Hot Spring Snow Tour and Tokaido Trail
Extending its series of acclaimed, experiential walking tours through rural Japan, Walk Japan has added two new itineraries to its portfolio of journeys. Renowned for immersing travellers into the rich culture and heritage of little-visited corners of Japan’s multi- varied landscape, these new tours, uncover the stories of two more of the country’s fascinating areas; the northerly Tohoku region, and along the route of the ancient Tokaido road, which connects Tokyo to Kyoto.
The Tohoku Hot Spring Snow Tour is nine-day, eight-night guided snowshoe tour through Japan’s Tohoku; a region famed for delicious rice, prodigious amounts of snow, onsen hot springs and the Narrow Road to the Deep North poetic journey of Matsuo Basho, one of Japan’s greatest literary figures.
Scheduled in the middle of winter, the Tohoku Hot Spring Snow Tour includes the unique combination of deep snows and warm invigorating onsen hot springs. Initially, the sleek and ultra-fast Shinkansen bullet train speeds customers from Tokyo through a landscape of increasingly deep snow. Upon arrival, however, and for the rest of the tour the pace drops significantly as the mode of travel changes to local trains, buses and snowshoes for an exploration into the depths of rural, mountainous Tohoku.
Basho undoubtedly experienced the same hospitality on his itinerant journey. In his footsteps the tour visits a spectacularly sited temple high above a valley on a steep cliff; and a venerable farmhouse where his uncomfortable night is evocatively related in his haiku poetry.
Snow is a grand theme of this tour but no two days are the same on the Tohoku Hot Spring Snow Tour. Highlights include a descent through the incredible juhyo snow monsters; a climb to one of Tohoku’s greatest treasures, Yamadera temple; and a visit to Sakata, a historic and elegant old port town on the Sea of Japan coast. Evening meals draw on the wide range of fresh produce from the seas, fields, rivers and mountains of Tohoku, followed by peaceful nights of sleep in delightful inns, most of which boast onsen hot spring baths.
Tour dates: 24th Feb – 4th March 2018 Price: From JPY480,000 (JPY = Japanese Yen) per person.
The Tokaido Trail is an eight-day, seven-night exploration of the Tokaido, the ‘Eastern Sea Road’ and the greatest of Japan’s ancient highways, through Japan’s heartland and three of its greatest cities; Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto. It is also a journey through the very core of Japan’s history and culture to the present day.
In Tohoku’s remote valleys are nestled small, close-knit communities of charming hamlets and quintessential hot spring villages. Here the locals warmly welcome tour participants with a hospitality that has been honed over many generations by the need for communal resilience in the region’s harsh winter.
Most Japanese will ride the super-fast Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train or drive the modern Tokaido toll road sometime in their lives. However, few make their way, at a necessarily sedater pace, along the original Tokaido, which retains fascinating insights into the daily life of old Japan. Tour customers travel this road from Tokyo through Hakone, Kambara, Shida Onsen, Okazaki, Arimatsu and Seki before finishing in Kyoto.
Today, the journey from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train takes just over two hours. The journey on the Tokaido Trail tour, however, is a much more leisurely affair over eight days travelling along the old road over rural passes and through urban landscapes of long-forgotten towns, that once bustled with traffic. The Tokaido Trail tells the story of Japan’s historic and cultural legacy including journeys by great emperors and powerful shoguns, and also of the everyday folk who lived along its route and those others who were occasional allowed to travel its length. Customers also follow in the footsteps of overseas visitors from centuries past including Korea delegations, the samurai Englishman William Adams, Dutch trader Engelbert Kaempfer, and 19th Century British explorer Basil Hall Chamberlain.
Woodblock artist Ando Hiroshige’s (1797-1868) most famous work, The Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido provides a visual companion to the tour. His prints of the Tokaido in its heyday in the Edo Period (1603-1868) helped cement this ancient road’s iconic status amongst the Japanese to this day.
Tour dates: 18th – 25thFebruary 2018 Price: JPY360,000 (JPY = Japanese Yen) per person.
More information can be found at walkjapan.com
ABOUT WALK JAPAN
National Geographic has described Walk Japan as “one of the 200 Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. The company leads the way in providing the most fulfilling and enjoyable tours available in Japan. Walk Japan has an unrivalled range of regular, scheduled tours for Japan and is researching more for the future. It also creates and runs private, custom tours tailored to customers’ particular interests and requirements. These include private tours for families, friends, societies, companies and schools.
Founded in 1992 by two academics, Dr. Thomas Stanley and Prof. Richard Irving, the company has since grown considerably both in its number of tours and customers to become the acknowledged leader of specialised tours that immerse visitors in Japanese society and culture; provide great insights into the nation and its people; and often explore little-visited, beautiful and diverse regions of the nation.
Based in rural Kyushu, Walk Japan actively operate in a way that recognises the important role and responsibilities that business has in society. This means being committed to and supportive of the communities in which they operate and ensuring that their tours have a positive impact in these areas. Wherever possible Walk Japan uses and supports family-run and local businesses.