Walk Japan - Kumano Kodo Trail

Kyoto
Bronze Buddha at Todaiji, Nara
Tokyo skyline
Along the Kumano Kodo
Path to Kasuga Taisha,Nara
Become a TourHound member today to access personalised recommendations and bucket lists to help plan your trips. You’ll also receive rebates on selected tours. It’s free to become a member, sign up here.
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • FAQ
  • Dates
  • Explore!

Encounter Japan's fascinating blend of ancient and modern influence on a walking holiday that uncovers the country's history and explores its beautiful landscapes. Urban hikes reveal a different side of Tokyo unseen by most visitors. The trip culminates with four days walking along the Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage trail connecting Shinto shrines on the mountainous Kii Peninsula. Nakasendo Way - Hike between historic post towns on a highway once travelled by samurai and itinerant merchants Kyoto - Explore the temples and tea houses of Japan's historic capital on foot Traditional accommodation - Sleep on a futon and enjoy a hot spring bath at a traditional Ryokan inn

Highlights
  • Nakasendo Way - Hike between historic post towns on a highway once travelled by samurai and itinerant merchants
  • Kyoto - Explore the temples and tea houses of Japan's historic capital on foot
  • Traditional accommodation - Sleep on a futon and enjoy a hot spring bath at a traditional Ryokan inn
Destinations
  • Imperial Palace
  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto
  • Japan
  • Matsumoto
  • Osaka
  • Far East
  • Todaiji Temple
  • Kumano
Tour Types
  • Active
  • Adventure
  • Scenic
  • Small Group
  • 50 plus
  • Couples
  • LGBT+
  • Singles
  • Birdwatching
  • Sightseeing
  • Trekking
  • Walking
  • Art
  • Cultural
  • Flowers and Gardens
  • Foodie
  • History
  • Religion-Spiritual

Location: Tokyo

The trip starts today in Tokyo, the ultra-modern capital of Japan. Your Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting. After this we will head out to dinner (included) at a nearby local restaurant where you will have the chance to sample various types of 'izakaya' style Japanese cuisine. There are no other activities planned today. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) or Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour-and-a-half from Narita. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, we recommend taking the train one stop or walking along the Sumida River and then crossing over to see the Edo Tokyo Museum (it takes approximately 20 minutes to get here). This fascinating architectural structure gives a great history of Japan's capital. The museum is next to the sumo stadium so there's also the chance to spot a sumo wrestler in the area! As Monday (day 2 of this trip) is the day that the museums of Tokyo are closed, today will be your only opportunity to visit it. Also nearby is the Hokusai Museum which displays woodblock prints of Japan's most famous artist. Alternatively you can wander around the Asakusa area and explore the back streets. You will find sword shops, street food, goldfish scooping, rickshaws and plenty more just a few minutes' walk from the hotel.

Accommodation: Asakusa Via Inn

Meals: Dinner

Location: Tokyo

In the morning we head out to explore this thriving metropolis on a walking tour that will take in some of the residential and more traditional neighbourhoods of the city - Nippori, Yanaka and Nezu, for a glimpse of life in Tokyo far away from the neon lights of the business district. We'll take our time and end in Ueno in time to explore the market and pick up some lunch. The afternoon is left free to explore further. You will be provided with an IC transport card providing unlimited travel on public transport around the city. Possible destinations include the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shop-fronts or take a boat along the Sumida River for a more relaxing experience. Today's walking tour will cover approximately eight kilometres and will last around five hours.

Accommodation: Asakusa Via Inn

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Matsumoto

We depart from Shinjuku train station (reputedly the world's busiest) on a scenic journey through the Japanese Alps to Matsumoto. Flanked on each side by mountains, Matsumoto is best known for its 500 year-old castle which is Japan's oldest, and one of its most elegant. Known as 'Crow Castle' due to its black, sombre appearance, it retains its original wooden interior. The fascinating design includes a moon-viewing pavilion, a hidden floor for the castle's protecting samurai and various booby traps to aid its defence. After exploring the castle and its grounds there's time to stroll through the town's historic quarter. For art lovers there's an option to visit the renowned modern art museum or nearby Ukiyo-e woodblock printing museum. Scenes from this traditional art form typically represent famous geisha, sumo wrestlers and kabuki dance-drama actors. To make today's journey by train easier, we make use of Japan's excellent luggage forwarding services and send our main luggage on to our hotel for tomorrow night in Kyoto. You'll need to pack your overnight things in your daypack.

