Nachi Falls and Pagoda, Kumano Kodo trail, Japan. Photo: iStock-534133913
Brand New!

The Ultimate Adventure Through Japan

11 nights
Moderate

Hike to Japan's iconic sites and wild spots via neon cities, ancient temples, sacred mountains and pilgrimage trails

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with expert, English-speaking guides

All accommodation

7 nights in comfortable hotels, 3 nights in traditional 'ryokans' and 1 night staying in a temple

Meals

All breakfasts and 8 dinners

Transfers

All transport from the start point in central Tokyo, plus luggage transfer between destinations

Equipment

All your kayaking and cycling equipment

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 10 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

Nachi Falls and Pagoda, Kumano Kodo trail, Japan. Photo: iStock-534133913
Mount Fuji views from Chiureto Pagoda, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1211188701
Hike to Mount Koya, Japan. Photo: iStock-487674046
Ryokan, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1154550134
Fujimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Marta Marinelli/Much Better Adventures
Osaka, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1031459704
Bathing in hot springs, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1492294184

Trek part of the remote Kumano Kodo, one of only two UNESCO-listed pilgrim routes in the world, to reach Nachi – Japan's tallest waterfall

Kayak and cycle around Lake Yamanakako, then kick back in a steaming onsen with astonishing views of iconic Mount Fuji

Roam zen gardens and splendid shrines in Kyoto and explore the bright lights of Tokyo and Osaka, where cutting edge modernity and ancient traditions co-exist

Spend a night at a temple with the Buddhist monks of Koyasan, and immerse yourself in Japanese culture as you bed down in cosy ryokans serving tasty traditional food

Key Information

Day 1

Touch down in bustling Tokyo

Neon lights and illuminated billboards of Shinjuku glittering at night above crowds of shoppers in the heart of Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital city. Photo: GettyImages-1423282990

Konnichiwa – welcome to Japan! Upon arrival at Haneda or Narita Airport, make your own way to your hotel (see FAQ for info on the shuttle service) which is located in the buzzing central district of Shinjuku, bursting with contemporary urban culture, towering skyscrapers and countless shops and restaurants. As this trip includes very little time in Tokyo, we strongly recommend that you arrive at least a couple of days earlier to adjust to the jet lag and to experience all the amazing attractions the world's largest metropolis has to offer. Meet up with your guide and fellow adventurers at 16:00 in the hotel lobby to go through your itinerary together, then head out to explore the narrow, winding alleys of Shinjuku's nightlife district, filled with cosy eateries and bars. Tuck into your first Japanese meal in a local izakaya (a Japanese style pub), then get some rest in preparation for the adventure ahead.

Day 2

Iconic Fuji views and Oshino Hakkai village

Chureito Pagoda with Mt Fuji view, Japan. Photo: iStock-1211189526

Hiking

2hrs · 5km · 300m up · 300m down

Escape bustling Tokyo after breakfast, and enjoy a comfortable 2.5-hour train ride towards the incredible Fuji Five Lakes area, journeying through lush mountain and forest scenery. Upon arrival in Kawaguchiko, travel by public transport to what is arguably Japan's most iconic viewpoint – Chureito Pagoda. Climb 400 steps up Mount Arakura to be rewarded (weather permitting!) with a sweeping panorama of the city below, with a backdrop of magnificent Mount Fuji. Take some time to enjoy the surrounding walking trails and viewing decks before you continue travelling to your next stop – the charming historic village of Oshino Hakkai, where traditional farmhouses sit among clear springs and ponds of meltwater from Mount Fuji. After a busy day of travelling and exploration, check in to your accommodation by Lake Yamanakako, the biggest of the Fuji five lakes.

Day 3

Kayak, cycle and soak in a traditional onsen

Lake Yamanakako, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-468440212

Kayaking

2hrs · 8km

Cycling

2hrs · 15km

Enjoy a laid-back day exploring beautiful Lake Yamanakako, the third-highest lake in Japan, offering majestic views of the Mount Fuji cone from multiple angles when the weather is clear. Set off on an easy bike ride along the 15km of easy trails that circle its shores, then hit the water for a bit of kayaking. At the end of the day, get ready for a rejuvenating experience as you'll visit a local onsen, (hot spring). Onsens are an integral part of Japanese culture which have been enjoyed for centuries for their therapeutic and relaxing properties. Soak in a variety of indoor and outdoor communal baths surrounded by a beautiful courtyard, with an incredible view over Japan's iconic mountain – bliss!

