The Kiso Valley is famous for the Nakasendo Highway, built during the Edo period. Literally, meaning “mid-mountain road”, the Nakasendo was a trunk-and-trade route that connected Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) in the age of the samurai and shogun.
It once took three days on foot to traverse the rugged countryside with its dense forests and steep mountain slopes, creating a ready made market for inns where the weary traveller could eat, drink and rest. In the route’s heyday, 69 postal towns, or “juku” flourished however today just 11 of the towns survive, with Narai, Magome and Tsumago offering the greatest indication of the past.
Walking the ancient Nakasendo highway offers travellers a glimpse into a Japan that has changed little over the centuries. The most popular section of the route is the 7.7km winding mountain road that links Magome and Tsumago, one of Japan’s biggest post-war community preservation projects, where there are many well-preserved and restored traditional buildings.
Despite the fact that this section is about 170km northeast of Kyoto in the mountains of Gifu and Nagano Prefectures, you can actually do this as a long day trip from Kyoto if you use the Shinkansen and the Shinano Express trains.
In Japan, traditional accommodation is a holistic experience which embodies comfort, relaxation, bathing and dining within one establishment, food being at the forefront of this experience. Japan Holidays recommends taking advantage of this opportunity to slow down, take in the history and culture and capture the essence of this unique area on our specially designed tour. Japan Holidays welcomes families on this trip and can offer a price reduction for children under 12.
Variations and extensions of this itinerary are available, please ask your Japan Holidays consultant for further information.
Daily luggage transfer is also available as an optional extra service, to allow you to enjoy the walk comfortably with just a day pack.