is not a major consideration in your training program. However, you should still incorporate some long walks as it will increase your cardiovascular fitness.

ELEVATION - ABOVE AVERAGE

Elevation training is a major consideration in your overall training program. You must include walks with serious hill climbs.

If you do not have access to hills, it is essential to replicate the elevation level you will be undertaking in any way possible such as on a treadmill or stair climber. Walking up and down stairs at work, at a local oval with a grandstand, or up and down small hills is incredibly useful. Also, prioritising resistance weight training will help you develop overall muscle strength.  Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems, opposed to distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking.

If high altitude is a factor, incorporate sessions at a higher altitude to acclimatise your body to reduced oxygen levels if you are able to. Ensure you can comfortably walk the average elevation per day displayed in the graph, at least one month before you undertake your hike.

TERRAIN

MOUNTAINOUS / UNDULATING TERRAIN

As terrain associated with mountain climbs is often somewhat uneven and rocky, balancing and core exercises are vital.

Try to also include some form of elevation in more than 50% of your walking and prioritise resistance training, whilst incorporating stairs anytime you can. Walking up mountains or hills, up and down stairs at work, or up and down at a local oval with a grandstand is incredibly useful. Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems not distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking. Concentrate on doing lots of squats and lunges to build your glute muscles.

UNEVEN TERRAIN

Preparation for hiking on uneven terrain demands a blend of physical and mental readiness.

Begin with balance-enhancing exercises, such as one-legged stands and stability ball workouts, laying a groundwork for stability and coordination. Strengthening the lower body is especially important, achieved through the incorporation of squats, lunges, and step-ups. Gradually increase the complexity of the terrain on which you walk, moving from gravel paths to rocky trails. Cultivate mindfulness during your practice, directing focused attention to both your immediate surroundings and precise foot placement.

The importance of suitable footwear cannot be overstated; prioritise options that offer robust support and reliable grip to navigate varying terrains with confidence. Build endurance through consistent hikes, progressively increasing distance and difficulty.

GENERAL INFO

TRAVEL TO NAKATSUGAWA

Tip – if you have not invested in a JR Rail Pass (only available outside Japan), you can save some money by buying a Non-Reserved Seat on the Shinkansen rather than a Reserved Seat. Check the Japan Transit Planner website (https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/) for approximate travel times and pricing.

You can get tickets from the JR ticket window just before the Shinkansen barrier gates. Even if you have a JR Rail Pass (which covers the cost of all JR line travel), you will need to show some sort of ticket to indicate your seat.

TRAVEL FROM TOKYO TO NAGOYA

Take the Tokaido Line Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagoya.

Approx. travel time 1hr 45mins.

Tip – try to get a window seat on the right-hand side of the train for possible views of Mt Fuji on a clear day.

TRAVEL FROM OSAKA TO NAGOYA

Take the local train from Osaka to Shin-Osaka. Take the Tokaido Line Shinkansen bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Nagoya. Approx. travel time 48mins.

TRAVEL FROM NAGOYA TO NAKATSUGAWA

On arrival in Nagoya, take the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa. The Rapid service stops less often than the Local service. Both are of the same price and stop in Nakatsugawa. Approx. travel time 1 ¼ hr. Cost (if no JR Rail Pass) approx AUD $18.

The free “Japan Direct” rail app is very useful. Enter your station of origin and destination and all services, travel times, and costs are displayed. There is also an option to select for routes when travelling “with Japan Rail Pass”, too.

HIGH SEASON CHARGES

In Japan, there are some periods when locals travel en masse as they are on holiday. These times are best avoided as the accommodation costs escalate considerably (more than double). It would make a lot of sense if you could avoid these times. Otherwise, see below for high-season periods. This could lead to the cost of the trip increasing by 30% or more.

