Newsletter: Spring 2024

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Newsletter: Spring 2024

08th May 2024

New Tour:

Kyoto: Mountains to the Sea

We are delighted to introduce the latest in our unrivalled roster of tours that explore Japan from its north to south, east to west and many points in between.

Any traveller thinking of coming to Japan will almost certainly consider visiting Kyoto, an iconic city that has been at the centre of much of Japan’s history and culture for more than 1,000 years. And truly, many beat a path here to enjoy its ambience and treasures. So much so these days, however, that the Japanese people sometimes seem to be in the minority.

Yet few overseas visitors go beyond Kyoto’s precincts to visit its hinterland and namesake Kyoto Prefecture, a bucolic region that stretches north to the Sea of Japan. Our newest tour, Kyoto: Mountains to the Sea, explores this other idyllic Kyoto of verdant mountains and valleys, forests and farming villages, remote hillside hamlets and rugged northern Sea of Japan coast. The contrast between the countryside and life of Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto City could not be more stark, yet the two have an intimate symbiotic relationship, established over a millennia, that thrives to this day. The prefecture is the source of much of the produce and crafts for which the city is so rightly well known.

This fully-guided, eight day tour explores remote and beautiful mountainous countryside following ancient trails, once vital for commerce and communication, that lead us finally to Amanohashidate, long considered one of Japan’s three classic vistas, on the Sea of Japan coast. En route, we come across little-known villages and hamlets where we often find our accommodation for the night. Here, our friendly hosts provide us with warm welcomes and mouth watering cuisine that is composed of the same locally-grown ingredients as those served up in the famed ryokan inns of Kyoto, the city.

For further details please visit our website or contact us.


Tour Dates

Condé Nast Traveller’s 2024 Readers Choice Awards

We are delighted to announce that Walk Japan has been nominated for the ‘Best Tour Operator and Specialists’ category in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller 2024 Readers’ Choice Awards. If you have the time and would like to endorse us, please visit Condé Nast’s website and enter ‘Walk Japan’ when prompted.

Click here to vote!


Community Project Update


Walk Japan’s Community Project grew out of our CEO’s dream to live quietly off the land on the Kunisaki Peninsula. On a personal level this was, as he relates, largely a failure as he now barely has time to cut the grass around his family home let alone do anything else, as his life is consumed by Walk Japan’s business. Fortuitously, however, his lifestyle choice of over 22 years ago became the foundation of our Community Project. Over the years since we formally incorporated the Project as part of our business in 2007, it has grown substantially, morphing into a multi-faceted operation that is symbiotic with, encompasses and informs all our tours.

In the past few months we have welcomed two new full-time members of staff to the Project. Kenji, who is from an agricultural background, now manages the Community Project’s extensive farming and forestry interests. He has been joined by Hideaki, who recently retired from Japan’s Self-Defence Force, and is lending his friendly brawn in assisting Kenji.


The rest of Kenji’s team includes Etchan, our greatest friend in the neighbourhood, and her son Kunitaro, who splits his time between Walk Japan desk work and some ‘heavy lifting’ for the Project. Currently, they are all deeply engaged in our shiitake mushroom production, and also preparing experiences for the many school trips from overseas we welcome to the Kunisaki Peninsula. Kenji also takes care of volunteers to the Project and, since the begining of 2024, we welcomed three individuals, all of whom happened to be Dutch.


Tecla, who led the way this year, had been volunteering around the world in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, France, Italy and Nepal before coming to us in Japan. She first heard of Walk Japan and our Community Project through friends who had been on one of our tours.


In 2023, when exploring parts of The Michinoku Coastal Trail in Japan’s Tohoku region, Tecla came to understand first-hand how important rural revitalisation is to these remote communities and was, consequently, inspired to contact us. During her time with us she cleaned up our work sheds, assisted with our potato harvest and shiitake mushroom preparations, and also helped out at Farm Sam, a neighbouring friend’s organic market garden - all the while learning Japanese, making friends with the locals and exploring the Kunisaki Peninsula and beyond in wider Oita. Tecla’s own account of her stay with us is here.

Next came Pim, the partner of one of our new members of staff, who joined us for a week during which he helped Etchan and Tecla harvesting potatoes, and weeding our organic wheat fields and vegetable patches. He will be returning again mid-year to lend a hand again, so we hope he can acclimatise quickly to the heat and humidity of Japan’s summer.



