Nikko to Yudanaka and Matsumoto, 5 days

Self-drive tour through historical Japan

Japan is a country with deeply rooted and ancient traditions. Japanese people go to great lengths to keep their traditions alive and protect them from outside foreign influences. Many towns have been well preserved or (partially) restored. With a rental car you are more free to explore these places at your own pace. Slip back in time and experience ancient Japan!

This ‘5 day tour from Nikko to Matsumoto’ is an add-on tour to one of Japan’s sample itineraries or any of our tailor made tours in Japan. It’s not possible to book an add-on tour separately.

Japan ouchi juku traditioneel japans dorp

5 day self-drive tour from Nikko to Yudanaka and Matsumoto

Day 1 Tokyo – Nikko

The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Nikko

Pick up your rental car near your hotel in Tokyo or directly at the airport and drive to Nikko. Nikko is located at the entrance of the Nikko National Park and is famous for the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). Tokugawa Ieyasu which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The richly decorated mausoleum with its beautiful row of majestic cedar trees lining the roadway, is definitely worth the visit.

The Senjogahara marshlands in the Nikko National Park are a great place for hiking, especially in autumn when the leaves turn red and yellow.

Day 2 Nikko – Ouchi Juku

Japanese overnight stay at the historical Ouchi-Juku from the Edo Period

We would recommend to avoid taking the toll way to Ouchi-Juku at all costs. Likewise you will end up driving a different road that goes past beautiful mountain and forest scenery and picturesque rural villages.

Ouchi-juku is a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route which connected Aizu with Nikko during the Edo Period. Post towns such as Ouchi-Juku developed along the trade route to provide travellers with food, accommodation and rest. Today, Ouchi-Juku has been restored to look as it did in the Edo Period. The unpaved main street is lined by thick thatched roof buildings that lend the town a special atmosphere. You spend the night in a traditional Japanese house. A very unique experience! 

Day 3 Ouchi Juku – Aizu Wakamatsu

Samurai castle and samurai residence

By rental car you drive to Aizu Wakamatsu. Aizu Wakamatsu is famous for the Aizu Bukeyashiki samurai clan that lived here during the Edo Period and made the town prosperous. Besides the Aizu samurai residence and the Tsugura castle, the Oyakuen “medicinal herb garden” is worth a visit. Looking out from Iimoriyama Hill, a group of young Aizu soldiers in saw their castle engulfed in flames and committed suicide, but… the castle had not actually been captured. The flames they had seen were from outside the castle walls. Nevertheless, the story of their loyalty and devotion has become well known and takes up a special place in Japanese tales. Iimoriyama, the site of the boys’ suicide, has become a popular tourist attraction.

In a valley just east of Aizu Wakamatsu is the Higashiyala Onsen, a famous hot spring resort. Here you stay the night at a ryokan, where you can relax and unwin in the onsen (hot spring).

Day 4 Aizu Wakamatsu – Yudanaka

Bathing monkeys and onsen in Yudanaka

Yudanaka is a historical onsen city in the middle of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. This nature reserve has some great hiking opportunities and you can visit the famous Jigokudani Hot spring, where you can watch macaque monkeys bathing in the hot waters and playing in the river. Of course, Yudanaka is also for you a place to relax and unwind and

enjoy the many different hot springs, as well as a traditional Japanese dinner at your ryokan.

In the same area, Nagano was famous for successfully hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 1988. The former facilities can still be viewed.

Day 5 Yudanaka – Matsumoto

The Black Crow Castle at Matsumoto

On the way from Yudanaka to Matsumoto you can stop at the world’s largest wasabi farm. Cultivating wasabi is possible only under pristine conditions. This farm has created a meticulously maintained network of small streams that constantly provides each wasabi plant with clear, flowing water from the mountains. The 400 year old Black Crow Castle is absolutely worth a visit. This is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan’s original samurai castles.

At the end of the day, you return your rental car.

5 days Nikko to Yudanaka and Matsumoto per huurauto

The price for the “5 days car rental historical Japan” add-on tour is 860,-€ per person, based on double occupancy.
The price for the “5 days car rental historical Japan” add-on tour is 770,-€ per person, based on quadruple occupancy

Prices may depend on the day of the week (weekend) or the travel season.

What’s included:
– 4 nights accommodation, including breakfast.
– 3 nights Japanese style accommodation
– 1 night Western style accommodation
– 3x traditional Japanese dinner
– 5 days car rental
– Instructions and personalised info pack

– Our local agent in Japan is 24/24 available in case of emergency

What’s not included:
– All other transportation by train or bus
– Any entrance fees and/or local guide services
– All other meals
– Travel- and cancellation insurance
– Excess insurance in the event of damage to the rental car up to ¥50.000

japan nikkon festival
Japan Ouchi Juku kookplaats
Japan Ouchi Juku traditioneel dorpje
Japan Aizu Wakamatsu tuin
Japan Aizu Wakamatsu Tempel
Japan Aizu Wakamatsu paleis
Japan Yudanaka sneeuwapen