OVERVIEW

The 500km long Nakasendo trail (literally meaning the 'Middle Mountain Way'), has become one of Japan's most famous hiking routes because of its breathtaking scenery. The walk makes its way over ancient paved paths, through well-preserved authentic Japanese towns, via cypress and cedar forest. Shrines and waterfalls dot the landscape as you make your way through the Kiso Valley, wedged between the sacred mountain of Mount Ontake and Mount Komagatake.

The walk was developed in the Edo period (1603-1868) and was used by feudal lords, samurai and merchants to provide access between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo). There are 69 'post towns' or resting places en route, where you can stay in traditional Minshukus or Ryokan inns and bathe in hot springs. You have the option to shorten some of the days if you wish.

Highlights

  • Walk pack free on well-graded ancient trails, with superb views, through beautiful Japanese forest
  • Experience historically significant post towns
  • Soak up Japanese culture, passing rice paddies, Japanese gardens and traditional shops
  • Pass through iconic Japanese red torii gates
  • Visit the impressive Karasawa waterfall
  • 6 nights accommodation in a family-run or small traditional Japanese Minshuku or Ryokan, some with onsens
  • Daily Japanese breakfasts and dinners mostly served in elegant tatami mat settings

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
7 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
$ 3195

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 430

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 6
  • Day 7

DAY 1
Arrive in Ena

Ena (formerly known as Oi-juku) was one of the post towns of the Nakasendo Way. Oi-juku was the 46th station from Tokyo. In 1834, there were still 41 guesthouses here. Visit the Hiroshige Museum, a great regional museum focusing on Japanese woodblock prints, especially scenes from the Nakasendo Way, by Hiroshige Utagawa and other artists inspired by their travels through the Kiso Valley.

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

 

 

DAY 2
ENA TO NAKATSUGAWA

We start this expedition with what looks like an easy day. Walk through small towns and pass rice paddies and Japanese gardens along the way, soaking up Japanese culture as you go.  Once you get to Nakatsugawa, post town number 45, there is the opportunity to explore the old town, its traditional buildings and/or the Naegi Castle ruins (be warned:it will add a fair few kilometres to the walking day!). There are a number of traditional shops, like Japanese sweets or sake shops, where you can consume the produce.

Total distance: 12.5 km
Approx. time: 3 ½ – 4 hr
Ascent: 223 m
Descent: 188 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Nakatsugawa

 

DAY 3
NAKATSUGAWA TO TSUMAGO

From Nakatsugawa, as you walk out of town, you pass a set of iconic Japanese red torii gates that you will also find on the Kumano Kodo. There is a little bit of elevation and descent today on the Nakasendo trail, particularly before Ochiai. But it’s worth it having walked over the ancient cobblestone path and then arriving at the stunning little town of  Magome.  Magome, number 43 of the 69 post towns, is said to be one of the major highlights of the Nakasendo Way. The kosatsuba (an official proclamation board) at the entrance interestingly articulates the Japanese’s attitude long ago that “No Christianity can be practised”. There is time to take a stroll and explore the many beautiful small shops on the main street.

From Magome, the Nakasendo Way begins to climb up to the Magome Pass at 800m above sea level. The trail makes its way via woodland and not far from the Odaki-Medaki waterfalls, past rice paddies and through the old village of O-tsumago. The walk ends at the gorgeous village of Tsumago, with its long rows of traditional Japanese wooden houses, town number 42 of the 69 post towns.

Total distance: 17 km or 9km
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 4
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 5
KAIDA PLATEAU

We believe today’s walk is one of the best on the whole trip and is not to be missed. We take a break from the Nakasendo Way today to explore the beautiful Kaida Kogen Plateau in the hills north of Kiso-Fukushima. Head up into the hills via a quiet country road to visit the impressive Karasawa Waterfall. Continue along the forest trails to Jizo Pass (1335m) before gently descending to the Kaida Plateau. Enjoy easy walking through Kiso Horse Park following part of the old Hida Kaido Route. Either finish at the Tourist Information Centre nearby (total distance approx. 11kms) or continue via the Shiroyama Observatory (1422m) near Nishino Pass to finish your walk in the settlement of Nishino-Shimomukai (total length approx. 19kms).

Alternatively, if you want a quieter day, you might explore the town of Kiso-Fukushima itself. If you choose this option, note that there is a short walk to the Gongen Waterfall.

