The best way to discover a place, and oneself, is to walk, as Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho set out to do in the spring of 1689. His Oku-no-hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North), a travelogue in poetry and prose, charts his 2,400km journey, mostly on foot, from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to the Tohoku region. For five months, Basho trekked from countryside to coast and forest, spending nights at temples and inns, and imbibing the simple beauty around him.
You can retrace the poet’s tracks with the six-day Self-Guided Basho Wayfarer, which starts in Sendai and ends at Yamadera. Organised by Walk Japan, the tours, from mid-May to early November, are ideal for those who like to travel on their own, with support at hand.Each day, the traveller can walk for five to 14km (three to four hours), following detailed instructions and an itinerary that suits his energy level. The route is gently undulating but there are some forest trails and steep stone steps to conquer.
At the end of the day, you will end up at a hot-spring hotel or inn, where you can surrender body, mind and soul to therapeutic baths, bountiful local fare and and lots of sake. As you snuggle into bed, spend some minutes with Basho and be inspired to pen a haiku on your day’s trek.
You can take the Basho Wayfarer tour alone or with a group (maximum six persons). Prices start from ¥212,000 (RM7,766), with a single supplement of ¥32,000, per person. Check out the bookings and detailed itineraries here.