Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak

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4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
12 days
From: $ 5,317 $ 443 / day
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Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Hike between the preserved post towns of the Nakasendo Way – reconnect with the Edo history on this ancient trail connecting Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto.
  • Discover one of Japan's best cycling routes - the Shimanami Kaido which links Honshu with Shikoku across the scenic Inland Sea - and enjoy a cycling and kayaking experience
  • Temple-hop through the historic city of Kyoto with a guided ride past some of the major religious sites in the city - a perfect active way to explore this ancient capital.
  • The Kumano Kodo is one of only two World Heritage-listed pilgrimage trails in the world. Hike a section of the ancient route, arriving at spectacular Nachi Falls and Nachi Taisha Shrine.
  • Never lose sight of the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka. With options to extend your travel before or after your trip, you can continue your fascinating adventure through Japan at your own pace.

Short Description

Embark on an insightful cultural (and physical) workout with a 12-day active adventure across Japan’s ancient history, religious sites and natural wonder. Beginning in Tokyo, leave the crowds behind for a hike through post towns dotted along the Nakasendo Way, then continue to the Seto Inland Sea for a biking and kayaking adventure along the Shimanami Kaido. Stop by historic Kyoto before tackling the mother of all pilgrimages along sections of the historic Kumano Kodo. With the opportunity to explore diverse neighbourhoods and experience real hospitality along your way, discover the secrets, past and present, of an enchanting Japan.

Style Small group tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Tokyo
End City Osaka

Destinations

Japan

Attractions & Cities Visited

Kyoto Osaka Tokyo

Activities & Interests

Adventure & Adrenaline

Age Requirement

15-99

N/A
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Itinerary

Day 1 Tokyo

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo – bursting with contemporary urban culture, this chaotic city has fascinating museums and world-class shopping as well as neighbourhoods full of restaurants and karaoke bars. As this trip spends very little time in Tokyo, we recommend you arrive a few extra days before your trip if you want to experience all it has to offer. Your Japan active adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight, but before then, you can arrive at any time during the day. If you do have time, you might like to check out the mania of Shibuya Crossing, or stroll around the hip Harajuku neighbourhood – it’s up to you! After the meeting, why not get some of your travel crew together for an optional dinner at a local restaurant – your group leader will know of some delicious places to go.

Day 2 Nakasendo (Hiking)

Say goodbye to Tokyo this morning and hop on a train towards the Nakasendo Way (approximately 3.5 hours). The Nakasendo is a historic network connecting post stations, or shukuba, between Tokyo and Kyoto in the Edo period. Today, you’ll tackle a section between two of these post towns – Tsumago and Magome. You’ll walk a well-maintained and marked trail through forested countryside and right past traditional houses of the time. Both Tsumago and Magome were towns where weary travellers would rest during their journey along the Nakasendo Way, and tonight you’ll get the chance to stay in a local guesthouse in town.

Day 3 Nakasendo / Onomichi (Hiking)

An early morning start today take you on a short hike along another section of the Nakasendo trail to Nagiso station. Then take a regional train plus a shinkansen (bullet train) to Furukawa, connecting to a local train bound for Onomichi (total travel time approximately 5 hours). Onomichi is the beginning of the famous Shimanami Kaido cycling track and the town is associated with a great number of great Japanese literary figures. There are various temples, pagodas and parks that you can explore on a couple of pleasant walks that connect them, the most popular being Temple Way. After arriving mid afternoon in the city, you might like to get your cultural fix with a walk along Temple Way, or instead head to Senkoji Park, where you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the city and the Inland Sea. If you’re lucky enough to be in Japan in the springtime, cherry blossoms bloom in the parks here! Tonight, why not head into town and grab a ramen dinner in one of the laneway restaurants – these delicious soupy noodles are what Onomichi is known for.

Day 4 Shimanami Kaido / Onomichi (Cycling & Kayaking)

Wake up in Onomichi ready to take on a section of the Shimanami Kaido. This 60 km cycle path connects 6 small islands on the Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku. Today, you’ll ride across three of the connecting islands, arriving on Ikuchijima around midday. The cycling paths are well established, and you’ll pass by cafes, shrines, small beaches, getting to see the stunning vistas of the dotted islands and tiny fishing villages on the Setouchi Inland Sea. In the afternoon, swap your bike for a kayak and start paddling from the Sunshine Beach area of the island. Later on, catch a ferry back through to Onomichi Port (approximately 40 mins), before a relaxing evening.

Day 5 Kyoto (Hiking)

Continue your Japanese journey with a local train and shinkansen to Kyoto (approximately 3 hours). Originally founded as Heian-kyo – ‘tranquility and peace capital’ – in AD794, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years before the emperor and government relocated to Tokyo. Because of this, Kyoto is rich in history, with over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens. After dropping your bags off at the accommodation, head with your group to Fushimi Inari Shrine – one of the quintessential images of Japan. Famous for its thousands of reddish coloured torii gates, get lost in one of the network of trails, and be sure to snap a few artistic shots. Follow your leader to hike up the hill, away from most of the crowds, so you get the best view and most peaceful feel of the place. Later on, join your leader on a visit to the historic Gion area of town, where you might spot a geisha!