Day 4

Cycle and hike to Kyoto's Fujimi Inari Shrine

Fujimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: iStock-1164173404

Cycling

1hr · 8km · 100m up · 100m down

Hiking

2hrs · 5km · 200m up · 200m down

Get ready for an early start today as you'll be travelling on to Kyoto – once Japan's ancient capital – which retains much of its historic charm with atmospheric temples, sublime zen gardens, traditional teahouses and geisha roaming the alleys. Your journey there (taking approximately five hours) will involve a mix of public transport including the famous high-speed Shinkansen train, a must-do for a full immersion into Japanese culture. You might want to get yourself a bento-style lunch on the way to eat on the train – just like the locals do. Upon arrival in the early afternoon, hop onto bicycles to take a short ride along the shores of the River Kamogawa to reach Kyoto’s most iconic shrine, Fushimi Inari, famous for its thousands of reddish-orange torii gates. Your guide will lead you on a hike through the amazing network of trails winding up into the hills, and you can snap a few artistic shots. Time allowing, you can cycle on through the Fushimi District, stopping for some (optional) tastings in traditional sake breweries before returning to your hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 5

Zen gardens, city temples and high views

Ginkaku-ji temple and city view, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: iStock-499459994

Hiking

3-4hrs · 12km · 320m up · 320m down

Spend today exploring some of Kyoto's iconic sights as well as its lesser-known spots, while enjoying an introduction to Buddhism and Shintoism in Japanese culture – particularly relevant, given the places and trails you'll be hiking over the next few days. Start with a walk along the Kamogawa River up to the renowned Ginkaku-ji, also known as the Silver Pavilion. Built over 500 years ago, this quintessential Zen temple is nestled in Kyoto's eastern mountains and is surrounded by sublime Japanese gardens dotted with ponds and moss. Next, take a short but steep hike up Mount Daimonji-yama, from where you’ll enjoy a great panoramic view of the city. On your way back to the hotel, walk along Philosopher’s Path, particularly scenic during the cherry blossom season. Back in town, the afternoon is yours for you to choose your own adventure – however active or relaxing you want it to be. Later on, don't miss a visit to the historic Gion area of town, where you might spot a geisha or two.

Day 6

Hike the river valley of Mount Takao

Panoramic view of a river valley and an orange-painted bridge on Mt. Takao in Kyoto Prefecture during the fall season, Japan. Photo: iStock-1285010838

Hiking

3-4hrs · 10km · 260m up · 320m down

Escape the city today to hike the scenic natural area in the northwestern mountains of Kyoto. The trail starts from the charming mountain hamlet of Takao, following a river downstream through the mountains and valleys to Hozukyo, passing two superb thousand-year-old temples, a crystal-clear water course and a magical waterfall. The area is stunning year-round, but becomes particularly picturesque in autumn with mind-blowing colours. After the hike, you may decide to catch a train and bus back to the city for some rest or you can hop off in the popular district of Arashiyama to spend the afternoon exploring the famous bamboo grove, relaxing in a few of the dozens of zen gardens, or mingling with hundreds of friendly, semi-wild Japanese macaques (snow monkeys).

Day 7

The sacred trails of Koyasan

Okunoin Cemetery at Mount Koya, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-185989706.jpg

Hiking

4hrs · 11km · 1000m up · 500m down

Today, you’ll be swapping the fast rhythm of city life for the serene beauty of Koyasan’s forested mountains – one of Japan's most sacred sites and the most important centre of Shingon Buddhism. Leave your hotel after breakfast and take a local train towards Mount Koya (on a journey of around 2.5 hours), where you'll alight to trek part of the Koya-san Choishi Michi trail, passing by the stone signposts (choishi) which stand every few hundred metres, which were placed to help the original pilgrims find their way. Reach the monastery complex and stroll around the serene grounds of Okunoin Cemetery, the final resting place of many of the nation’s most important historical and religious figures. Tonight you'll experience an overnight stay at a simple temple lodging (shukubo) where you can get a taste of a Buddhist monk's lifestyle: eating vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryori) and experiencing back-to-basics living, surrounded by peace and nature.

