Japan Package Tours - Self-Guided Tours

Japan Package Tours - Self-Guided Tours
Self-Guided Tours Discover Japan your own way - with a self-guided walking trip! Choose from a selection of our trips along the historic trails of Japan (Nakasendo, Kumano Kodo or Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage). Use our maps and detailed instructions, and stay at comfortable Japanese-style inns with excellent local home-cooked food. Leave all the preparations to us - just enjoy a side of Japan that few visitors do!
What to expect :
Please see each tour below for details of the level of walking. As with our guided trips, we have selected the best available inns along the walking route. Mostly run by local families, you will be dining on fresh local cuisine home-made each day, and often sleeping on tatami mats in traditional buildings. You will need to be reasonably fit and carry the correct gear. Our self-guided walks are not technically difficult and are mostly on village paths and forested trails - no alpine treks! - but as with any walk in the countryside thorough preparation is very important. Don't hesitate to ask, we will be happy to answer your questions.
What is self-guided walking? :

Self-Guided walking map If you want to visit Japan but cannot book one of our scheduled guided trips because of the dates, or you just prefer to walk without a group, then our self-guided walks may be for you. We offer three carefully-created itineraries, for walking routes that we know intimately. Walking by yourself in rural Japan is not for everyone; you will need a degree of self-reliance and you need to be able to use a map, but it could be one of the most rewarding trips you ever take.

Even though little English is spoken ouside of the big cities, you will have wonderful memories of staying at small country inns with your hosts, and seeing Japan at your own pace. Trails are generally very well-maintained and well-signposted. Our itineraries are designed to combine great walking with sightseeing and to show you more of Japan than you might otherwise get to see. We understand few people will visit Japan solely to walk, but walking is an excellent way to see more of Japan.

We will be happy to discuss customising these trips to your plans, by adding extra walking days or giving you easier options. Our standard trips include days before the walk in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto with a day of private guiding, a Japan Rail Pass or local train tickets to get you to your walking route, and all your accommodation and most meals.

☞ As standard on All our tours :

Comfortable family-run inns
Detailed walking instructions and trail maps (Self-guided Walking Pack below)
Personalised itinerary
Personal help and advice
Our Self-guided Walking Pack :
Self-guided Walking Pack * Detailed daily instructions including train times in a plastic folder
* Japan Rail Pass (or local train tickets)
* Waterproof, topographical maps with your route and points from the walking instructions marked
* Map case with carry strap


Kumano Kodo
Self-Guided Tours - Nakasendo The Nakasendo was one of the five major highways linking Edo (as Tokyo was then called) to the provinces. Established by the Tokugawa Shoguns, the Nakasendo - the road through the mountains - weaves its way along the mountain valleys that sit between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Along the route were 69 'post towns', where weary travelers could rest before continuing on the next leg. Our walk concentrates on a lovely 3 - 5 days section in the Kiso Valley, where the best preserved post-towns - known as juku - are found. By day we will walk along the ancient route as it passes through beautifully-preserved villages along an easy path, and by evening we will stay in traditional country inns enjoying exquisite regional cuisine prepared from the freshest ingredients, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy the warm hospitality of our hosts.

Level : strenuous 4 - 8 hours walking per day (easier options possible)

Self-Guided Tours - Kiso Valley Self-Guided Tours - Tsumagojuku Self-Guided Tours - Stone paving near Tsumago

Kumano Kodo

Kumano Kodo
Self-Guided Tours - Kumano Kodo For over 1000 years people from all levels of society, including retired emperors and aristocrats, have made the arduous pilgrimage to Kumano. These pilgrims used a network of routes, now called the Kumano Kodo, which stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula.

The walk itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process as they undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Walking the ancient Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano's spiritual countryside.

In July 2004, the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes were registered as UNESCO World Heritage as part of the "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" property.

Nakahechi Route
The Nakahechi route of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage is the most popular trail to Kumano and has been used extensively since the 10th century, when Japan's Imperial ancestors first began the tradition. The Nakahechi route offers both short walks and multi-day treks with a variety of lodgings, including many traditional-style accommodations and hot springs. These days there is no set pattern for walking the routes, so please feel free to adjust your pilgrimage experience to your abilities and needs.

Level : easy/moderate 1 - 6 hours walking per day

Self-Guided Tours - Heian Costume Self-Guided Tours - Hyakkengura Self-Guided Tours - Kumano Taisha

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage
Self-Guided Tours - Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage A hike through spectacular scenery, with beautiful temples, terrific Onsen baths and delicious traditional cuisine on the ancient 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Tokushima and Kagawa Prefectures at the north-east tip of Shikoku Island.

Shikoku is Japan's fourth-largest island, home to some of the country's most spectacular and undeveloped scenery. The island is also the setting for an ancient walking trail, the challenging Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The trail connects 88 Buddhist temples and the full walk covers more than a thousand kilometres. Pilgrims, known as O-henro, cover the journey over many weeks, staying at Shukubo temples which provide overnight lodging. These tours take in some of the most beautiful hikes and breathtaking scenery on the trail, as well as emotive temples and overnight stays in both Shukubo and Onsen bath Ryokan which offer delicious traditional Japanese meals, exceptional service and warm hospitality.

Level : easy/moderate/strenuous 1 - 8 hours walking per day

Self-Guided Tours - Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage1 Self-Guided Tours - Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage2 Self-Guided Tours - Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage3

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