Shin-etsu Trail, Japan

Japan's Shin-etsu Trail walks along the border of the Nagano and Niigata prefectures, connecting Japanese rural and alpine villages, peaks, spectacular forests, mountain vistas and ecologically important wetlands, stunning ponds and lakes, providing a naturally, culturally and historically significant and fascinating walking adventure.

The gateway to the Shin-etsu Trail is located in Iiyama, just 2-hours by bullet train from Tokyo, making access to the walk simple, even for those for whom it's their first visit to Japan. 

Similar to Hiking Trails Pty Ltd's Kumano Kodo packages, our new Shin-etsu Trail self-guided walking package provide expert knowledge and valuable local connections, to ensure you have a smooth, well organised, and inspirational walking experience on the Shin-etsu Trail, inclusive of great advice, available information, local support, traditional Japanese minshuku and ryokan accommodation, warm helpful hosts, and authentic, seasonal, Japanese meals. 

The first three nights of our Shin-etsu Trail walking package are based out of traditional minshuku style accommodation in the Madarao area, and the latter three nights are based in traditional minshuku style accommodation in the Tongarionsen area, where this is also a pubilc Onsen where you can soak after a day on the trail. 

Our Shin-etsu Trail walking package, includes walking the first five sections of the Shin-etsu Trail over five days, truly letting you immerse yourself in the landscape, hike and experience, and soak up just our special and moving the Shin-etsu Trail, and its culture, history, flora, views, people and traditions truly are. 

Shin-etsu Trail Japan, photo courtesy of Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau

Highlights of the Shin-etsu Trail

  • Spectacular Japanese alpine mountain scenery, vistas and forests
  • The Shin-etsu Trail connects villages, forests and mountain peaks 
  • Discover Japanese nature, history and culture, and enjoy fantastic woodland
  • Authentic Japanese Minshuku accommodation and traditional, local meals 
  • Only two-hours by express train from Tokyo 

See our day-by-day Shin-etsu Trail Sections 1-5 Summary and Highlights here.

Or you can download the Shin-etsu Trail Club walk profile brochure here.

The Mountains

The Sekida Mountain range lies on the border between Nagano and Niigata prefectures, located about 30 kilometres from the Sea of Japan. Rising to about 1,000 meters in height, in winter the Sekida Mountain area receives some of the heaviest snowfall in the world, due to the proximity of the Japan Sea. Annual winter snowfall can exceed 10 meters in places, providing a rich source of water that nurtures the primeval beech forests, countless mountain wetlands, and even the rice fields far below.

In the upper waters of the Nakatsugawa River, bordered by Tsunan town in Niigata and Sakae village in Nagano and at the foot of Mt. Naeba is an area known as Akiyamago. It is a mountainous area, with a deep valley running from Mt. Torikabuto to the west and Mt. Naeba in the east that makes for short days, especially in the winter.

The History

For centuries, 16 passes across the mountains served as important links for both commerce and culture between Echigo (the old name for Niigata) and Shinshu (Nagano). Along these trails have passed merchants, holy men, and even armies in the Warring States period heading for battle. Despite the heavy winter snows that blanket the region, this area has been inhabited for centuries. 

Shin-etsu Trail Japan, photo courtesy of Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau

The Journey is the Experience

The Shin-etsu Trail is a chance to enjoy the walk, as you pass through nature and towns. It is a passage where you may feel healed by the beech forests, where you may well be at a loss for words as you take in the spectacular views of the Sea of Japan and other distant mountain peaks; where you walk in the footsteps of ancient travellers coming over the passes; where you can experience the lifestyles and cuisines of the often-isolated villages.

There is a nature and a culture that is unique to this area, and walking the Shin-etsu Trail is the best way to gain a deeper awareness and enjoyment of everything you encounter along the way.

Shin-etsu Trail Japan, photo courtesy of Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau

Shin-etsu Trail 7-day / 6-night Package

Hiking Trails Pty Ltd is delighted to have partnered with local operators to offer you our 7-day / 6-night all-inclusive Shin-Etsu Trail walking package. Stretching over 7-days our Shin-etsu Trail self-guided walking package includes;

  • 3 nights Madarao area traditional Japanese Minshuku accommodation 
  • 3 nights Tongarionsen area traditional Japanese Minshuku accommodation 
  • 5 days walking sections 1-5 of the Shin-etsu Trail (see highlights)
  • 6 Japanese dinners, 6 Japanese breakfasts, and 5 Japanese packed lunches
  • Transfers from accommodation to trailhead where needed
  • A personal, English-speaking guide for your first day on the trail
  • Shin-etsu trail maps and English version guidebook
  • Pre-walk briefing and orientation upon arrival at Liyama Station
  • Shinetsu Trail Conservation Fund (including tag) fees
  • Local support phone number for peace-of-mind, should you need it 

This package is exclusively available from Hiking Trails Pty Ltd from $2490 AUD per person.
Based on twin share accommodation (single walker supplement will apply). 

To find out more or check availability, submit an enquiry using the button below.

The best months to walk the Shin-etsu Trail are;

  • June, and
  • September - October

What's not included in this package? Travel to and from Japan and up to and back from the Iiyama Station, transfers from Iiyama Station to your first accommodation, drinks, snacks, travel insurance, hiking apparel and equipment.

Hiking Trails Pty Ltd works with local Japanese partners and operators to deliver the elements of this package.
Booking Terms and Conditions apply.   

Shin-etsu Trail Japan, photo courtesy of Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau