This coming Northern Hemisphere spring/summer is the perfect time to escape the Australian winter and head off on a Walk Japan tour, exploring the many distinct and fascinating sides of the ancient country. Walk Japan is the pioneering operator of small group walking tours in Japan, guiding seasoned travellers and newcomers alike with tours crafted for people who not only like to walk but who also love to discover, understand and appreciate unique landscapes and cultures – stretching across
the entire archipelago.

The customs, traditions and scenery of the lesser-known rural areas of Japan are enjoyed at a comfortable pace, taking the time to see sides of the country that are not often explored by tourists. With 19 different tours available, all ranging in length and difficulty, there is a walk suitable for every traveller. And many have been curated to guide travellers through the pristine countryside and picturesque rural regions of Japan.

An experience with Walk Japan is like no other, with tour sizes kept to a maximum of 12 people led by an informed and enthusiastic guide. Allowing for a deeper connection to Japan than an ordinary tour provides, travellers walk at an easy pace and 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 springs baths.

Some of the tours available throughout the northern spring and summer months include:

SPRING

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 in 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.
Spring 2018 dates: February 18-23; May 26-31.

Kunisaki Trek
A 10-day exploration of the Kunisaki Peninsula, one of Japan’s hidden gems showcasing exceptional walks along ridge trails that delight in atmospheric inns, ample and delicious cuisine, and onsen hot spring baths. Beginning in Fukuoka and finishing in Yufuin, the trek follows the trail once used by Buddhist monks in meditation throughout the beautiful and remote countryside for more than a thousand years.

The ancient trails provide outstanding experiences walking through sleepy hamlets, verdant forests, and over towering cliffs. Beautiful vistas throughout the walk include stone Buddha statues, as well as the caves where monks once found shelter.

Prices: From JPY428,000 (AUD$5036) per person.
Spring 2018 dates: April 11-20; May 2-11; 23-June 1.

Basho Tour: Narrow Road to the North
A 9-day tour through Tohoku in northern Japan to the rugged Sea of Japan coast, this walk is based upon Japan’s greatest poet Matsuo Basho’s travelogue, Narrow Road to the North. For the literary lover and culture seeker alike, any traveller will be truly immersed in the splendour of strikingly quiet country lanes, forest trails, and mountain footpaths.

Aside from the amazing scenery and haiku poetry of Basho, walkers will also learn of the tumultuous history that both devastated and nurtured the
tough spirit of the people of Japan’s northerly regions.

Prices: From JPY454,000 (AUD$5238) per person.
Spring 2018 dates: May 6-14; 13-21; 20-28; 27-June 4.

SUMMER

Yaeyama: Okinawa Voyage
A 7-day land and waterborne summer adventure to Japan’s most southerly reaches, the Okinawa Voyage includes walking, kayaking, sea paddling, and snorkelling. The tour takes travellers to Yaeyama, a group of islands at the further, southern reaches of both the Okinawa chain of islands and Japan itself. Amid a laidback atmosphere and emerald seas, Yaeyama is a hidden gem with unique historical and cultural roots, as well as distinct flora and fauna from the rest of Japan.

Unlike other Walk Japan tours, the majority of the tour takes travellers near, on, and in the water, as much of the beautiful environments explored are only accessible by kayak and snorkelling.

Prices: From JPY342,000 (AUD$4024) per person.
Summer 2018 dates: June 18-24.

Kunisaki Retreat
A 7-day tour starting at Hakata Station and finishing at Usa Station on the Kunisaki Peninsula, this retreat takes travellers to the lovely countryside of Kyusha, Japan’s most westerly main island.

Little developed, Kunisaki is dotted with sleepy hamlets, covered in verdant forests and paddy fields interspersed with craggy ridges and mountains. On the Kunisaki Retreat, travellers will immerse themselves in Japanese culture of the past and present, enjoy Japanese farmhouse cooking at its best, luxuriate in onsen thermal hot springs, and simply gaze at the beautiful scenery.

Prices: From JPY346,000 (AUD$4071) per person.
Summer 2018 dates: June 4-10.

Hokkaido Hike
On a 10-day tour, travellers will explore the wild side of Japan on the sparsely populated, northerly island of the Japanese archipelago. Embarking on this hike in the summer months is bliss, with comfortable weather and some of the best hiking in all of Japan.

The Hokkaido Hike takes walkers through Japan’s largest wilderness, passing through lush forests, across wetlands, up spectacular volcanoes, past steaming vents, and onto high plateaux. Panoramic views, which stretch for tens of kilometres across this beautiful land, are a reward when reaching the high peaks of the Hokkaido mountains.

Prices: From JPY496,000 (AUD$5836) per person.
Summer 2018 dates: July 5-14; 19-28.

Each walking tour varies in location, theme, and also level 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

Source: Walk Japan