We ascend mountain trails and take valley hikes to get a measure of the landscape and its centuries long history of hermitage and pilgrimage. Our itinerary includes an ascent of one of the mountains close to Mt Fuji and a sojourn in a rural town in the southern Alps. We also walk along Japan's oldest forest trail, winding through rice paddies and bamboo groves, past ancient tombs following an early pilgrim route through cherry and cedar forests. The 'backroads' theme continues even in the cities as we explore the heart of teeming Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
|DAY 1||Join Tokyo|
|DAY 2||In Tokyo, transfer to Lake Kawaguchiko at base of Mt Fuji|
|DAY 3||Hike and ascend the nearby peaks|
|DAY 4||Train to Kiso, explore the old town|
|DAY 5||Walk the Old Nakasendo highway, bullet train to Kyoto|
|DAYS 6/8||Explore Kyoto and some of the cities shrines|
|DAYS 9/10||Train to Nara region, commence trek along 'Yamanobe Road' - Japan's oldest path, through historic Asuka region, transfer to the mountainous Yoshino region|
|DAYS 11/12||Commence trek along Omine pilgrim trail through conifer forest, cherry orchards and past wayside Shinto shrines, optional hike|
|DAY 13||Follow riverside path of Mitarari gorge, transfer to Osaka|
|DAY 14||Discover Osaka|
|DAY 15||In Osaka, trip concludes|
The most memorable part of our trip was walking in the countryside - seeing parts of Japan that I would never have discovered on my own and being guided by a reliable expert.
Asuka, Dorogawa and the Mitarai Gorge were particularly memorable. Also - wonderful exotic food, charming ryokans and soothing onsens. (And the company of like-minded fellow travellers). We stayed at family-run ryokans and experienced genuine locally sourced food, which was fresh, delicious and exquisitely prepared. This was an excellent trip. The tour guide, Alena, was an expert on Japan and made our trip very enjoyable and stress-free.