People

Oku Japan

Oku Japan operates guided, self-guided and custom tours around Japan. Our main office is in Kyoto, and some of our sales staff are based in the UK. In spring 2015, Oku Japan opened a branch office in the village of Chikatsuyu, where we are proud to be part of the local community.

Our mission is a simple one; to introduce visitors to Japan to the beautiful scenery, delightful towns and villages, and above-all the lovely people, we have discovered on our travels. We are a small team of people passionate about Japan, and every one of us speaks Japanese and knows the country intimately. We have travelled the length and breadth of the country; stayed at hundreds of hotels, Ryokan and Minshuku, taken trains, planes, ferries and buses to the far corners of this amazing country, to discover the best food, best accommodation and best service that you can expect.

We strongly believe in travel having a positive impact on both the traveler and the local people. Our tours travel both to the famous sites, but also to the lesser-known places that have not made it into the guidebooks. You may find yourself on a super-fast bullet train one day, and the next sitting in a small country hot spring miles from the nearest town.

We try to strike a balance between easy, comfortable travel, with seeing places that require a degree more effort to get to. Some of our destinations are not visited by any other tour company, and that's because they are not suited to mass-market tourism. Our favourite inns may not have internet access or even their own website, but they have the freshest food and personal service you can't reproduce on a large scale.

Featured trips & expertise

The original paved stones of the old Nakasendo trail in central mountainous Japan
Self-Guided Walking Tour on the Nakasendo Trail - 10 Days

Take a walk through time on this 10-day self-guided tour of the Nakasendo Trail, part of feudal Japan's original network of highways. Travelers on the mountain path between Kyoto and Tokyo took several days to travel the distance, staying overnight in Juku post towns. You'll retrace their footsteps as you travel through serene forests, stay in historically preserved local inns by night, and explore the vibrant cities of Kyoto and Tokyo.

The wonderful Nakahechi route
Kumano Kodo Self-Guided Tour - 6 Days

Get ready for an unforgettable village-to-village trek on the Kii Peninsula along sections of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. Perfect for avid hikers, this self-guided tour will take you past thermal hot springs, grand shrines, and waterfalls as you walk in the footsteps of emperors.

Hike Japan's Nakasendo Trail - 5 Days

Step back in time and immerse yourself in nature on this five-day hiking trip along the historic Nakasendo Trail. Feudal lords and samurai once walked this mountain path connecting Kyoto and Tokyo, stopping at some of the historic 69 post stations to rest for the night. You'll follow in their footsteps as you trek through picturesque valleys, stay in idyllic villages, and relax in the thermal waters of hot springs along the way.

The full Kumano Kodo experience
Hiking Japan's Kumano Kodo - 11 Days

Get off the beaten path and onto the Kumano Kodo, a network of ancient pilgrimage trails in the remote Kii Peninsula. Trek to grand shrines, thermal hot springs, and the sacred Mount Koya, one of the most important sites in Buddhism. This self-guided trip is great for those looking to challenge themselves with full-day hikes through hilly terrain. You'll be rewarded, however, with unforgettable experiences as you follow in the footsteps of emperors.

Kyoto, Japan
Japan's Culinary Heritage - 11 Days

Calling all foodies! Eat your way through the Land of the Rising Sun on this comprehensive 11-day "foodcation." You'll immerse yourself in Japanese history and culture through its legendary cuisine, and treat your taste buds to everything from home-brewed sake to the freshest sushi, to delectable street food and a fancy gourmet feast.

Recent Trip Reviews for Oku Japan

6 day walk, Japan - Feb 8 - Feb 18, 2018

Traveler: Andrew T. - Local specialist: Andy Moser

All in all a wonderful experience very well managed, thank you.
Day 1: the first climb was almost a deal breaker. The path was not clear and we should have been warned that is was incredibly demanding.
Takahara ryokan was good. Private facilities and food were probably the best of all on the walk. Excellent packed lunch. To be able to fit around the tire at night after a private onsen was great.
Day 2: good walk with no surprises although the cold was extreme
Chikatsuyu food was good and... read more

All in all a wonderful experience very well managed, thank you.
Day 1: the first climb was almost a deal breaker. The path was not clear and we should have been warned that is was incredibly demanding.
Takahara ryokan was good. Private facilities and food were probably the best of all on the walk. Excellent packed lunch. To be able to fit around the tire at night after a private onsen was great.
Day 2: good walk with no surprises although the cold was extreme
Chikatsuyu food was good and private onsen enjoyable. Lack of private facilities was inconvenient although with only two other guests not a big problem
Day 3: this was an incredible trek, we did the entire 24kms, with ice and snow a real challenge, last 3 hours in rain made the achievement even more admirable. Knowing we had shorter options was comforting. Suggest it should end at Hongu as we had no time to sightsee given the bus timetable. Yunomineso was ok but again Hongu probably a better overnight stay. Hotel pick up and taxi drop off, enabled a later start after the exhausting walk, for next day were very convenient,
Day 4: good walk and enabled a little recovery. Momofuku was quaint but lack of private facilities was a little problematic. Nice hosts but we were over the food, especially the breakfasts by this stage.
Day 5: great walk and wonderful views on the way and just superb as we approached Nachi san. We should have stayed in Nachi san again to see more of the sites.
Kii-Katsuura, my choice, was disappointing. By this stage should have chosen a western hotel. Should have stayed in Nachi san. Lovely town to stroll around behind the train to Osaka.
Overall far more challenging than I thought but an incredible experience and achievement.
Directions, train abc bus connections all first class.

Karuizawa extension: fair to say we, especially Paula, were over ryokans at this stage again I should have requested a western hotel closer to the ski fields. Nevertheless the two days were saved by lovely snow falls and the outlet shopping, Paula was in heaven. Do highlight this in the future, some real bargains.
Food at tsuyaya was good and the buffet breakfast good fir westerners. Service was excellent here. If only the library had an open fire!
Travel by train back to Tokyo was again excellent, Japanese railways are impressive.
So all in all a great trip
Thanks for your planning, availability on the phone the only time needed, and efficient responses in preparation.
Our next walk will hopefully be coast to coast hopefully a little less demanding and not as rushed as I retire in a few months

Andy Moser, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Andrew,

We are delighted to know you and Paula had an enjoyable trip in Japan (the walk to Nachi is perhaps one of my favourite walks in Japan). We greatly appreciate your feedback and have shared this information among our tour development team. We know that feedback from clients is the best way for us to improve our products and services.

We hope we may have the pleasure of welcoming you and Paula in Japan on another occasion in the future.

Kind regards,
Andy
Oku Japan