Head to the hills for a Japan adventure like none other. Visit the ‘alps’ of Japan to discover pristine alpine towns filled with history and culture. Hike along a former trading route, take a scenic train journey and soak in mountain-side onsens whilst enjoying breath-taking landscapes at every turn.

Trip Highlights

Japan Alps Explorer

Explore the Hida Alpine region

Spend two nights in charming Takayama, cycling through the Hido alps, exploring Shirakawago’s UNESCO farmhouses or soaking in onsens.

Discover the historic Nakasendo trail

Trek along the Nakasendo, an ancient trading route, passing through well-preserved post towns and enjoying the tranquil countryside. 

See Matsumoto’s natural and historic wonders

Explore ancient castles, encounter bathing monkeys and enjoy views of the Japan Alps in Matsumoto.



Arrival in Tokyo

Narita International Airport (NRT) to Central Tokyo: 1.5 hHaneda International Airport (HND) to Central Tokyo: 50 min

Upon arrival to Tokyo’s airport, our representative will be waiting to assist with transport into the city (either helping to board the right train or find the appropriate shuttle bus). After reaching the hotel and checking in, the remainder of the day is free at leisure.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Tokyo



Start (guided tour): 09:00Duration: 8 h*including pick-up/drop-off and transit times

Meet up with the guide this morning at the hotel and head for Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that once served as a private villa of a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Its wide collection of seasonal flowers makes it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo, however another of its most famous attractions is its teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya.

Take a break here and enjoy a cup of freshly made green tea while the guide shares interesting facts about sado (tea ceremony).

From the park, take a scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi or old town. Asakusa is the city’s oldest Geisha district and also home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through.

The tour ends with a visit to Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings.

The shrine is also home to around 120,000 trees, making it easy to forget that just outside its grounds are two of the city’s popular shopping districts, Harajuku and Omotesando.

Note: The order of this itinerary may change depending on the location of the hotel.

Overnight in Tokyo


Tokyo – Matsumoto

Tokyo Station to Matsumoto Station: 3 h

Today is a self-guided day.

Travel to Matsumoto, a small castle town surrounded by rice fields, vineyards, wasabi farms and the great Japan Alps.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Spend the afternoon strolling around the city.

Visit Matsumoto Castle, one of the only twelve remaining original castles in Japan. It is well-distinguished for its black exterior, red arch bridge and a view of Japan’s Alps in the background.

Right outside the castle grounds is Nakamachi-dori, a historical merchant district line with well-preserved old buildings, including some storehouses characterized by their thick, white-painted walls.

Overnight in Matsumoto


Matsumoto, Optional Day Trip

Matsumoto Station to Shin-Shimashima Station: 30 minShin-Shimashima Station to Taisho-ike Bus Stop: 1 h

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary (1):

Travel in the morning to Yamanouchi and visit Jigokudani Park for the famous Snow Monkeys, which live in large social groups and are particularly numerous during the colder months (December-April and less likely to be spotted in autumn).

It requires a bit of walking from the bus stop to the park, so it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes.


  • Roundtrip train tickets from Matsumoto to Yudanaka can be added in the package (advance booking and supplementary charges required).
  • Bus tickets to and from the park can only be purchased on spot.

Distance and journey time (approximation):

Matsumoto Station to Yudanaka Station: 2 h 50 min

Yudanaka Station to Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop: 15 min

Bus stop to Jigokudani Park: 30 min (on foot)

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary (2):

Make an early start and travel to Kamikochi, a popular nature trail in the valleys of Matsumoto. It is known for the pristine Azusa-gawa River and the surrounding Japanese Alps.

Start from Taisho-ike Pond, with its mirror-like waters reflecting the Hotaka Mountain Range and Mt. Yakedake, an active volcano that stands at 2,455 meters above sea level.

Continue walking towards the bus terminal, passing by Tashiro Marsh, to secure a seats on the bus.

Just nearby is Kappabashi Bridge, one of the places in Kamikochi that offers the most picturesque views of the area.

From this point, another hour of trekking heads to Myojin-bashi Bridge, the gateway to Hotaka-jinja Shrine and Myojin-ike Pond. There is a small dining place here called Kamonjigoya that serves grilled freshwater fish and soba.

