Experience Japan - The Nakasendo Trail with Tuatara Tours NZ Ltd

International Tour:

Japan – Nakasendo Trail




9 days / 8 nights



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Join Tuatara Tours on a fully guided walking tour of Japan

See Japan from a local perspective, not from a tour bus window. Our small group tours provide a more up close and personal experience of Japan , its culture and its people.

Nicky, our Tour Manager (and fluent speaker of Japanese) will take care of the details for you. Nicky spent several years living in Japan and looks forward to sharing her love of this fascinating country with you.

Your journey covers Japan’s capital cities, ancient and modern, and the most picturesque section of the Nakasendo, the ancient travellers highway that was a vital link between these capitals in the feudal era.

Tour Itinerary


Day 1 Tokyo

Location: Tokyo

Distance: .

Accommodation: Modern City Hotel

On arrival at Narita Airport, please clear customs and immigration. You will then proceed to Narita Airport Station for your
train ride in to Tokyo. This will take approx 1 hour. From Tokyo Station either walk or take a short taxi ride of 1km to our
If you wish to relax and have an early night, you may want to dine at the hotel, or those that want to venture out can try
one of the local eateries this evening. Nicky will be on hand to help with suggestions.


Day 2 Tokyo Highlights

Location: Tokyo

Distance: .

Accommodation: Modern Hotel

The group will come together over breakfast at our hotel, after which we will set out to explore Tokyo, on foot, by boat and
using the rail network. Our travels will take us to central and northern Tokyo today, to see a glimpse of the Tokyo of old,
before it became the world’s most populous metropolis.

Starting from our hotel we head out on foot past Tsukiji Market (the market has recently relocated but there are still many
markets stall left on site ) to the Hamarikyu Garden and board our Sumida River boat for a 40-minute cruise up the river for
a unique opportunity to view Tokyo from the water.

The ride finishes at Asakusa, where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives. Asakusa’s main attraction is
Sensoji, Tokyo’s most famous Buddhist temple, built in the 7th century. We will also spend time at Nakamise, a traditional
shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and souvenirs for centuries.
For those that wish to view Tokyo from a height, a 20-minute walk from Asakusa brings you to the Tokyo Skytree, the
second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. (Optional. Admission not included in today’s activities).
Those that prefer to keep their feet on the ground can choose to return to Ginza after our sightseeing tour and explore
its beautiful upmarket department stores or take a stroll around the grounds of the Imperial Palace, or you may wish to
journey to Ueno with its bustling market streets and museums and continue exploring here. Nicky can provide directions
and suggestions for the remainder of your day in Tokyo.

The rest of your day is free at your leisure to relax and prepare for the next few days of walking.


Day 3 Tokyo - Nagoya to O-Tsumago

Location: O- Tsumago

Distance: .

Accommodation: Local family run Inn

We have an early start today, to catch the bullet train to Nagoya for the start of our 4 nights and 5 days on the trail.

After breakfast, we travel by train to Nakatsugawa, an old post town and now a pleasant regional hub. From here we
begin our walk along the Kiso Road section of the Nakasendo Way and follow this ancient road past paddy fields and quiet
farmhouses to pleasant Magome post-town, which was the home of Shimazaki Toson. Toson wrote ‘Before the Dawn’, a
novel set in the days of Japan’s change from feudal Japan dominated by the samurai to a fledgling industrial nation. Toson’s
book is considered to be Japan’s first modern novel.

We continue on to O-Tsumago, for the classic hike over Magome Pass, through old forests and past pristine mountain
streams. O-Tsumago is a lovely hamlet of a few traditional houses and inns set in a valley, aside a fast-flowing river. Tonight,
we stay in a small family run Inn and enjoy local hospitality.


Day 4 O-Tsumago to Kiso Fukushima

Location: Kiso Fukushima

Distance: .

Accommodation: Local family run Inn

After waving goodbye to the innkeeper, we wend our way on through Tsumago before following the old highway on to Nagiso through picturesque hamlets and fields.

After breakfast we say goodbye to our hosts and a short walk of 20 minutes takes us to the hamlet of Tsumago.

Tsumago is the best preserved and arguably the most attractive of all the post towns on the Nakasendo. The inhabitants
take great pride in their town and have banished telephone poles, electric lines and vending machines from the main

We will enjoy time here to absorb the atmosphere and explore the streets and ancient buildings.

