Several hiking and cultural tours listed on our site take place on the ancient Salt Road, but this is the only one we currently offer as a trail run - and the only trail run tour being held along the Salt Road that we are aware of. This historic 120km trail (in total) cutting right through the heart of Otari village was once a vibrant and vital trade route for marine products, hemp, tobacco and other valuable products of the time. This particular tour takes us on a running tour through history as we jog past historical markers and culturally significant objects, but also provides a fascinating insight into Nagano Prefecture and Japan's rural village way of life in these modern times.
The tour meets at JR Minami Otari Station, and starts with a train ride north on the picturesque Oito Line. After a brief stretch and last-minute gear prep, we'll start our run with an easy pace along quiet paved roads. We'll stay on un-trafficked roads for the first several kilometers, slowly gaining elevation before peeling off onto the first trail portion on the run right about the time everyone is nice and warmed up. From this point on the run is a mix of trail and road, as we dart in and out of small rural settlements and forest trails. We'll climb one long, steep pass which will slow our pace to a power hike, before reaching the top of the pass from which we can enjoy a cruising run down to the village and our first museum break at around the 13km mark. We'll stop in to check out the exhibits, enjoy some brief snacks and be on our way.
The next 4km stretch sees us climb another small pass before a descent to the next historical site on our agenda - a wonderfully restored Salt Road guard station. After perusing the grounds and displays, one last, tough climb stands between us and our goal, the ski resort area of Tsugaike Kogen and spectacular views of the Northern Alps. We'll again downshift to a hiking pace for the big 2km climb, then catch our breath as we explore the last and most impressive historical site of the three - the "Ushikata Yado". This 200-year old preserved wooden building stands in its original location, and provides a rare look into the architecture and atmosphere of a lodge that operated during the Salt Road's heyday. The remaining bit of trail is basically our victory lap, as we run the flat section into Tsugaike while heading straight for the silhouette of some of Japan's most beautiful mountains.
By this time the clocks, and our stomachs, will be telling us it's time for lunch, and we will hop in the car and make a nice scenic drive to a local cafe for a satisfying lunch, and maybe even some homemade dessert. To top it all off, we'll head up the road even further and deeper into the mountains to an isolated hot spring lodge with 500 years of history for a pleasant, rejuvenating soak in the mineral-rich waters before returning you to your preferred drop-off location in the village of Otari.
IMAGE GALLERY (November, 2019)
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF WITHIN OTARI VILLAGE
We can pick you up and drop you off from any location within the village of Otari, such as your place of lodging, one of the three ski resorts located within the village (Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura & Hakuba Cortina) or Otari's main train station - Minami Otari (on the JR Oito Line).
All ground transportation (whether by private car, taxi, train and/or bus) during the hours of the tour is included in the price.
One-time trail running insurance covering personal injury, liability and search and rescue is included in the price.
HISTORICAL SITE ENTRANCES
A combination ticket valid for the village museum and two additional historical sites related directly to the Salt Road. We will break up the run with brief stops in each to learn more about this area's interesting history.
TEA, COFFEE & SNACKS
We will take a break near the halfway point to replenish calories and talk about what we've see and done so far and what's to come. We'll be carrying some extra snacks and hot water if you'd like to have some instant coffee or tea. We are of course happy to include this service in the tour price.
Lunch at a tasty village cafe is included in the price.
ONSEN (HOT SPRING)
The bathing fee for a local onsen is included in the price, and we can also provide complimentary towels if necessary.
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF OUTSIDE OF OTARI VILLAGE
*If necessary or requested, it is possible to arrange pick-up and/or drop-off from several major hubs outside of Otari, specifically: Hakuba, Itoigawa, Omachi, Nagano & Matsumoto. However, please be aware that this will require extra time and incur additional fees. Please see our downloadable 'Extended Area Pick-Up & Drop-Off Policy' (PDF) for more details.
*This is a one-day tour, so lodging is typically not required or included. However, should you like to spend a night in Otari before or after your tour, we can help you arrange a stay at a local lodge or guesthouse.
For this tour to operate at the listed price, we require a minimum of 2 persons.
Group size will be limited to a maximum of 4 persons.
If you are interested in booking as a private tour for one person, please contact us for a price quote.
WHAT TO BRING
For this and our other half or full-day trail running adventures, typical gear requirements consist of:
Small backpack or trail running vest (8 to 20L)
Trail running shoes
Full body poncho or rainwear (jacket and pants)
Snacks (approx. 1,000 calories total)
Water or sports drink (1 to 1.5L)
Light fleece or other insulating layer
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SHIO NO MICHi 21km
Run Along a Stunning Summit Ridge at Sunrise
May - November
¥9,700 per person
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