Japan Tour Plan

Japan is among countries that start with J listed on Countryaah.com. The highest mountain in Japan is the 3,776 m high Fuji on the main island of Honshū – it is one of over 140 volcanoes that characterize the largely steeply rugged landscape of the Japanese archipelago. The longest river in the country is the Shinano, the source of which is on Mount Kobushi 2,180 meters above its mouth in the Sea of ​​Japan.

Japan 4

  • Day 1: Off to Japan
  • Day 2: Konnichiwa, Tokyo!
  • Day 3: Fuji panorama and hike to Mt. Mitsu-toge
  • Day 4: Nagano and the Japanese Alps
  • Day 5: Hike in the mountains of Togakushi
  • Day 6: Kamikochi – snow-capped mountains & a photogenic bridge
  • Day 7: Kiso Valley & Nakasendo Trail
  • Day 8: With the express train to the Kii Peninsula
  • Day 9: Shrines and waterfalls on the Kumano Kodo
  • Day 10: On the way on the pilgrimage
  • Day 11: Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
  • Day 12: The red gate of Miyajima – hike to Misen
  • Day 13: Kyoto & Nara
  • Day 14: Kyoto
  • Day 15: Sayonara Japan
  • 16th day: back home

We hike along snow-covered three-thousand-meter peaks as well as through green valleys and on subtropical coasts. We spend the night in traditional ryokans and enjoy Japanese bathing culture. And again and again we come across Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

From Lake Kawaguchi we enjoy a box view of the sacred mountain of the Japanese, Fuji-san. From the 17th century it is said on the Nakasendo Trail, where we follow in the footsteps of messengers and pilgrims. We encounter fallow deer everywhere on the streets of Miyajima Island. Here we leisurely stroll through the Itsukushima Shrine, which is built on stilts over the water: Visiting spiritual places is an essential part of this journey.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

Off to Japan

Farewell to home. Our great journey to a fascinating country begins.

2nd day:

Konnichiwa, Tokyo!

Our tour guide is waiting for us at the airport in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda). Together with him we take the express train to our hotel in the city center. Before that, we have to quickly validate our Japan Rail Pass so that we can travel across the country by trains and sometimes public buses. Japan’s rail system is excellently developed, the trains are more punctual than anywhere else in the world. And we are close to everyday life and, on top of that, we are environmentally friendly.
After a refreshment break (check-in at the hotel around 2 p.m.) we go on a discovery tour through the old Asakusa district. The former theater and entertainment district has retained its old charm. While strolling through the small back streets, we might meet a geisha on the way to work or a sumo wrestler on an evening stroll. There we also take a look at one of the most visited temples in Japan, the Sensoji Temple. At the welcome dinner we get to know our fellow travelers.

Train ride: approx. 1.5 hours
overnight at the Hotel Shiba Park in Tokyo
(- / – / A)

3rd day:

Fuji panorama and hike on Mt. Mitsu-toge

Today we get up early and take the train to Lake Kawaguchi – to the box seat for a view of the sacred mountain of the Japanese, Fuji-san (UNESCO World Heritage). But we want to see more of Mt. Fuji and hike to the summit of Mt. Mitsu-toge (1785 m), where we have a unique view of Japan’s highest (3777 m) and most famous mountain. After a lunch break, we will hike down to the cable car station and take the gondola back to Lake Kawaguchi. The train will take you back to Tokyo in the late afternoon.

Train ride: approx. 4.5 hours.
Hike: 4 hours (12 km) (+ 500m / -700m)
Overnight at Hotel Shiba Park in Tokyo
(B / – / -)

4th day:

Nagano and the Japanese Alps

Today we pack in our backpack what we need for 2 nights. The large luggage is sent to our hotel in Kiso, where we spend the night on the 6th day.
Today we travel to the Olympic city of Nagano, known as the gateway to the northern Japanese Alps – and famous for its world-famous temple, the 1400 year old Zenko-ji. Buddhists from far and wide come here because Japan’s oldest Buddha statue is kept here. We have time to explore the temple and the streets around it.
In the afternoon the bus takes us deep into the sacred mountains of Togakushi. There we spend the night in a traditional ryokan. We wrap ourselves in traditional cotton kimonos, enjoy sophisticated conversation in hot baths, and dine at low tables. Our tour guide has the etiquette for the typical Japanese bathing ritual ready.