We follow the old highway on to Nagiso through picturesque hamlets and fields, passing by the site of Tsumago Castle.
As we enter Nagiso town, we catch a glimpse of Momosuke-bashi, an impressive wooden suspension bridge, lying
across the Kiso River.

From Nagiso a train journey takes us further up the Kiso Valley to Kiso-Fukushima.
We will have some time here this afternoon to explore the township and its old quarters, you might like to dip your toes
in the public mineral foot bath, enjoy a local stroll in the old township with its traditional houses, or visit Kozenji temple,
home to Asia’s largest dry rock garden.

Our centrally-located inn has a welcome attraction: its own onsen to relax in before dinner.


Day 5 Kiso Fukushima to Kaida Plateau

Location: Kaida Plateau

Distance: .

Accommodation: Local family run Inn

Departing our inn, we transfer part-way to the Kaida Plateau by bus, where our morning’s walk follows an ancient path,
up over the Jizo Pass. The plateau is dominated by Mt. Ontake, an active volcano that is considered sacred by Esoteric

After lunch, our afternoon’s excursion takes us over another high pass that, on a clear day, provides views over the
plateau to Mt. Ontake. We descend from here to our accommodation: another delightful, modern Japanese inn with
onsen baths.


Day 6 Kaida Plateau to Narai to Matsumoto

Location: Matsumoto

Distance: .

Accommodation: Local Hotel

Returning from the Kaida Plateau to Kiso Fukushima we transfer by a short rail journey to Yabuhara, where we begin our
climb of the Torii Toge (Torii Pass). The pass is named after the Shinto torii, or gate, that marks one of four protective
sites surrounding the sacred Mt. Ontake. At 1,197 meters, Torii Pass is also the second highest point on the Nakasendo.

The descent into Narai post-town takes us along narrow mountain paths until we emerge at the outskirts of this famous
post- town next to a joyato, stone night lantern.

We have some time to explore Narai. This is an area well known for its lacquer ware and we will have some free time
here to explore, relax in cafes and do some local shopping before transferring by train to Matsumoto. Matsumoto is set
in Japan’s Central Alps on a plateau famous in Japan for its apples, grapes, and wine.

Our final night in the Kiso region is spent at a modern hotel, dining together at a restaurant in the city this evening.


Day 7 Matsumoto - Kyoto

Location: Kyoto

Distance: .

Accommodation: Modern City Hotel

Breakfast is followed by a guided visit to Matsumoto Castle, the keep of which is an impressive structure, symbolic of the
powerful samurai clan that once controlled this region. Now a rarity, it is one of only 4 castle keeps listed as National Treasures
in Japan.

The Kiso Valley walking section of our tour finishes after exploring the castle but you may wish to include a visit to the
Matsumoto Art Gallery, which has an excellent permanent collection of works by Kusama Yayoi, probably Japan’s most
famous living artist or explore the merchant houses, with their beautiful stone masonry.

We have some time free in Matsumoto before travelling back down the Kiso Valley towards our next destination, Kyoto.


Day 8 Kyoto

Location: Kyoto

Accommodation: Modern City Hotel

After breakfast, we head out today to explore Kyoto on foot. Our focus today will be on the eastern fringes of Kyoto. Kyoto
was the Imperial Capital of Japan for more than 1000 years and is steeped in history and tradition. It has 1600 Buddhist
temples and 400 Shrines and among those we will visit is Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most famous temples in Japan and a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will also pay a visit to Sanjusangendo, the temple of 1001 statues.

Walking through the city along the narrow back streets of Gion, we may catch a glimpse of Kyoto’s famous Maiko-san, the
elegant and mysterious geisha.

Our last night together will be spent in Kyoto’s entertainment district enjoying a final farewell dinner where we can try some
local specialties and perhaps a few sake’s to celebrate your visit to Japan.


Day 9 Kyoto

Location: Kyoto

Our tour finishes after breakfast today, and you will have your own arrangements in place for onward travel.

For those staying in Kyoto, please ask Nicky for some suggestions on how to maximize your stay. Nara, Kanazawa and
Hiroshima can be visited as day excursions out of Kyoto if you wish to extend your stay and explore further and there is
plenty more to see and experience in and around Kyoto as well.

If you are considering a number of extra days in Japan and travelling further, it may well be worth considering a Rail Pass,
Nicky can provide further information on this if required.

