Treks & Adventures: Kyoto, Nakasendo Trail

Trek Details

Duration: 9D8N

Date: 21st – 28th January 2019

Season: Winter, -5 to 10 °C

Total Distance: 30km

Highest Elevation: 801m

Cost: S$4,300 (Excluding Air Fare)

Official Local Guide: Oku Japan

Trip Overview

Day 1 (21 Jan) – Meet in Kyoto

We will meet at the tour hotel in the centre of Kyoto. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2 (22 Jan) – Travel to Nakatsugawa and Walk to Magome

Today we travel by train to Nakatsugawa, one of the old post- towns on the Nakasendo Trail. The original main road through the town retains its Edo-Period heritage with traditional sake shops, restaurants in period wooden buildings and old storehouses. We start our walk here and head towards the next post-town of Ochiai. From Ochiai we ascend through cedar forests and traverse a section of the trail whose cobblestones date right back to the Edo Period. Over the next four days we explore the best-preserved portions of the ancient Nakasendo Trail through villages and hamlets, all set against the magical winter scenery. Our lodging tonight is a charming family-run inn in the post town of Magome.

Walking: 8.5km, 3 hours (280 metres ascent and 100 metres descent)

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)

Day 3 (23 Jan) Magome to Tsumago

From Magome, we walk to Tsumago along one of the prettiest and best-preserved parts of the Nakasendo Trail. We’ll likely encounter snow over the Magome Pass with  ne opportunities for photographs. After

the walk, there’s time for lunch in Tsumago and then

an afternoon to explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street with its lovely old wooden architecture. Try gohei-mochi, skewered sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts. Tsumago is a living museum, which is still home to local residents whose families might have lived here for generations. We stay overnight in Tsumago at a family- run inn with a real sense of history.

Walking: 8.3km, 3 hours (325 metres ascent and 430 metres descent)

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)

Day 4 (24 Jan) – Tsumago to Kiso Fukushima

This morning we continue our exploration of Tsumago including a visit to the Wakihonjin museum housed in a building which dates back to the 19th century. Today’s walk begins after lunch and is a short but enjoyable stroll from Tsumago to Nagiso along country lanes. From Nagiso we board a local train for the brief journey to Kiso-Fukushima, a delightful post- town which was once an important Sekisho checkpoint on the Nakasendo. We stroll through the town before heading out to our comfortable Ryokan inn on the outskirts of the community. The Ryokan prides itself on its wonderful cuisine and its terri c indoor and outdoor thermal baths – a perfect way to warm up on a winter evening.

Walking: 3.7 km, 1 hour (100 metres ascent and 120 metres descent)

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)

Day 5 (25 Jan) Kiso-Fukushima to Narai

On our fourth day on the Nakasendo Trail, we walk from Yabuhara to Narai over the Torii Pass. This section is likely to have the deepest snow on the tour and if the snow is deep enough, we’ll provide snow shoes to make the crossing of the pass easier. This is a rewarding journey through trees to the charming village of Narai. We arrive in time to explore Narai and have lunch

at one of the small local restaurants. Our overnight accommodation is in Narai at a family-run inn in the village.

Walking: 6.2 km, 3 hours (345 metres ascent and 270 metres descent)

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)

Day 6 (26 Jan) – Walk Narai to Kiso Hirasawa then travel to Asama Onsen

Our walk on the Nakasendo Trail ends today with a short stroll from Narai to Kiso Hirasawa. Kiso-Hirasawa is famous for its locally-produced lacquerware. The walk takes around an hour and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. We then travel by train

to Matsumoto, a castle town nestled in the central alps region. We visit Matsumoto Castle, one of four castles designated as National Treasures of Japan before boarding a local bus to nearby Asama Onsen. The spa town has a history dating back 1,300 years and we stay overnight at one of the most elegant, authentic Ryokan inns, with beautiful wooden architecture from the Meiji era.

Walking: 2.5km, 1 hour (negligible ascent and descent)

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)

Day 7 (27 Jan) – Travel to Tokyo

After breakfast, we leave Asama Onsen and travel by train to Tokyo. We leave our luggage at the city-centre hotel and enjoy a half-day walking tour of Tokyo, visiting Hama-Rikyu gardens, located near the mouth of the Sumida-gawa river. There is a striking contrast between the gardens and the gleaming towers of

the new Shiodome business area beyond. Next we visit Nihonbashi (the ‘Japan Bridge’) considered to be the ‘centre of Japan’ and the zero marker point for all Japan’s main roads since the Edo period. This is where the Nakasendo Trail would once have  finished. In the evening, there is a Farewell Dinner with your guide.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 8 (28 Jan) – Tour ends

The tour ends today after breakfast. Your guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homeward  flights, or on onward travel in Japan if you are extending your stay.

Campers' Corner