NEW YEAR PERIOD – 30TH DECEMBER TO 4TH OF JANUARY 

GOLDEN WEEK – GENERALLY BETWEEN 29TH APRIL TO 5TH MAY

OBON PERIOD – MID-AUGUST ( BETWEEN THE 10TH TO 20TH OF AUGUST)

Please speak to the office to get a quote for the above times

DEPARTING FROM YOKOKAWA OR KARUIZAWA TO TOKYO

At the end of your holiday, you will have details for travelling back to Tokyo from either Yokokawa Train Station or Karuizawa.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

This walk has the luggage transferred most days; we will let you know when we can’t move the bags due to the remoteness. The luggage will be waiting for you at the following accommodation. In the evenings, you will be supplied with a yukata (Japanese Gown) to wear, so you will need to carry only essential items on those days when your luggage isn’t available.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

For most days on this walk you will need to take some form of public transport whether that is a bus or a train to your accommodation for the night or to start or shorten the days walk. The journey times vary from 10mins to 50mins depending on the day. On the day when you travel to Karuizawa the train journey will take 2.5 – 3hrs. We provide a comprehensive public transport document with detailed instructions on which buses and trains to catch. Please note these trips are unable to be pre-booked and you will need to pay directly on the day they are not included in your package.

If you have any questions about the public transport on this holiday please feel welcome to call or email the office.

AVAILABILITY

This walk is best undertaken in autumn and spring. However, many people walk in summer and take advantage of the manner waterways to take a swim. Winter is difficult due to snow and the accommodations often closing.

WEATHER

From the end of  March, the temperature begins to increase. In summer it’s quite warm and humid but still good for walking,  particularly if you enjoy warmer temperatures and taking a dip in a stream.

The walk is offered in winter, but bring some warm clothes and good rain gear.  The area is just as beautiful if not more and is not busy at all. Soaking in an outside onsen in the cool of the night is one of those real authentic Japanese experiences that you can look forward to after a big day on the track.

As walkers, we believe spring and autumn are the best times as the weather is perfect for walking.

See the weather information about the local average weather at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We require that you have adequate travel insurance against potential losses, damage or injury, including cancellation costs and loss of luggage.

For all trips that require international travel, you must have purchased travel insurance that also includes medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred from our suppliers and in the office.  See the FAQ section for more information.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years, we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know that you’ll have many more questions even with that in mind. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately six weeks from departure outlining all the fine details and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

MAP

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    PER PERSON
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Mar 2024 - 30 Nov 2024
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $2195

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $310

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

  • 1 Mar 2025 - 30 Nov 2025
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $2295

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $320

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

SIMILAR TRIPS

Nakasendo Way 8 days

Self-guided

Nakasendo trail, one of Japan’s most famous hiking routes: Breathtaking scenery: ancient paved paths: well preserved authentic Japanese towns: shrines and waterfalls…

Self-guided 8 Days From $3395 Moderate What's Included

Nakasendo Way 8 days

BACK
What's Included
  • Explore the beautiful Kaida Kogen Plateau in the hills north of Kiso-Fukushima
  • Walk with a light pack, with luggage transfers most days from accommodation to accommodation (please see Luggage Transfer section in General Info for details)
  • 7 nights stay in a family-run or small traditional Japanese Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day (except one night in Karuizawa where there are so many options that you should decide)
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

7 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi

Self-guided

Traverse the world heritage-listed Kumano Kodo, hiking the beautiful Kii Peninsula. Soak in onsens, stay in Japanese accommodation, and savour traditional Japanese meals.

Self-guided 7 Days From $2595 Moderate to Challenging What's Included

7 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi

BACK
What's Included
  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • 6 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with in-house onsens
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 4 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

9 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi (& Kohechi)

Self-guided

Walk the Kumano’s sacred mountains and an extra walk on the Kohechi track with stunning views over the Kumano-gawa river. End in beautiful Nachisan.

Self-guided 9 Days From $3255 Moderate to Challenging What's Included

9 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi (& Kohechi)

BACK
What's Included
  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex plus a day of the Kohechi
  • 8 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with with in-house onsens
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 6 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

Abel Tasman Walk End to End – 6 Days

Self-guided

Abel Tasman Great walk end to end. Stunning views over golden beaches, estuaries, coves & native forest. Unparalleled opportunities to swim.

Self-guided 6 Days From $2595 Moderate What's Included

Abel Tasman Walk End to End – 6 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Full access to the Abel Tasman National Park and its beauty
  • 5 nights accommodation in beautiful lodges including 4-star Awaroa lodge
  • Walk the entire track end to end pack free
  • A la carte meals at Awaroa Lodge including 2-course dinners
  • 5 breakfasts, 4 walkers lunches and 3 dinners
  • Comprehensive track notes, map case, insulated lunch bag and container
  • Enjoy the 26 years of our experience in organising self-guided walking holidays
Overview

OVERVIEW

The Nakasendo Way, connects Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto via a mountainous inland route, featuring a network of 69 post towns spread along 540km.  We walk the most beautiful section including through the Kiso Valley also known as the Kiso-ji or the Kiso Road. This walk includes the 27km section that connects the four southernmost towns (Magome, Tsumago, Midono [Nagiso], and Nojiri), which has become a very popular hiking trail in recent years.

