Active travelers will love this 10-day adventure that takes you down a portion of the iconic 330-mile-long Nakasendo Trail. After a restful night in Tokyo, head to the post town of Magome, where you'll trek from post town to post town over four days, enjoying views of the lush Kiso Valley, ancient temples and shrines, and emerald rice fields. Then, fly to Seoul to discover some of the city's highlights and hike to the top of Mount Bukhansan to see a tranquil Buddhist sanctuary to end the tour.


  • Follow your guide on a street food and walking tour in Tokyo's Yanaka district
  • Traverse the same path that ancient travelers followed in the Edo period
  • Explore historic sites like Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's 12 original castles
  • Take a cable car up Namsan Mountain to enjoy panoramic views of Seoul

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo (Japan), Food & Walking Tour in the Yanaka District Tokyo
Day 2 Transfer to the Historic Town of Magome, Explore on Your Own Magome
Day 3 Hike from Magome to Tsumago  Tsumago
Day 4 Hike from Tsumago to Nojiri, Train to Kiso-Fukushima Kiso-Fukushima
Day 5 Train to Yabuhara, Hike to Narai  Narai
Day 6 Hike to Kiso-Hirasawa, Train to Matsumoto Matsumoto
Day 7 Train to Tokyo, Fly to Seoul (South Korea) Seoul
Day 8 Full-Day Tour of Seoul's Iconic Landmarks  Seoul
Day 9 Hike Through Bukhansan National Park to Seunggasa Temple Seoul
Day 10 Depart Seoul  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo (Japan), Food & Walking Tour in the Yanaka District

Traverse the azalea-lined pathway to get to Nezu Shrine's main hall

Welcome to the vibrant capital of Japan, Tokyo! Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel in the city. After taking some time to refresh, follow your guide to the Yanaka district on a food and walking tour, starting at Nezu Shrine, a Shinto shrine built in 1705. Enter through the towering torii gates and follow the path lined with colorful azalea bushes to the main hall. Admire the intricate carvings and vibrant colors of the shrine, then explore the sacred grounds full of koi-filled ponds, vermillion bridges, and stone lanterns.

After exploring the shrine and its natural surroundings, continue to a nearby café to rest and enjoy traditional sweets and drinks. You can also try to paint a ceramic maneki-neko (lucky cat) to obtain happiness and luck and take home a personalized souvenir. Don't fill up on snacks here, as your next stop is to street food stalls selling mochi, a sweet rice cake typically filled with red bean paste, and dorayaki, red bean pancakes. Break up the sweets with a delicious bowl of soba noodles for lunch to end the half-day tour.

Day 2: Transfer to the Historic Town of Magome, Explore on Your Own

Your Nakasendo Trail Hike Begins: Magome Discovery
Explore Magome's cobblestone streets lined with traditional structures

After just one night in Tokyo, leave the city behind as you head to the bus station for a 4.5-hour transfer to the historic post town of Magome, your starting point for the four-day hike along the Nakasendo Trail. The trail follows the route of ancient travelers who once traversed the path connecting Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo) during the Edo period. Before you start the trek tomorrow, you have some time to explore the town on your own. If you want to learn more about the town's rich history and the Nakasendo Trail, visit the Magome Wakihonjin Museum.

Housed in the restored Waki-Hanjin, an Edo-period inn that once accommodated weary travelers, the museum's interior is well-preserved and full of traditional furnishings and tatami (straw mats) lining the floor. Browse the collection of artifacts, dioramas, and informative displays to bring Magome's past to life. When you get hungry, head to one of the quaint restaurants lining Honjin Street to try local delicacies, such as soba noodles. If you're not too tired, enjoy a cup of matcha tea and a sweet treat at one of the nearby teahouses to end the night.

