Find Your Next Adventure

Or leave the current defaults



Quick Trip Search
Colorado Mountain Club
Welcome,    Log OutMember Login •   Contact Us
Home » Adventure Travel » Adventure Travel Trips » Koyasan & Nakasendo Way Walk

Iceland Trek

Koyasan & Nakasendo Way Walk

Book Trip &
Pay Deposit

Email Leader
with Questions

Itinerary &
Welcome Letter

Cancellation Policy

Comparison Chart 

October 30-November 12, 2018

CMC Members: $3985
Non-Members: $4385

Deposit: $500


Trip Overview

Experience Japan during peak autumn color in Koyasan and along the Nakasendō Way. Koyasan is a complex of over 100 individual temples dedicated to the study and practice of Shingon Buddhism, brought to Japan in AD 819 by Kobo Daishi. We’ll stay at one of the temples for three nights, where we’ll be taken care of by the monks who live there. At the temple, we can enjoy meditation practice, experience sutra writing, participate in morning worship with a fire ceremony or just relax in the hot bath or beautiful gardens. We’ll explore Koyasan with a knowledgeable English-speaking local guide, visiting such sites as Okunion Cemetery and the Danjo Garan temple complex, and participate in making our own decorative sushi as part of our lunch. Our final day in Koyasan takes us on a day hike along a rugged mountain route once allocated to women pilgrims.


The Nakasendō Way (中山道 Central Mountain Route), also called the Kisokaidō, was one of two routes that connected the then-imperial capital of Kyoto to the shogunate capital of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). There were 69 stations (staging posts or Post Towns) between Kyoto and Edo that were established for the purpose of providing a resting place for travelers along the road. Post Towns provided accommodation, fresh horses, and meals. The Nakasendō Way was used by the shogun, daimyo, and other important persons needing to travel between the two capitals of Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). There is some evidence that the route was also traveled by pilgrims.


Our walk passes through a section known as Kisoji in the Kiso River Valley of central Honshu. The scenery of the Kiso River Valley attracted many literary figures and artists, and became known for poetry and woodblock prints. The region is also known for its unique wooden combs and beautiful lacquerware. The route's eleven Post Towns were incorporated into the Nakasendō because the route already existed and there were many towns along the way that were set up for long-distance travelers. Many of the Post Towns have preserved or reconstructed 18th century buildings, with rows of teahouses and shops, of an architecture that is unique to the region. There are also Shino shrines and Buddhist temples that we will see along the way.  While walking in the Kiso River Valley, we travel through highlands, forests and along the Kiso River with views of spectacular Mt. Ontake which we will visit weather and/or season permitting. We’ll pass through the Akasawa Recreational Forest, known as the birthplace of “forest therapy.” As we walk through rural Japan, we’ll stay in minshuku and ryokans (guest houses), where we’ll sleep in beautiful Japanese-style rooms and eat delicious food. Some parts of the Nakasendō now follow a river and major highway; we’ll skip some of these sections by taking a local train a few times. Our final day in the Kiso River Valley includes a visit to Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s premier historic castles dating to 1504. From the Kiso River Valley we’ll head north to visit and hike a section of the Nakasendō in the “Alps” of Japan before ending our adventure with a brief visit to Tokyo.



A variety of Western-style (beds with en-suite toilet and bath) and Japanese-style (futons on the floor, shared gender-segregated toilets and baths) double-occupancy rooms. In one case, accommodation is dormitory-style with futons on the floor of two large shared rooms. See Itinerary & Welcome Letter for full descriptions. There is no single occupancy option.


Level of Activity / Difficulty

Participants should have the ability to walk comfortably in urban environments and to hike B-level trails in rural and forested settings for up to six hours. We will encounter a variety of terrain, including exposed rocks, tree roots and stone or wood steps. Shrines are often at the top of a hill and reachable only by a long series of steps. Participants should be in excellent health and have the ability and willingness to travel in these conditions without complaint.


Other Notes

Attendance is required at the pre-trip planning meetings. The leader will also offer a series of optional, pre-trip hikes.


Trip Leaders: Kris Ashton and Christine Petty

Learn more about your trip leaders >