For delightful docent-led immersive walking tours, take a wander with Walk Japan. Pioneers of independent strolls in the country, they specialise in first-rate guides and small groups (max 12 people), with scheduled and custom itineraries taking in culture, heritage, architecture and food.
For short stays in the capital, book the popular Tokyo Tour, with dates available throughout April. This fascinating ramble through the streets, discovering the history of the samurai, takes two days, and is suitable for occasional walkers.
Day one focuses on the often-overlooked city of the samurai, once centred around its highly organised military citadel. You’ll learn how the feudal Edo culture came into being, and how Tokyo evolved from a fortress stronghold into a modern, 24-hour metropolis. Day two explores how the people of the city interacted with the samurai, developing arts including kabuki theatre, printmaking and the hedonistic, urban “floating world”. Alongside key historical sites, you’ll visit sleepy neighbourhoods, revealing hints of the ancient city behind its contemporary façade.
Each tour starts at 8.30am or 9am and ends around 5pm, at either Ryoguku or Asakusa (meals and drinks not included). There are also some lovely out-of-town, off-the-beaten-track seasonal experiences for when the city bustle gets too much, including a cluster of longer walks around Central and West Honshu, plus expeditions on Japan’s further flung islands. Take in tea, temples or tranquil nature as spring kicks in…