Narrow Road | May 28-June 6, 2013
If you are ready for an adventure that takes you to Japan’s ancient back roads, shows you the finest in countryside hospitality, and immerses you in the life of a monk, a rural hotspring village, and urban Tokyo – this is your tour! After exploring Tokyo, we’ll be visiting towns along Japan’s ancient Nakasendo road, where the scenery still resembles what it was when Samurai used it to cross the country. Along the way, we’ll take some scenic train trips, visit a rural sake factory, stay at a hot spring, and more! Leave the giant suitcase at home and grab that carry on, because on the Narrow Road, the journey is the destination.
The tour includes:
- R/T airfare from Los Angeles
- 8 nights accommodations, including 4 nights hotel in Tokyo and Kyoto and 4 nights at traditional inns at other locations
- 8 meals
- All transportation (train, ropeway, bus, shinkansen/bullet train) within Japan
- Professional bilingual guide services
- Custom tour guidebook
- Admission to all activities
- Baggage service*
- Much, much more!
The meals included in the price are for the non-hotel accommodations.
*Baggage service: On some stops of this tour, baggage services will be available so guests can either store their bags or ship them ahead to our next destination. However, please remember that space is limited and refrain from bringing bags that aren’t “carry on” sized. PacSet Tours will not assume responsibility for any large “check-in” luggage. Seriously though, pack light – you’ll enjoy the trip a whole lot more, we promise!
Day 1: Departure!
We depart Los Angeles for Japan!
Day 2: Arrival in Tokyo!
After getting to Japan, we’ll settle in and take the afternoon off to rest. Feel free to explore on your own, or follow the guide to some late night fun.
Day 3: The Urban Landscape
To put the whole journey into perspective, our first stop today will be Nihonbashi near Ginza – the first stop on the Nakasendo. Then it’s off to Shinjuku, Tokyo’s cultural center, to check out the shopping, restaurants, and vistas of contemporary Japan. To finish our first day with a bit of fun, we’ll visit Akihabara. Whether you spend your time here playing in the arcades, sample amazing food, searching for obscure manga or all three – we’re sure you’ll have a good time.
Day 4: Into the Mountains
Our journey out of the city takes us to Takasaki, where you’ll be able to gaze upon the city’s giant Kannon goddess statue before going inside it to see a unique view of the city from inside the statue! After lunch, we’ll head north to Ikaho Onsen. Here, we’ll check in at a natural onsen (hot spring) ryokan (inn) to enjoy a fancy dinner and relax in the baths. You’ll also have the chance to climb Ikaho’s famed stone steps, which are lined with traditional games of chance and cute souvenir shops, and take in views of surrounding Gunma Prefecture from the mountaintop nearby.
Day 5: Ride the Future into the Past
After checking out, we’ll head further inland and board the world’s only gas-electric hybrid train as we climb the backbone of Nagano Prefecture to the small town of Sakuho. Here, we’ll peruse the works of famed artist Togyu Okumura before visiting the local Kurosawa Sake brewery. We’ll enjoy a drink, breathe in the mountain air, and relax before reboarding the train to glide by beautiful mountain scenery framed against snow-capped peaks. Our evening lodging will be off scenic Lake Suwa, where you can kick back in one of the local onsens or take a stroll by the lakeside.
Day 6: Back on the Nakasendo
Pack your sneakers, because today we’re traveling old-school! We’ll begin at Tsumago, an old post town on the Nakasendo where the atmosphere remains rooted in the past and old message boards with edicts from the Shogunate can still be seen! In keeping with the tradition of the area, we’ll be getting to the next post town of Magome on foot. The walk won’t be that strenuous, so you’ll have ample time to picture yourself back in the Tokugawa era as we make our way around hills and mountains to Magome. Once we arrive, we’ll check in to a local inn and enjoy an evening exploring the town.
Day 7: Fast Forward to Kyoto
After bidding farewell to Magome, we’ll head to Japan’s most renowned destination for history and culture: Kyoto. Here, we’ll explore the Higashiyama area of the city, stopping at the picturesque Kiyomizu Temple and its famed shopping street before following backroads to Nanzenji Temple. In the evening, if all the traditional culture has you craving a little noise and lights, join your guide for an optional night out in Osaka’s Umeda district.
Day 8: Torii and Tranquility
We begin our adventure today at the famed Fushimi Inari shrine and it’s “torii (shrine gate) tunnel” that has been so famously featured in films and art the world over. In the afternoon, we’ll be diving back into the past one last time as we take trains and ropeway cars to the summit of Mt. Koya, an enclave of buddhist temples with thousands of years of history. Here, we’ll be lodging at a temple with the monks for an unforgettable inside look at temple life!
Day 9: Concentration, Castles, and Celebration
We’ll rise early with the monks for morning meditation and breakfast to complete our Mt. Koya experience! Then it’s back through Osaka, where we’ll make a stop at the city’s iconic Osaka Castle before returning to Kyoto and visiting the Shogunate’s old Kyoto outpost, Nijo Castle. After a stop at the famous golden pavilion of Kinkakuji, we’ll have one last night out to mark the end of our journey.
Day 10: Return home
Return home and share tales of your adventures with friends! :)