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JAPAN


Pilgrimages & peaks


From its spectacular coasts to its dramatic volcanic interior, Japan is scored with hiking trails, both ancient and modern. Walk Japan CEO Paul Christie — a resident of Japan for two decades — has explored the length and breadth of the country and shares f ive of his all-time favourite rambles


62 nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel


FOR CULTURE-SEEKERS & SAMURAIS NAKASENDO WAY


ROUTE: Kyoto to Tokyo LENGTH: 74 miles (shorter sections available) The trail’s history goes back to the days of the samurai, but it’s also a great introduction to modern Japan. Not only are you walking through the diverse geography between the cultural cradle of Kyoto and the metropolitan modern capital of Tokyo, you’re also experiencing Japan’s history, culture and society close-up. Passing through little-visited regions, you can enjoy hearty, rural meals and overnight in picturesque communities like Sekigahara, Magome, Tsumago, Narai and Karuizawa. It’s a great way to discover just how fascinating — and welcoming — the country can be. The trip can last between eight to 12 days, depending on the route.


FOR BRIDGES & BUDDHISM THE KUNISAKI TREK


ROUTE: Fukuoka to Yufuin LENGTH: 44 miles I lived on the Kunisaki Peninsula for 18 years, so maybe I’m a little biased, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful areas of Japan. It’s one of the oldest and greatest centres of Buddhism in Japan, with fascinating trails once followed by monks in prayer and meditation. The eight-day Kunisaki Trek visits some exquisite temples and quiet hamlets set in a serene landscape, as well as passing along craggy ridges and over towering cliffs. This does demand a decent level of fitness and a reasonable head for heights. Once on the peaks, you’re rewarded with breathtaking scenery and the thrill of negotiating the narrow ridges. If you’re aſter an authentic taste of Japan, look no further.


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