Day 8

Morning prayers and ancient hot springs in Yunomine Onsen

Monk at Koyasan, Japan. Photo: JTO Photo Library, https://business.jnto.go.jp/?login_m=1

Hiking

2hrs · 4km · 200m up · 200m down

Awake early to join the monks for morning prayers, if you wish. Then, set off on a scenic journey (of approximately 4.5 hours) to Yunomine Onsen, weaving through the mountains. Tucked away in the Kii mountains of Wakayama, this remote mountain village hosts what is thought to be the oldest onsen in Japan. UNESCO-listed, it has a history dating back over 1,800 years. Hostels and inns here have long provided respite for trekkers walking the ancient Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route, which you'll be following for the next two days. You’ll also get the chance to soak in these special medicinal waters after a walk around the village and a visit to Kumano Hongu Taisha – one of the three grand Shinto shrines on this unique pilgrimage trail.

Day 9

The Kumano Kodo trail to Koguchi

Kumano Kodo trail, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1454297798

Hiking

5.5hrs · 13km · 1000m up · 1000m down

Get up early this morning to hike part of the historic Kumano Kodo – one of only two World Heritage-listed pilgrimage routes on the planet. You'll be hiking the Nakahechi section, which traverses east into the mountains towards the Kumano grand shrines. From the 10th century, this route was extensively used by the Imperial Family on pilgrimage from Kyoto. After a short ride by public bus, begin a gradual ascent followed by a continuously undulating trail to the Sakura-toge Pass. You'll be surrounded by pristine, natural forest filled with beautiful cedar and cypress trees. Upon reaching the Hyakken-gura Peak, you’ll be greeted with sweeping views of the mountainous terrain of Wakayama. After that, the trail descends rapidly into the valley below to the small mountain village of Koguchi, nestled by the Akagi-gawa River, where you'll bed down for the night in a local inn.

Day 10

Kumano Kodo trail to Nachi Taisha

Three-story Sanjudo pagoda of Seiganto-ji temple and Nachi falls, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1482248139

Hiking

7hrs · 15km · 1120m up · 1300m down

Rise early and get ready for an epic full-day hike along the sacred Kumano Kodo trail. Today's hike will be a challenging one! (If you are not feeling up to it, there's always the option to take a local bus to the hike end point and explore the area by yourself, while you wait for the rest of your group.) The ascent from Koguchi has a fierce reputation, and for good reason: expect over two hours of steep ascent at a steady pace. The paths are uneven at times with roots, loose rocks and lots of stone steps. However, you'll be rewarded with some beautiful ups and downs, surrounded by forest and birdsong, until you reach the Funami-toge Pass and the remains of the old Funami-jaya teahouse, offering a brilliant view of the Pacific Ocean and the fishing village of Katsuura on a clear day. Continue mostly downhill for the rest of the trek to Nachi Kogen Park, then down to the Nachisan Sanctuary, where you'll finally reach the stunning Seiganto-ji Pagoda and Japan's tallest waterfall, with an uninterrupted drop of 133 metres surrounded by primaeval forest. Enjoy the sublime evergreen scenery – and a sense of accomplishment! – before heading to Kii Katsuura by taxi in the late afternoon.

Day 11

Osaka city lights

Osaka street food, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1493394195

In the morning, visit the local tuna market, where fish from the cool waters of the Pacific is traded daily. Then hop on a train and rest your legs on the long journey to Osaka (approximately five hours). Check in to your hotel in the afternoon and enjoy some free time to relax and freshen up, before heading out for a walking tour with your guide around the famous Dotombori – the city’s most popular shopping, food and entertainment district. It is at night that this area really comes to life, with hundreds of neon lights and signs glowing in the streets. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a downtown restaurant and gaze out across the city as you toast the end of your unforgettable Japanese adventure!

Day 12

Sayonara Japan!

FujimiInari, Japan. Photo: Marta Marinelli/Much Better Adventures

It’s time to bid farewell to your guide and your group after breakfast; you are free to depart any time. If you have later onward connections, you will be able to store your luggage at the hotel reception during the day. If you have the time, we thoroughly recommend staying on for a few extra days to explore more of this unique country. You can choose to fly back home from Kansai Airport near Osaka, or alternatively, hop on the 2.5-hour bullet train back to Tokyo and depart from there.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Temple Stay · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8 – Day 10

Ryokan · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 11

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 12

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Japanese cuisine will be without doubt a highlight of your trip, with deliciously fresh and varied dishes and a bowl of steamed rice included in most typical meals. Side dishes are called okazu and are served with miso soup. Meals tend to be fish- or seafood-heavy and are often served with sake. Street food is easily found in the cities, whereas traditional set meals are more prevalent in rural locations and while staying in ryokans. The dinners that are included on this trip are taken at traditional guesthouses which serve a kaiseki-style dinner: a multi-course meal including dozens of tiny dishes prepared with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will always recommend the best local eateries and arrange group meals for full immersion in the varied and excellent local cuisine. While travelling on trails or trekking, bento lunches can be sourced from stores in the towns or stations before setting out each day.

