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Japan Walking Tours

Discover Authentic Japan at your Own Pace with Walk Japan’s Self-Guided Wayfarer Tours

Walk Japan, the leading pioneer of small, guided group tours, also offers an appealing selection of Self-Guided Wayfarer Tours. Like Walk Japan guided tours but this time at one’s own pace, these self-guided tours reveal the beauty of the country and its people, its various and varied regions, cultural highlights and rich history.

The three self-guided tours offer an authentic experience of Japan as a result of Walk Japan’s thorough research, gained over 25 years’ experience in the industry. Travellers explore Japan’s culture and scenery at their own pace and relax in hand-picked accommodation at atmospheric family-owned inns and ryokans, many with therapeutic hot spring onsens, and the occasional comfortable, city hotel. Self-Guided Wayfarer tours are available from a minimum of one person through to a maximum of eight people travelling in a group.

Walk Japan’s Self-Guided Wayfarer tours are a perfect choice for travellers who prefer more independency and for those who need more flexibility, such as families with children. Self-guided tours can commence on a date, subject to accommodation availability, to suit a traveller’s schedule and travel plans, making them ideal for anyone with a busy schedule. During peak seasons, however, Walk Japan also pre-books itineraries to ensure accommodation will definitely be available.

Travellers embarking on a Self-Guided Wayfarer Tour are provided with a pre-tour pack that includes such details as how to prepare for your tour; how to travel from your arrival point in Japan to the tour’s first night accommodation; an accommodation list; and travel advice.

Also included with each tour is a Wayfarer Route Booklet, a detailed and portable small-format book including concise maps, photos, local site information with lunch recommendations and historical context, and clear walking directions. In addition, the Wayfarer Supplementary Information, provided in a digital format for use on travellers’ smart mobile devices, incorporates much greater background detail on the tour – an ideal read for travellers before and after each days walking that provides pleasurable and enlightening interludes between a relaxing immersion in a Japanese bath and a delicious evening meal.

Further inclusions of a Self-Guided Wayfarer Tour are; reserved accommodation in Japanese inns or ryokans, all of which have been specifically chosen for their warm hospitality and authentic interesting atmosphere; breakfasts and dinners, comprised of locally sourced ingredients; main baggage transfers between accommodation – travellers need only carry a day-pack while walking; and English-language Japan-based, 24/7 emergency support provided via telephone, email and SMS.

Walk Japan’s Self-Guide Wayfarer Tours provide travellers with thoughtfully and carefully created itineraries supported with thorough information and support to travel safely and enjoyably in Japan, whether solo or in a group of family or friends.

Walk Japan currently offer three self-guided tours, based on some of their most popular guided tours.

Self-Guided Nakasendo Wayfarer (7 Days, Activity Level 3)

Ideal for families, this tour is the self-guided version of Walk Japan’s pioneering Nakasendo Way tour, which follows a continuous route through central Japan’s rural, hilly countryside with expansive views, atmospheric traditional inns, local cuisine, and rich cultural experiences and history.

In the seventeenth century, the Nakasendo Way was a bustling highway with travellers including feudal lords, princesses, samurai, itinerant merchants, pilgrims, and villagers. Now largely forgotten and quiet, the old road provides a charming journey through scenic countryside and also the history of Japan, its society, and rural life.

With a diversity of culture, food, and terrain, travellers will explore the most-enjoyable, scenic, and best-preserved parts of the old highway, into the mountainous region of Japan’s Southern Alps via the enchanting Kiso Valley and, finally, onto the exciting and lively metropolis of Tokyo. As such, the Self-Guided Nakasendo Wayfarer is the perfect prelude to an exploration of Tokyo, a destination favourite for travellers of all ages.

Self-Guided Basho Wayfarer (6 Days, Activity Level 2)

This 6-day, 5-night self-guided tour follows the footsteps of Japan’s famed wandering haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, who described his journey through the Tohoku region in the classic poetic travelogue, Oku-no-hosomichi – or, The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The tour begins in Sendai, once the stronghold of the Date Clan – a powerful samurai family – who ruled the area for over three hundred years, the area is rife with fascinating history and culture that continues to marvel travellers year after year.

Self-guided wayfarers pass through beautiful forests with foliage new with the crisp, myriad shades of green in spring; opulently verdant in summer; and vividly rich in autumn with the season’s colours.

The tour finishes at Yamadera, a scenic and historically significant temple located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City. This experience has a cultural focus, hence, is suited to travellers with an interest in history.

Self-Guided Kumano Wayfarer (7 Days, Activity Level 4)

The Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO registered pilgrimage trails in the world, along with Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Self-guided travellers of this tour will follow ancient trails trod by pilgrims, emperors, and ascetic monks for over one thousand years through deep, forested valleys in remote countryside. Drawn to Kumano’s message of universal acceptance, the devout would hope to attain spiritual rebirth in a landscape deeply connected to the Kojiki, Japan’s myth of creation.

Beginning on the Kii Peninsula in Yuasa, the beautiful town is steeped in rich history and cultural significance. Travellers then explore a hilly, winging path that leads to the Kumano Sanzan, the various Shinto shrines in the Kumano mountains. The tour finishes in Shingu, a city located in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture.

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