The Shiga Highland Hike

The Shiga Highland Hike is a guided 6 night, 7 day tour that explores Central Japan’s mountainous highlands. After visiting Takayama Village with its native old-growth forest and famous hot springs, we spend the bulk of our time in Joshinetsu National Park and Shiga Kogen Ski Resort. Hiking between 1,000 and 2,000 meters, we have ample opportunity to explore Japan’s alpine flora and fauna in addition to breathtaking scenery, hot springs onsen and delicious local cuisine.

Itinerary:

Day 1 Meet in Nagano City

We meet in our hotel lobby at 6:00 PM this evening for a tour briefing and a local Izakaya-style dinner in the city. Instructions will be provided for the following day’s walk.

Accommodation: Western Hotel

Meals Provided: Dinner

Day 2 Nagano City – Takayama Village

We transfer by train, then taxi to the start of our walk this morning in the Matsukawa Keikoku Valley. After a first ascent and a good view of the valley below, we walk into Takayama Village for lunch. Afterwards, we continue our walk through the Matsukawa Keikoku Valley, known for its natural old growth forests, waterfalls and onsen baths. We walk on and off trails and roads all the way to this evening’s Ryokan (Japanese style inn), where we have time to relax in the multiple outdoor onsen (hot spring baths) that are gender separated. Dinner is a kaiseki style multi course meal. Confusingly, this Takayama Village is not the same as Takayama City in Gifu Prefecture.

Accommodation: Japanese Inn

Meals Provided: Lunch & Dinner

Distance: 10km

The Walk: 60% Paved Road, 40% Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Option to Walk Less: Yes

Day 3 Takayama Village – Shiga Kogen

This morning we set off from Takayama Village, walking into Joshinetsu National Park. We ascend Mt. Kasagadake (2,076 meters) with its breathtaking views of Nagano, Gunma and Niigata Prefectures. On the clearest of days we may even catch glimpses of Mt. Fuji. Those who wish may choose not to climb Mt. Kasagadake. After an obento pack lunch at the tea house, we descend into the Shiga Highlands where we walk to this evening’s accommodation. Dinner is a Japanese meal at the lodge.

Accommodation: Ski Lodge with Japanese Rooms

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance: 11km

The Walk: 50% Trail, 50% Paved Road

Difficulty: Challenging

Option to Walk Less: Yes

Day 4 Hiking in Shiga Kogen

Today we explore Shiga Kogen. The hike begins on the 48 lakes trail before turning to climb Mt. Akaishiyama. As this is quite challenging, an alternate route takes us down to beautiful Onuma Lake with its iconic Shinto Torii Gate. Either way, we are picked up and transferred to this evening’s hotel in Okushiga Kogen. Lunch is on the trail and dinner is a buffet style meal at the accommodation.

Accommodation: Ski Lodge with Western Rooms

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance: 10-16km

The Walk: 100% Trail

Difficulty: Challenging

Option to Walk Less: Yes

Day 5 Okushiga Kogen – Maguse Onsen

We transfer part way this morning before being dropped off at the trail head. We walk mostly downhill, catching glimpses through the thick forest of the steep valleys surrounding us. After lunch on the trail, we arrive at beautiful Maguse Onsen hot spring in a tranquil setting. Here we dip in outdoor hot spring bath (gender separated) offering 360 views of the valley below. We transfer 30 minutes to our accommodation in Nozawa Onsen, where we enjoy a kaiseki meal in the ryokan.

Accommodation: Japanese Inn

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance: 11km

The Walk: 70% Gravel Road, 30% Paved Road

Difficulty: Moderate

Option to Walk Less: No

Day 6 Kosuge Shrine & Hokuryuko Lake

Today we transfer 15 minutes to the entrance of Kosuge Shrine, one of the 3 famous shrines of Nagano Prefecture. After walking through the forest and onto a few of the imposing stone steps leading towards the inner shrine at the top of the mountain, we turn off towards Hokuryuko Lake. After walking around the lake, we have lunch at a local restaurant. We continue on a nature trail and back into the village of Nozawa Onsen, all the way back to our accommodation. Dinner is a final thank you party at an Izakaya style restaurant.

Accommodation: Japanese Inn

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance: 13km

The Walk: 50% Gravel Road, 30% Paved Road, 20% Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Option to Walk Less: Yes

Day 7 Nozawa Onsen – Iiyama Station

After breakfast, we transfer to Iiyama Station, about a 20-minute ride away. From here, it is one bullet train line to Tokyo or Kanazawa. The tour ends at Iiyama Station. Your Nagano Ventures guide will assist you with transfer information and scheduling.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Price

¥229,000 per person double occupancy +¥40,000 per person single occupancy. Price includes accommodation, Nagano Ventures guide, activities, onsens & all meals/transportation within the tour. Price does not include alcohol, souvenirs, travel insurance, flights & transportation to/from tour meeting/ending points.

Tour Dates:

June 15 – July 31

September 15 – October 31

Checklist of What to Bring

  • Clothing and toiletries
  • Waterproof jacket or windbreaker
  • Waterproof pants and shorts (summer tours only)
  • T-shirts and long-sleeve T-shirts
  • Water bottle
  • Appropriate hiking boots
  • Hiking Socks
  • Hiking poles
  • Day pack/backpack
  • Suitcase
  • Gloves
  • Warm hat/beanie
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Umbrella (optional)
  • Camera with extra batteries
  • Passport and copy of passport
  • Cash (at least ¥30,000 Japanese Yen)
  • Medication and/or allergy medicine
  • Insect repellent
  • Copy of medical insurance