Please note: in Japan, the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets (e.g. gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan) may be limited, so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research about some of the options that might be available to them before travelling. While your guide will assist you whenever they can, there may be some included meals in remote areas that are fixed in advance and not easily adapted to specific diets (such as the meals included at ryokans). For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. There are an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the big cities.

What is the accommodation like?

Photo: hotel's website
Tokyo

In Tokyo, you'll usually stay at the comfortable Shinjuku Washington Hotel. Conveniently located in the centre of Shinjuku, one of the city's most popular districts, it's next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and close to shopping and entertainment venues. Looking out to amazing views of towering skyscrapers, the hotel includes three restaurants and bars. Accommodation will be in twin-shared rooms, furnished with a TV, telephone, high-speed internet access, air conditioning, hairdryer, refrigerator, bath, shower and toilet.

Yamanakako

In Yamanakako you'll usually stay at the comfortable Yukari no Mori. You'll bed down in en suite rooms on a twin-share basis, with free WiFi throughout. The property provides easy access to the stunning Yamanakako Hiking Course and is within walking distance of the lake and local onsens. Occasionally, subject to availability, the group may be accommodated in a different hotel of a similar standard.

Photo: hotel's website
Kyoto

While in Kyoto you'll bed down at the stylish and comfortable Agora Kyoto Karasuma Hotel. You'll stay in air-conditioned rooms with minimalistic design on a twin-share basis. The hotel also has a restaurant and free WiFi.

Japan JTO
Koyasan

In Koyasan you'll experience a night in a traditional temple lodging at Shukubo Temple. Offering an excellent chance to get a taste of the traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks, the lodge will offer simple Japanese twin-share rooms, sliding doors (fusuma) and shared toilets and sinks. Bedding is provided in the form of futons that are spread on the tatami floor during the night. Dinner is usually served around 17:30 or 18:00 and will feature vegetarian monks' cuisine (shojin ryori). You'll also be invited to participate in morning prayers which typically start around 06:00 and are followed by breakfast.

Ryokan, Japan. Photo: GettyImages-1154550134
Kumano Kodo

While trekking along the Kumano Kodo trail, you'll spend three nights in ryokans (traditional local inns). Staying in a ryokan is a quintessential Japanese experience; you will sleep in twin-shared rooms, on futons on top of tatami mats on the floor. Most ryokans provide robes and slippers, which are often worn to dinner, and will also have a communal onsen (bath) on-site instead of individual showers and bathrooms for each rooms. Onsens at the ryokans are usually shared hot springs that are either fed from a natural source or kept warm via mains heating. There are separate male and female times for the baths and there is strictly no mixing – you will need to wash before you get into them and clothing or swimwear is not allowed. Your guide will assist with the full etiquette when you are there.

The exact ryokans you will stay in will depend on group size and availability but some examples are:

  • Yunomine So in Yunomine Onsen
  • Shizen No Le in Koguchi
  • Minshuku Wakatake in Katsuura
Photo: hotel's website
Osaka

Spend your last night of the adventure in Osaka at the central Bridge Hotel, situated in Shinsaibashi District with easy access to plenty of local attractions and sights. The 3-star property features air-conditioned, ensuite rooms with a TV, kettle and a safety deposit box, where you'll stay on a twin-share basis. You'll also find slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer in your room.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be requested for Days 1, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of this trip (while in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka; subject to availability). A private room is not available on the other nights. Please see Optional Extras for the price and add this as a request at the time of booking.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Your hotel in Tokyo

16:00 on Day 1

Ends

Osaka city centre

Depart any time on Day 12

Transfers

The hotel where you'll begin your trip in Tokyo (the Shinjuku Washington Hotel) is conveniently located just an eight-minute walk from Shinjuku Station and is serviced by frequent and reliable airport shuttles from both Narita and Haneda airports, which stop right opposite the hotel. Arrival transfers are not included in the trip, but it's easy to pre-book your airport shuttle via the official website. The cost is approximately 1400 JPY, payable on the website, and the journey time is around one hour. A general taxi fare will cost around JPY 6,000-10,000. On Day 1 you'll meet your guide at the hotel's lobby at 16:00 for a welcome briefing, so we strongly recommend booking a flight that lands in the morning to give yourself ample time to reach the city and check in.