Train ride: 2.5 hours
overnight at Oumeitei Tsuji Ryokan in Togakushi
(B / – / D)

5th day:

Trekking in the mountains of Togakushi

Today we are hiking on the Ninja Trail at the foot of the 1904 m high, densely forested Mt. Togakushi. There are the Togakushi shrines, which translated means “hidden behind the door”. This name comes from a legend according to which the sun goddess on Kyushu hid in a dark cave and thus brought darkness over the world. The other deities lured them out of their cave with spectacular dances and threw the cave door as far away as they could. She then ended up here in Togakush! The world had sunlight again – and the goddesses involved got their shrines here. The area includes 5 shrines. If we now hike up the mountain, we will pass one of these shrines every 2 km. The Ninja Trail leads through 300 year old cedar forest, it always goes over stone stairs and past giant trees that are 800 years old. We also pass the picturesque “Spiegel” pond.
In the late afternoon we take the bus to Matsumoto. There we walk through the blooming park of the mighty, five-story castle – with black and white roofs that swing open like wings – which has earned it the nickname “Crow Castle”. The construction and the interior decor made entirely of wood are impressive (entry not included)!

Bus ride: approx. 1 hour.
Hike: approx. 4.5 hours (12 km) (+ 120m / -120m)
Overnight at the Richmond Hotel in Matsumoto
(B / – / -)

6th day:

Kamikochi – snow capped mountains & a photogenic bridge

Today we travel by train and bus into a picture-book landscape, into the valley of Kamikochi. Snow-covered three-thousand-meter peaks, the raging Azusa River, the picturesque Kappabashi Bridge and the enchanted Myojin Lake – these are the companions on today’s easy hike. Colorful wild flowers, chirping birds and cheeky monkeys accompany us.
In the afternoon we continue into the green Kiso Valley, overlooked by the snow-covered, still active volcano, Mt. Ontake (3067 m). A real Japanese experience: our stay in a typical travel inn, the ryokan. Maybe a dip in the in-house onsen? Countless bowls and pots are served for dinner. What is hidden in there? After so much tradition, we lay our tired heads on futons.

Train and bus journey: approx. 4 hours.
Hike: approx. 4 hours (14 km) (+ 100 / -100m)
Overnight at the Komanoyu Ryokan in Kiso
(B / – / D)

7th day:

Kiso Valley & Nakasendo Trail

Into the 17th century: In the footsteps of messengers and pilgrims, we explore the historical route through the Kiso Valley on the Nakasendo Trail. As early as the 17th century, the shoguns use the Nakasendo Trail to pay their annual visit to the capital Edo (Tokyo). The whole Nakasendo Trail is 540 km long. We have chosen one of the most beautiful sections for our hike. In Magome we experience the beauty of the old village center on the mountainside and that of the mountain ranges of the Japanese Central Alps. Between the stations Magome and Tsumago the path leads past rice fields, flower meadows and streams, over antique stone paving and through places with perfectly renovated traditional wooden houses. In Tsumago we take enough time to explore the picturesque little town.

Hike: approx. 3 hours (9 km) (+ 200m / -400m)
Overnight at Komanoyu Ryokan in Kiso
(B / L / D)

8th day:

With the express train to the Kii Peninsula

In the morning we take a walk through Kiso town and visit the Kozenji Temple and the Seksho-Ato, the tax office where travelers had to hand over the road toll in earlier times. One of the largest rock gardens in the world belongs to the Konzenji Temple. It is supposed to represent the beauty of the clouds that move over the mountain peaks.
Climate change: From the alpine mountainous country, you take the train to the subtropical coast of the Kii peninsula. With the Shinkansen we whiz towards the west coast, we lean back and enjoy the landscape rushing past, the sea is often our companion. Today we spend the night in Kii Katsuura, a small town with a flourishing fishing industry. For dinner we enjoy fresh fish and other local delicacies in a harbor pub.