Accommodation: Alpico Plaza Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Kyoto

We make an early start today and catch a train to Nakatsugawa. From here it's a journey of around 30 minutes by public bus to Magome in the tranquil Kiso Valley, running alongside the Central Alps. We hike from here along a section of the Nakasendo Way, an historical trail that connected Kyoto to Edo (now modern day Tokyo). The Nakasendo' s origins date back to the Edo Period (1603-1868) when the Japanese Shogun created a comprehensive communications network of roads to help stabilise and rule the country. Towns like Magome and Tsumago, which we also pass through on the hike, were post towns, providing accommodation and supplies for travellers on the route, an eclectic mix of soldiers, merchants and monks among them. These towns have been lovingly preserved to retain their Edo period atmosphere and the streets are lined with traditional wooden buildings. Our hike today takes us on a mainly stone-paved undulating path through beautiful countryside and small hamlets to Nagiso. We catch an express train from Nagiso to Nagoya, then change to the super fast \i shinkansen \i0 a.k.a. the 'bullet train' that speeds us on to our base for the next three nights, the one time historic capital of Japan - Kyoto. Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around four-and-a-half hours with a total ascent of 450 metres and descent of 610 metres.

Accommodation: Hotel Elcient Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Kyoto

At the heart of Japanese culture and influence for over 1,000 years, Kyoto lay at the centre of events that helped to shape the destiny and history of this most fascinating of cultures. One of the only major cities to survive the extensive bombing of WWII, Kyoto can boast more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in landscaped gardens, making this captivating city the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese. Today we head to the north of the city to spend a full day walking and sightseeing in the Higashiyama District along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains. This is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. Walking among the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops, we can catch a glimpse of what the old capital city must have been like. In the morning we follow the Philosophers Path, along a cherry tree-lined canal, stopping to visit some of the city's most important temples including the Silver Pavilion and the Eikando and Nanzenji temples. The route is named after the influential 20th century philosopher Nishida Kitaro who walked here in his daily meditation. In the afternoon we continue to the Heian Shrine, a reconstruction of part of the Imperial Palace as it would have looked 1,200 years ago. The shrine is known for its beautiful traditional Japanese garden which contains multiple ponds in which tortoises, egrets, koi carp and other wildlife can often be seen. From here we pass through the cobbled streets to Kodaiji where you can see a perfectly groomed towering bamboo grove, a Zen rock garden, and a pair of historic tea houses. Today's 12 kilometre walking tour is expected to take around six hours including time spent sightseeing.

Accommodation: Hotel Elcient Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Nara

We spend today in Japan's first capital Nara, travelling there by train (in around 50 minutes) and exploring on foot. Perhaps one of Japan's friendliest and greenest cities, Nara sits on the edge of a sprawling park that provides a picture-perfect backdrop for the city's magnificent temples and shrines. Nara is known for the 1,200 deer that roam free in the streets and parks. Believed to be messengers of the gods, the deer are protected by city law. We plan to take in the best of the town's sights including the world's largest Bronze Buddha at the magnificent Todaiji temple and the shrine of Kasuga Taisha before returning to Kyoto for the night. Today's 7 kilometre walking tour is expected to take around six hours including time spent sightseeing.

Accommodation: Hotel Elcient Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Kawayu onsen

Today we head into rural Japan and the mountains of the Kii Peninsula, much of which is covered in dense rainforest. Travelling first by train and then bus, we arrive at the small village of Takijiri-Oji, the starting point for our hike on the Kumano Kodo. Kumano Kodo is the name given to a network of pilgrimage routes that connect three great Buddhist shrines: Hongu Taisha, Nachi Taisha, and Hayatama Taisha - known collectively as the Kumano Sanzan. Emanating from these three shrines, various pilgrimage trails trace their way through dense forest and across high mountain passes and stunning valleys, linking the various sacred sites of the area. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004 the Kumano Kodo remain in use as pilgrimage routes to this day. Our hike this afternoon takes us through ancient forest filled with giant camphor trees and sacred caves to Takahara, a ridge-top settlement at around 300 metres known locally as 'Kiri-no-Sato' (village in the mist) thanks to the blankets of mist that create a sea of clouds over the valleys below. Our accommodation is in the midst of natural scenery and we'll enjoy a hearty dinner made from fresh local produce. The lodge has a mix of Japanese-style rooms, where futon beds are rolled out each night on the traditional tatami mat flooring, and those with Western-style beds. Depending on the size of the group, rooms may be twin share or shared by up to three guests (of the same sex). All rooms have en suite toilets with sinks whilst bathing takes place in a separate traditional hot spring bath. A relaxing experience after walking. Your main luggage will be forwarded on this morning from Kyoto so you'll need to pack your things for the next two nights in your daypack. Due to the availability of this evening's lodge, if you are travelling on the 9th May or 7th November 2021 departures, you will arrive into Takahara and drive on a short way to Kawayu Onsen, a hot spring town located along a river, where you will spend the night (as well as the subsequent two nights) in a comfortable ryokan in twin share or single rooms. The walks will remain the same as Kawayu Onsen is well located for all routes on the Kumano Kodo trail. Today's four kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours with a total ascent of 430 metres and descent of 200 metres.

