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 can 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 have the option of heading 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.
THE SALT ROAD: Run on a pleasant historical trail through forests and settlements alive with culture and tradition
SEASONAL BEAUTY: Each season showcases its own distinct plants, flowers and scenic highlights
KOMINKA CAFE: Enjoy a mea made with locally-grown ingredients l in a beautifully restored, 150 year-old farmhouse
IMAGE GALLERY (November, 2019)
This is one of our locally organized and locally guided tours, where pricing is based on a flat guiding fee of ¥30,000 per day. All other expenses during the course of the tour are to be paid by the customers as they are incurred. Contact us for a detailed estimate of those expenses before booking.
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF
Complimentary pick-up and drop-off can be provided from/to 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).
There is no minimum number of participants for this tour
Group size will be limited to a maximum of 4 persons.
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
BOOKING & PAYMENT
For your convenience and ours, bookings are made through our online booking platform by clicking on the 'BOOK' button below and following the steps presented: (1) Choose a start time/date (2) Fill out the required information (3) Enter a coupon code (if applicable) (4) Complete your booking by clicking on the 'Book It' button.
Upon confirmation of your booking, we will reach out to you through the contact information you provided to confirm or customize your itinerary and to follow up with any further questions or instructions. In general, payments are accepted in cash on the day of the tour.
SHIO NO MICHi 21km
Run a Half Marathon on This Historic Trail
May - November
¥30,000 guiding fee
If you would like to contact us to ask questions, receive more information, or inquire about booking this trip, please either connect with us directly using the chat feature located on the bottom right of your screen, or submit an inquiry through the contact form below. We are looking forward to hearing from you!