The Best Woodland Trail in Japan
This fully-guided tour is designed for those seeking an adventure vacation combined with unique cultural experiences. We will be hiking the 80-kilometre Shinetsu Trail.
The Shinetsu Trail, opened in 2008, is the first hiking trail that allows you to experience the stunning beauty of Satoyama landscapes and to partake in local culture and hospitality. Passing through several mountain villages, the trail enables you to experience unfiltered Satoyama culture as you hike.
WHAT IS THE SHINETSU TRAIL?
The first long-distance trail
The Shinetsu Trail is the first long-distance trail designed after the model of the Appalachian Trail in the USA. Like the Appalachian Trail, this 80-kilometre trail connects small towns and villages in a network that permits hikers to visit local attractions and communities en-route and to stay in local accommodations. It follows one of the oldest trails in Japan. Despite its long use for trade and travel, it remains the least known long-distance trail in Japan. It has a rich history dating back to just after the Nara Period (AD 710-784).
Running along the border between Nigata and Nagano Prefectures, the Shinetsu Trail follows the Sekita mountain range at an average elevation of 1000 meters. This region is also one of the snowiest regions in the world, averaging eight meters of snowfall in the winter. The rolling terrain of the trail passes through old-growth forests of majestic beech trees interspersed with villages.
Ridge hiking experience
Our first day on the Shinetsu Trail will give you a taste of what is to come. This classic Japanese ridge hike is mostly below tree line and features rolling elevation change throughout the day. The majority of the trail is well-maintained and signed and pleasantly cushioned with fallen leaves, which your feet and knees will appreciate.
We will hike the trail over five days, averaging a comfortable 14 Km per day. Every day is different and unique.
Tours are scheduled to coincide with peak Fall colour seasons when the autumn colours of Japanese beech, oak, mountain ash, maples and many others are at their best.
Small roads are interspersed throughout the region, allowing us to leave the trail for nearby villages at the end of each day.
What is Satoyama
"Satoyama" is a Japanese term that describes the symbiotic interaction between humans and nature in the mountainous areas of Japan. 'Sato’ means "arable and livable land" and ‘Yama’ means "hill or mountain". "Satoyama" is considered an important environmental ideal where natural and cultural value coexist in harmony.
Humans have lived in these "Satoyama" regions for thousands of years and have reached an equilibrium within the ecosystem where the local biodiversity is richer than the pre-human environment.
"Satoyama" values and practices have been identified and used for a wide range of purposes by local residents to sustain and improve their lives and in activities such as agriculture, forestry and fishery. These practices, passed on locally from generation to generation, have resulted in rich and unique ecosystems in each "Satoyama" region in Japan.
Hiking in the Satoyama region is an immersion in the natural beauty and mountain culture of Japan.
Shinetsu Trail Club
This tour would not be possible without the efforts of the Shinetsu Trail Club in developing this unique trail. Our tour is operated with their cooperation and involvement.
The Shinetsu Trail Club is a non-profit organization accredited by Nagano Prefecture since 2004. Its mission is to manage and maintain this 80-kilometre trail and support and promote its beauty. Additionally, it educates people on the importance of the surrounding natural environment, symbolized by magnificent Japanese beech-tree forests, along with local history and cultural heritage.
The entire Shinetsu Trail was completed and opened to the public in 2008. It was the work of hundreds of local volunteers. Their efforts have resulted in a trail that allows hikers to not only enjoy the beauty of the rolling mountains and Japanese beech tree forests, but also to experience genuine Japanese local hospitality when staying in the mountain villages overnight.