The trail from Myojin area back to the opposite side of Kappa-bashi is another hour of nature trekking that wanders through the serene woods of this well-protected national park.


  • This is an easy-to-moderate course that can be accomplished in around 4 hours, including short restroom and meal breaks.
  • Roundtrip tickets from Matsumoto to Kamikochi can be added in the package (advance booking and supplementary charges required).
  • Kamikochi is only open from mid-April to mid-November, when the roads are not closed due to heavy snow.

Distance and journey time (approximation):

Matsumoto Station to Shin-Shimashima Station: 30 min

Shin-Shimashima Station to Taisho-ike Bus Stop: 1 h

Overnight in Matsumoto


Matsumoto – Kiso-Fukushima

Matsumoto Station to Kiso-Fukushima Station: 40 min

Start the journey in the afternoon through Nakasendo in Kiso Valley, one of the five routes that branched off the former capital of Japan.

The short bullet train ride from Kyoto to Nagoya is then followed by the scenic journey on the limited express train Wide View. Upon arrival at Kiso-Fukushima Station, check-in into the hotel.

Overnight in Kiso-Fukushima


Kiso-Fukushima, Nakasendo trail walking

Kiso-Fukushima station to Nakatsugawa station: 0.5 hNakatsugawa station to Magome: 15 min (bus or taxi)

Today start the journey to Tsumago, one of the post towns that flourished in the Edo Period. Tsumago is now a Nationally Designated Architectural Preservation Site, thanks to the collective effort of its locals to preserve most of the remaining historical buildings.

The trail that runs between Magome and Tsumago is perhaps the most popular section of Nakasendo.

Leave the accommodation in the morning after a Japanese-style breakfast and ride a train to Nakatsugawa and later, a bus to Magome, the start of the Nakasendo Trail. Today’s walk will alternate between well preserved old towns, fields of local farmers and peaceful woodlands.

This trail can be completed in about 3 hours, including some quick breaks (i.e. restroom, tea/coffee).

After concluding the trail, ride a bus to Nagiso and a train to the ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima. Upon arrival, enjoy a nice soak in the onsen before a plentiful dinner.

Overnight in Kiso-Fukushima

Optional Service: There is an optional private transfer from the end of the trail to the ryokan (extra charge).


Kiso-Fukushima – Takayama

Tsumago Bus Stop to Nagiso Bus Stop: 10 minNagiso Station to Takayama Station: 4 h 15 min

Today is a self-guided day.

Today marks the journey to Takayama, a small town nestled high in the Hida Alpine region of Gifu Prefecture.

The first leg of the trip will be on a bullet train that can reach speeds of up to 260 kph. Next is on the limited express train Wide View, which offers one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

We recommend strolling in Takayama’s shitamachi, where the streets are lined with century-old merchants’ homes and sake breweries. Stop by one of the breweries for a taste of the local drop or queue for the famous Hida beef sushi in one of the special food stalls.

Overnight in Takayama


Takayama, Optional Day Trip

2.5 h March to mid-October: 10:15 – 12:45; 14:00 – 16:30Mid-October to December: 14:00 – 16:30 only

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Today, guests get the option to the bus to Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses.

Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer,” which is represented through the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs. This architectural style developed over many generations – the roofs were constructed without any nails and are intricately designed to withstand large amounts of snow.

These houses are private homes of the locals but some are open to the public, such as Wada House, a legacy left behind by the Wada Family who used to be the richest family and village leader in Ogimachi.

Distance and journey time (approximation):

Takayama Bus Terminal to Shirakawago Bus Stop: 50 min


  • Roundtrip train tickets from Takayama to Shirakawago can be added in the package (advance booking and supplementary charges required).

Optional Tour: Hida Cycling Tour

Hida Furukawa is a small, quiet farm village in Gifu Prefecture, located 15 minutes away from Takayama.

With an impressive view of the surrounding Japan Alps, it is also well-known for the traditional architectural design of its old buildings and machiya-style houses built by experienced craftsmen centuries ago.

Like other towns in the Hida Region, Hida Furukawa is also famous for its high-quality sake (rice wine) brought about by its rich rice fields, clean waters and favorable weather.