Day 3: Hike from Magome to Tsumago 

Follow the Nakasendo Trail through emerald forests and past lush rice fields to get to Tsumago

Your first part of the hike along the Nakasendo Trail starts today, taking you 5.5 miles (9 km) to another one of the 69 post towns along the trail, Tsumago. Walk through emerald forests, quaint villages, and picturesque rice fields that showcase the timeless beauty of the Kiso Valley. The path is cobblestone and well-maintained, so you can focus on appreciating the lush landscapes around you. When you arrive in Tsumago, after approximately three hours of walking, you can stroll through the pedestrian-only streets and take in the town's rugged beauty.

Pop in and out of the charming shops selling traditional crafts and local snacks to find a commemorative souvenir or sample regional delights. If you're not too tired and want to continue to explore a bit on your own, hike up to the ruins of Tsumago Castle, which dates back to the Muromachi period. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of the town and the portion of the trail you just completed from the remnants of the castle's stone walls. In the evening, head to your inn to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner.
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Day 4: Hike from Tsumago to Nojiri, Train to Kiso-Fukushima

Hiking from Tsumago to Nojiri
Follow the bamboo-lined trail to the post town of Nojiri

Enjoy a nourishing breakfast at the inn to prepare for the longest portion of the hike today, as you follow the 11.5-mile (17 km) path to the post town of Nojiri. Trek through lush valleys, towering bamboo, and cedar forests, enjoying some of the most unspoiled scenery on the trail. When you arrive in Nojiri, head to the train station for a 30-minute transfer to Kiso-Fukushima.

Though the hike along the cobblestone is considered easy, it takes around six hours to complete. If this is too long for you, opt for a shorter, one-hour walk to the village of Nasigo to catch a 50-minute train ride to Kiso-Fukushima, where you can meet up with your group again at a ryokan, a traditional inn with tatami-lined floors and communal baths. Unwind in the indoor or outdoor hot springs after a long day of hiking, then sit down to enjoy a rejuvenating meal.

Day 5: Train to Yabuhara, Hike to Narai 

Admire the well-preserved wooden storefronts and merchant houses in Narai

Enjoy breakfast at the ryokan, then set off for the train station for a 15-minute transfer to Yabuhara, where you can start the 3.2-mile (5.3 km) hike to Narai, one of the most well-preserved post towns on the trail. As you leave the village behind, the trail meanders through lush forests and tranquil landscapes, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature. Look out for old stone markers and post towns surrounded by towering mountains. Along the way, stop at Ontake Shrine, dedicated to Mount Ontake, one of Japan's most revered volcanoes.

Enter at the vibrant red torii gates and discover the main hall, which is still used as a place of worship. After exploring the shrine, descend from the Torii Pass into Narai, which is the halfway point of the 330-mile (534 km) Nakasendo Trail. Walk along the town's cobbled streets to see the traditional wooden merchant houses and storefronts, then cross over the Narai River atop the arched Narai Kiso Bridge. Visit some of the artisan shops lining the streets to browse the collection of local crafts. In the evening, head to the inn to rest.

Day 6: Hike to Kiso-Hirasawa, Train to Matsumoto

Admire the black-and-white exterior of the 16th century Matsumoto Castle

Your last leg of the trail is an easy 2-mile (3.3 km) walk to the town of Kiso-Hirasawa, famous for its high-quality lacquerware. You have some free time here to visit the small shops selling handmade goods covered in lacquer or explore Kiso Shikkikan, a small museum dedicated to telling the history of lacquerware. Browse the collection of beautiful bowls, plates, and artwork before heading to the train station for a one-hour transfer to Matsumoto, the second-largest city in the Nagano prefecture. Leave your bags at the hotel, then venture into the city to explore on your own.

A good place to start is Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's 12 original castles, dating back to the 16th century. Admire the iconic black-and-white facade, which earned the structure the nickname "Crow Castle," then head inside to climb the steep wooden staircases and traverse the narrow corridors. When you get to the top, enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Japanese Alps. In the evening, stroll to Nakamachi Street to eat at one of the many cozy eateries selling local specialties and international cuisines to end the night.