Finally, Oswald visited us after completing our Tohoku Hot Spring Snow Tour. Back home in the Netherlands, he works as a landscape developer and is a helping a local farm become a more biological, nature inclusive enterprise. As with Tecla, Oswald also lent a hand helping out our friends at Farm Sam. Read Oswald’s own account of his stay with us here.


Community Project



Mirai no Mori & KIWL 500 2024


Walk Japan is supporting the fund raising efforts of Knights in White Lycra (KIWL) as a principal sponsor of its forthcoming 2024 500km cycle ride to be held from 30th May to 2nd June 2024. Upping the ante, both our CEO, Paul Christie, and our IT maestro, Nichole, will be joining the peloton to pedal through the mountainous terrain betwixt the cities of Shizuoka and Nagano. Nichole is a successful triathlete, so this will be a spin in the park for her. Paul, however, last rode competively 30 years ago and we are all praying he has the legs to stay the course and reach Nagano!

All funds raised are donated to Mirai no Mori, a not-for-profit organisation supporting children and adolescents who are being raised in Japanese care institutions. On graduating from high school too often these young adults are effectively left to their own devices in a world they are largely unfamiliar with. Mirai no Mori helps provide them with the essential life skills to cope confidently and successfully in the wider community.

If you would like to sponsor Paul and Nichole on their epic KIWL ride and help them raise money for this worthy cause, please donate by clicking on the button below. 100% of all contributions go directly to Mirai no Mori.


Charity - Fundraising


If you wish to follow the progress of the peloton, Mirai-no-Mori and KIWL will be posting updates to their social media:

Facebook: @Mirai No Mori, @Knights in White Lycra
Instagram: @mirainomori, @Knights in White Lycra
LinkedIn: @Mirai no Mori

Given enough remaining energy each day, Paul and Nichole also intend to provide their own personal posts via Walk Japan’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.


News in Brief


As we wrapped up our busiest year ever on tour to date in December 2023, about 80 of our colleagues, neighbours and friends gathered at our CEO’S family home on the Kunisaki Peninsula for the annual Walk Japan Christmas Party. Santa, of course, made an appearance much to the joy of everyone, especially the children.

Our annual Winter Seminar followed soon after in mid-January, when we welcomed a new coterie of guides training to be Walk Japan Tour Leaders.

Mihoko Christie, the President & Representative Director of The Japan Travel Company (JTC), which is Walk Japan’s in-country operations affiliate, now appears regularly as a commentator for Motto, a popular local TV news magazine show broadcast by Oita Asahi Broadcasting (OAB). Most recently, a camera crew followed her on a Walk Japan Onsen Gastronomy: Oita & Kumamoto tour, which proved a hit with viewers.

Mihoko’s husband, Paul Christie, has recently been appointed as Visiting Professor at the Business School of Ritsumeikan University, one of Japan’s top private graduate institutes. He will be leaning on his long career in tourism to teach part of a new MBA course in Tourism Management, starting in April 2024. Paul relates that he only achieved an undergraduate degree, so is relishing being called Prof!

Shōgun, the popular new TV series set in samurai Japan, is a dramatisation of James Clavell’s classic 1975 novel of the same name. In turn, Clavell had been inspired by the extraordinary lifestory of William Adams, who arrived in Japan in April 1600.


To learn more about the fascinating journey of Adams, the first Englishman to set foot in Japan, and his crew mates aboard de Liefde, a Dutch East Indies ship, and his ascendancy to samurai status please visit the website of the William Adams Club (WAC).

The president of the Willam Adams Club’s is our CEO, Paul Christie. In his role as both Walk Japan’s CEO and WAC President he presented Nijo-jo, the fabulous and sole remaining residence of the Tokugawa shogun found in Kyoto, with a granite bench in celebration of the centuries-long relationship between Japan and Britain that began with William Adams in 1600.


In the World's Press:

Robb Report

Hannah Choo recounts her six-day journey exploring the Kunisaki Peninsula. She also chatted with us about how our tours are developed and what makes them stand apart from our competitors.


Read here




The Times

Our Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage tour was selected as one of best adventure holidays for 2024 as featured in The Times newspaper.


Read here





Our Michinoku Coastal Trail tour featured in Travel + Leisure last month. Tasked by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency, we created both a guided and a self-guided tour as an official part of the continuing revitalisation efforts in Tohoku, the region devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.


Read here


International Traveller

Alexis-Buxton Collins features our Self-guided Kunisaki Wayfarer in a beautiful 8-page spread for International Traveller.


Read here