2021 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn

2021 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn

This tour takes you to experience some of Japan's most pristine and stunning remote landscapes with the Japan Alps high above you. A variety of short walks (8-10km) through the national parks and small villages is the best way to absorb the brilliant autumn colours. 

Tour Overview

The 2021 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn takes you into the heart of the Japan Alps amid stunning alpine autumn colours. Our expert local guides lead intimate group of up to 8 travellers on some of the best day walks in Japan on this 12-day adventure.

Hikes are along boardwalks and forested trails through pristine Kamikochi and other outstanding national parks not typically visited by international tourists. You will stay in natural hot springs resort towns, centuries-old thatched-roof farmhouses in a UNESCO-listed village and in Takayama during its Autumn Festival. This tour aims to see the colours in higher altitudes in early autumn.

The tour starts in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto, and includes walking guided tours in these cities specifically designed to show you the backstreets of everyday neighbourhoods that most tourists miss. However, we highly recommend you spend a few more days of your own at the beginning and/or the end of the group tour to discover endless attractions of Tokyo and Kyoto areas especially if you are first-time visitors of Japan. Journey to the East will be delighted to plan your private itinerary and provide information to suit your interests.

Group size:

Minimum 4, Maximum 8

Length:

12 Days

Start: Friday 1st October 2021 in Tokyo

Finish: Tuesday 12th October 2021 in Kyoto

Price per person twin share: AU$6,750 (US$5,350*)

Single Supplement: AU$1,000 (US$800*)

Status: Contact us

Tour Code: GHA-21

*US$ price is approximate, using recent average exchange rate. AU$ price is the official price and will always be charged. Please refer to Terms and Conditions 2.1.

Itinerary

 

Day 1:Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel. After a good night’s sleep, you will be ready to start the first full day of your 2021 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn.

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo or similar)

No meals

Day 2: Tokyo

On today's guided tour of Tokyo, our guide will focus on the back-streets of Tokyo neighbourhoods where you will find hidden gems which can only be discovered on foot. In the morning, you will visit Tokyo's Marunouchi area in between the beautifully restored 100 year old Tokyo Station and Imperial Palace Plaza.

After lunching at a restaurant among the Japanese office workers of Marunouchi, we will move to walk through the old Tokyo suburb of Yanaka. Having survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and air-raids during WWII, Yanaka retains many traditional wooden houses and the old charm of Japanese suburbs. It is also popular with artists and craftspeople, and is dotted with lovely tiny shops in every corner.

The welcome dinner tonight will be at a Japanese restaurant high above Tokyo with views of the city and Tokyo Bay.

(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Tokyo Station, Tour of Japan, Journey to the East

Day 3: Matsumoto

Today you leave Tokyo by Japan’s impressive train system to Matsumoto. Matsumoto is situated in the heartland of the Japan Alps. Developed as a castle town from the 8th century, today the city is popular for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, galleries and stunning alpine setting. Matsumoto is home of many historically significant sites and abundant nature. The Matsumoto Municipal Museum of Art hosts internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, Yayoi Kusama's work. We explore the city by foot with our guide this afternoon.

(Total walking distance today - about 6 km)

Matsumoto (Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Matsumoto

Matsumoto Castle is Japan’s oldest wooden castle and one of the nation’s five castles designated as National Treasures. Still in impeccable original condition, you will have a chance to explore its wooden interior and climb to the top of its distinctive black-and-white turret. You will also stroll around the moat to view this magnificent castle from multiple angles. Today we also explore more of Matsumoto as we walk back through Matsumoto's merchant district where streets are lined with nicely preserved old buildings from the Edo period.

You will have free time this afternoon.

(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Matsumoto (Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Onsen

Day 5: Mt Norikura and Hirayu

This morning we travel by private minibus towards Mt Norikura through Norikura Kogen, the highland of the Norikura alpine region. It is blessed with pristine natural scenery, hiking trails through wooded paths and cascading waterfalls. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to walk amongst the autumn foliage and view the snowy peaks of the mountains around you.

In the afternoon we head to the pretty mountain hamlet of Hirayu Onsen, a traditional natural hot springs town. After an exhilarating day in the fresh air, you will experience your first onsen bath, a fantastic way to relax. Our guide will talk you through the ritual and etiquette of the Japanese bath and explain why a visit to an onsen remains one of the nation’s most popular pastimes (beware you will be hooked if you try the onsen!) .

(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Hirayu (Hirayu-no-Mori or similar – room with private toilet & basin, and public bath house)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Kamikochi

A local coach takes us to Kamikochi, literally translated as “where the gods descend”. True to its name, the Kamikochi alpine plateau is surrounded by mountain ranges exceeding 3,000 metres above sea-level. In the morning our guide will take you on a 4 km hike along boardwalks, which criss-cross mossy ponds and streams, and then wind through virgin beech forests ablaze in stunning autumn colour.