Day 7: Train to Tokyo, Fly to Seoul (South Korea)

Browse the array of shops and food stalls lining Myeongdong Shopping Street

Say goodbye to Japan as you make your way to the station this morning for a 2.5-hour train ride to Tokyo, where you can catch a 2.5-hour flight to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. You can stay in to relax or venture into the city to explore on your own if you're ready to get back to the hustle and bustle. Head to Myeongdong Shopping Street, a pedestrian-friendly district full of local and international brands.

Browse the trendy boutiques and beauty shops or visit one of the many street food stalls to try local delights, like tteokbokki, sweet and spicy rice cakes, or odeng, fish cake skewers served with a hot broth. In the evening, the streets of Myeongdong come alive with neon lights and the sounds of K-pop music as performers line the streets, giving you a look into Seoul's vibrant culture. End the night with a sweet treat of bingsu, a shaved ice dessert that comes in a variety of flavors, such as red bean, matcha, or chocolate. 

Day 8: Full-Day Tour of Seoul's Iconic Landmarks 

Ride a cable car up to the top of Namsan Mountain to get to N Seoul Tower

Spend a full day exploring Seoul's highlights, starting at the Gyeongbokgung palace, built in 1395 during the Joseon dynasty. Enter through the imposing Gwanghwamun Gate to discover the intricate architecture, traditional courtyards, and lush gardens. Before you leave, watch the changing of the guard ceremony at the main gate. Continue to the nearby Bukchon Hanok Village, a historic neighborhood full of well-preserved hanoks (traditional Korean houses). Walk along the narrow, winding alleyways to admire the intricate wooden structures housing cultural centers, art galleries, and tea houses. 

For lunch, head to Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest and largest markets in the country. Browse the stalls brimming with handmade goods and Korean street food, like bindaetteok, mung bean pancakes, and bibimbap, rice topped with marinated meat and sautéed vegetables. Once you're full, take a stroll through Namsan Park, sitting at the base of Namsan Mountain. Follow the well-maintained trails up the mountain, or take a cable car to the top to get to N Seoul Tower, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city to end the tour.

Day 9: Hike Through Bukhansan National Park to Seunggasa Temple

Go on a Hiking Tour of Bukhansan and Ancient Seunggasa Temple
Trek up Mount Bukhansan to enjoy panoramic views of the cityscape below

Get back to the trails this morning as you set off on a hike through Bukhansan National Park, following your guide through the lush forests and serene valleys as you ascend Mount Bukhansan. As you walk, enjoy glimpses of the cityscape below until you reach the Seunggasa Temple, a tranquil Buddhist sanctuary nestled in the mountains. Discover the ornate architecture and intricate details of traditional Korean Buddhist art before relaxing in the courtyard. If you're a beginner hiker, you can trek back down the mountain from the temple.

Those who want to continue can follow their guide up the mountain along the Bibong Path, navigating ever-changing terrains of dense forests, rocky slopes, and crystal-clear streams. Keep an eye out for wildlife like Korean squirrels, chipmunks, and water skinks while you walk. When you finally reach the summit, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the mountain and Seoul's glittering skyline, making the effort worthwhile. After you've taken in the view, trek back down the mountain along the same path and return to your hotel to rest.

Day 10: Depart Seoul 

Take a morning walk in one of Seoul's pretty parks before departure

As your 10-day active adventure draws to a close today, spend your last few hours in Seoul exploring more of the city on your own. Return to Myeongdong Shopping Street to pick up some last-minute souvenirs or enjoy a stroll through Seoul Forest, an expansive public park that blends nature, art, and recreational spaces. Discover the butterfly conservatory, deer enclosure, and botanical gardens within the park before returning to the hotel to grab your bags and meet your driver to transfer to the airport in time for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Active Japan & South Korea Tour: Hike the Nakasendo Trail & Explore Seoul - 10 Days
Map of Active Japan & South Korea Tour: Hike the Nakasendo Trail & Explore Seoul - 10 Days