Take a train from Osaka (or Kyoto) to Asuka in the beautiful Japanese countryside on Day 1 and explore the town with a Asuka Monuments Walk. On Day 2 enjoy a Tanzan Shrine Hike before travelling to Nara on Day 3 by train. One there, hike the beautiful Yamanobe no Michi. Day 4 is your most challenging hiking day as your follow the ancient route to the sword-making village of Yagyu. On Day 5 enjoy free time to see the famous temples and adorable deer of Nara before catching your train back to Osaka (or Kyoto).
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Train Osaka - Asuka (D)
Today you will make your own way to the train station in Osaka (or Kyoto) to catch your train to Asuka on the southern edge of the Yamato Plain. This peaceful agricultural community is an ideal location to experience the rural lifestyle of the Japanese countryside. Opt to explore the area with a self-guided Asuka Monuments Walk for a perfect introduction to the history and landmarks of the village. Overnight at a Minshuku Japanese guesthouse or at a friendly family homestay.Walking distance: 9km / 5.5 miles (plus optional Iwaido detour) Elevation gain: 420m / 1375ft of ascent / 425m / 1390ft of descent (plus optional Iwaido detour) Time required: About 4 hours of optional walking
Day 2: Asuka Tanzan Shrine Hike (B/D)
On your second day in Asuka, enjoy the opportunity to explore the village further. Follow our walking directions along the route to Tanzan Shrine - wind your way along the pretty roads of this agricultural community and then head up along a forest trail to the atmospheric shrine. Overnight at a Minshuku Japanese guesthouse or friendly family homestay.Walking distance: 13km / 8 miles Elevation gain: 530m / 1,730ft of ascent; 300m / 985ft of descent Time required: About 5 hours of optional walking
Day 3: Train to Nara & Hike the Yamanobe no Michi in Nara (B/D)
This morning you can rent bicycles to visit Asuka's wonderful terraced rice fields. Afterwards, travel by train to Nara, Japan's first permanent capital. Established in 710 and then known as Heijo, Nara abounds in cultural heritage, with many historic treasures and easy access to wonderful nature.
Or make an earlier start from Asuka and hike the historic Yamanobe no Michi trail before arriving at your accommodation in Nara this evening, staying at a Japanese inn or western-style hotel.Walking distance: 16km / 10 miles Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent Time required: About 5 hours of optional walking
Day 4: Hike the Yagyu Kaido in Nara (B/D)
Today you will tackle the Yagyu Kaido hike from Yagyu village back to Nara, following in the footsteps of ancient warriors who took this route to the sword-making village of Yagyu. The full hike is a challenging 20km, but we offer a shorter 12km option from Enjo-ji Temple, too. Both hikes end with a wonderful stroll through Nara Park, with its famous deer and temples. Overnight at a Japanese inn or western-style hotel.Walking distance: 20.2km / 12.5 miles (7.3 miles/ 11.7km from Enjo-ji) Elevation gain: 610m / 2000 feet of ascent and 785m / 2575 feet of descent (240m / 790 feet of ascent and 535m / 1755 feet of descent from Enjo-ji) Time required: About 5 or 8 hours of optional walking
Day 5: Sightseeing in Nara & Train to Osaka (B)
Explore more of Nara before heading onwards by train. Spend the day visiting important cultural spots including Todai-ji and Horyu-ji temples, visit the carefully preserved Edo-period merchant district of Nara-machi, Isuien Garden.
The tour ends with your train journey back to Osaka (or Kyoto). You can use your train tickets to board a morning train, or you can enjoy a full day in Nara and travel onwards in the late afternoon or early evening.