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2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn

2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn

This tour takes you to one of the Japan’s most pristine and stunning remote landscapes with the Japan Alps high above you at the autumn’s peak. A variety of short walks (8-10km) through the national parks and small villages is the best way to absorb the brilliant autumn colours.


14 days

Group size

Min 4

Max 8

Tour Overview

The 2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn takes you into the heart of the Japan Alps amid stunning alpine autumn colours. Our expert local guides lead intimate group of up to 8 travelers on some of the best day walks in Japan on this 14-day adventure.

The hikes are along boardwalks and forested trails through pristine Kamikochi and other outstanding national parks not typically visited by international tourists.

You will stay in the national park and natural hot springs resort towns as well as small regional cities. This tour aims to see the colours in higher altitudes in early autumn.

The tour starts in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto, and includes walking guided tours in these cities specifically designed to show you the backstreets of everyday neighborhoods that most tourists miss. However, we highly recommend you spend a few more days of your own at the beginning and/or the end of the group tour to discover endless attractions of Tokyo and Kyoto areas especially if you are first-time visitors of Japan. Journey to the East will be delighted to plan your private itinerary and provide information to suit your interests.

Dates & Prices

2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn

Per person twin share:

Single supplement



Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Narita or Haneda Airport, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel by an airport shuttle.

Today is an arrival day and no group program is scheduled. Your hotel is located near glitzy Ginza and famous Tsukiji Market. Why not take a stroll and relax, ready to start the first full day of your 2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn.

*Many of our guests arrive a day or so early to settle in before the tour starts. We can arrange your additional nights accommodation in the same room as the tour.

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo)
No meals
Day 2: Tokyo

After orientation with your guide, you begin your exploration of Tokyo.

Our guided tours focus on finding hidden gems by walking through the backstreets rather than just visiting famous spots in each city. In Tokyo on the first day, you visit Marunouchi area in between the beautifully restored 100-year-old Tokyo Station and Imperial Palace Plaza. Marunouchi literally means inside wall or moat, and it was originally the inner sanctum of Edo Castle, now the Emperor's Palace. It is the oldest and elitist office area in Japan, where all the top Japanese companies have headquarters, and a great spot to see the blend of history and modernity. In Marunouchi you will see;

  • The Imperial Palace Plaza with 2,000 impressive black pine trees, the world away from the business district of Marunouchi,
  • Tree lined Marunouchi streets and old buildings which marked the modernization of Japan in the 19th century,
  • The red-brick façade of Tokyo Station, one of the city’s most striking pieces of architecture, against the glass and steel of neighboring skyscrapers.

After the walking tour of Marunouchi, you will have lunch at a local restaurant rubbing shoulders with the Japanese office workers.
In the afternoon, you will move by local train to an old Tokyo suburb of Yanaka. Having survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and air-raids during WWII, Yanaka retains many traditional wooden houses and the old charm of Japanese suburbs. It is also popular with artists and craftspeople, and is dotted with lovely tiny shops in every corner. It is a striking contrast with modern Marunouchi. Your guide will take you through shopping streets where residents will go for everyday grocery and traditional crafts such as washi paper and ceramics.

Back at your hotel, you will have a welcome dinner at a restaurant with great view of Tokyo.
(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Tokyo (Park Hotel Tokyo)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Nagano

Today you leave Tokyo aboard the shinkansen (bullet train) heading for Nagano.
Nagano is in the center of Japan's main island, Honshu, and at the base of the Japan Alps. For the next two nights you;

  • Stay at a hotel conveniently located at a central business district of Nagano City with a good access to the many attractions around you,
  • Visit the magnificent Zenkoji Temple complex, a National Treasure and one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Japan, and
  • Sample shojinryoji, the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine for lunch, and local produce at an izakaya restaurant for dinner.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Togakushi

Today you make a day trip to Togakushi area. Mt. Togakushi is one of Japan's sacred peaks in the Japan Alps; its forests and shrine are steeped in legend going back some 2,000 years.

Quite inaccessible until modern times, for hundreds of years Mt. Togakushi was a haven of esoteric Buddhist practice. It was frequented by mountain ascetics. Today, Togakushi-jinja Shrine is famous as a power spot where visitors can absorb the earth's energy of old. Nearby Kagami Ike Pond is known as one of the best autumn sceneries in Japan.

It is free evening tonight. Enjoy one of the many restaurants around your hotel tonight.

Day 5: Matsumoto

Aboard an express train, you head for Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, in the heartland of the Japan Alps.

During Japan’s feudal period, Matsumoto became an important castle town ruled by a powerful local clan. Today the city is popular for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, galleries, and stunning alpine setting. After arriving Matsumoto, you will;

  • Visit Matsumoto Castle, one of the oldest Japanese structures with five external levels and six internal stories,
  • Walk through the well-preserved old merchant district, Nakamachi and Nawate-Dori, to see the Namako-walled homes,
  • Wander through shops selling Japanese traditional crafts and food items such as pottery, timber ware and sake, and
  • Dine at a small local restaurant showcasing Nagano's fresh produce.

(Total walking distance today - about 7 km)

Matsumoto (Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Utsukushigahara Highland

Onboard a minibus you travel through the beautiful Utsukushigahara Highland in the Japan Alps.

The road is termed "the Venus Line" and it is one of the most beautiful drives in Nagano in autumn. You will enjoy light walking and a visit to the unique Utsukushigaharao Open-Air Museum, which is a sister museum to the famous Hakone Open-Air Museum.

Back in Matsumoto tonight, dinner is at a local Italian restaurant, very popular with our guests.

Matsumoto (Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7: Kamikochi

Today, you will head to Kamikochi via the Norikura Highland.

