Japan has numerous ancient footpaths, trade and pilgrimage routes crisscrossing the country, some of which have exploded in popularity in recent years amongst both domestic and international tourists. Most notably the Nakasendo and the Kumano Kodo are now a part of many tourist's Japan itineraries. These wonderful trails combine the perfect mix of hiking through both splendid scenery and culture, and it is easy to see why they have gained such prominence an recognition.
Here in the village of Otari exists a portion of a much-lesser known trail of equal historical and cultural importance, the ancient Salt Road (塩の道). The 120km long Salt Road began in Itoigawa, on the Sea of Japan coast, and climbed steadily upward through the deep forested valleys and steep mountain passes of Otari, before continuing all the way to the landlocked castle town of Matsumoto in central Nagano. As its name suggests, the trail was the major trade route linking the ocean to the plains, primarily for the purpose of transporting vitally important salt inland. The road was in use since at least the Sengoku Period of Japanese history, in the mid 1400's, and continued up until the early 20th century.
Very little English information or maps are available for the Salt Road, which has allowed it to fly well under the tourist radar to this point, but we expect that to change in the coming years as both tourism and trekking are currently booming. Now is the perfect chance to explore the most scenic and well-preserved portion of this trail with us while it's still undiscovered, as we tread through both natural landscapes and small settlements that have remained mostly unchanged since the Salt Road's heyday. We will educated you on the fascinating history of the area as we walk, going slowly so that you can engage your senses and truly feel as if you were stepping back in time. On this hike, we will cover a distance of roughly 10km, with approximately 600 meters of total elevation gain, and we should expect to be on the trail for more than 5 hours.
This full day active adventure combines the best of the area's local history, culture, nature, leisure and gourmet offerings, and will get you as far away from the beaten tourist path as possible.
THE SALT ROAD: Relive the history of the Salt Road on a walk through small villages and beautiful beech forests
SALT ROAD MUSEUM: Learn more about life at the time of the Salt Road and see what travelers wore and carried
ONSEN: Relax after the hike in a quiet indoor or outdoor natural onsen
LOCAL GOURMET: Enjoy a meal of fresh handmade soba noodles and seasonal tempura
IMAGE GALLERY (November, 2018)
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
FOOTWEAR: We recommend light trekking shoes, trail running shoes, or hiking boots
RAINWEAR: A rain jacket and rain pants are recommended, but a properly fitting poncho may also suffice
LUNCH, DRINKS & SNACKS: It is best to pack at least 1.5L of water, as well as a small lunch and some snacks for the hike
CHANGE OF CLOTHES: This is not necessary, but you may want to change into something clean after the onsen
SUNSCREEN, BUG SPRAY, SUNGLASSES, ETC...: Please pack these or any other items that you deem necessary
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
Hiking Through History on the Ancient Salt Road
Thursdays through Sundays from 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!