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Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak


Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak

Start: Tokyo
End: Osaka

Nakasendo trail? Kumano Kodo? Kyoto on a bike? or Southern ilses on a kayak?

Duration12 days
Start / EndTokyo / Osaka
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel


Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak

12 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Tokyo
End: Osaka


Nakasendo trail? Kumano Kodo? Kyoto on a bike? or Southern ilses on a kayak? This is the Japan you want to experience in an active way! We walk through the tranquil ancient post towns along the famous Nakasendo trail, hop on a bike along the beautiful Kamo river in Kyoto and sweat our way on the legendary Kumano pilgrim trail and kayak the beautiful bay at Ise Shima.



Day 1Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them here. After the meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2Narai
Leave Tokyo in the morning and hop on our first train to Matsumoto. Admire the magnificent Matsumoto castle, one of the oldest castle in Japan with 400 year old history. Nicknamed "Karasujo" (Crow Castle), Matsumoto castle was painted in black to sow fear in the attackers back in 1595. After the visit, hop back on the train and continue to the tranquil town Narai on the famous Nakasendo post way that linked the ancient Tokyo and Kyoto. Narai was once the most wealthy post town along Nakasendo and marked the half way between Kyoto and Edo (ancient name of Tokyo). Wander along the streets in Narai lined by the preserved or restored old houses and rest for the night.
Day 3Tsumago/Magome (Hiking)
Travel to Tsumago where we'll visit Waki- Honjin, the former inn that served the high-ranking officials back in the days. This is where we get to have a glimpse of what it was like - what their life was like, how the furniture was positioned, even how to use the toilet. Then we'll hike from Tsumago to Magome, part ofthe Nakasendo trail. About 8 km long, this part of the route is well maintained. Enjoy the tranquil Kiso valley with villages dotted among the fields and locals working on them. Arrive at Magome in the afternoon where we'll rest for the night. Today's trekking distance is about 8km, roughly 3 hours.
Day 4Nakatsugawa/Kyoto
Continue our hike along the Nakasendo trail from Magome to Nakatsugawa (approx. 3 hrs), from where we'll take the train to Kyoto via Nagoya. Originally founded as Heian-kyo (literally “tranquillity and peace capital”) by Emperor Kammu in 794, Kyoto had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years (the name means “Capital City”) but the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in. Arrive at Kyoto, and we'll visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings.
Day 5Kyoto (Biking)
Today, pick up your rental bikes and start exploring Kyoto on the wheels. First cycle to Tofuku-ji Temple, the head temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, built about 800 years ago. Then cycle along the lanes and streets of Kyoto, passing Toji temple, Nishi Honganji temple, Nijo Castle and then visit Daitokuji Temple. Your lunch is included in the fabulous vegetarian Izusen restaurant in the temple. The delicious and healthy shojin meal (Buddhist vegetarian meal) is not to be missed for your food experience in Kyoto. After lunch, cycle to the glamorous Golden temple, Kinkakuji then bike along the Kamo River before returning the bikes to the shop. Kamo River is the perfect place to get away from the Kyoto crowds and see the locals go about their daily business. Today's cycling distance is about 29km, a roughly 8-hour cycling tour.
Day 6Kyoto
Today, we'll visit Ginkakuji, also know as the Silver Pavillion, which was built more than 500 years ago after the model of the Golden Pavillion Kinkakuji. Then perhaps take the optional walk down the Philosopher pass through Nanzenji big gates to Heihan Jingu Tori gates. Enjoy a free afternoon in Kyoto. Make the best of your time here in this charming ancient capital. Encounter a Geisha in the Gion district, enjoy a tea ceremony or continue your spiritual quest in one of the many temples in the city.
Day 7Shingu/Koguchi
We continue our journey on the train to Shingu. Visit Shingu shrine, one of the 3 main shrines that are part of the Kumano kodo network. Then we'll visit Kamikura Shrine, one of the oldest sacred shrine in Shingu which has a stunning view over the Shingu city and out to the Pacific ocean. Change to a local public bus here to Koguchi, where we'll rest for the night and get ready for tomorrow's hike.
Day 8Kumado Kodo/Kii Katsuura (Hiking)
Early start! Today we'll hike part of the famous Kumano Kodo, one of the only two UNESCO listed pilgrim route. The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that connect three major religious sites - known collectively as the Kumano Sanzan. Through centuries, the pilgrim route has been used by the royal families, the Samurai and the common crowds as part of their practice of the Buddhism, what is essentially a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto. For the first 2.5h to 3h it is an uphill climb up that rises over 800 meters. After reaching the Echizen toge, we will follow the forest ridge for another couple of kilometers until reach the highest point, Funami-jaya teahouse at 868m. From here its another 4.4km to Nachi Taisha, mostly downhill. Visit the Nachi Taisha, one of the 3 Kumano shrines, and the Nachi falls, then we'll take taxis down to Kii Katsuura for the night. Today's hiking distance is about 15km, roughly 7-8km.
Day 9Ise Shima
Head to the biggest Tuna market in Japan in the morning. Nachikatsuura claims to have the highest volume of tuna fish hauls in all of Japan and the tuna which are caught in the coastal waters by longline fishing are sold at auctions here. Then we'll take the train to Ise Shima. The Shima Peninsula is home to Japan's most sacred Shinto shrines, the Ise Shrines, and is a popular leisure resort area among the urban population of Nagoya and Osaka. We will have a free afternoon in Toba where people can visit the famous Mikimoto Pearl Island. Toba's claim to fame is as the birthplace of the cultured pearl industry and there's also a chance to see the Japan famous female Ama Pearl divers.
Day 10Ise Shima (Biking & Kayaking)
In the morning, a short train ride takes us to Shima-Yokoyama. Take in the great view of the Ago bay at the Shima Yokoyama Observation Deck, before we explore the island's intricate coastline, with the sea cliffs and coastal caves on a bike. After lunch we'll take our kayaks and kayak along the beautiful Ago Bay. Paddle towards an uninhabited island, and then move on to the inhabited island of Masakijima where we can disembark and wander on the island. Today's cycling distance is about 13km, roughly 2 hours. Kayaking tour is about 2 hours.
Day 11Osaka
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 12Osaka
Our tour comes to an end today. There are no activity planned. You may depart your accommodation at any time of the day.