Today, get a chance to explore the streets and outskirts of Hida Furukawa on a bicycle together with a local guide. Spend half a day cycling around this mountain village, passing by rice paddies and old houses, and have a closer look at the lifestyle in this rural region.


2.5 h

Availability and time:

March to mid-October: 10:15 – 12:45; 14:00 – 16:30

Mid-October to December: 14:00 – 16:30 only


  • Transfer to and from the designated meeting point is under own arrangement.
  • Tour dates, especially right before and after winter, may be altered depending on a number of factors (i.e. snow, weather, sunset times, etc.).

Overnight in Takayama


Takayama – Kyoto

Takayama Station to Kyoto Station: 3 h

Today is a self-guided day.

Take one last soak in the onsen before starting the journey to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto. Kyoto is home to around 2,000 shrines and temples, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Optional Evening Tour: A Taste of Gion Food Tour

Kyoto’s Gion district is often cited as many a visitor’s favourite part of the city. The historic cobblestone streets are lined with traditional, narrow wooden buildings known as machiya, teahouses known as ochaya, and traditional shops selling local specialities.  

The first stop is a lively standing bar, where guests can enjoy a drink and delicious local bar food as a prelude to the rest of the tour. After this, take a leisurely stroll around Gion. As most geisha start to entertain at 18:00, the chance of seeing elegantly attired geisha darting along the winding streets to their engagements is quite high.

Then, head to a cozy restaurant owned by a charming and amiable woman from Kyoto who prepares each meal herself. Enjoy an entertaining conversation with her, while sampling each dish, which is prepared with the utmost care and attention, using the finest seasonal ingredients.

The final stop of the tour is a sake bar with a location so clandestine even locals struggle to find it. Partake in different varieties of sake, chosen to complement the selection of nibbles.

After this delightful evening well spent, either return to the accommodation or continue to explore the city independently.


Start: 17:00

Duration: approx. 3 h

Overnight in Kyoto



Central Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX): 2 h

This morning, head towards the designated meeting point in Kyoto to meet up with the guide and to pick up the bicycles for the tour.

Embark on an active day tour of Japan’s cultural capital, joining a local guide for this Kyoto by bike experience. Hop on the bikes and pedal a short distance to Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, one of the largest temple complexes in the city.

Then cycle to Nijo Castle, one of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Take a tour through this massive compound, stopping to admire its intricately painted sliding doors and unusual ‘chirping’ floors. Learn about the history of the castle and the symbolic meaning of its architecture.

Take a break for a quick lunch before returning to the bikes for a ride to Kinkaku-ji Temple. This beautiful structure was built as a retirement village of a shogun but, after his death, was converted into a Zen Buddhist temple. The top two floors are covered in gold leaf, creating a resplendent image that is reflected in the temple’s tranquil pond.

Adjacent to Kinkaku-ji is another Zen Buddhist temple called Ryoan-ji. Ryoan-ji is home to one of Japan’s most famous rock gardens. Gaze upon this tranquil site while the guide explains the various legends associated with its origin.

Return to the bikes for one last visit. Pedal to scenic Arashiyama, an area famous for its bamboo forest, massive temples and vibrant alleyways. Spend time exploring this colourful neighbourhood before returning to central Kyoto where the tour concludes.

Note: Kiyomizu-dera is currently undergoing renovations, with proposed completion in 2020.

Overnight in Kyoto


Departure from Kyoto

Central Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX): 2 h

The rest of the day is free at leisure until the scheduled transfer by shared shuttle to Kansai International Airport.

Important Information

Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • English meet and greet at the airport and return transfers to the airport
  • PASMO Transport Pass for local transportation in Tokyo with 1,500 JPY worth of credits

(Note: Additional credits will be charged by our guides to cover transportation during guided days. Clients are free to further charge their card should they wish to make use of it during self-guided days).

  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass in ordinary class, activated on Day 3
  • English-speaking guide for tour on Day 2 supplementary charges apply for other languages)
  • All entrance fees and public transportation fees as mentioned in the itinerary on Day 2
  • Cycling tour in Kyoto on Day 9
  • Self-guide app and customized travel documentation

Our Services Do Not Include:

  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately)
  • Some local transport
  • Meals other than mentioned above
  • Personal expenses (e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone, and other expenditures of a personal nature)
  • Travel insurance (please see below)
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

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