Tour Levels

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Tour Levels

The following is an indication of what level of activity to expect on our tours. The itineraries for all our tours provide details on each day’s walking.

Please note that one person’s expectations of what is easy or hard can be very different. Whilst age, physical ability and fitness are factors in deciding what a person is capable of, often a seemingly less fit person completes our tours with no problem. Another factor to consider is the weather, which can affect people differently.

Since 1992 we have taken many thousands of people of many different nationalities, all ages and abilities on tour in Japan. We have good experience and knowledge about what most, if not all, people can achieve so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further information and advice related to your abilities.


Physical Levels

LEVEL 1

Participants must be in reasonable health and able to handle their own luggage and climb some stairs. Travel will involve little walking and be almost entirely by public transport or private-hire vehicle.

LEVEL 2

Participants must be in reasonable health and able to handle their own luggage, climb a few flights of stairs and walk up to 5km (3.1 miles) each day. Walks last between two to four hours at a 1.5kph to 2.5kph (1mph to 1.6mph) pace mostly over even ground.

LEVEL 3

Participants must be in good health and able to handle their own luggage, climb stairs and walk between 15km to 25km (9.3 miles to 15.5 miles) each day. Daily walks last between four to six hours at a 2kph to 4kph (1.25mph to 2.5mph) pace and include some short ascents and descents.

LEVEL 4

Participants must be in good health and able to handle their own luggage, climb stairs and walk between 15km to 25km (9.3 miles to 15.5 miles) each day. Daily walks last between four to six hours at a 2kph to 4kph (1.25mph to 2.5mph) pace and include some longer ascents and descents.

LEVEL 5

Participants must be in good, physical health and used to a reasonably active lifestyle. They must be able to handle their own luggage, climb stairs and walk between 15km to 25km (9.3 miles to 15.5 miles) each day. Daily walks last six to seven hours at a 2.5kph to 5kph (1.6mph to 3mph) pace and include some longer and steeper ascents and descents.

LEVEL 6

Participants must be in good, physical health and used to an active lifestyle. They must be able to handle their own luggage, climb stairs and walk between 15km to 25km (9.3 miles to 15.5 miles) each day. Walks last up to eight hours at a 1.5kph to 5kph (1mph to 3mph) pace and include long and steep ascents and descents.


Technical Levels

LEVEL 1

Walking is mostly over flat, paved surfaces but with some steps and stairs to negotiate.

LEVEL 2

Walking is mostly along good paths, tracks and quiet roads over gentle terrain. Occasional gravel or earth surfaces.

LEVEL 3

Walking is along a variety of paths including pavement, loose gravel and forest trails over gentle to hilly terrain. Sometimes uneven and occasionally slippery underfoot. Walking poles are recommended.

LEVEL 4

Walking is generally along paths over hilly to mountainous terrain. Mostly uneven underfoot on a variety of surfaces including loose gravel, rocks and tree roots. Walking poles are recommended.

LEVEL 5

Walking is generally over hilly to mountainous terrain. Mostly uneven underfoot on a variety of surfaces including loose gravel, rocks and tree roots. Some challenging steep ascents and descents of up to one hour that occasionally require the use of fixed chains to negotiate. Walking poles are advisable.

LEVEL 6

Walking is over mountainous terrain. Mostly uneven underfoot on a variety of surfaces including loose gravel, rocks and tree roots. Long days with some challenging steep ascents and descents of up to several hours. Walking poles are essential.


Getting into shape

Walk Japan’s tours are not a test of endurance. However, Japan is a hilly country and being in reasonable shape will help you maximise your enjoyment. The best way to get fit is to start exercise gradually and build up over a period of time. Regular walking, including some ups and downs, should be sufficient practice for most of our tours.


Walking in a group

Walk Japan’s tours attract people of varied walking abilities. The pace of tours is set by the Tour Leader and, in general, is a pace at about 80% of the speed most people stroll around town. This is not just to accommodate slower walkers but also to allow everyone to thoroughly enjoy the countryside we walk through. Depending on the tour, on some days the Tour Leader may be able to provide additional walking to those who want it. It is also sometimes possible to reduce the amount of walking - by travelling onwards by taxi or public transport - for anyone who would like to take a particular day more easily. The Walk Japan Tour Leader will advise.


Terrain and footwear

Our tours may include a mixture of terrain ranging from country lanes through gravel tracks, uneven forest paths to rocky mountain trails. How much each surface is included varies from tour to tour: The Nakasendo Way and Basho Tour include walking along lanes, gravel tracks and forest paths, whereas, the Kunisaki Trek and Hokkaido Hike are mostly on forest paths and mountain trails. Our city tours, including the Kyoto Tour and Tokyo Tour, are almost entirely on road or pavement.

For all of our tours we recommend good trail shoes that have ankle support and are at least water resistant, ideally waterproof. For the Kunisaki Trek and Hokkaido Hike mountain boots are also suitable. For the city tours any comfortable walking shoes that provide support are also suitable.

Please note, however, that whatever footwear you intend to use, please make sure that you have worn them in. The principal cause of discomfort while walking is blisters caused by new shoes or shoes that have not been worn in sufficiently. Also, please do not use footwear more than ten years old as glue deteriorates causing soles to separate from uppers. Finding new footwear to fit is often not easy outside of big cities and in mountainous areas impossible.

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