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Walking holidays in Japan

Our walking holidays in Japan are a great way to experience the natural beauty, fascinating culture and fine cuisine of this magical country. There are countless unique sights to discover, from exploring the ancient shrines of Kyoto to the mountainous trails along the Kumano Kodo.

We believe that a hiking trip in Japan is the best way to experience the country's hidden gems. As you trek through stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites, you can get up close to unique landscapes rich in history. Dense forests, picturesque valleys, quaint villages, awe-inspiring waterfalls and ancient temples are just some of the wonders you will encounter on our walking tours in Japan.

You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable, experienced tour guide every step of the way, to ensure you enjoy each destination at its best. Look at our Japan walking trips below to get started on your adventure.

Where can I go on walking holidays in Japan?

Japan is a country filled with many beautiful landscapes and you can explore them when you choose Headwater for your guided or self-guided walking tour in Japan. Some of the places you can see include:

Kyoto

Many of our tours encourage you to explore the city of Kyoto for at least a day. Here you'll find an array of Buddhist temples and beautiful garden areas, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Plus, you can visit authentic teahouses to try the famous beverages with the locals.  

Shikoku

This is the fourth largest main island in the country. It's the location of Japan's pilgrimage walk, Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage, which lets you experience the amazing island views. Around 150,000 people walk this trail every year (see below), seeking to reach the same levels of enlightenment as the Buddhist monk Kukai once did.

Tokyo

Tokyo is a thrilling city to explore during your Japan walking holiday. The capital is famous for its incredible shopping experiences, fascinating skyline architecture and countless delicious restaurants around almost every corner. There are numerous must-see places in Tokyo including the gardens of the Imperial Palace.

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Walk the Kumano Kodo
Japan

Walk the Kumano Kodo

Walk the ancient pilgrimage route Kumano Kodo, journeying through the Kii Peninsula Mountains to the famous Grand Shrines.

DEPARTURE MONTHS

JFMAMJJASOND

  • Holiday codeW10KK
  • Holiday typeSelf-guided walking
  • Duration10 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From US$5555per person, tour only
  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts & 6 dinners
  • Route notes provided
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Walk the Nakasendo Trail
Japan

Walk the Nakasendo Trail

Follow the historic Nakasendo Trail, exploring the incredible cities of Kyoto and Tokyo either side of your journey.

DEPARTURE MONTHS

JFMAMJJASOND

  • Holiday codeW10NK
  • Holiday typeSelf-guided walking
  • Duration10 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From US$5615per person, tour only
  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts & 5 dinners
  • Route notes provided
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail
Japan

Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

Embark on this spiritual journey on the island of Shikoku, exploring spectacular scenery and some of the 88 Buddhist temples which connect this trail.

DEPARTURE MONTHS

JFMAMJJASOND

  • Holiday codeW10SH
  • Holiday typeSelf-guided walking
  • Duration10 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From US$5675per person, tour only
  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts & 6 dinners
  • Route notes provided
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Japan's Kumano Kodo Trail
Japan

Japan's Kumano Kodo Trail

Walk Japan's ancient pilgrimage routes along the Kumano Kodo - after uncovering Kyoto’s most ancient shrines and pathways, we head off the beaten track to the Kumano Kodo region; one of Japan's most remote and rewarding pilgrimage routes.

DEPARTURE MONTHS

JFMAMJJASOND

  • Holiday codeW13JA
  • Holiday typeGuided walking
  • Duration13 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From US$9150per person, tour only
  • All breakfasts, six lunches and nine dinners All accommodation All transport and listed activities

Frequently asked questions

What is the famous walk in Japan?

The most famous walk in Japan is the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. This follows in the footsteps of Kukai, who it is claimed in the 9th century visited each of the 88 Buddhist temples along the 1,200km trail. The history behind this spiritual journey is fascinating and our Japan walking tours can be self-guided, so you can explore at your own pace to take it all in.

Why is pilgrimage popular in Japan?

The Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage walk is generally completed for the following reasons:

  • To atone for past sins
  • To pray for good health and success
  • To seek enlightenment
  • To understand Japan's mystical elements

Is Japan a walkable country?

Japan is very walkable and our tours have a curated itinerary so that you can see everything that this beautiful country has to offer. You will have to get public transport along the way but it's super-efficient, so you'll be back walking in no time.

What is the best month to walk in Japan?

Our Japan walking tours mostly take place between March and November, which are great months to visit. However, we recommend travelling between October and November for optimal walking conditions and stunning autumnal scenery. The weather sits in the high teens and little rainfall can be expected – the rainy season is June-July – making it a comfortable walking experience.

What to pack for my walking holiday in Japan?

Japan's weather and terrain can be unforgiving at times, so packing the correct equipment is essential. This includes:

  • Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing
  • Walking boots
  • Waterproofs
  • Water bottle
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Backpack

What to wear for my walking holiday in Japan?

With summer temperatures capable of rising above 30°C in Japan, keeping yourself protected from the sun is essential. We recommend wearing a hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved but lightweight clothing. Should it rain, then light waterproofs are necessary.

A good pair of walking boots is important, so you have adequate grip wherever the trail takes you on your walking holiday in Japan.

Why choose Headwater for Japan walking trips?

Our near 40 years of creating incredible itineraries for worldwide locations means you can depend on us for a Japan walking holiday. Here are just some of the reasons you should consider Headwater when you book:

  • Happy customers - With a 4.6 Feefo rating, it's clear that customers enjoy our holidays and rate us highly.

  • The best destinations - We use a five-step approval process to decide where our adventure holidays take place. This means we only choose the best routes and hosts to ensure you're satisfied when you travel with Headwater.

  • Get your flights included - From take-off to your flight home, we can arrange every aspect of your travel. This means you only need to show up at the airport with your luggage and passport!

  • Award-winning trips - Our incredible tours around the world have won many prizes over the years, including Best Travel Company to Central & Western Europe from the British Travel Awards.

  • Protected holidays - Each of the tours we provide are ABTA- and ATOL-protected for your peace of mind. Learn what your key rights are when booking with us.

  • Sustainability is important to us - We want our tours to be as sustainable as possible, which is why we're working towards being Nature Positive by 2024 and operate tours in line with our People, Places & Planet plan.

  • Communities matter - We've set up The Exodus Travels Foundation to provide disaster relief and support conservation causes in the areas where our holidays take place.
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