Walk Japan's tours are designed for travelers who want to explore Japan at a slower pace. Travelers can walk around Mt. Fuji – the country's most iconic peak – for example, or follow the footsteps of 17th Century Japanese haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, as described in his famous poetic travelogue, Narrow Road to the Deep North. Alternatively, you could take the Kunisaki Trek, which traces a route monks took more than a thousand years ago. The tours are themed, but all are planned so visitors can mingle with Japanese people in local inns, on public transport, and in family-run restaurants, providing deep immersion into the culture.
Walk Japan was started more than a quarter of a century ago by Tom Stanley and Dick Irving, two Hong Kong University academics. At first, it consisted of study trips to show off the country to students of Japanese history and Japanese social geography. Today, it's a leading travel company that introduces visitors from around the world to Japan, deftly blending walking tours with a unique mix of history, culture, and day-to-day life.
The Pitch: Why Travel With Walk Japan
Walk Japan CEO Paul Christie says, "Walk Japan is a company that embodies the best of Japanese and western business practice, which is only possible with an intimate knowledge of both cultures. On the one hand, this knowledge provides a deep understanding of what our customers want and, on the other, it gives us the skills to provide the best experiences of Japan, which is a very much under-explored – yet delightful – country."
He goes on to add "Although we visit famous places in Japan, these are used sparingly as all treasures should be. Rather, we visit places that are otherwise little known or difficult to access. Here, whether in a remote valley, on a tiny island, or in a hidden neighborhood in one of the big metropolises, we experience Japan at a slower, more traditional pace. We know this is where the beauty of this country and its people is really best experienced."
"I think the secret to Walk Japan's success is that we provide compelling tours that I and all the staff at Walk Japan would like to join," Christie tells us. "All of us at Walk Japan are well-traveled and we know what we like to see, do, and learn when we visit another country. We provide the same to our customers with the added elements of the high quality of service Japan is renowned for and the lesser known – but no less important – hospitality that Japan also excels in."
Popular Walking Tours With Walk Japan
- The Nakasendo Way tour is a fully guided, walking tour between the Nakasendo's beginning in Kyoto to its end in Edo, modern-day Tokyo. The 11-day tour is for people who want to walk three- to four hours a day while exploring the Japanese landscape. This was the first tour that Walk Japan ever created, and has been listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
- The Kunisaki Trek, which has been listed in National Geographic's "Sacred Places of a Lifetime," is for the traveler who is willing to walk for five- to six hours a day through forests and on rougher ground. The trek follows in the footsteps of monks who trekked through the mountains of the Kunisaki Peninsula for more than a thousand years.
- The Basho Tour: Narrow Road to the North follows the footsteps of 17th Century Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). The trip begins in Tokyo, goes through the Tohoku region, along the rugged Sea of Japan coast to Sado-ga-shima island before reaching the old capital of Kyoto. Travelers will walk on mountain paths and through forests, for three- to four hours a day.
- The Snow Country Trek is a guided tour into Japan's central Alps region during the winter. Travelers will hike for 1 to 5 hours each day on snowshoes, exploring secluded shrines and temples while soaking in unbelievable views from the high vistas. If you value solitude on your adventures, this may be the walk for you.
- The Hokkaido Hike explores the wild side of Japan on the sparsely populated, northerly island of the Japanese archipelago. The hike is for travelers who can walk up to eight hours a day, on paths through verdant forests, across wet lands, up spectacular volcanoes, past steaming vents, and onto a high plateau. Designed for the more adventurous and fit, it is definitely a chance to connect with Japan's wild side.
To Learn More About Walk Japan
To learn more about the company and other tours, visit the Walk Japan website.
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