Walk Japan pioneered innovative walking tours throughout Japan and created a presence synonymous with leadership and vision in responsible and sustainable tourism in the nation. Established in 1992, Walk Japan is an independently owned and managed company that continually endeavours to balance its business interests with due regard to environmental, social and governance issues.
- To consistently provide the best guided and self-guided tours in Japan, setting benchmarks for quality and customer satisfaction.
- To maintain and improve the three fundamental qualities of our tours; namely, interest (knowledge), entertainment (attractiveness) and efficiency (best use of our customers’ time and money).
- To understand clearly that our product is not just tours but the complete service, from first enquiry through the tour itself to post-tour follow up, and act accordingly.
- To operate responsibly and sustainably in a manner consistent with the long-term successful development of our community, suppliers and company.
- To reinvest a high proportion of our revenues into further development of our community and business.
- To consistently expand the opportunities for personal development and career growth for all our staff.
- To thoroughly imbue everything that we do in our tours, work environment and relationships with our values of respect, integrity, creativity; and quality.
Pioneers & Specialists
Walk Japan is the pioneering operator of walking tours of Japan. We specialise in only one country and, since 1992, have been providing the best planned, the best led and most fulfilling and enjoyable guided and self-guided tours available in Japan.
Walk Japan has an unrivalled range of tours spread across the length and breadth of Japan. All are highly regarded, illustrated in part by our large numbers of repeat customers, other customers who come by word-of-mouth and the substantial media coverage, both overseas and within Japan, we enjoy. From the outset we have always focused development of our tours on Japan’s little-known and less-visited regions, and research and create up to three new tours each year. We also operate private custom tours tailored to our customers' particular interests and requirements. The latter include educational tours for schools and other major travel organisations around the world.
Deep-based Knowledge & Skills
We are skilled at unveiling many aspects of Japan during the course of our tours. This expertise is rooted in study trips run by two Hong Kong University academics, Tom Stanley and Richard Irving, for their students of Japanese history and Japanese social geography. These study trips developed into Walk Japan’s tours over 30 years ago, since then we have taken many tens of thousands of people from around the world to beautiful and interesting areas of Japan, many little known, that are otherwise difficult to access and fully appreciate.
Our tours are created for people who like to walk and also like to learn, understand and appreciate. We introduce Japan in contexts that are informative and make sense of sights and customs that otherwise too often remain elusive to many visitors. Our tours bring this fascinating country up close by mixing in with its people and their way of life. Wherever possible we make full use of public transport with its many varied, very pleasant and efficient guises, and local businesses such as delightful family-run inns, temple accommodation and restaurants.
All our tours are thoroughly researched and planned for experiences of Japan without peer. They are original, well-paced and carefully balanced for activity, interest and pleasure. Our extensive planning and attention to detail ensures that our tours provide a rich experience that runs exceptionally well. We set standards far above the norm with a western approach to tour research and creation combined with the high standards of service associated with Japan.
Travelling in Comfort and with Interest
All our tours are physically active to varying degrees - from gentle walking, through trail walking to mountain trekking. We provide tours throughout the year to match almost everyone's abilities.
All our tour accommodation is vetted by us, not just to approve the quality but also to build a personal relationship with the owners. Wherever possible we use local Japanese-style accommodation but we also make our selection on the basis of interest, comfort and practical considerations, such as the availability of laundry facilities. When we use hotels, which is usually only in larger cities, there are always good practical and comfort reasons for their use within the context of the tour.
First-rate Tour Leaders
Our Tour Leaders are rated highly by our customers and travel writers for their enthusiasm, friendliness, knowledge of Japan, ability to communicate and professionalism. Their task is not just to facilitate a great experience but also to engender a desire in all our customers to return to Japan - and so far many have, some many times over. All of them are at a minimum very proficient in the Japanese and English languages and have an intimate knowledge of Japan and its people. The ranks of our Tour Leaders, who hail from Japan and around the world, include one of the company’s founding academics as well as many other individuals who have long experience across a broad range of businesses in Japan including the media, agriculture, commerce, arts, finance, academia and tourism.
All the senior staff, including both our CEO and Managing Director, began their careers at Walk Japan as Tour Leaders. We fully recognise that our Tour Leaders are at the heart of everything we do and have achieved. We understand very well their pivotal role and make sure that they enjoy good working environments, commensurate remuneration, and continuous high levels of support and training.