The Kiso-ji is a hilly path of ancient stone pavements and dirt trails that will lead you through landscapes alive with seasonal flowers, clear-water creeks, and tall old forests. Countless daimyo processions, including samurai, farmers, merchants, and others, travelled along the road during the Edo Period of the 1600s and beyond.

Highlights

  • Explore beautifully restored post towns
  • Enjoy stunning Japanese landscape, following trails along running streams and dense forest
  • The picturesque Kiso Valley and the famous Torii Pass
  • Grand mountainous views from Miharashidai
  • Walk pack free on well-graded ancient trails, soaking up the Japanese culture and wondrous views,  and bathe in onsens

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
5 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate

Grade 3 – Moderate

Short, steep hill sections. Chance to ride out on longer walks greater than 12km. A moderate active lifestyle and some walking experience is recommended.  C

PRICE FROM
$ 2195

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 310

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now
Itinerary

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5

DAY 1
ARRIVE IN NAKATSUGAWA

Today is a travel day for you to make your way to the town of Nakatsugawa, where the old post town (Nakatsugawa-juku) has been extensively restored. This is a great place to explore at leisure and includes a number of traditional shops (eg Japanese sweets, sake etc.).

Meals included: Dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Nakatsugawa

 

DAY 2
NAKATSUGAWA TO TSUMAGO

Take a gentle walk through the outskirts of Nakatasugawa to the small post town of Ochiai-juku. From here we head up into the hills along the famous “Ochiai-juku stone pavement” to arrive at Shinchaya. Then easier walking along quiet country roads to the beautifully restored post-town of Magome-juku. Take some time here and explore! Then continue along rugged tracks through the forest over Magometoge Pass and down into the post town of Tsumago-juku. This town has also been wonderfully restored.

Shorter options for today’s walk:
Walk from Nakatsugawa to Magome (approx. 9 km), then catch a bus to Tsumago.
Catch the bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome and start the walk from there to Tsumago. (approx. 8.5 km)

Total distance: 17 km
Approx. time: 4 ½ – 5 hr
Ascent: 633 m
Descent: 529 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Tsumago

 

DAY 3
NAGISO TO NOJIRI

Today’s walk is all about outstanding nature and enjoying the stunning Japanese landscape. Walk along trails that follow running streams and dense forest, and through small villages enjoying the Japanese cultural experience and friendly locals. The main route of the Nakasendo between Nagiso (Midono-Juku) and Nojiri-juku lay along the Kiso River. However, this route was often blocked due to flooding and landslides. At such times, the alternative “Yogawa Route” over Nenouetoge Pass was used instead. This is the trail you will walk today which takes you across the hills and through mountain villages, visiting forests of tall cedars and striking deciduous trees. In autumn, this landscape is a blaze of colour.

Total distance: 16 km
Approx. time: 4 ½ – 5 ½ hr
Ascent: 654 m
Descent: 533 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Kiso Fukushima

 

DAY 4
YABUHARA TO NARAI VIA TORII PASS

A shorter walk today and our last outing in the beautiful Kiso Valley. From the post town of Yabuhara, follow the Nakasendo Way over the famous Torii Pass to the beautifully restored post town of Narai. To get to the start of the walk in Yabuhara, take the train from Kiso-Fukushima. At the end of the walk in Narai, take the train to Nagano, then transfer to the Shinkansen to continue to Karuizawa for the night. Note that travel time from Narai to Karuizawa is approx. 2 ½ – 3 hr. You will need to factor this into your day.