We hope you have enjoyed your time in Japan and thank you for travelling with Tuatara Tours.


What’s Included


Accommodation for the 8 nights of the tour is included on a double/ twin share basis.

Tokyo: We stay at a modern western style hotel in central Tokyo, handy to the Ginza district and its elegant department stores. Rooms are double/ twin with ensuite facilities.

Hotels in Japan are quite small compared to Western equivalents, an average double room is only 20-30sqm. The room typically contains a small private ensuite bathroom, known as a “unit bath”, with shower over Japanese bathtub, toilet and hand basin. The room will usually have a television, an electric pot for boiling water for a hot drink, phone and internet access, hairdryer, air conditioning and a fridge.

The Nakasendo: We stay in Japanese minshuku (B&B) and Ryokan (Inns). These are traditional rooms with tatami mat floors, futon bedding and yukata robes for wearing in the evenings and to dinner.

On our tours some of the inns are more rustic and atmospheric, while others more modern and luxurious. Most are family run and have been in the same family for several generations. As is traditional, in some inns bathing and toilet facilities are shared but others have en-suite facilities.

Kyoto: We stay in a Western Style Hotel close to Kyoto Station, and shops and restaurants. Rooms are double/ twin with ensuite facilities and the hotel also has both European and Japanese restaurants, in house bar and room service.

Single Supplement: Please enquire as single rooms are limited in number


The tour includes a daily breakfast, 5 dinners and 3 lunches.

Japan is a food lovers paradise, as well as all the traditional local favourites, Japan offers an amazing choice of international
restaurants, coffee shops, bars and food outlets.
On your tour we provide a hearty breakfast each day to set you up for the day and you also have the opportunity to experience
traditional home cooked dishes during your stay at the inns.

Luggage & Transfers

Portage of your main luggage while on the Nakasendo Trail is included in the tour cost , so you only walk with a day pack during the day.

We provide a comprehensive list of gear for you in the tour trip notes (sent to you on completion of the booking process.) Because the tours are planned for the warmer months of spring and early summer in Japan you will not need a large amount of heavy clothing however we do suggest a good rainproof jacket and a fleece, merino top or similar for the cooler evenings.

During your stay at the ryokans you will be provided with a yukata, or cotton kimono, which is your evening wear and can be worn around the inn and for dining.

We travel between the major cities using public transport and you need to carry your belongings with you on these trips (bullet trains and local trains) so luggage needs to be kept to one suitcase and one day pack for ease of handling. A medium size suitcase should be sufficient for all your clothing requirements, and ideally on wheels so that it can be pulled along.


Land transport in Japan is included. The tour starts in Tokyo and finishes in Kyoto. The tour cost includes Bullet train, local trains and buses from start in Tokyo to finish in Kyoto.

Airfares to Japan are not included in the tour cost.

Additional Info

Travel Insurance- not included in the tour price but compulsory.

Medical services in Japan are good but the cost of treatment is high and you can expect to pay the full cost of any treatment you receive. For this reason we require all tour participants to have a comprehensive medical insurance in place.

Further FAQ’s

When should I arrive and how do I get to the hotel?

If you are travelling to Tokyo on the day of the tour, Nicky can advise the best flights and times to book.

If you are arriving for an extended stay prior to the tour, Nicky will advise how to get into Tokyo and where to meet us for the start of the tour as well as tips on what to see and do to maximise your time in Japan.


There is no tradition of tipping in Japan and it is not a requirement at restaurants or hotels that you tip for services provided. However if you feel you have been provided with excellent service and you would like to reward that, please feel free to offer a tip.

Tour cancellation

If a client wishes to cancel a Tour the following charges will be applied: (Unless stated otherwise)
1. 91+ days prior to departure – no fee
2. 90-60 days prior to departure – Deposit Non refundable
3. 59-30 days prior to departure – 30% of total package cost applies
4. 29-0 days prior to departure – 100% of total package cost applies
5. After tour commencement – no refund available.
These cancellation fees are not negotiable, therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance.


Very beautiful, calm, well-organised tour. I learnt and experienced more than I would coming to Japan alone.

Robyn M

The pre tour instruction was perfect, but the experience surpassed description.

Ian and Joan W

Well run and varied. I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Japan and look forward to returning for another trip.

Gill P

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