A uniquely diverse country known for its beautiful landscapes, dynamic cities and spiritual allure, Japan is like nowhere else on Earth. On our walking holidays in Japan, you’ll discover ancient temples, serene zen gardens and futuristic-like cities where old and new collide. And because over 70% of Japan’s landmass is mountainous, it provides excellent terrain for trekking.
From the remote, jagged peaks of the Japanese Alps to the volcanic cone of Mount Fuji, Japan’s walking tours allow you to explore some of the world’s most dramatic scenery. You’ll also experience its ancient history and traditions that are firmly rooted in its centuries-old culture. Everywhere you look, you’ll see stark contrasts that lure you into its charms.
One day you could be walking through tranquil gardens filled with temples and shrines, and the next you’re hurtled into the frenetic lifestyle of cities such as Tokyo, where ultra-modern skyscrapers dominate the skyline.
Our Japan walking tours take you on new and exciting adventures each day, following pilgrimage routes through remote mountains and ancient trails like Nakasendo and Kumano Kodo. Along the way, you’ll stay in traditional villages where you’re immersed in the local culture and introduced to a unique way of life. The Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail takes you on a spiritual journey among magnificent temples to follow in the footsteps of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, and pilgrims from across the world. As well as meeting authentic Buddhists, you’ll also visit the place where Kobo Daishi meditated.
Japan Walking Holidays
14 Daysfrom£ 6,499
Guided Group (Excl. Flights)
Walk Japan's ancient pilgrimage routes along the Kumano Kodo
5 of the Best Places to Explore on Walking Holidays in Japan
Tokyo: The intriguing capital of Japan is a bustling metropolis where contrasts of old and new are everywhere you look. Ultra-modern architecture pierces the neon-lit skyline and history courses through the walls of temples, shrines and palaces. This a city where technology and modern culture rub shoulders with the past in an extraordinary fashion. And we can’t forget to mention the food scene too, as top-class sushi restaurants compete with Japanese street food stalls, inviting you to experience the vibrant East Asian flavours. We’d highly recommend visiting the Japanese gardens, Sensoji Temple, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for a night-time view of the illuminated skyscrapers.
Kyoto: Fusing ornate temples, traditional teahouses and gardens filled with cherry blossom, Kyoto is a mesmerising city. Throughout Kyoto, there are approximately 2,000 shrines and temples where you can witness religious architecture and zen gardens. Just moments from this tranquillity, Downtown Kyoto buzzes with local artisans, world-class restaurants and shops, while Central Kyoto is home to the impressive Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle. In the far west of the city, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of the most photographed sights. Walking through these giant bamboo groves that tower above you is a sensational feeling and unlike the usual tree tunnels you’ll have seen before.
Kumano Kodo: A walk along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route is an experience like no other and offers an insight into the nature, religion and authentic culture of Japan. Along this countryside trail, you’ll discover traditional villages, tumbling waterfalls and the ancient forest of the Kii Mountains, which leads to the famous Kumano shrine at Hongu. Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims, aristocrats and emperors who took this spiritual journey along centuries-old trails. Kumano Nachi Taisha is one of the three pilgrimage shrines that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its spellbinding views, sacred waterfall and vermillion pagoda.
Nakasendo Trail: This ancient walking route connects modern-day Tokyo with Kyoto and runs for approximately 340 miles through the Central Mountains. Formerly used by travellers such as samurai, pilgrims and merchants, the trail is far less crowded today and offers an introduces you to the 17th-century history and spectacular scenery. This is a wonderful route for anyone that wants to escape the tourist crowd and bustling cities of Japan to explore the peaceful landscapes of forests, mountains and waterfalls.
Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail: Covering more than 1,000km, this epic trail meanders between 88 Buddhist temples on a spiritual journey once walked by Kobo Daishi, who dedicated his life to Buddha. The scenery along the route is remarkable and to this day pilgrims walk the Shikoku Trail to visit the temples. Our tour guides you to some of the most beautiful parts of the trail in Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime where you’ll stay in traditional minshuku and ryokan and feast on authentic Japanese dishes.
This was an excellent week of walking. The paths are steep in some places but well defined and Jose guided us with care and attention on the challenging ascents and descents of the Sierra Aitana. The walks were well-paced by Jose but the days are long so you do need to be fit. We trekked through a number of landscapes illustrating the historic and current use of the area and Jose with his local knowledge enhanced our understanding of how this area has evolved over the centuries as well as the current challenges. The views from the walks were amazing – one way you could see the coast from Alicante to Benidorm and beyond and the other the folding valleys and mountains of the interior. The skies were blue and the days sunny and warm and we experienced very little wind even on the summits. We were based at the Hostel Rincon de Pepe where we had a wonderful week being looked after by Raquel. The food was amazing and hearty (three courses plus wine). The terrace was also great place to have breakfast every morning as the sun rose out of the Med, as well as a beer or two after the walk as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
This is a great week’s walking in a little-known (and underrated) part of Spain. The Aitana range is a compact set of mountains so you get to tick off almost all of it, and there are great views from the top of all the peaks, out to the coast and across to the surrounding peaks. Most of the walks are reasonably demanding, but also rewarding.
Being based in one location, with very short transfers (or none) for each walk makes for a very relaxing week aside from the walking. It’s also a fairly short transfer to/from Alicante Airport.
The vast majority of meals are included which makes it much better value than some other (apparently similarly priced) holidays.
Jose the guide is exceptional: hard-working, helpful, supportive and deeply knowledgeable about the area.