Total distance: 7 km
Approx. time: 2 – 3 hr
Ascent: 355 m
Descent: 317 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Karuizawa

 

DAY 5
KARUIZAWA TO YOKOKAWA VIA USUI PASS

Now, far to the northeast of the Kiso Valley, we have one more opportunity to walk a section of the old Nakasendo Way. Today’s walk leaves Karuizawa on a delightful path that weaves its way up forested hillsides to Usui Pass. At the top of the pass, take in the grand mountain views from Miharashidai, enjoy a break at one of the teahouses nearby, or visit the Usui Pass Kumano Kotai Shrine. Note that there is a bus service between Karuizawa and Usui Pass. Beyond the pass, the gently undulating path leads over forested hills with an astounding display of autumn colours in season, before a steep descent leads to Yokokawa. The last few km are gentle once more as you follow the historic rail trail that parallels the Old Usui Line—a spectacular finish to your Nakasendo walking holiday.

With this option, you finish your walk here and make your way back to Tokyo. Alternatively, we recommend spending another night in Karuizawa and finishing your holiday after breakfast tomorrow morning. Please book the 6-day Nakasendo Highlights version of this trip in this case.

Total distance: 16.5 km
Approx. time: 4 – 5 hr
Ascent: 325 m
Descent: 883 m
Meals included: Breakfast

What’s Included

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk with a light pack, with luggage transfers most days from accommodation to accommodation (please see Luggage Transfer section in General Info for details)
  • 4 nights stay in a family-run or small traditional minshuku, ryokan or hotel
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground
Accommodation & Dining

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

You will spend each night in a traditional Japanese Minshuku or Ryokan-style accommodation. These Japanese guesthouses come in a number of styles ranging from traditional wooden structures to more modern hybrid hotels.

A Minshuku is a family-run accommodation that are often found in rural Japan. There is a fine line between a Minshuku and some smaller Ryokans, making it hard to distinguish between the two. Most Minshukus are very small, with only a few Japanese-style rooms, a bit like a Bed and Breakfast Japanese style. Staying at a Minshuku has its advantages, as it is a good chance to meet the local people and get right up close to the Japanese culture.  The atmosphere is often like that of a home with traditional meals served much like at a Ryokan but with even more intimacy. Be prepared, as baths and toilets are often shared.

Ryokans have Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats, shoji sliding doors, and futons for sleeping on. Few Ryokan Hotels have rooms with actual beds. The rooms may or may not have ensuites, but be prepared for a little luxury when it comes to the heated toilet seats. The bathing area is often the pride of the Ryokan, especially when they’re located in an onsen area. These are usually communal and separated by gender.

Meals are elaborate affairs from a western point of view served in a traditional dining area. A traditional Kaiseki set meal is what is usually offered. Sometimes there is the option of a buffet at the larger Ryokans.

 

 

  • NIGHT 1

  • NIGHT 2

  • NIGHT 3

  • NIGHT 4

Fitness Guide

FITNESS GUIDE

It’s well worth investing some time and effort preparing for your walking holiday. The graph shows the average daily distance, elevation and terrain difficulty for your hike. The dotted line indicates the average across all our walks, which will give you a feel for how challenging your walk is compared to all – and the recommended type, and amount, of preparation needed.  Of course, you can adapt this according to your existing fitness levels and lifestyle.

The graph and the information below can be used in conjunction with the fitness guide to help you prepare for your walking adventure. Across all walks, average daily distance is 16.8km, average daily elevation is 448m, average terrain difficulty is 5/10.

ngraph

DISTANCE - BELOW AVERAGE

Distance is not a major consideration in your training program. However, you should still incorporate some long walks as it will increase your cardiovascular fitness.

ELEVATION - ABOVE AVERAGE

Elevation training is a major consideration in your overall training program. You must include walks with serious hill climbs.

If you do not have access to hills, it is essential to replicate the elevation level you will be undertaking in any way possible such as on a treadmill or stair climber. Walking up and down stairs at work, at a local oval with a grandstand, or up and down small hills is incredibly useful. Also, prioritising resistance weight training will help you develop overall muscle strength.  Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems, opposed to distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking.

If high altitude is a factor, incorporate sessions at a higher altitude to acclimatise your body to reduced oxygen levels if you are able to. Ensure you can comfortably walk the average elevation per day displayed in the graph, at least one month before you undertake your hike.

TERRAIN

MOUNTAINOUS / UNDULATING TERRAIN

As terrain associated with mountain climbs is often somewhat uneven and rocky, balancing and core exercises are vital.

