Follow scenic Wakasa bay; the central gateway to the Japan Sea, learning how the flow of water has informed the flora, the fauna and the way of life here, with five gentle hikes or cycles of two to four hours

Northern Kyoto to Fukui: Self-Guided Walking 5 Days Premium

Starting from USD Enquire / 5 days

Northern Kyoto to Fukui: Self-Guided Walking 5 Days Premium

Wakasa Province in central Japan has roots dating back to the Nara period (710 to 794). Owing to its direct proximity to the Japan Sea, the region has thrived and today retains important cultural monuments, abundant nature and traditional industries that helped support the local people for generations.

Our adventure travels along the coastline of the Japan Sea, from culturally rich northern Kyoto or ‘Kyoto by the sea’, from historic shrines and temples, to the iconic sandbar Amanohashidate, and Nariaiji temple, both affording spectacular views over the bay, through to rural Fukui, with its pristine beaches, laid-back daily life and remarkably preserved cultural treasures. Each day provides a unique theme on how Wakasa has informed the life here, from mountain folk tales, spiritual sites, local customs, important historic sites through to preservation cultures. 

 

Highlights

  • Experience gentle hikes through unspoilt nature, spiritual forests, important historic sites and lovingly preserved traditional villages
  • Take in local culture and crafts, including optional experiences, such as traditional paper-making in a functioning Washi village
  • Stay in four premium Japanese accommodations, taking in onsen baths, wooden Machiya townhouses, local experiences and delicious regional cuisine
  • Learn the deep culture and nature of Wakasa Bay, and how the proximity to water has informed the lifestyle, the nature and the scenery here
  • Walk along iconic Amanohashidate, featuring scenic views of the Japan sea on both sides

Wakasa Province in central Japan has roots dating back as far as the Nara period (710 to 794). As an active trade area, owing to its direct proximity to the sea, the region has thrived and today retains important cultural monuments, abundant nature and traditional industries that helped support the local people for generations. Wakasa bay, as the gateway to the Japan sea, has played an integral role in the region’s development.

Our varied journey begins from cultural and historical centre Kyoto, heading to iconic sandbar Amanohashidate via the key spiritual and historical Moto Ise Naigu shrine; a gentle hike here provides an introduction to the spirituality, history and nature so abundant in remote northern Kyoto. After overnighting at a comfortable premium Onsen inn, explore iconic sandbar Amanohashidate, which offers great views out over Wakasa Bay, and is connected by Chionji Temple to the south and Motoise Kono Shrine on the northern coast; offering unique spiritual and architectural waypoints on both sides of the walk. There are a myriad of delicious freshly caught seafood restaurants on the route for lunch, and after an optional visit to mountaintop temple Nariaiji with spectacular views over the sea from above, the itinerary then heads to Fukui Prefecture and to quiet, beachside Obama to enjoy the slow life and traditions passed between generations; a delightful and low-key rest stop on the trip. The next day involves a visit to a remote temple, and an overnight stay at a premium inn providing local experiences, including farming for ingredients used in the evening meals. This key location is closely connected to the temple, and offers appropriate Shojin Buddhist meals; providing a contrast from other stays, as well as breakfast and morning chanting ceremonies at the temple itself before heading onwards. Enroute, we also have an optional visit to a lovingly preserved Juku town; a picturesque exploration of the storied Saba (Mackerel) trade route, and photogenic wooden houses and backstreets. 


Heading north, we pass unique Mikata Goko, or “Five lakes” beside eastern Wakasa, affording great views and gentle, optional cycling, before visiting a local craft village, enabling us to see first-hand the process of local craftsmen at their workshops, then overnighting close to Wakasa in a comfortable traditional inn. From Fukui, the tour then finishes with a nice walk and visit the historic fort ruins at Ichijodani, an important cultural and historical marvel, where participants are invited to learn about the turbulent Sengoku Jidai period of civil upheaval and war. Each day provides a unique theme on how Wakasa has informed the life here, from mountain folk tales, spiritual sites, local customs, important historic sites through to preservation cultures, ensuring a varied and enriching experience. 


Our standard tour features entry-level, optional hikes and cycles. Please see here for trips best suited to families.


In Northern Kyoto, it is possible to extend the trip with an additional night in Amanohashidate, enabling further exploration of the region through local experiences, including rental e-bikes, the folktale-centric Onii trail or the ability to join an immersive waterfall experience undertaken by the local priests at certain times of year.

What's Included

  • 4 nights at premium Japanese accommodations
  • 4 breakfasts & 4 dinners
  • Train tickets starting in Kyoto and and ending in Fukui (with Premium Green Class seats where appropriate)
  • Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking directions
  • Topographical maps
  • Our Preparing for your trip and Travelling in Japan Guidebooks
  • Local support by telephone and at our Kyoto based team
  • Optional orientation at our Kyoto office

What's Not Included

  • Flights and Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Pay locally for museum and gallery entry fees
  • Pay locally for other transportation options
  • Single room supplement(s) if required

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Moto Ise Naigu Walking and Spiritual Culture

We travel from Kyoto city to northern Kyoto by train, before undertaking an atmospheric forest walk to the inner sanctum of historically significant Moto Ise.


According to the Nihon Shoki or ‘Chronicles of Japan’, which was recorded as being the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history, Emperor Sujin was the tenth emperor of Japan. Sujin lived from 97 to 30 BC, and despite being the first emperor whose existence is widely accepted, is still often referred to as a ‘legendary emperor’, due to the limited information about his life and rule. 


