Walking vacation in Japan

“Moderate cultural walking experience as part of a small group on Japan's lesser-known Kii Peninsula. Travel to trail heads by train and local bus and stay overnight in traditional ryokans. Authentic visions of rural Japan.”


Kyoto | Kibune shrine and hot springs | Kurama temple | Yamano be no michi trail | Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto shrine | Kumano Kodo | Tanabe, Kii Peninsula | Takahara | Nonaka-no-Shimizu | Tsugizakura-oji | Kumano Hongu Taisha | Matsuhata-jaya tea house | Kawayu onsen hot springs | Irokawatsuji woodland | Mikimoto Pearl Island | Okage-Yokocho | Kiso Fukushima | Tsumago | Tokyo |

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21 Mar 2020
US $7449
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09 May 2020
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23 May 2020
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29 Aug 2020
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26 Sep 2020
US $7599
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17 Oct 2020
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Walking vacation in Japan

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.


Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip we spend most nights in traditional style ‘ryokans’ (local inns) and others in comfortable hotels. Most of them are small family run accommodations that employ local staff as we try to avoid multi-national hotels to benefit the smaller businesses instead. Locally sourced ingredients will be used where meals are provided otherwise our local guides will encourage and recommend clients to visit local restaurants and cafés to try local specialties. Japanese cuisine is definitely one of the highlights on this trip. Besides sushi and sashimi, other staple dishes include rice and miso soup, soba, Udon, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat). Seafood is also very common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried.

Local culture and craft:
This trip offers many opportunities to be exposed to the culture, traditions and crafts of Japan. In Toba, we learn about the life of Ama divers and get to witness a fishing demonstration by them. With the fresh seafood caught, clients can enjoy a grilled seafood lunch in a traditional Ama diver hut. Being an Ama diver holds a life threatening risk and this thereby discourages younger generation to carry on this tradition. But our visit will help support and preserve the Ama diving community and traditions that are at the brink of extinction.

During the trip, we will visit a number of shrines and temples which will allow clients to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture that Japan holds. Our stop in Kyoto, Hongy, Toba, Tsumago and Magome also offers plenty of chances for clients to visit local shops and support local craft. Visiting local markets such as the Miyagawa river morning market is a great opportunity for clients to foster cultural exchange. Of course, our local guides will advise clients on what can be purchased and what should be avoided.

Our local partner is also a firm believer in traveling responsibly where they ensure that they minimise negative impacts and maximise positive ones for both the environment they operate in and the communities living there. They support numerous projects in various countries in South East Asia, specifically Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Laos. One of the initiative they are currently supporting is RefillMyBottle which is an application that enables travelers to locate water refill points in countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia to encourage clients to refill instead of buying single use bottles of water.

Water is a really important issue with trips such as this and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Wherever possible we provide safe alternative sources of water to buying single use plastic bottles. This may be through large water containers, or encourage our passengers to filter, sterilise or purify water. We encourage all our passengers to come prepared with a reusable water bottle for this purpose.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help clients understand how they can help reduce their impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from our visit.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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