Try to also include some form of elevation in more than 50% of your walking and prioritise resistance training, whilst incorporating stairs anytime you can. Walking up mountains or hills, up and down stairs at work, or up and down at a local oval with a grandstand is incredibly useful. Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems not distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking. Concentrate on doing lots of squats and lunges to build your glute muscles.

UNEVEN TERRAIN

Preparation for hiking on uneven terrain demands a blend of physical and mental readiness.

Begin with balance-enhancing exercises, such as one-legged stands and stability ball workouts, laying a groundwork for stability and coordination. Strengthening the lower body is especially important, achieved through the incorporation of squats, lunges, and step-ups. Gradually increase the complexity of the terrain on which you walk, moving from gravel paths to rocky trails. Cultivate mindfulness during your practice, directing focused attention to both your immediate surroundings and precise foot placement.

The importance of suitable footwear cannot be overstated; prioritise options that offer robust support and reliable grip to navigate varying terrains with confidence. Build endurance through consistent hikes, progressively increasing distance and difficulty.

General Info

GENERAL INFO

TRAVEL TO NAKATSUGAWA

Tip – if you have not invested in a JR Rail Pass (only available outside Japan), you can save some money by buying a Non-Reserved Seat on the Shinkansen rather than a Reserved Seat. Check the Japan Transit Planner website (https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/) for approximate travel times and pricing.

You can get tickets from the JR ticket window just before the Shinkansen barrier gates. Even if you have a JR Rail Pass (which covers the cost of all JR line travel), you will need to show some sort of ticket to indicate your seat.

TRAVEL FROM TOKYO TO NAGOYA

Take the Tokaido Line Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagoya.

Approx. travel time 1hr 45mins.

Tip – try to get a window seat on the right-hand side of the train for possible views of Mt Fuji on a clear day.

TRAVEL FROM OSAKA TO NAGOYA

Take the local train from Osaka to Shin-Osaka. Take the Tokaido Line Shinkansen bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Nagoya. Approx. travel time 48mins.

TRAVEL FROM NAGOYA TO NAKATSUGAWA

On arrival in Nagoya, take the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa. The Rapid service stops less often than the Local service. Both are of the same price and stop in Nakatsugawa. Approx. travel time 1 ¼ hr. Cost (if no JR Rail Pass) approx AUD $18.

The free “Japan Direct” rail app is very useful. Enter your station of origin and destination and all services, travel times, and costs are displayed. There is also an option to select for routes when travelling “with Japan Rail Pass”, too.

HIGH SEASON CHARGES

In Japan, there are some periods when locals travel en masse as they are on holiday. These times are best avoided as the accommodation costs escalate considerably (more than double). It would make a lot of sense if you could avoid these times. Otherwise, see below for high-season periods. This could lead to the cost of the trip increasing by 30% or more.

NEW YEAR PERIOD – 30TH DECEMBER TO 4TH OF JANUARY 

GOLDEN WEEK – GENERALLY BETWEEN 29TH APRIL TO 5TH MAY

OBON PERIOD – MID-AUGUST ( BETWEEN THE 10TH TO 20TH OF AUGUST)

Please speak to the office to get a quote for the above times

DEPARTING FROM YOKOKAWA OR KARUIZAWA TO TOKYO

At the end of your holiday, you will have details for travelling back to Tokyo from either Yokokawa Train Station or Karuizawa.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

This walk has the luggage transferred most days; we will let you know when we can’t move the bags due to the remoteness. The luggage will be waiting for you at the following accommodation. In the evenings, you will be supplied with a yukata (Japanese Gown) to wear, so you will need to carry only essential items on those days when your luggage isn’t available.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

For most days on this walk you will need to take some form of public transport whether that is a bus or a train to your accommodation for the night or to start or shorten the days walk. The journey times vary from 10mins to 50mins depending on the day. On the day when you travel to Karuizawa the train journey will take 2.5 – 3hrs. We provide a comprehensive public transport document with detailed instructions on which buses and trains to catch. Please note these trips are unable to be pre-booked and you will need to pay directly on the day they are not included in your package.

If you have any questions about the public transport on this holiday please feel welcome to call or email the office.

AVAILABILITY

This walk is best undertaken in autumn and spring. However, many people walk in summer and take advantage of the manner waterways to take a swim. Winter is difficult due to snow and the accommodations often closing.

WEATHER

From the end of  March, the temperature begins to increase. In summer it’s quite warm and humid but still good for walking,  particularly if you enjoy warmer temperatures and taking a dip in a stream.