It was under Sujin’s rule where Amaterasu, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology, was recorded to have been enshrined at various locations around Japan, including the famous Ise Shrine in Mie, and also Moto Ise Naigu where we visit today. This historic land forms the basis for today’s walk. We hike through at atmospheric forest to reach the inner sanctum of the shrine, with the option to climb up to the shrine here.


After the hike, we head on by train to a comfortable premium inn for the evening.


Walking distance: 1.6 miles / 2.5km loop course
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 1-2 hours

Accommodation: Premium Japanese Ryokan
Meals: Dinner

Amanohashidate, walking along the Japan Sea

After breakfast, begin your walk from the inn along a scenic walk on the iconic Amanohashidate sandbar in northern Kyoto, passing key shrines and temples.


As one of Wakasa’s most iconic spots, this serves as a great entry point to the bay area, and the view over Amanohashidate bay is not only registered as a Nationally recognized place of natural beauty, but also frequently cited as one of the three most scenic views in all of Japan. The view has featured in ink paintings by Sesshu Toyo in the early 1500s and in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Hiroshige in the 1800s.


The walk has a fine variety of scenery, taking in the popular visiting area of Amanohashidate, which centres around the grand Buddhist temple of Chion-ji, before heading along the pine tree covered sand bar, affording lovely beachside views from both sides of Wakasa Bay and finally arriving at Motoise Kono Shrine, another important shrine linked to the one visited on the previous walk. Motoise Kono shrine dates back to the year 849 and features a genealogy of Amabe, the oldest of its kind, and recognized as a national treasure of Japan.


In the afternoon, we head onwards by train towards relaxing beachside Obama in Fukui and stay in a premium Machiya townhouse close to the sea. 


Walking distance: 2.4 miles / 3.9 km each way (750m further to the viewing platform)
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent to Kono Shrine and 150m of ascent to the viewing platform
Time required: About 2 hours each way

Accommodation: Premium Japanese Machiya Townhouse
Meals:
Breakfast, Dinner

Exploring Obama's Slow Life Culture

After breakfast, enjoy the slow life of beachside town Obama, brimming in local culture and authentic daily life on foot or by locally arranged bicycles.


Our route today takes in the many key locations that the area has to offer, while making your own discoveries, with the option to see the town by sea by taking a boat departing from Fisherman’s Wharf.


In the afternoon, travel onward to your final inn; a unique premium hotel closely linked to the local temple, providing suitably delicious Shojin Buddhist meals and a relaxing overnight stay in the mountains. At certain times of the year, it is possible to undertake a unique farming experience, where you learn about the vegetables included in the delicious evening meals.


Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Meeting the local craftsmen of Fukui

Take in numerous local cultures, through experiences at your inn and the nearby temple, before visiting a functioning craft village further north, together with an optional seaside lake cycle.


After a unique breakfast at the nearby temple and an optional experience here, we head north to Mikata.


20,000 years ago, the Mikata five lakes would have been considered inland lakes, but through a rising sea level, and narrow channels and canals connecting each of the five, they sit in a unique position right beside Wakasa Bay to the north-west.


Our gentle loop trail heads from the rental cycle shop at the station, around the three main lakes; Mikata, Suigetsu, and Suga, and also passing Hiruga and Kugushi to the north.


After the optional cycle, we choose from a number of local experiences from a functioning craftsmen’s village and finally, we arrive in Fukui for a comfortable overnight stay close to Wakasa Bay.


Distance: 3.5 miles / 5.6km
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent

Time required: 1-2 hours by bike, 2-3 hours on foot 


Accommodation: Premium Japanese Inn
 Meals:
Breakfast, Dinner

Ichijodani Ruins Walking and Historic Culture

From the inn this morning, travel to a nearby hike, where we learn the way of life for feudal soldiers, in a stroll through an authentically restored key historical settlement at Ichijodani Asakura Ruins.


During the tumultuous Sengoku Jidai (the period of warring states), in 1471, Echizen, or modern-day Fukui, was a key strategic area for wider central Japan. Infighting between members of the ruling Shiba clan led another group, the Asakura clan to take advantage of the chaos, displacing Shiba and fortifying hilltop structures at Ichijodani as a strategic base. The ruler of the clan, Asakura Toshikage, also made opportunity out of refugees fleeing Kyoto, where the Onin civil war was making living conditions untenable for many. Around the mid-1500s the area had grown to be a major cultural hub, in addition to its strategically beneficial location, reaching a peak of over 10,000 residents. 


However, the final Asakura ruler, shogun Asakura Yoshikage, developed a feud with revered and brutal warlord, Oda Nobunaga, credited as one of three unifiers of Japan. Nobunaga captured Kyoto in 1568, and drove Asakura’s ally, the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of the old capital and in 1570, Nobunaga invaded Echizen, and the Asakura family home was taken in 1573.


The Asakura castle ruins and Restored Warrior's Residence on today’s walk offer a unique insight into the way of life for the soldiers positioned at Asakura’s residence.



Head onwards from Fukui for easy access to Kyoto or north to Kanazawa.



Walking distance:  3.4 miles / 5.5km
Elevation gain: 270m / 885 feet of ascent and 255m / 835 feet of descent
Time required: About 2 - 3 hours 


Meals: Breakfast

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