Our walking vacations in Japan

Walking vacations in Japan leave the fascinating but crowded cities behind for countryside which is especially stunning during spring and summer, when the trees take on dramatic hues. Iconic pilgrimage walks such as the Shikoku Trail and the Kumano Kodo roam temple to temple through spectacular mountain and forest landscapes, while the Nakasendo Trail sees you follow in the footsteps of samurai. Usually tailor made and self-guided, though guided small group trips are available, our Japan walking vacations give you the pleasure of staying in family-run ryokans and minshukus, resting tired limbs in onsen hot springs, and dining on sumptuous locally sourced food.

Our top Hiking vacations in Japan

Japan self guided trekking vacation, Nakasendo Trail

From US $1040 to US $1845
5 days ex flights
Self-guided walking along Japanís ancient Nakasendo trail

Honshu hiking vacation in Japan

From US $4538
17 days ex flights
A challenging walking and hiking vacation in Japan.

Kumano Kodo trekking vacation, Japan

From US $3395
9 days ex flights
Village to village walking in the sacred Kii Peninsula
Small group2022: 5 Oct, 19 Oct, 9 Nov, 2023: 10 Apr, 24 Apr, 10 May, 8 Jun, 27 Sep, 18 Oct, 1 Nov, 8 Nov

Nakasendo Trail walking tour, Japan

From US $4420
12 days ex flights
Village-to-village walking on the historic Nakasendo trail
Small group2022: 16 Oct, 30 Oct, 6 Nov, 2023: 28 Mar, 6 Apr, 13 Apr, 11 May, 16 May, 6 Jun, 12 Sep, 25 Sep, 3 Oct, 13 Oct, 29 Oct, 2 Nov, 5 Nov, 12 Nov

Kumano Kodo trail self guided trekking vacation, Japan

From US $1070 to US $1445
6 days ex flights
Self guided trekking on the Kumano Kodo Trail

Nakasendo self guided walking tour

From £1695 to £4535
6 days ex flights
The Nakasendo Trail and Kamikochi -or extend to Nikko
Tailor made

Shikoku Pilgrimage self guided walking tour, Japan

From US $1395 to US $2650
10 days ex flights
Shikoku 88 Pilgimage route self-guided walking

Nikko and Yumoto Onsen walking tour, Japan

From US $1255 to US $2235
4 days ex flights
Explore Nikko and hike in the beautiful Oku Nikko plains.

Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

From US $2905
8 days ex flights
The tranquil magic of winter on the Nakasendo trail
Small group2023: 27 Jan, 14 Feb

More about our walking vacations in Japan

Nakasendo Trail walking vacation in Japan

Established in the 17th century to help feudal lords, their samurai guards and merchants easily get from Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo), the Nakasendo Trail is over 500km long – but most walkers will only cover a short segment. The route links a series of ‘post towns’ which offer accommodation, often in traditional ryokans, where you can soak in a hot spring bath. You can walk the Nakasendo Trail at any time of year, but in winter it’s magical – dusted with snow and with few other people around. Most vacations also allow some time in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Kumano Kodo Trail walking vacation in Japan

When you walk the Kumano Kodo Trail through the Kii Mountains south of Kyoto, you are following in the footsteps of pilgrims who have made this journey for thousands of years. The Kumano Kodo links three sacred shrines, but the mountains themselves have immense spiritual significance too. Whether you bow to a deity or not, you cannot fail to enjoy the ethereal landscapes, as well as the many traditional villages that you’ll pass along the way. Almost 260km in length, the route can be broken up, with the mountainous Nakahechi – four or five days in total – the most popular section.

Shikoku Pilgrimage walking vacation in Japan

The Shikoku Pilgrimage loops around Japan’s smallest island for 1,200km, offering a path to spiritual enlightenment for the faithful. Many will break it up into stages, sometimes taking years to complete the route. Walks begin and end at Mount Koya, the spiritual HQ of Shingon Buddhism, and take in 88 official and 20 unofficial temples linked with the founder Kobo Daishi. You’ll identify followers by their distinctive white clothing, conical hats and staffs. Most Shikoku vacations are self guided, and will cover terrain that is sometimes challenging through mountains, rice paddies, fishing villages and hot spring towns.

Nikko & Yumoto walking vacation in Japan

Two hours north of Tokyo by train and set on Japan’s famous ‘Romantic Road’, Nikko National Park is home to the UNESCO-listed, 15th-century Toshogu Shrine. Lovely hiking trails thread the mountainous scenery, through forests and villages, and past hot springs and lakes, where you may encounter deer and monkeys. Nikko walking vacations are often combined with a stay at a ryokan in the nearby town of Yumoto, renowned for its thermal hot springs. Aim to come in October, when the colours in the foliage are divine; momijigari is the Japanese term for admiring autumn leaves.
[Nakasendo Trail: © OKU Japan] [Kumano Kodo Trail: Roderick Eime] [Shikoku Pilgrimage : KimonBerlin] [Nikko & Yumoto Onsen: Guilhem Vellut]
Photo credits: [Page banner: OKU Japan] [Must-see: Japanese culture : bantersnaps] [Must-see: cherry blossom : Yu Kato] [Walking in Japan : Roderick Eime] [Bullet trains : hans-johnson] [Types of vacations : 663highland] [Further reading : Joline Torres]