Day 1: Tokyo
For those travelling from New Zealand today, Nicky will be at Narita Airport to welcome you. Once you have cleared customs and immigration, Nicky will be in the arrivals area to meet you and assist you through to Tokyo. The journey is approx. 1 hour and on arrival in Tokyo we head directly to our hotel in the Ginza District.
For those joining the group in Tokyo, Nicky will provide full instructions on how to get to the hotel and can also assist with any pre or post tour travel plans if you need ideas on how to maximise your stay in Japan.
This evening, if you wish to relax and have an early night, you may prefer to dine at the hotel, or for those that wish to venture out, there are several local eateries within a short walking distance of our hotel.
Day 2: Tokyo Highlights
After breakfast at our hotel we’ll set out to explore Tokyo, on foot, by boat and by local train. Our journey takes us through central and northern Tokyo this morning but there is time in the afternoon for you to branch out further if you wish to.
Our first port of call is Hinode Pier, where we will take a boat cruise of the Sumida River for a great view of the Tokyo skyline. The Sumida River runs through Tokyo for 27km, travels under 26 bridges and flows into Tokyo Bay. Boats travel back and forth around 8 destinations on the river and our destination today is one of Tokyo’s most historical districts, Asakusa, where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives.
Asakusa was for many years the main commercial and working class neighbourhood of Tokyo and is home to Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist temple founded in the 7th century. Many of the small shops on Nakamise Street leading up to the temple have been providing temple visitors with traditional local snacks and souvenirs for centuries and we have the opportunity to browse some of these shops, and grab something to eat for our lunch here today.
After lunch, the choice is yours for the afternoon. You may wish to return to Ginza to stroll and window shop at some of the most elegant upmarket departments stores in Japan, or you may prefer to jump on the Yamanote loop line and head to Ueno, Shinjuku or one of Tokyo’s other districts to explore further. Nicky will be able to provide directions and suggestions for things to see and do.
This evening, we will regroup at the hotel and head out for an optional dinner at a local Izakaya, (a Japanese-style pub), to sample some traditional fare, and a few local beverages.
MEALS INCLUDED: B
Day 3: Tokyo - Nagoya - O-Tsumago
We have an early start today, to catch the bullet train to Nagoya for the start of our 4 day hike. From Nagoya Station we catch a train to Nakatsugawa, an old post town and now a pleasant regional town, and then head out on our walk. Our first rest stop is at the quaint Magome post-town, with its traditional small shops perched on the side of the hill. We continue on to Tsumago, for a classic hike through old forests and bubbling streams along the Nakasendo , until we reach our inn in the hamlet of O- Tsumago. We visit nearby thermal hot spring baths to relax before we end our day over dinner.
MEALS INCLUDED: B D
Day 4: O - Tsumago - Kiso - Fukushima
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.
We now start one of the alternative routes of the old highway through this area. Our choice avoids the easy riverside way which is now overlaid by a busy modern highway. Instead, we take the original route of the Nakasendo here. Over 3~4 hours, it takes us gradually higher and higher through quiet farming hamlets until we ascend through a forest to Ne-no-ue Pass. From the pass it is a steep descent for an hour to Nojiri train station, where a 40-minute rail journey takes us on to Kiso- Fukushima and our ryokan in the centre of town. The inn has a welcome attraction, its own thermal hot spring baths to relax in before dinner.
MEALS INCLUDED: B, D
Day 5: Kiso-Fukushima - Kaida Plateau
This morning we transfer part-way to the Kaida Plateau by bus and then head off on our walk. Our morning walk takes us over the Jizo Pass , through forests filled with majestic cypress and then down onto the Kaida Plateau itself. The plateau is dominated by Mt. Ontake, an active volcano that is considered sacred by a Buddhist sect.
After lunch, our afternoon’s excursion takes us over another pass that, on a clear day, provides views high over the plateau to Mt. Ontake. We descend from here to our accommodation, a delightful, family run modern Japanese inn with hot springs.
Day 6: Kaida Plateau - Narai - Nagoya-Kyoto
Returning from Kaida Plateau, 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. This is an area well known for its lacquer ware and we will have some free time here to explore, relax in cafes and shop before travelling back to Nagoya. From Nagoya Station we will travel onwards to Kyoto, our destination for the next 2 nights.
MEALS INCLUDED: B
Day 7: Kyoto
We head out today to explore Kyoto on foot and pack in as many of the beautiful and historic sites of Kyoto as the day will allow us. 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 now designated as a National Treasure.
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 , and for those that are interested there is an opportunity to watch the geisha dance and other Japanese traditional arts performed in an evening show (bookings essential).
The evening will be spent in one of Kyoto’s popular bars and restaurants where we can try some local fare and perhaps a few sake’s to celebrate our journey. (Additional Cost)
MEALS INCLUDED: B
The morning is free in Kyoto for some last minute sightseeing, shopping or a stroll around the central city before making the journey back to Tokyo on the bullet train and then the Narita Express to Narita Airport. If you wish to explore Japan further, Nicky will be happy to help with suggestions on how to extend your time in Japan.
MEALS INCLUDED: B