Our scheduled tours run at a maximum of 12 people plus the Tour Leader. We have found this size not only conducive to the good melding of participants; it is also the optimum number for our Tour Leaders to guide fully and comfortably. At this size our tours also have access to many wonderful inns, restaurants, sites and experiences that cannot cater to larger groups.
Care for our Customers and their Satisfaction
We aim to provide all our customers with top-class service from initial contact, through their time in Japan with us, to the post-tour follow up. Our first premise is that we want each and every one of them to join us again on tour. When travelling with us on a guided tour a Walk Japan Tour Leader accompanies throughout and our staff based in Japan are on standby to provide additional support.
We are a recognised provider of acclaimed walking tours in Japan because of our customers. With them over the years, we have carefully revised our tours to meet changing requirements and to consistently provide tours of high calibre and enjoyment. Almost everyone who travels with Walk Japan rates their overall enjoyment as very good or excellent. 'It was more than I thought it would be' is not an uncommon comment from our customers. We know that they tell their families, friends and work colleagues about Walk Japan and a significant proportion of our new customers come by word-of-mouth recommendation. Many of them return to us on other tours; four occasions is not unusual and some have reached over ten times and more, which vouchsafes for the quality of our work.
Guaranteed Booking, Value for Money and No Surcharges
Walk Japan has no minimum group size. If we accept a booking we guarantee that we will run the tour. We will always honour any booking made with us and never leave any of our customers without a tour to join.
We include as much as possible in the tour price. Although each tour varies to some extent, in general, everything for the tour from the start point to the end point is included except some lunches, drinks and spending money. (Please refer to the tour details for specific information.)
We never levy surcharges. We guarantee that the price at the time you book is the only price you will pay to join the tour.
All Walk Japan staff have long associations with Japan and hold a great affinity and commitment to the country and its people. We are also keenly aware of the need for the responsible and sustainable development of Japan’s tourism resources. An expression of this is to use local businesses, and for over twenty-five years we have provided a stable source of income to many family-owned restaurants and accommodation in Japan’s rural areas. We also work with them on how they can best develop their properties and services to meet evolving customer expectations. In some instances, we have become the main client for some accommodation in remoter areas we travel through. In at least one case, because of our sustained custom, an historic inn and the only accommodation left in the immediate area has been able to remain in business. Although we remain this inn’s largest customer, it is now a thriving business again, attracting many others and acting as a social focus for the local villagers. Not only have the current generation, the 14th, decided to continue their family tradition, they have also invested in upgrading the facilities in a fashion sympathetic to the building’s uniqueness and age.
Another expression of our commitment to Japan and to fulfilling our responsibilities to wider society is our Community Project, a long-term and ever growing venture revitalising a village and surrounding area in rural Japan. In turn, we are using it to create a model of sustainable tourist development. It is a multi-faceted endeavour centred on agriculture, forestry, restoration of vacant buildings, assisting local farmers about their work, and care of public land. We provide well-paid employment at our offices in a locality that has few other job opportunities - most recently, two university graduates joined us as employees on the Project. The average age of our staff is young compared to the surrounding community, helping to rejuvenate the local society, and many have children who add to the school population. Our Community Project provides viable and practical examples of what can be achieved in turning around a declining rural community and many Japanese and overseas visitors come to see this for themselves. Please read more here.
We are widely known in Japan for our endeavours and we are regularly asked to provide presentations on what we have achieved and how we go about our business. We consult on tourism and regional development. A recent project entrusted to us was the development of Oita Prefecture’s new and successful Discover Oita English-language tourism website. We also appear frequently in the Japanese media and trade publications. Many central and local government bodies and several of Japan’s top businesses, including All Nippon Airways (ANA), have approached us to work with them after learning about our activities. Public recognition of how well Walk Japan is perceived in Japan is apparent in our CEO being honoured, amongst other things, as a Cool Japan Ambassador, ANA Ambassador, Onsen Gastronomy Ambassador, and Expert for the Ministry of the Environment.
We also take our responsibilities in tourism into our working environment, with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. We are a multi-national group of over one hundred colleagues spread throughout Japan and the rest of the world. We adapt our working methods wherever possible to our staff, and a significant number of them work flexible hours and/or from home. All our senior staff and nearly all our middle management have been promoted from within the company. Tellingly, many of our colleagues have remained with us over many years and happily recommend us to their friends as a respectful and decent company to work at, one that encourages and supports everyone to work well and know that they can rely on each other, develop skills and find new potential within themselves. We are an attractive company to join and rarely have any problem in recruiting the skilled and able staff we need to sustain our growth.