Japan's North Alps are famous for their call colors

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Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6395  
Length: 13 days
Arrive: Osaka, Japan
Depart: Osaka, Japan
Lodging: 10 nights ryokans/lodges, 2 nights mountain hut
Meals: All meals included except lunches and 3 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 9 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 4-8 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000 and 10,000 feet


  • Hiking ascents of Tate-yama, one of Japan’s famed sacred peaks, and Yari-ga-take, the Japanese Matterhorn
  • Fascinating urban hikes on ancient pilgrim paths
  • Brilliant fall foliage, a spectacular backdrop the rocky spires of the Japanese Alps
  • Traditional teahouses, feudal castles, Zen temples, traditional Japanese ofuro baths, Shinto shrines, journeys by Bullet Train

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Hiking is the best way to get to know Japan, and with Trip Leader Craig McLachlan, who literally “wrote the book” on the subject—Lonely Planet’s Hiking in Japan—we set out for fantastic hikes that run the gamut from urban rambles on ancient pilgrim paths to an ascent of one of Japan’s famous sacred peaks, Tate-yama (9,889'), with its Shinto shrine at the summit. Most of the hikes are easy cultural rambles, while two of them (the steep ascents of Tate-yama and Yari-ga-take) present challenge and adventure for avid hikers. Our accommodations are varied, including traditional ryokans, cozy hikers’ lodges, and two mountain huts atop the high peaks of the craggy Japanese Alps. Along the way, Craig will help us discover vestiges of the old Japan, meet many Japanese hiking enthusiasts (Japan is a country of hikers), and explore settings that reveal Japan’s inner secrets. We also enjoy the kind welcome of the Japanese people, see the innate sense of beauty and attention to detail that defines every aspect of Japanese life, and savor the beauty of autumn in Japan, with its pleasant temperatures and brilliant fall foliage that makes a spectacular backdrop for shrines and temples as well as the rocky spires of the Alps. Join us for a very special hiking adventure in Japan with a true expert!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Osaka, Japan / Kyoto

We warm up with a fascinating “urban hike” through one of Osaka’s most exclusive residential neighborhoods, heading high up among unusual rock formations and through peaceful forests, passing teahouses en route. Another hike, this one in Kyoto, brings us from the 8th century Fushimi Inari shrine to the 13th century Buddhist temple of Tofuku-ji, one of the great Zen temples of Kyoto.

Days 4-6
Kamikochi / Yari-ga-take

Heading to Matsumoto, gateway to the craggy Japanese Alps, we journey up to the tiny resort village of Kamikochi (4,972') for our first glimpse of Japan’s spectacular alpine scenery and an overnight in a ryokan. Carrying a daypack with our overnight belongings, we make the big hike up Yari-ga-take (10,433'), one of the most famous peaks in Japan, known locally as the Japanese Matterhorn and very similar in shape. After an overnight at a mountain hut, we head for the summit the next day, then descend to Kamikochi. Please note: On Days 5 and 6, we also offer wonderful non-strenuous hiking options for those who do not want to do the Yari-ga-take hike.

Days 7-9
Matsumoto Castle / Hakuba / Karamatsu-Dake

After visiting the lovely city of Matsumoto, with its medieval castle, we head to the alpine Hakuba Valley for a day hike on the peak of  Karamatsu-dake. On Day 9, we head up to Murodo at 7,000 feet, below the summit of Tate-yama (9,889'), one of Japan’s three holy Buddhist peaks, with an overnight at the Mikuri-ga-ike Onsen Hut, a chance to soak in hot springs and spend some time with local hikers.

Days 10-13
Tate-Yama / Hakuba

A steep hiking ascent brings us to the Shinto shrine at the top of Tate-yama, after which we descend to Hakuba. The next day a train journey brings us along the coast of the Sea of Japan to Osaka. Our final hike is a great ramble through Nara’s rural countryside past temples, shrines, 1,300-year-old emperor’s tombs, fruit stalls, and rice paddies—a great way to finish our search for the real Japan. Depart on 13.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 5, Strenuous, according to our trip grading system. This is an active adventure for fit, experienced hikers who enjoy the challenge of steep ascents and descents and don’t mind the exposure of steep, narrow trails at altitudes of up to 10,433 feet (the summit of Yari-ga-take). On two of the hikes in particular (Day 5 and Day 9), you will be hiking and scrambling for up to 8-9 (Day 5) hours while carrying a pack with your overnight belongings at altitudes up to 10,000 feet. The hikes up Yari-ga-take and Tata-yama are not technically difficult—a mixture of straight hiking and scrambling with the use of fixed cables and ladders—but they feature a continuous vertical ascent with some exposure and are not for those who have a fear of heights! Agility and sure-footedness are also important qualities to be comfortable on these steep routes. We strongly urge you make a special effort to get in good condition by walking, bicycling, swimming, or other forms of exercise. Altitude should not be a problem on this trip. However, some people still find they get a few problems when they first reach high altitude. Slight headache and sleeplessness in the huts are the most common problems. Remember, in Japan we will often be sleeping on futons and eating at floor level, so it is important that you are able to sit down on and get up off the floor without much difficulty. A word about bathing: In the Japanese-style bath (onsen), bathing is a communal activity, with the sexes segregated; thus, this trip is not for the very modest! Showering with (or without) soap is done in an adjacent shower prior to getting the bath. The sizes of baths varies from tiny tubs to huge pools. Generally baths can handle about a dozen people at a time.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Sep 29-Oct 11, 2014

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$6395 (13-15 members)
$6795 (8-12 members)
$7395 (5-7 members)
Single supplement: $1020 (no singles available in the mountain huts)
Forced single supplement: $820
Japan Rail Pass: $575
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations in comfortable ryokans and hotels, 2 nights in mountain huts with shared facilities
  • All meals included except lunches and 3 dinners
  • Ground transportation using Japan Rail System, plus buses, chairlifts, and taxis as required
  • Site and entrance fees as part of the itinerary
  • Land transportation as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, airport transfers (the JR Pass can be used for these), any meals not specified after each itinerary day, fees for optional activities, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.