Train ride: approx. 5.5 hours
overnight at the Katsuura Kanko Hotel in Kii-Katsuura
(B / – / -)

Day 9:

Shrines and waterfalls on the Kumano Kodo

Kumano’s spiritual roots go back to the 9th century. Since then, pilgrims have been crossing the densely forested peninsula on a network of narrow paths called the Kumano Kodo. These trails connect the old capitals of Kyoto and Nara to the shrines on the Kii Peninsula. The shrines and paths of the Kumano Kodo are now one of the 17 Japanese UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the Shinto tradition, spiritual wandering on these paths means worshiping the deities in nature and inner purification.
Today we pack what we need for one night in our backpack again. Our luggage stays in the hotel in Kii Katsuura. In the morning we climb many steps, lined with ancient cedar forests, to the Nachi Taisha Shrine, which, together with the Nachi waterfall, the highest waterfall in Japan, which falls from the mountains immediately behind it, offers a gorgeous photo opportunity. Right next to this Shinto shrine is the Buddhist Shigantoji temple. A good example of how Shinto and Buddhism coexist in harmony in Japan.
The bus takes us to Yunomine, where ancient healing springs gush out of the ground. We stay overnight in a ryokan with a spacious onsen with indoor and outdoor baths, how we can relax our muscles from climbing stairs and hiking. In the small village on the bank of the river, hot springs bubble up from the ground.

Travel time: approx. 2 hours. Hike: approx. 1.5 hours (+250 m / -150 m)
Overnight in a ryokan in Yunomine or Kawaya
(B / – / D)

10th day:

On the way on the pilgrimage

We start our today’s hike relaxed on the Kumano Kodo. We walk through old cedar and cypress forests, past tea mountains and small villages. In between we stop in a traditional tea house and refresh ourselves with a matcha tea or a cold drink. Today’s destination is the Kumano Hongu Shrine, one of the most beautiful shrines at Kumano Kodo, main shrine for over 3000 other shrines and UNESCO World Heritage. A staircase lined with huge cedar and cypress trees leads us down to what is perhaps the largest torii in the world. Toriis are symbolic or real entrance gates to shrines and holy precincts. Later we take an exciting boat tour on the wild and romantic Kumano River. In the afternoon we drive back to Kii-Katsuura.

Bus trip: approx. 2 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (7 km) (+ 0m / -200m)
Overnight stay in the Katsuura Kanko Hotel in Kii-Katsuura
(B / – / -)

11th day:

Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

The Katsuura fish market has the highest volume of tuna in all of Japan. The fish are sold at auctions that take place on weekdays (not in the off-season) at 7 a.m. If you feel like it, get up early and plunge into the colorful scene, where fishermen and traders shout the prices offered through the halls.
Again we pack our rucksacks for one night, our luggage awaits us the next day at the hotel in Kyoto. Today we take a local train to Hiroshima and continue with the Shinkansen along picturesque coastal landscapes to Osaka. We make a stop in Hiroshima. In the city, which is busy, young and dynamic, we grapple with its sad past. In the Peace Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) we commemorate the victims of the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945.
We take the ferry to Miyajima Island. The red archway of Itsukushima Shrine (UNESCO World Heritage Site) appears to float in the water at high tide. On this sacred island, fallow deer know no enemies – they can be found everywhere in the streets. There is also no car traffic on this island. In the evening it is wonderfully quiet on Miyajama, most tourists have only visited the island for a day trip. However, we enjoy the sunset atmosphere at the famous red gate of Itsukushina Shrine in the water. Don’t be surprised if a Sika deer nudges us because it is expecting food….

