A world of winter wonderlands
Walk Japan’s enchanting Autumn/Winter 2018-19 tours
As the northern winter descends on Japan, the beautiful ancient land turns with russet autumnal colours before being blanketed with pristine snow. And the famed onsen hot spring baths become havens of warmth scattered across the chilly mountains. It is the perfect time to experience the regions of Japan’s four largest islands that are not often traversed by travellers.
Walk Japan is the pioneering operator of small-group, seasonal walking tours, guiding seasoned travellers and newcomers alike with tours crafted for people who not only like to walk but also love to discover, understand and appreciate the unique landscape and culture of Japan.
This coming northern hemisphere Autumn/Winter (September, 2018 – February, 2019) is a wonderful time to explore Japan’s landscape and embark on a Walk Japan tour, exploring the distinct and fascinating regions of the ancient country.
An experience with Walk Japan is like no other, with tour sizes kept to a maximum of 12 led by an informed and enthusiastic guide through the customs, traditions, and barely touched terrain of the lesser-known rural areas of Japan. Travellers walk at an enjoyable pace, taking the time to see a countryside not often explored by tourists, with charming rustic villages and communities steeped in tradition far from the modern day life of the fast-paced cities. Allowing for a deeper connection to Japan than an ordinary tour provides, walkers retire each night in charming traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans, scattered throughout local villages, where they enjoy authentic and superb regional cuisine and indulge in the famous onsen hot spring baths.
Just some of Walk Japan’s tours at this magical time of year include:
Autumn: Inland Sea Odyssey
This brand new 10-day expedition is a fully-guided journey through Japan’s incredible Seto Inland Sea region. It explores the region’s recent history including work by some of Japan’s greatest 20th and 21st Century architects, artists and film directors including Kenzo Tange, Yukinori Yanagi, and Akira Kurosawa. Additionally, the Inland Sea region is a wealth of beautiful vistas, sunsets, and some of Japan’s greatest ancient landmarks such as the imposing Himeji Castle. There are also abundant sleepy island communities and charming towns, accompanied by some of the best modern art and architecture, delicious local cuisine, onsen hot spring baths and a spirit of revival led by an influx of younger Japanese attracted to this delightful but lesser explored region of Japan.
Prices: From JPY580,000 (AUD$7050) per person.
Autumn 2018 date: November 6-15.
Autumn: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage
A 9-day tour to Koyasan, the sacred Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage and Ise Shrine, follows ancient trails through deep, forested valleys in remote Japanese countryside. The Kumano Kodo is one of only two pilgrimages on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, alongside the Camino de Santiago through Spain’s northern provinces. On this amazing journey, walkers traverse through a thousand years of Buddhist history among verdant mountains, quiet valleys, roaring rivers, and plunging waterfalls. Additionally, travellers will become truly immersed in the cultural roots of Japan, discovering how Buddhism originated and later grew to become one of the world’s greatest spiritual and religious philosophies.
Prices: From JPY378,000 (AUD$$4595) per person.
Autumn 2018 dates: September 12-20; 19-27; 24-October 2; 3-11; 4-12; 13-21; 17-25; 20-28; 22-30; 31-November 8; 5-13; 14-22; 15-23; 17-25.
Winter: Oita Hot Spring Trail
A 6-day walk from hot spring to hot spring, this tour explores Oita Prefecture, an area of Japan particularly rich with the beauty of its countryside, high quality and varied food, ancient culture, enlightened history, and relaxed, friendly people. To its list of attractions, Oita also adds onsen, hot spring baths fed by waters derived from volcanic activity deep below the earth’s surface. Onsen are an incredible feature found throughout the breadth of Japan, with Oita boasting the largest concentration of hot springs in the country. This tour is a mecca for anyone who adores indulging in the soothing waters of hot springs, and also enjoys the distinctive and gracious Japanese culture associated with bathing.
Prices: From JPY316,000 (AUD$3718) per person.
Winter 2018/19 dates: December 21-26; February 17-22.
Winter: Snow Country Trek
A 7-day snowshoe tour through Japan’s famed ‘Snow Country’ in the central Alps region, where pure powder snow is metres deep. This tour provides an intimate experience of life in a winter wonderland that can only be accessed using snowshoes. Travellers visit a spectacular shinto shrine complex, stay in charming villages deep within valleys, and cross spectacular remote landscapes where the only other footprints have been left by the local wildlife. A highlight is a night walk through a beech forest.
Price: From JPY332,000 (AUD$3835) per person.
Winter 2019 dates: January 15-21; February 5-11; 26-March 4.
Led by enthusiastic and well-informed guides, the walking tours vary not only in location and theme, but also in levels of activity; beginning with the easiest at Level 1 (walkers must be able to handle their own luggage, climb a few flights of stairs and walk less than 5km a day) to the most challenging Level 6 (in which there could be up to eight hours of activity per day over varied, mountainous terrain).
For more information, visit walkjapan.com