More info

Trip title

Japan: Hike, Bike & Kayak

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019


Nakasendo trail? Kumano Kodo? Kyoto on a bike? or Southern ilses on a kayak? This is the Japan you want to experience in an active way! We walk through the tranquil ancient post towns along the famous Nakasendo trail, hop on a bike along the beautiful Kamo river in Kyoto and sweat our way on the legendary Kumano pilgrim trail and kayak the beautiful bay at Ise Shima.




Active Adventures


Boat,Public Bus,Metro,Bullet Train,Train,Taxi,Walking,Bike,Kayak

Physical Rating


Physical preparation

You’re in for an active trip! Whilst previous experience isn’t essential for getting involved, a decent level of fitness will help you get the most out of this tour. There’s always a choice to opt out of certain activities too. If you’re already a regular exerciser, you’re probably good to go. If you’re not, it might be an idea to add it into your routine in the weeks leading up to your departur... Read more

Joining point

Agora Place Asakusa

Joining point description

Agora Place Asakusa is conveniently located 1 minutes' walk from Tawaramachi Subway Station and 5-6 minutes from two other subway stations in the heart of Asakusa, Tokyo's traditional downtown area. The commerical-shopping and transport hub of Ueno is only a few subway stops away, providing great access to other parts of the capital. Asakusa developed around Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's largest Buddhis... Read more

Joining point instructions

Japan has a very efficient public transport service and there are many ways to get from the two airports in the Tokyo region (Narita Airport or Haneda Airport) to your hotel. We can also book a shared airport shuttle bus service if you prefer. Narita is located approx. 65 km from Tokyo and taxi fares are expensive given the distance (around JPY25,000). Haneda Airport is closer to central Tokyo and... Read more

Finish point

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi

Finish point description

The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi is centrally located in Osaka, just a 3-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station subway line and a 10-minute walk from the famous Glico Man advertising sign. It's a convenient location for exploring the sights of Osaka.

Important information

1. As this is an active, multi-activity trip you will need to have an excellent level of fitness. Please read the itinerary carefully to make sure that you'll be able to make the most of the activities on this trip and enjoy an active adventure in Japan. 2. Your luggage will be forwarded to the next destination at different points of the trip, so you'll still need to be prepared to carry a small o... Read more

Group leader

All Intrepid 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 leade... Read more


Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more


Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

We can't think of a better way to enjoy the many facets of Japan than by hiking, biking and kayaking your way around some of the country's most amazing natural and cultural sites.

Is this trip right for you

The active nature of this trip means that the fitter you are, the more you will be able to enjoy it. It is expected that travellers joining this trip will have had some experience hiking and cycling before and can swim. Hiking distances vary from 3-15km per day with no more elevation change than 60-900m on one hike. The hikes on the Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo include sections rather than the entir... Read more


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

FOOD IN JAPAN The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (ie. in flavourings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetable ones), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research before travelling about some of the options that might be available to them. While our leaders will assist you whenever they can, t... Read more

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so ... Read more

What to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, ... Read more

Climate and seasonal

Please be aware that when you are travelling during major national holidays in Japan (late Apr to early May) and peak season in Japan (Apr-May/Sep–Oct), fascinating and exciting times to travel in Japan, your group will almost definitely experience massive crowds at tourist attractions and public transports. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train tickets at our preferred times,... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multisha... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


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