Train ride: approx. 5.5 hours
overnight stay in the Miyajima Villa or Kinsuikan Hotel on Miyajima
(B / – / -)

12th day:

The red gate of Miyajima – hike to Mt. Misen

A short walk takes us to the valley station of the cable car, with which we float on Mt. Misen. Even at the mountain station, we are surprised by a unique panoramic view of the Seta Inland Sea and the islets scattered around it. From the mountain station we hike uphill for about 1 hour, past numerous shrines, because this mountain has always been considered sacred. Interesting offerings are made to the Shinto gods, something alcoholic, a cigarette, a cap for cold nights or sunglasses can be included. At the top, an incredibly beautiful 360 degree panorama opens up to us. The view sweeps over the glittering sea, to green islands – lined with white beaches to the suburbs of Hiroshima. After we have enjoyed this view sufficiently, we will hike comfortably down to the town.
There we stroll through the centuries-old Itsukushina Shrine, which is built on stilts over the water. The prayer hall, main hall and the Noh theater are connected by walkways. In the afternoon you continue to Kyoto by ferry and train.

Hike: approx. 2.5 hours (+ 150m / -500m)
Overnight stay in Kyoto in the Rakura, Tsugu or Elcient Hotel
(B / – / -)
Info: Renovation work will take place on the famous red torii of the Itsukushina shrine from June 2019. The renovation work will take about 1 year. During this time, the gate can be hidden behind scaffolding.

13th day:

Kyoto & Nara

For 1100 years, Kyoto was Japan’s capital. Today it still lives from the magic of its temples and shrines. One of the most impressive is the Fushimiinari Shrine – we walk uphill through the red torii avenues to the panoramic view over the city.
In the afternoon we can explore temples and gardens in Kyoto on our own or accompany our tour guide on a train trip to the ancient royal city of Nara. In Todai Temple we encounter two superlatives, the Great Buddha and the largest building made entirely of wood in the world. The Horyu Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site) shows that Japan owes a lot to China, despite the long hostility between the two countries. (no additional costs, but entrance fees not included)

Overnight at the Rakura, Tsugu or Elcient Hotel in Kyoto
(B / – / -)

14th day:


Up until the 19th century, Kyoto was an imperial city and – spared from wars – was able to preserve a rich cultural heritage. We’ll explore some of the most interesting temples together. The 120 m long Sanjyusangendo Temple appears barren and sober from the outside. Inside, however, we find an incredible density of perfectly aligned Buddha statues, immortalized in a famous photograph by Hiroshi Sugimoto. We convince ourselves of the magic of Kyoto at the Nanzenji Temple (from the outside). We continue to walk on the “path of philosophy” and enjoy the quiet in the middle of the big city. Later we are in Kyoto’s geisha district Gion. We walk through the alleys of the old entertainment district and look into backyards. Gourmets will be amazed at the Nishiki Market! In this tight Arcade covered by colorful glass windows, we enter a world of scents and exotic pleasures. Bright red octopuses, squid skewers, marinated vegetables, mountains of shrimps and airy rice crackers! The right kitchen utensils are sold in a knife workshop, and in the small restaurants around, the chefs conjure up fine dishes with fresh quality products from the market. The characteristic scent of roasted tea leaves will be with us for a long time.
In the afternoon we have time for our own activities. Our tour guide is happy to give us insider tips. Later we meet again for a farewell dinner in a restaurant with traditional cuisine.

Overnight at the Rakura, Tsugu or Elcient Hotel in Kyoto
(B / – / D)

15th day:

Sayonara Japan

Today we unfortunately have to say goodbye to this wonderful country. During the day we take the train to Osaka Airport for our flight home.

(F / – / -)
Note: Depending on the airline, the return flight may take place in the morning. In this case, you will arrive home on the evening of the same day.

16th day:

Back home

During the day we arrive in Europe. At home we should give ourselves enough time to acclimate. And to process all the experiences and impressions.

Japan 3

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