Day 6 Kyoto (Hiking)

Head with your group to Ginkakuji, also known as the Silver Pavilion. Built more than 500 years ago, this structure, surrounded by intricate Japanese landscape architecture, was modelled off the Golden Pavilion, Kinakuji. From Ginkakuji, get more active for a hike up Mt Daimonji-yama – one of the best short hikes in Kyoto. From the top, you’ll get a panoramic vista of the city and, on a clear day, a view all the way over to Yoshida-yama Hill. Once you’re back in town, the afternoon is yours to choose your own adventure, however active or relaxing that may be. Perhaps check out Kyoto’s Kitchen at Nishiki food markets, take a visit to Nijo Castle and the Imperial Palace, or get lost in the zigzagging lanes of the traditional Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka districts. Better yet, rest up in one of the sentos (traditional bath houses) in the city – an experience you must have at least once in Japan.

Day 7 Kyoto (Cycling)

It's cycling time again! Pick up your rental bikes and start exploring Kyoto on two wheels. Stop at Tofukuji Temple first, then cycle along the beautiful Kamogawa river to Demachiyanangi, stopping at Daitokuji Temple. Learn about Zen Buddhism and get your zen on here, before hopping back on the saddle and continuing to the Kinkakuji Temple – also known as the Golden Pavllion. Finish today's cycling after rejoining with Kamogawa river on the way and back to the bike shop.

Day 8 Shingu/Koguchi

Swap the bike for Japan's rail network and continue on the train to Shingu. Visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine – one of the 3 main shrines that are part of the Kumano Kodo network. After you've had a look around, visit Kamikura Shrine – one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Shingu, which has a stunning view over Shingu city and out to the Pacific ocean. Change to a local public bus here to Koguchi, where you will rest for the night and get ready for tomorrow's hike.

Day 9 Koguchi/Kii Katsuura (Hiking)

It'll be an early start, as today you'll hike part of the famous Kumano Kodo, one of the only two World Heritage-listed pilgrim routes in the world. The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that connect three major religious sites – known collectively as the Kumano Sanzan. Throughout the centuries, the pilgrim route has been used by imperial families and the nobility, warriors and common folk as part of their spiritual practice, and reflects a mixture of indigenous Shinto beliefs as well as Buddhist influences. For the first 2.5-3 hours, it's an uphill climb up that rises over 800 metres. After reaching the Echizen-toge Pass, follow the forest ridge for another couple of kilometres until you reach the highest point, Funami-jaya teahouse at 868 m. From here, it is another 4.4 km to Nachi Taisha, which is mostly downhill. Once you've arrived, take visit to Nachi Taisha – another of the 3 Kumano shrines, as well as Nachi Falls. Then, take a bus down to Kii Katsuura for the night.

Day 10 Toba

Head to Japan's biggest tuna market in the morning – Nachikatsuura – which claims to have the highest volume of tuna fish hauls in all of Japan. The tuna, which are caught in the coastal waters by longline fishing, are sold at auctions here. Afterwards, take the train to Toba. Toba is the perfect place to wind down after a few days hard work of hiking, cycling and kayaking. On arrival, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk in the old town of Toba and give you the option to have a fresh seafood barbecue for lunch – oysters, anyone? In the afternoon, visit the famous Mikimoto Pearl Island Museum. Toba's claim to fame is as the birthplace of the cultured pearl industry and here you'll be able to witness how Ama divers (female pearl divers) collect pearls in the traditional way. In the evening, maybe check out the onsen in your hotel – there's no better way to relax tense muscles than soaking yourself in hot springs with an amazing view over the bay area.

Day 11 Osaka

In the morning, hop back on the train and return to Osaka. Arrive Osaka around lunch time and go on a walking tour with your leader to the famous Dotombori district which is a popular shopping, food and entertainment district of the city. At night it is lit by hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign and Kani Doraku crab sign.

Day 12 Osaka

With no activities planned for today, you are free to depart at any time of the day. Hotel check-out time is usually around 10 am, however if you have later onward connections, you will be able to store your luggage at the hotel reception during the day.

Availability

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Price From $ 5,317
Price Per Day: $ 443 per day
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4,186 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

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4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
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Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
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4.6

Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak

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I had a really fun time travelling to…

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Viewing wildlife in a natural setting with an experienced naturalist is outstanding

Great trip made better by the guide.

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Great trip made better by the guide.

This trip is an excellent mix of cultural experience, adventure and nature.

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation.

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This tour of Bali was the perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation. Andy was an exceptional leader. If you want more than just resorts when coming to Bali I highly recommend this tour

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Walk the Scenic Rim

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Had the best time! Over 5 days we hiked up hill, down dale, across creeks and through beautiful pockets of ancient Gondwana rainforest. The scenery was stunning, the company was awesome, and I can't recommend Intrepid Travel (and our tour leader, Joel) highly enough!
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Boat,Public Bus,Metro,Bullet Train,Train,Taxi,Walking,Bike,Kayak

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Accommodations

Hotel/Ryokan (11 nights)

Guides

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional sources for employing tour leaders. As a result, our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may either be Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi
  • 1-10-24, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 大阪府大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-10-24
  • Osaka
  • Osaka
  • 542-0086
  • JAPAN
  • Phone: +81 649636501

Trip ID#:

intrepid-CJXH

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