On Day 12 you are free to depart Osaka at any time, and although the hotel's check-out is usually at 10:00 you can store your luggage for free at the hotel if you have a flight departing later in the day. You can choose to fly out from Kansai Airport (KIX), which you can reach by train (from Namba or Tennōji stations) in approximately one hour for about 1600 JPY. A taxi to Kansai Airport costs around 15,000 to 18,000 JPY. Your guide will of course be to hand to provide detailed instructions on the best way to reach the airport if you need them. Alternatively, you may choose to hop on the 2.5-hour bullet train back to Tokyo and book your return flight from there.

Travel options

There are daily direct and indirect flights to Tokyo from major airports across the UK, Europe and North America. Haneda Airport is located closer to the city than Narita Airport, so it should be your preferred option where available. Returning from Kansai International Airport, you may find either direct flights or connections via Tokyo.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Your cycling and kayaking equipment in Yamanakako
  • All your bedding when staying at traditional inns (no sleeping bag is necessary)

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Main duffel bag or luggage (see FAQ for more info regarding size restrictions)
  • Daypack/overnight bag (40-50 litres) - big enough to carry a change of clothes and essentials for a day or two of trekking (see FAQ for extra info)
  • Waterproof liner or drybags for kitbag/rucksack

CLOTHES

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Warm hat (for early spring and autumn departures)
  • Gloves
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sleepwear
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Long shirts, pants, scarves etc are useful for covering shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites and temples.

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre (or x2)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Optional Private Room Upgrade (5 nights in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka)

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade (5 nights in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka)

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 267kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

The active and fast-paced nature of this trip means that the fitter you are, the more you will be able to enjoy it. Previous hiking and cycling experience is preferable, although not essential. The first part of the trip (up to Day 6) will include more leisurely days of exploration and easy hikes or rides manageable by anyone in good health. However, you'll find the treks in Koyasan and Kumano Kodo to be of moderate to challenging difficulty (depending on your personal fitness), with an elevation gain of more than 1000m on one hike and some trails along uneven terrain. You'll have the option to skip the more challenging hike on Day 10, should you not feel up to it. On a couple of the hikes, you will need to be able to carry your own pack of overnight essentials while on the trail, because your main luggage will be forwarded to the next destination.

In some destinations you will be staying in traditional ryokans – Japanese-style inns with shared facilities. It’s a great taste of traditional life, but not everyone finds futon mattresses on the tatami mat floor as comfortable as beds in Western-style hotels, so a sense of adventure and adaptability is crucial to enjoy the experience!

Marta Marinelli, raised in Italy’s serene Prosecco Hills, dreamt of global adventures, inspired by her father's travel stories. Her passion evolved into a career, backed by a decade of studies including degrees in international tourism and destination management. She’s worked in the adventure travel sector since 2012, living in Italy, the UK, and now sunny Portugal.

Over twenty years, Marta has explored over 55 countries, visiting remote areas like Ghana, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Haiti and Nepal’s Upper Mustang region. As a Senior Adventure Expansion Manager at Much Better Adventures, she focuses on creating life-changing experiences, ranging from multi-activity adventures, challenging treks to ultimate adventures in iconic places. She loves the challenge of finding the best local adventure hosts around the world, collaborating on adventures that offer genuine immersion, pushing beyond the beaten path and working on exclusive itineraries that challenge your comfort zone.

What makes her tick? Enabling people to live adventure-rich lives while positively impacting and empowering local communities around the world, generating sustainable opportunities for both the host, guides, community, and the environment.

Your trip will include a conveinent luggage transfer between destinations, so that you don't need to bring your heavy luggage with you to the most remote areas nor while trekking. This means that for a few nights during the trip, you will be without your main luggage, instead carring only a smaller rucksack packed with essentials for an overnight stay and one or two days of activities.

Overall, it is essential that you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan, because there are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage from 160cm to 250cm may require an additional JPY1000 oversized luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all.

Please note that only one piece of luggage is included in the luggage forwarding service. If you have extra luggage you'd like to be forwarded, the cost will be about 1800-2300 JPY extra (per transfer) depending on the size. Your leader will be able to advise of the exact cost whilst on your trip.

