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
From US $1040 to US $18455 days ex flights
Self-guided walking along Japanís ancient Nakasendo trail
From US $1070 to US $14456 days ex flights
Self guided trekking on the Kumano Kodo Trail
From £1695 to £45356 days ex flights
The Nakasendo Trail and Kamikochi -or extend to Nikko
From US $1395 to US $265010 days ex flights
Shikoku 88 Pilgimage route self-guided walking
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.