The walk is offered in winter, but bring some warm clothes and good rain gear.  The area is just as beautiful if not more and is not busy at all. Soaking in an outside onsen in the cool of the night is one of those real authentic Japanese experiences that you can look forward to after a big day on the track.

As walkers, we believe spring and autumn are the best times as the weather is perfect for walking.

See the weather information about the local average weather at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We require that you have adequate travel insurance against potential losses, damage or injury, including cancellation costs and loss of luggage.

For all trips that require international travel, you must have purchased travel insurance that also includes medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred from our suppliers and in the office.  See the FAQ section for more information.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years, we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know that you’ll have many more questions even with that in mind. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately six weeks from departure outlining all the fine details and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

Map

MAP

Departure Dates

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    PER PERSON
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Mar 2024 - 30 Nov 2024
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $2195

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $310
  • 1 Mar 2025 - 30 Nov 2025
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $2295

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $320
Similar Trips

SIMILAR TRIPS

Nakasendo Way 8 days

Self-guided

Nakasendo trail, one of Japan’s most famous hiking routes: Breathtaking scenery: ancient paved paths: well preserved authentic Japanese towns: shrines and waterfalls…

Self-guided 8 Days From $3395 Moderate What's Included

Nakasendo Way 8 days

BACK
What's Included
  • Explore the beautiful Kaida Kogen Plateau in the hills north of Kiso-Fukushima
  • Walk with a light pack, with luggage transfers most days from accommodation to accommodation (please see Luggage Transfer section in General Info for details)
  • 7 nights stay in a family-run or small traditional Japanese Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day (except one night in Karuizawa where there are so many options that you should decide)
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

7 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi

Self-guided

Traverse the world heritage-listed Kumano Kodo, hiking the beautiful Kii Peninsula. Soak in onsens, stay in Japanese accommodation, and savour traditional Japanese meals.

Self-guided 7 Days From $2595 Moderate to Challenging What's Included

7 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi

BACK
What's Included
  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • 6 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with in-house onsens
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 4 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

9 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi (& Kohechi)

Self-guided

Walk the Kumano’s sacred mountains and an extra walk on the Kohechi track with stunning views over the Kumano-gawa river. End in beautiful Nachisan.

Self-guided 9 Days From $3255 Moderate to Challenging What's Included

9 day Kumano Kodo Nakahechi (& Kohechi)

BACK
What's Included
  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex plus a day of the Kohechi
  • 8 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with with in-house onsens
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 6 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

Abel Tasman Walk End to End – 6 Days

Self-guided

Abel Tasman Great walk end to end. Stunning views over golden beaches, estuaries, coves & native forest. Unparalleled opportunities to swim.

Self-guided 6 Days From $2595 Moderate What's Included

Abel Tasman Walk End to End – 6 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Full access to the Abel Tasman National Park and its beauty
  • 5 nights accommodation in beautiful lodges including 4-star Awaroa lodge
  • Walk the entire track end to end pack free
  • A la carte meals at Awaroa Lodge including 2-course dinners
  • 5 breakfasts, 4 walkers lunches and 3 dinners
  • Comprehensive track notes, map case, insulated lunch bag and container
  • Enjoy the 26 years of our experience in organising self-guided walking holidays

blog

March 18, 2024

HIKING THE HIMALAYAS 35 YEARS ON

Read More
March 4, 2024

What’s the right Camino de Santiago route for me?

Read More
February 16, 2024

Larapinta Loonies – A poem by Auswalker Michael Gibbs about walking the Larapinta Trail

Read More
January 12, 2024

Nakasendo Way Trail – by Sam Ludbey

Read More
April 19, 2023

H is for Hiking

Read More
March 27, 2023

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail – Overview of the Routes

Read More
March 20, 2023

The Kumano Kodo Trail – an Ancient Japanese Pilgrimage

Read More
March 15, 2023

The Three Capes Track – an Ultimate Guide to Hiking

Read More
February 13, 2023

Why Hiking is a No Brainer for Life Planning

Read More
January 31, 2023

Larapinta Trail – What is the Best Time of Year to Walk?

Read More

ENQUIRE NOW

If you’re looking for further information on any of our walking holidays please fill out the enquiry form and we’ll be in touch.

Get in touch