Urban Exploring and Mt. Fuji
7 nights guided tour with Ben Hurst | August 24-31st 2019
Some things you just don’t know until you experience it. A book will teach you knowledge, but an adventure will transform your perception of the world, and hopefully yourself. We travel by two virtues - keeping the body charged and the mind stimulated. So we’ve designed each day offering both physical and cultural activities unique to that region.
August 24-31st 2019
Urban Exploring and Mt. Fuji
Is this tour for me?
This trip is best for people who are happy to travel with 4-6 others for part of each day, but also want plenty of free time throughout to explore at their own pace.
One of the best experiences you can have is hiking in rural Japan. Each trip, people rave about the huge spread of food that's prepared with local ingredients for dinner. The countryside villages have been meticulously preserved in 17-18th century Japan that makes you feel like you're in a movie. The Nakasendo trail is a moderate difficulty and between 3-7 hours of hiking each day. Ben will lead half-day tours in both Kyoto and Tokyo, and will have recommendations on what to do during the rest of the day, depending on interests."
August 24-26 Kyoto Shrines
Welcome to Kyoto! Hailed with over 1,000 years of history, Kyoto is home to thousands of temples, shrines, and stories. After meeting at the station, we will drop our bags off at the hotel before heading to the Inari Shrine, popular for its more than 1,000 red torii gates leading up a mountain. Have the rest of the afternoon as free time, and meet for the Welcome Dinner later that evening in Pontocho, a beautiful collection of tiny ancient restaurants and izakayas that overlook the Kamo River. Enjoy the rest of the evening as you wish.
- Get lost in the winding Pontocho alleys
- Explore Nishiki Markets
Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande, Kyoto
August 27 Kyoto Temples
Get an early start (wake up around 7am) and beat the crowds to Kiyomizudera Temple and passed Yasaka Shrine, a giant four-tiered pagoda. Explore the many shops that specialise in original Kyoto goods as you make your way to the top of the hill. Take the local bus up to Kinkaji Temple, or the Golden Pavilion, and wander around the small lake and zen garden surrounding the temple. The evening is free to explore.
- Kimono rental for the full experience
- Taiko drum lesson
- Explore Gion to possibly spot a geisha
- Shopping near the station at one of the huge department store complexes
August 28 Sagano Bamboo Grove
Another early start (wake up around 7am) and head towards Sagano Bamboo Grove when it is still quiet, making sure you get some selfies in the bamboo forest before pesky tourists photobomb the authenticity. Have lunch nearby and explore the local area at your own pace. The rest of the afternoon is yours.
- Bike rental
- Zazen meditation ceremony
- Maiko (geisha apprentice) dinner experience
- Shopping for traditional goods or modern amenities near Kyoto Station
Tuesday, 23/4: Kyoto-Nakasendo Trail (Tsumago)
Board the train and a bus to the starting point of the Nakasendo Trail. With about four hundred years history, the Nakasendo Trail will take us through quaint towns that were frequented by the samurai en route to Tokyo. The first day is a light walk to the next town, where we will check into a traditional hotel for the evening. Explore the town wearing your kimono the hotel provides and feel like you travelled back in time.
Wednesday, 24/4 Nakasendo Trail (Tsumago-Kiso-Fukushima)
The longest day of hiking, we will weave through less developed hills. The Japanese countryside should have a calming effect on you, and perhaps you can start to understand the essence of zen meditation - an empty, peaceful mind.
We will stay at a lovely hot spring hotel that night, and dig into the second night of a fantastic spread of local cuisine for dinner and breakfast.
Wednesday, 24/4 Nakasendo Trail-Tokyo
After breakfast, we have the option to hike a short circular course to a local waterfall, or just board the train to the final section of the trail.
After getting off the train, we hike just 3 more hours through stunning scenery. A final climb up a mountain will take us under a giant torii gate that overlooks the final town, Narai.
Eat lunch before jumping on the train to Tokyo, where we arrive early evening.
Tokyo naturally feels like a different universe. Now, after experiencing the serene countryside, the polarity is mindblowing.
- Get lost in the electric mania that is Shinjuku at night
- Karaoke wearing onesies
- Robot Bar
Shinjuku Granbell Hotel
Thursday, 25/4 Tokyo History
Jump on the train to Asakusa, where one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Tokyo resides - Senso-ji Temple. We may possibly catch a glimpse of a Buddhist ceremony. Get lost down the alleyways of small traditional shops that sell endless varieties of Japanese goods that could make great souvenirs. Choose from a wide selection of sushi, ramen, and tempura shops for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free.
