Event Detail


Overseas Field Trip: Walking the ancient Nakasendo Trail like an Edo-era traveller

Stanley Shea
Monday, 8 Apr 2024
Nagoya downtown
Introduction from Stanley Shea:

What makes the Nakasendo experience truly unique and special is the depth and authenticity of the journey you'll embark on. Unlike standard package tours, the adventure has a central theme that delves into the historical tapestry of the Nakasendo ancient trail, offering profound insights into the lives of people along this historic route during the Edo period.

Every stop on this carefully curated journey revolves around this central theme, immersing you in the historical context in a meaningful and comprehensive way. This isn't about ticking off tourist spots; it's a thoughtfully designed exploration.

You'll have the opportunity to visit places known mainly to the locals, granting you exclusive experiences that are hard to come by independently. Picture dining at a quaint shabu shabu restaurant run by a delightful elderly couple, meeting a master artisan specialising in the declining trade of finely handcrafted wooden combs, and savoring handmade soba around a traditional Japanese fireplace in a century-old house. These encounters allow you to forge a genuine connection with the local culture. A particular highlight is a visit to a discreet yet meticulously curated woodblock printing museum, offering you a hands-on printing experience and an exclusive curator-led explanation about the exhibit. This enriches your understanding of this traditional art form and its historical significance.

But what truly distinguishes us is our passionate team—a dedicated tour leader and an insightful local Japanese guide, both sharing a deep enthusiasm for Japanese culture and history. The tour leader carefully crafts the theme and the overall experience, ensuring a seamless and engaging journey. Our local guide enriches your exploration with detailed insights and explanations at every location, offering you a profound understanding of the historical and cultural context. Together, we strive to provide you with an immersive and exceptional travel experience within a small, intimate group setting.

Day 1
*    Pickup at Nagoya downtown, take chartered bus to hike start point
*    Hiking on Nakasendo to Okute post town (about 2 hours)
*    Explore Okute post town, lunch
*    Take chartered bus to visit a fascinating woodblock printing museum and make your own woodblock prints
*    Take chartered bus to hotel and dinner

Day 2
*    Hiking on Nakasendo to Magome post town (about 2.5 hours)
*    Visit the peaceful Eishoji temple and lunch
*    Explore a well preserved Kabuki theatre including a visit to the backstage
Day 3
*   Hiking on Nakasendo to Tsumago post town (about 2.5 hours)
*   Explore Tsumago, including the former guesthouse for the government officials and learn about the post office system in the Edo period
*    Free time at Tsumago
*    Visit Kozenji temple with its impressive dry rock garden
Day 4
*    Visit the Kaida Highlands and observe the rare breed of the Japanese Kiso horses that used to be the workhorse on the Nakasendo
*    Explore the post town of Kiso Fukushima, including the well restored government checkpoint and the interesting residence of the former checkpoint caretaker
*    Explore the post town of Narai, including the shophouse of a former comb merchant converted into an interesting museum
*    Check into a boutique guesthouse, tastefully renovated from the 200 years old house of a famous sake maker
Day 5
*    Free time at Narai post town
       (shopping at the small little shops or relaxing at the characterful cafes)
*    Transfer to Nagoya airport
* Your luggage can be conveniently stored at the hotel during our stay, and our team will ensure it is forwarded to the next hotel via our own vehicle on subsequent days. You'll only need to carry a small backpack with you each day, making the walking more comfortable.
*The above itinerary is subjected to changes.


Trip Highlights:

The meticulously crafted itinerary promises a blend of historical exploration, immersive experiences, and cultural encounters that will leave an indelible mark on your understanding of Japan's past. Here's what awaits guests on this extraordinary journey:
1. Exploring the Nakasendo Trail
Embark on a picturesque journey along the enchanting Nakasendo trail, where the colourful cherry blossom paints the backdrop to our exploration. As we walk this historic path, we delve into the captivating system of official travel established by the Edo government, uncovering stories woven into its very fabric. Our adventure encompasses an average of two hours of hiking per day during the initial three days, ensuring a deep immersion into this remarkable experience.
2. Delve into the History of Woodblock Printing at Hiroshige Museum of Art, Ena

The woodblock prints give you a great insight into the lives of the common people and travellers along the Nakasendo during the Edo period. Delve into the intricacies of this time-honoured craft, creating your own woodblock print in a hands-on workshop that connects you to the artistry of bygone eras. Immerse yourself further in a special exhibit that weaves tales of Japan's heritage through intricate woodblock prints, leaving you with a profound appreciation for this remarkable art form's enduring legacy. 
3. Kabuki Theatre Experience

Experience the vibrancy of Edo-era entertainment with a visit to a charming countryside Kabuki theatre. Immerse yourself in its cultural significance to the common people and gain insights into the world of traditional Japanese performing arts.
4. Luxurious Guesthouse Stay

Indulge in the comforts of a meticulously refurbished guesthouse, once the abode of a sake maker. With a history spanning two centuries, this accommodation offers a blend of luxury and tradition that will enchant your senses.
5. Culinary Delights

Savor the authentic flavors of Japan with local cuisine experiences. Enjoy handmade soba sourced from nearby farms, relished at characterful family restaurants cherished by locals.

 6. Well-Preserved Edo-Era Post Towns

Although the passage of time has rendered these highways and post towns largely obsolete, efforts
have been made to painstakingly preserve and restore certain sections. Exploring these towns today
allows us to step back in time and immerse ourselves in the ambiance of Edo-era travel. These
charming towns are replete with quaint little shops selling traditional crafts, sweets, and tea, offering
us a glimpse into the life of a bygone Edo-era traveler.

Stanley Shea is a highly accomplished freelance tour guide with over 10 years’ experience in the field.  With a particular focus on curating captivating experiences, Stanley has been instrumental in organizing successful trips for the RGS-HK and numerous other organizations, including the American Women's Association HK.  He also has extensive experience coordinating trips in Mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan. 

For further details and reservations, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Date:     8-12 April 2024 ( 4 nights, 5 days )
Meeting point: Meet at Nagoya downtown
Destination:  Nakasendo, Japan

Cost: HKD  $26,000 ;                $10,000 for reservation fee
       including 3 meals per day (except for lunch and dinner on the last day);
       4 nights’ accommodation and coach transportation;
          local tour guide service; all admission and activities costs

Group Size: 10-15  
*Single room occupancy surcharge will be $5800 per person*

Registration method: Pre-payment is required. Please click here.  or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To join the Society and enjoy the benefits of being a member, please clickhere

*To secure your spot, a $10,000 reservation fee is required. Cancellation 45 days or more in advance, a full refund will be provided. Cancellations made between 45 and 20 days before the trip will result in a half refund. Unfortunately, no refund will be issued for cancellations within 20 days of the trip. Please settle the remaining balance on or before 18 March 2024.

See other events in 2021