Total distance: 11 or 19 km
Approx. time: 5 – 6 hr
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 594 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Kiso Fukushima

 

DAY 6
YABUHARA TO NARAI VIA TORII PASS

Today’s shorter walk is your 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.

Total distance: 7km
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 7
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 amazing 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 trip option, you have finished your walk, and at this point, you will make your way back to Tokyo. Alternatively, we recommend spending another night in Karuizawa and finishing your holiday after breakfast tomorrow morning. In that case, please book the 8-day Nakasendo Way walk.

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

  • 6 nights stay in an intimate family-run or smallish traditional Japanese ryokan accommodation (this walk omits the last night of the 8-day trip)
  • 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)
  • 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.

Please note that we will endeavour to book the accommodation displayed. However, we will book alternative accommodation at the same standard if unavailable.

  • NIGHT 1

  • NIGHT 2

  • NIGHT 3

  • NIGHT 4 & 5

  • NIGHT 6

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 ENA

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 ENA

On arrival in Nagoya, take the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) from Nagoya to Ena. The Rapid service stops less often than the Local service. Both are of the same price and stop in Ena. Approx. travel time 1 hr. Cost (if no JR Rail Pass) approx. AUD$10.

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.

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.

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.

AVAILABILITY

We can offer this walk all year round, but it can get quite cold in the depths of winter through late November to February. Snow gear will be necessary, and trying to get accommodation may be a problem.

WEATHER

From the end of  March, the temperature increases to make walking a very pleasant time. In summer, it’s quite warm and humid in Japan, but still good for taking on the trail. There is also more of an opportunity to swim in a stream. Autumn is said to be a perfect time to walk the trail.

The walk is offered in winter but not recommended as many of the accommodations close and it may snow. If you do walk at this time, you will need proper winter walking gear.

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

See the weather information about the average local 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.

You must have purchased travel insurance for all trips requiring international travel, including medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred by 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 you’ll have many more questions even with that in mind. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately six weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants, or if you have specific track-related questions if we can’t answer them, we can also ask our staff who have walked the track. You can contact us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

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MAP

DEPARTURE DATES

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

    $3195

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $430

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

  • 1 Mar 2025 - 30 Nov 2025
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $3355

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $445

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

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Overview

OVERVIEW

The 500km long Nakasendo trail (literally meaning the 'Middle Mountain Way'), has become one of Japan's most famous hiking routes because of its breathtaking scenery. The walk makes its way over ancient paved paths, through well-preserved authentic Japanese towns, via cypress and cedar forest. Shrines and waterfalls dot the landscape as you make your way through the Kiso Valley, wedged between the sacred mountain of Mount Ontake and Mount Komagatake.

The walk was developed in the Edo period (1603-1868) and was used by feudal lords, samurai and merchants to provide access between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo). There are 69 'post towns' or resting places en route, where you can stay in traditional Minshukus or Ryokan inns and bathe in hot springs. You have the option to shorten some of the days if you wish.

Highlights

  • Walk pack free on well-graded ancient trails, with superb views, through beautiful Japanese forest
  • Experience historically significant post towns
  • Soak up Japanese culture, passing rice paddies, Japanese gardens and traditional shops
  • Pass through iconic Japanese red torii gates
  • Visit the impressive Karasawa waterfall
  • 6 nights accommodation in a family-run or small traditional Japanese Minshuku or Ryokan, some with onsens
  • Daily Japanese breakfasts and dinners mostly served in elegant tatami mat settings

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
7 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
$ 3195

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 430

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 6
  • Day 7

DAY 1
Arrive in Ena

Ena (formerly known as Oi-juku) was one of the post towns of the Nakasendo Way. Oi-juku was the 46th station from Tokyo. In 1834, there were still 41 guesthouses here. Visit the Hiroshige Museum, a great regional museum focusing on Japanese woodblock prints, especially scenes from the Nakasendo Way, by Hiroshige Utagawa and other artists inspired by their travels through the Kiso Valley.

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

 

 

DAY 2
ENA TO NAKATSUGAWA

We start this expedition with what looks like an easy day. Walk through small towns and pass rice paddies and Japanese gardens along the way, soaking up Japanese culture as you go.  Once you get to Nakatsugawa, post town number 45, there is the opportunity to explore the old town, its traditional buildings and/or the Naegi Castle ruins (be warned:it will add a fair few kilometres to the walking day!). There are a number of traditional shops, like Japanese sweets or sake shops, where you can consume the produce.