At Norikura Highland you can enjoy light walks among blazing autumn colours. It is a very pretty area dotted with series of waterfalls.

In the afternoon, you will arrive at Kamikochi, one of the highlights of the tour.

Kamikochi, literally translated as “where the gods descend”. True to its name, the Kamikochi alpine plateau is surrounded by mountain ranges exceeding 3,000 meters above sea-level.

In the afternoon, you can simply relax and soak up the mountain atmosphere or join another hike with our guide into the mountains and walk under the autumn colours.

You stay at one of the mountain lodges in the national park for the next two nights.

(Total walking distance today - about 5-10 km)

Kamikochi (Kamikochi Alpen Hotel)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8: Kamikochi

In the morning, surrounded by the Japan alps high above you, our guide will take you on a 6 km hike along boardwalks, which crisscross mossy ponds and streams, and then winds through virgin beech forests ablaze in stunning autumn colour to Myojin-ike Pond and back. After relaxing back at Kappabashi Bridge area, you can either stroll at your own leisure, or have another 4 km guided walk towards Taisho-ike Pond in the afternoon.

Another night at beautiful Kamikochi.

(Total walking distance today - about 6 -10 km)

Kamikochi (Kamikochi Alpen Hotel)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Mt Hotaka

Heading further into the heart of the Japan Alps by a private minibus you arrive at the Mt Hotaka area.

Here you take the Shin Hotaka Ropeway, the longest in Japan, to the observation deck at the mountain’s peak to enjoy the panoramic views. Your guide will take you on one of the hiking trails to explore the area and enjoy the spectacular autumn scenery.

Your home tonight is a Japanese traditional style ryokan at one of the onsen hamlets in the area.
(Total walking distance today - about 6 km)

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Mt Norikura to Takayama

Start the day with another new experience, a traditional Japanese-style breakfast – a beautifully presented and nutritious, it is an experience in itself!

Your private minibus takes you towards Mt Norikura for one last chance to be amongst the autumn foliage and view the snowy peaks of the Japan Alps.

In the afternoon, you will transfer to Takayama, heart of the rugged Hida Region. Here a guided walking tour of this historic town, includes;

  • The compact, atmospheric town known for its very photogenic streets of well-preserved timber merchant houses dating from the late 17th century,
  • Takayama Jinya, once the prefectural office for the Tokugawa shogunate in feudal times, and
  • Sanmachi-suji, old streets where local go for many traditional crafts, such as lacquerware, food items, timber crafts and sake.

(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Takayama (Tokyu Stay Hida Takayama Musubi-no-yu)
Breakfast (Japanese style), Dinner
Day 11: Shirakawago

You set out to visit Takayama’s Morning Market, with its heritage going back some 200 years, checking out its farm-fresh produce and handmade crafts.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago is next on the agenda.

You will spend a few hours exploring this charming rural village surrounded by mountains and autumn colours. The village’s famous thatched-roof farmhouses are known as gassho-zukuri (meaning “hands clasped together in prayer”). Their steeply-slanted roofs are built to withstand the region’s heavy snowfalls. You will go inside one of the houses to study the interior and learn about their history and the life of snowbound countryside.

Back in Takayama you have a chance to enjoy a "yakiniku" dinner with Takayama's famous Hida wagyu beef.

(Total walking distance today - about 10 km)

Takayama (Tokyu Stay Hida Takayama Musubi-no-yu)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Takayama

You have a few options today.

  • The first option is a guided walk of beautiful Goshiki-ga-hara Forest,
  • The second option is a half-day guided cycling through rice paddy of Hida region,
  • Then you have another option of wandering around the attractive Takayama at your own pace checking out many small galleries and museums, craft shops and charming cafes.

No additional costs for any of the options.

This afternoon is free for you to wander around Takayama’s old merchant precinct and visit boutique sake breweries or craft shops. The evening is also free for you to sample some of Takayama's fine restaurants.

Takayama (Tokyu Stay Hida Takayama Musubi-no-yu)
Day 13: Kyoto

A scenic express train will take you to final destination, Kyoto.

At Kyoto a guided walk will take you through the backstreet of Kyoto. The central part of Kyoto is still a little too early for autumn colouring in early October, however, Kyoto is ever so attractive any time to anybody who visit here. This afternoon, you will;

  • Walk through the famous Gion streets, which are photo-worthy at every corner,
  • Walk back through Pontocho area lit up beautifully in the twilight, and
  • Have a farewell dinner of beef shabu shabu with a maiko (young geisha) joining us and performing some Japanese dances. Enjoy the last meal together reminiscing the beautiful sceneries you experienced on this trip.

Kyoto (The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Bon-Voyage

After breakfast, your 2023 Walking Tour of Japan Alps in Autumn concludes.

You can return to Tokyo by bullet train or depart from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Model Extension Itineraries to get some inspiration!

Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours (as we have found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.


Accommodation listed in itineraries at the time of publishing is an indicative choice only and we may select a similar alternative.



  • 13 nights accommodation (including traditional inns)
  • 13 breakfast, 2 lunches, 10 dinners
  • Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
  • All local transport (train, bus and taxi)
  • Pre-loaded Suica card
  • Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
  • Cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
  • Luggage transfers (1 piece per person)


  • International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
  • Transfer on the last day
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
  • Transport during free time
  • Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
  • Visa (if required)


Thank you for designing and delivering a great introduction to Japan. We appreciate the efforts you made to enable this tour during challenging COVID restrictions. (Journey to the East provided) Great support and very responsive to communication. Would recommend to others.

Trip date: October 2022

William & Judith Lord


Have a question about this tour? Get in touch with our staff directly.