- Join Ben on a vintage shopping mission in a secret and trendy area of Tokyo
Friday, 26/4 Kamakura Daibutsu
Get out of the city for the day and take the train 90 minutes down to Kamakura, an ancient town that was considered the de facto capital of Japan during the reign of the Shogun. Visit one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan, or have some matcha at a zen temple while viewing a dense bamboo grove. We will either stop in Yokohama for lunch on the way back or just return straight to Tokyo. The evening is free to find your favourite part of Tokyo.
- Bike rental for Kamakura
- Bars/clubs in Tokyo for every interest
Saturday, 27/4 Tokyo Trending
Time to get weird. Our final day together, jump into Harajuku, the centre of Tokyo fashion. Plenty of funky shops to explore, as well as a variety of owl, cat, and rabbit cafes. The shopping offers everything from high end international brands to small, independently owned shops that take on the personality of their owner.
This is also the mecca of any possible sneaker or boot your heart could desire. Everyone explores this area at their own pace. Ben will take you to the best areas here so you can make every minute here count. The afternoon is free to move at your own pace.
In the evening, we will have dinner in possibly the liveliest and brightest area in Japan - Shibuya - which is truly the area that never sleeps.
- Perception-altering clubs and bars in Shibuya at night
- Go-kart tour on the streets of Tokyo
- Mori Digital Art Museum
- 3 breakfasts and 4 dinners.
- Strength Culture Tours
Either traditional or modern Japanese houses.
3 breakfasts and 4 dinners.
Bullet Trains, express trains, local trains and buses.
Strength Culture Tours
Ben Hurst as the guide in each of the locations.
Travel Buddy Discount: 10% off yours and your travel buddy*
Payment Plan Available**
*20% non-refundable deposit due by 26/7/19. 2019 to secure deal
**third and final instalment payment due by 9/8/19
Frequently Asked Questions
Ben is a personal trainer and sports massage therapist in Surry Hills. After graduating from university, he moved to Japan to teach English for two years, and fell in love with the culture. Since then, Ben has been helping good people become great in Sydney for the past 5 years and takes a small group of active-minded and adventurous people to Japan twice per year to experience a side of Japan most Westerners (or Japanese!) haven’t seen. Suss him out on Instagram (bennyhanna7) or Facebook (Benjamin A. Hurst).
The weather will range from 10-19 degrees. As it is Spring, there may be occasional rain as well.
Direct flights for a return trip to Japan in late April are currently around $1200-1800 AUD, one stop flights are between $800-1000.
Some of the meals are out of pocket, but you can generally get a proper meal between $8-12 AUD (unless you decide to eat at a nicer restaurant). You may also decide to buy souvenirs, or try local treats. The only travel you’ll also need to pay for is a return ticket to Fuji base (about $20), and the bus back to Tokyo (about $30). In the past, most people bring anywhere from $300-600 AUD.
The Early Bird Special is $2175 AUD. Direct flights are currently about $1600. Most meals will be between $6-20 AUD depending on how you eat. On average, people bring about $800 for food and spending money."
I highly recommend most people to book at least two days after the trip ends to explore on your own. We return to Tokyo on Saturday 1 September, and you would regret not giving this mind-blowing city a run for its money for at least 48 hours. Of course this is entirely up to you, as well as your own availability to do so.
The trip officially begins in Osaka. You can either fly into Osaka or either Tokyo airport (Haneda or Narita). There are usually more direct flights into Tokyo than Osaka. In either case, Ben will advise on the best train routes for our rendezvous.
The trip will start at Kyoto Station on Saturday 20, April, 2019. We will discuss meeting time and place closer to the trip.
Gym shorts: x2-3
Shoes: x1 hiking/trail running, x1 sneaker, x1 sandals
Water bottle/water bladder
You should have service for most of the trip, except for parts of the Kumano Kodo trail.
Sim cards and wireless routers can be arranged for pickup at the airport, as well as at most electronic stores in Japan. If you’d like one arranged, let Ben know in advance. There should also be Wifi access at our accommodation each night.
Japanese food! Or, as the Japanese say, food. Many places don’t offer Western style food, and some of the food looks questionable to our Western conceptions. But that’s where the adventure lies, right? Let Ben know of any allergies/intolerances before the trip.
ou will need a reasonable amount of fitness to hike the Nakasendo, but don't exactly need to be a triathlete.