After lunch, you have your own time to relax and soak up the mountain atmosphere or join another hike with our guide. You return to Hirayu Onsen in the late afternoon for a tranquil evening at our hotel and perhaps another restorative soak in the hotel’s natural hot spring baths.

(Total walking distance today - about 5-10 km)

Hirayu (Hirayu-no-Mori or similar – room with private toilet & basin, and public bath house)

Breakfast

Day 7: Mt Hotaka and Takayama

Today you head further into the heart of the Japan Alps by a private minibus to the Mt Hotaka region. Here we take the Shin Hotaka Ropeway, the longest in Japan, to the observation deck at the mountain’s peak to enjoy the panoramic views. Our guide will take us on one of the hiking trails to explore the area and enjoy the spectacular autumn scenery.

We leave this area for Takayama, heart of the rugged Hida Region. A compact, atmospheric town surrounded by mountains, Takayama is known for its beautifully preserved streets of timber merchant houses dating from the late 17th century.

(Total walking distance today - about 6 km)

Takayama (Best Western Hotel Takayama or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Takayama

We set out in the morning to visit Takayama’s morning market (with a heritage going back some 200 years!) to check out its farm-fresh produce and handmade crafts. Our guide will then take you on a guided walking tour of this historic town, visiting Takayama Jinya (once the prefectural office for the Tokugawa shogunate in feudal times) and wandering the photogenic narrow streets of the old merchant district with their old timber buildings.

The afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy the town at your leisure and as always our guides are on hand to provide advice and restaurant recommendations.

(Total walking distance today - about 7 km)

Takayama (Best Western Hotel Takayama or similar)

Breakfast

Day 9: Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Today is the first day of Takayama Autumn Festival and we will spend this morning watching the impressive festival floats before leaving for the exquisite UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gokayama and Shirakawa-go. Surrounded by mountains, these rural villages feature the traditional thatched-roof farmhouses unique to Japan’s alpine regions. With their steeply-slanted roofs built to withstand heavy snowfalls, they resemble “hands clasped together in prayer” (hence their name, gassho-zukuri).

Tonight we stay in the less-visited region of Gokayama at one of the village’s original thatched-roof farmhouses. Tonight you have the opportunity to enjoy authentic Japanese-style hospitality – futon bedding on tatami mat floor in a rustic farmhouse.

(Total walking distance today - about 7 km)

Gokayama (Gassho Minshuku Nakaya and Goyomon or similar) - Japanese style room with futon, with shared bathroom facility

Breakfast, Dinner

Gasshozukuri houses in Shokawa Village in Gifu Prefecture near Shirakawago and Gokayama in autumn

Day 10: Gokayama and Kyoto

After spending a little more time in Gokayama, we change focus by taking a train trip down Japan’s western coast to Kyoto. After arrival at Kyoto, we will have a guided evening walk of historic geisha precinct of Gion near the Kamo-gawa River. We wander down atmospheric streets lined with traditional tea houses built some 300 years ago. Here we may glimpse a geisha on her way to work.

This evening is for you to explore this wonderful city at your own pace. You may like to choose a place to eat from the plethora of restaurants, or simply relax and wander the streets. Be sure to ask the JttE team if you would like some help or advice.

(Total walking distance today - about 6 km)

Kyoto (The Royal Park Hotel Sanjo or similar)

Breakfast

Day 11: Kyoto

Today we will have a guided walk of the backstreet of Kyoto. The central part of Kyoto is still a little too early for autumn colouring in early October, so we will head to quiet outer suburbs to enjoy the earlier arrival of autumn.

At our farewell dinner, enjoy the last meal together reminiscing the beautiful sceneries you experienced on this trip.

Kyoto (The Royal Park Hotel Sanjo or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Kyoto and Bon-Voyage

This morning after breakfast, your 2021 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn concludes.

You can return to Tokyo by train or air to fly home, or depart from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Extension Model Itineraries for inspirations!

 

Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours (as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.

Breakfast

Please note that there may be slight changes to the itinerary described above to accommodate changes in train timetables, opening hours, and hotel and restaurant availability.

All photographs on this website are representative only and are not a commitment to what may be on view on the day.

Inclusions

Includes:

  • 11 nights accommodation (including traditional inns)
  • Lunches & dinners as specified
  • Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
  • All local transport (train, bus and taxi)
  • Pre-loaded Suica card
  • Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
  • Most cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
  • Luggage transfers (1 piece per person)

Does not include:

  • International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
  • Transfer on the last day
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
  • Transport during free time
  • Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
  • Visa (if required)