Accommodation: Kiri no Sato Takahara Lodge

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

Location: Chikatsuyu-oji

It's a longer hike today from Takahara to Chikatsuyu, a route that takes us past the ruins of the Uwada-jaya Teahouse and across the Hashiori-toge Pass, with its iconic Gyubadoji statue of one of the first pilgrim emperors. We'll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding countryside from various points along the way before eventually arriving at our accommodation for the night. After visiting the shrine we'll take a shuttle bus on to our hotel at Kawayu Onsen, a hot spring town located along a river. There should be time to take a rejuvenating dip in the hot spring waters here before dinner. The Kawayu Midoriya is a larger property than the previous night and all of its Japanese-style rooms have en suite facilities. We'll be accommodated here in twin share or single rooms. If you are travelling on the 9th May or 7th November 2021 departures, you will have already spent the previous night here. Today's 14 kilometre walk is expected to take around four-and-a-half hours with a total ascent of 590 metres and descent of 640 metres.

Accommodation: Kawayu Midoriya

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

Location: Kawayu onsen

Today's hike takes us over the mountains to the Hongu Taisha, at the very heart of the Kumano Kodo and the region's most important shrine, serving as the head shrine for over 3,000 Kumano shrines across Japan. It's also known for its huge torii gate, the largest in Japan, dwarfing the pilgrims passing under it. Today's 14 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of approximately 600 metres and descent of 950 metres. Please note it is possible to take a public bus for part of today's route if you wish to shorten the length of the walk.

Accommodation: Kawayu Midoriya

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

Location: Kii-Katsuura

We take a break from walking today and start the day with a leisurely boat trip along the Kumano River to Hatayama Taisha, the second of the three great Kumano shrines. This is how pilgrims traditionally approached the shrine, which is located near the river mouth. The nature in and around the shrine is an integral part of this grand shrine's precincts and annual rituals. We've time to explore here before continuing a short distance by train to our destination for the night, the coastal town of Kii-Katsuura. Once a quiet fishing port, the town's fortunes changed when an abundance of hot springs were discovered here. Kii-Katsuura's other attraction is the early morning fish market which you may wish to visit tomorrow. Your main luggage is forwarded on this morning to the final nightstop of Osaka, so you'll need to pack your overnight things in your daypack.

Accommodation: Hotel Charmant

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

Location: Osaka

This morning we take a bus to Daimonzaka Chushajo, from where it's around a one-hour walk to the Kumano Nachi Taisha, the last of the Kumano Kodo's three great shrines. This walk takes you part of the way along the Daimonzaka, an impressive 600 metre cobbled stairway with a total of 267 stairs, lined with towering Japanese cedar and bamboo groves. Nachi Taisha, the culmination of today's walk, boasts a magnificent red pagoda and stands against the striking backdrop of Nachi-no-Otaki, Japan's tallest waterfall. We take some time to marvel at this amazing sight before taking the bus back to Kii-Katsuura Station, from where it's a four-hour train ride around the peninsula to our final destination of the holiday, the large metropolis of Osaka, Japan's second city. Osaka is one of the best places to try Japanese food - whether its octopus balls from a street-side stand, okonomiyaki savoury pancakes (a regional speciality), or some of best sushi in the world. Your main luggage is forwarded on today to Osaka to save you having to take it on the train. Today's three kilometre walk is expected to take around an hour with a total ascent of 50 metres and descent of 200 metres.

Accommodation: Rihga Place Higobashi

Meals: Breakfast

Location: Osaka

The trip ends after breakfast this morning at our hotel in Osaka. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Osaka at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from either Kansai International Airport (KIX), around an hour's drive from the hotel, or Osaka International Airport, around 40 minutes' drive. If you have time to spend here, Osaka has all the galleries and museums you'd expect of a large city including the unusual Instant Ramen Museum where visitors can have a go at creating their own cup noodle! Or take a walk around the Namba area, one of Osaka's most vibrant and interesting districts where kilometres of covered arcades criss-crossed by canals and rivers, open up to back streets filled with history and small shops.

Meals: Breakfast

Included
  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)
  • Meals – Breakfast Only
  • Train Tickets
  • Fully Guided
  • Accommodation

Not Included
  • Tipping and Gratuities
    -
  • Country Entry Visas
    -
  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day
    -

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
17-Oct-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
07-Nov-2021
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
22-May-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
16-Oct-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal
06-Nov-2022
11 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal View live deal

Touring with Explore

Explore have been creating award-winning adventures for over 35 years and are experts when it comes to unique travel experiences.

Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .

With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

{{shortLabel}}

tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

11 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
compare Compare tour Add this tour to the comparison list. compare Compare tour This tour has been added to the comparison list. Cick here to view.
View live deal View live deal The Adventure Travel Experts!
Start:Tokyo
Finish:Osaka
Group size:4 - 16
Suitable for: 14-99
Accommodation:Comfortable
Physical rating:Medium, Moderate
Meals:Breakfasts:11 Lunches:4 Dinners:5
Diets:Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour operated in: English
tourhound promise
tourhound promise
TourHound Promise
  • I compare from the largest selection of touring companies available.
  • It doesn’t cost you a penny to use me, or to book a tour through TourHound.
  • I never favour one operator over another and provide a totally neutral comparison.
View live deal View live deal View live deal View live deal
tour hound
Why TourHound?