Total distance: 12.5 km
Approx. time: 3 ½ – 4 hr
Ascent: 223 m
Descent: 188 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Nakatsugawa

 

DAY 3
NAKATSUGAWA TO TSUMAGO

From Nakatsugawa, as you walk out of town, you pass a set of iconic Japanese red torii gates that you will also find on the Kumano Kodo. There is a little bit of elevation and descent today on the Nakasendo trail, particularly before Ochiai. But it’s worth it having walked over the ancient cobblestone path and then arriving at the stunning little town of  Magome.  Magome, number 43 of the 69 post towns, is said to be one of the major highlights of the Nakasendo Way. The kosatsuba (an official proclamation board) at the entrance interestingly articulates the Japanese’s attitude long ago that “No Christianity can be practised”. There is time to take a stroll and explore the many beautiful small shops on the main street.

From Magome, the Nakasendo Way begins to climb up to the Magome Pass at 800m above sea level. The trail makes its way via woodland and not far from the Odaki-Medaki waterfalls, past rice paddies and through the old village of O-tsumago. The walk ends at the gorgeous village of Tsumago, with its long rows of traditional Japanese wooden houses, town number 42 of the 69 post towns.

Total distance: 17 km or 9km
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 4
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 5
KAIDA PLATEAU

We believe today’s walk is one of the best on the whole trip and is not to be missed. We take a break from the Nakasendo Way today to explore the beautiful Kaida Kogen Plateau in the hills north of Kiso-Fukushima. Head up into the hills via a quiet country road to visit the impressive Karasawa Waterfall. Continue along the forest trails to Jizo Pass (1335m) before gently descending to the Kaida Plateau. Enjoy easy walking through Kiso Horse Park following part of the old Hida Kaido Route. Either finish at the Tourist Information Centre nearby (total distance approx. 11kms) or continue via the Shiroyama Observatory (1422m) near Nishino Pass to finish your walk in the settlement of Nishino-Shimomukai (total length approx. 19kms).

Alternatively, if you want a quieter day, you might explore the town of Kiso-Fukushima itself. If you choose this option, note that there is a short walk to the Gongen Waterfall.

Total distance: 11 or 19 km
Approx. time: 5 – 6 hr
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 594 m
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku, Ryokan or Hotel in Kiso Fukushima

 

DAY 6
YABUHARA TO NARAI VIA TORII PASS

Today’s shorter walk is your 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.

Total distance: 7km
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 7
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 amazing 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 trip option, you have finished your walk, and at this point, you will make your way back to Tokyo. Alternatively, we recommend spending another night in Karuizawa and finishing your holiday after breakfast tomorrow morning. In that case, please book the 8-day Nakasendo Way walk.

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

  • 6 nights stay in an intimate family-run or smallish traditional Japanese ryokan accommodation (this walk omits the last night of the 8-day trip)
  • 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)
  • 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.

Please note that we will endeavour to book the accommodation displayed. However, we will book alternative accommodation at the same standard if unavailable.

  • NIGHT 1

  • NIGHT 2

  • NIGHT 3

  • NIGHT 4 & 5

  • NIGHT 6

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 ENA

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 ENA

On arrival in Nagoya, take the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) from Nagoya to Ena. The Rapid service stops less often than the Local service. Both are of the same price and stop in Ena. Approx. travel time 1 hr. Cost (if no JR Rail Pass) approx. AUD$10.

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.

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.

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.

AVAILABILITY

We can offer this walk all year round, but it can get quite cold in the depths of winter through late November to February. Snow gear will be necessary, and trying to get accommodation may be a problem.

WEATHER

From the end of  March, the temperature increases to make walking a very pleasant time. In summer, it’s quite warm and humid in Japan, but still good for taking on the trail. There is also more of an opportunity to swim in a stream. Autumn is said to be a perfect time to walk the trail.

The walk is offered in winter but not recommended as many of the accommodations close and it may snow. If you do walk at this time, you will need proper winter walking gear.

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

See the weather information about the average local 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.

You must have purchased travel insurance for all trips requiring international travel, including medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred by 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 you’ll have many more questions even with that in mind. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately six weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants, or if you have specific track-related questions if we can’t answer them, we can also ask our staff who have walked the track. You can contact us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

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Map

MAP

Departure Dates

DEPARTURE DATES

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

    $3195

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $430
  • 1 Mar 2025 - 30 Nov 2025
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $3355

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $445
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