The arrangements will be as follows:

  • On Day 2 your main luggage will be sent to your hotel in Kyoto, as you will use a lot of public transportation to reach the lake town of Yamanakako. Please prepare a light overnight bag for the two-night stay in Yamanakako.
  • On Day 7 your main luggage will be sent to Yunomine Onsen, so you'll need to prepare a light overnight bag for the trek and the one-night temple stay on Mount Koya.
  • On Day 9 your luggage will be transferred to the accommodation in Katsuura, so you'll only need to carry a day pack with you for the hike on this day and the following day, with things for your overnight stay between the two sections of the trail.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tipping isn't customary in Japan and is not expected – in fact, it will sometimes be considered impolite. As a general rule you should not leave a tip in Japan, with a few notable exceptions: one being tour guides. If you feel that your tour leader has provided excellent service over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. Your host suggests 5000-10000 JPY per person in total as a guideline.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality – a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Tap water in Japan is safe to drink so to avoid using single-use plastics, please bring a refillable water bottle with you which you can fill at the hotels, stations, public fountains and local inns.

The trip will include the chance to try some traditional Japanese onsens (hot springs). In public onsens, this means bathing naked with others of the same gender. While it can feel strange at first for some, most travellers end up really enjoying this unique experience. There is very specific etiquette for visiting an onsen and your leader will give you some tips and instructions during the trip. Please also be aware that travellers with large tattoos may not be permitted to enter public onsens.

There are four very distinct seasons in Japan, each offering unique sceneries and experiences to enjoy. As this trip includes several days of hiking, it will not run during winter when snow and ice may affect a lot of the more remote trails.

Spring is generally from March to May with sakura (cherry blossoms) being without doubt the main attraction for visitors. This means larger crowds are to be expected at the main sites and in the cities; however, your guide will try to manage the schedule in the most efficient way. Temperatures are usually mild, ranging from 10-15ºC in March to 15-23ºC in May.

Summer in Japan lasts from June to mid-September and is usually very hot, with high humidity levels and daytime temperatures often above 30℃ – especially in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Up on the trails and by the lake, temperatures will be more pleasant and there may be the opportunity to cool down in shaded forests or at natural water sources you find along the way.

Autumn lasts from about mid-September to mid-November and is widely considered to be a very pleasant time to visit, with temperatures ranging from approximately 10 to 21°C and generally clear weather. The vibrancy of the changing foliage (koyo) is the main attraction at this time of year.

We recommend checking out the country specific information and also talking to a travel nurse.

Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to adverse weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond your host's control – but they will always do their best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. Your host or your leader will notify you should any significant changes be required for your particular departure date.

You know your own spending habits best, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling.

The official currency of Japan is Yen (JPY). Japan is predominantly a cash society and locals carry large amounts of cash for daily business. International credit cards can usually only be used at major department stores or large restaurants, but cash from non-Japanese bank accounts can be withdrawn via the Cirrus and Maestro systems by direct debit (as well as Mastercard and Visa cash advance). This is now available at all post office ATMs around the country, as well as at 7-Eleven convenience store ATMs, making it very easy to get access to cash throughout the trip at each location 24 hours a day.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Our team of Adventure Hunters create exclusive adventures with highly vetted, specialist hosts. We only work with independent, local in-destination experts who know the very best places to explore and how to stay safe. See here for more info about the local teams we partner with.

We've got your back

Guaranteed to run

All our trips are now guaranteed to run. Once you’ve booked your spot you can immediately make your travel arrangements, no uncertainty, no hanging about (excludes 'request to book' departures). Full details

Flexible payments

Secure your spot with the minimum deposit and pay off the remaining balance in as many instalments as you like, with no interest or fees. Full details

Happiness Guarantee

We’re so confident you’ll have an amazing time we’ll put our money on it. Full details

Full financial protection

To give you complete peace of mind we’re backed by ABTOT, ABTA and ATOL memberships. Full details

Tried & Trusted

We’re rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot with over 900 verified trip reviews averaging 4.8/5.

Connect before you go

You'll be invited to join a WhatsApp group to get to know each other before your big adventure together. Full details

DEPARTURE DATES

May 2024

Tuesday • 28th May 2024

to Saturday • 8th June 2024
Guaranteed to run
Last minute - Host approval required
Last minute offer - save 5%. Limited time & spots.
Private trip

Go private and split the bill with ease.

Forget complex logistics, we've taken care of all the details to ensure a hassle-free get together. All of the adventure, none of the faff.

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