Nakasendo and the Kiso Valley

Highlights of the old Edo road

 

Highlights

  • Enjoy the key walks and villages along the old Nakasendo Trail
  • Visit Tsumago, Magome and Narai; three lovingly maintained historic villages along the trail
  • Experience thermal Onsen baths at multiple hot-spring Ryokan inns
  • Enjoy walking in historic Kyoto and Nara with your experienced bi-lingual guide
  • Stay a charming family-run Minshuku inn, offering excellent Omotenashi service
  • Experience a Bullet Train journey from Kyoto
The Nakasendo 'Road through the Central Mountains' was a key route in feudal Japan's network of highways. Merchants and Travellers moving between Tokyo and Kyoto spent multiple days to travel the Nakasendo, staying in Juku post towns on each evening. A key section of the original route in the Kiso Valley region retains much of the nature and character of this historically significant period of Japan's history, enabling you to walk from village-to-village along forested trails, overnighting in traditional inns, with excellent local cuisine and baths.
The Nakasendo 'Road through the Central Mountains' was a key route in feudal Japan's network of highways. Merchants and Travellers moving between Tokyo and Kyoto spent multiple days to travel the Nakasendo, staying in Juku post towns on each evening. A key section of the original route in the Kiso Valley region retains much of the nature and character of this historically significant period of Japan's history, enabling you to walk from village-to-village along forested trails, overnighting in traditional inns, with excellent local cuisine and baths.

Our 8-day guided Nakasendo tour spends two nights in Kyoto, where the trail begins, three days of excellent walking along the Nakasendo trail, before ending in Tokyo. The time in Kyoto also takes in a side-trip to an excellent hike in nearby Nara before heading to the Kiso Valley. By day we will walk along the ancient route as it passes through beautifully-preserved villages along a gentle path, and by evening we will stay in traditional country inns enjoying exquisite regional cuisine prepared from the freshest ingredients, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy the warm hospitality of our hosts. Enjoy bathing in hot spring water after a day on the trails!

What′s included

  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide
  • Seven nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan and Minshuku)
  • Daily breakfast & five dinners
  • All transportation between tour locations
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group's itinerary
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 2 occasions

What′s not included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary

Day 1 Meet in Kyoto to begin the tour

Meet your guide and the other group members at the tour hotel in central Kyoto in the evening.  The guide will be on hand to provide advice on local restaurants.

 
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Welcome Dinner

 

Day 2 A day of sightseeing in Kyoto

Our first full day of the tour takes in a number of key destinations in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.


There is a guided half-day walking tour this morning, where we first visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail.

From here, we will travel north to Kurama and enjoy a gentle walk through the Kitayama Mountains from Kurama to Kibune.

Walking distance: 4km / 2.5 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: About 2-3 hours walking

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 Hike the Yamanobe no Michi in Nara

Travel by train to Nara, Japan's first permanent capital. Established in 710 and then known as Heijo, Nara abounds in cultural heritage, with many historic treasures and easy access to wonderful nature.

 
Today we will hike the historic Yamanobe no Michi trail. Our first walk is an excellent hike along the varied trail before returning to Kyoto and our accommodation for one final evening.

Walking distance: 16km / 10 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: About 5 hours walking

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 Hike from Magome to Tsumago

Journey by train from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa, including a ride on the world-famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Nagoya. At Nakatsugawa, you board a local bus for the short journey to Magome. Walk over Magome Pass to Tsumago, one of the best-preserved and most evocative of the Nakasendo post-towns. Spend the night at a family-run Minshuku in Tsumago, with a delicious home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast included. After dinner, enjoy a stroll through the village streets in the magical quiet of the evening, wearing the yukata gown supplied by your inn.

 
Walking distance: 8.3km / 5.2 miles
Elevation gain: 326m / 1,069 feet of ascent and 430m / 1,410 feet of descent
Time required: About 3 hours
 
Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 Hike from Tsumago to Nojiri

A longer walk on the trail  today offers a beautiful and varied hike from Tsumago to Nojiri. Or choose the shorter alternative to Nagiso instead. The trail heads through small valleys passing forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar, through some of the least-developed scenery on the tour. Continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima and stay at a lovely hot-spring Ryokan set in a peaceful valley above the town. The Ryokan has lovely indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths.


Walking distance: 18.4km/ 11.5 miles
Elevation gain: 723m / 2,275 feet of ascent and 644m / 2,112 feet of descent
Time required: About 6 hours
A shorter alternative of 1 hour (3.7km / 2.3 miles) is also possible.
 
Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 Hike from Yabuhara to Narai

Travel the short train journey from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara, the starting point for the hike over the Torii pass to another Juku village Narai. Explore this atmospheric village before travelling on by train to the castle town of Matsumoto and to your Onsen Ryokan inn for the evening.

 
Walking distance: 8.7km / 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 344m / 1,128 feet of ascent and 270m / 885 feet of descent
Time required: About 4 hours
The final hour of the walk is skippable by train.
 
Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 Sightseeing in Matsumoto and Tokyo

This morning, explore the the engaging castle town of Matsumoto, visiting Matsumoto castle, which is one of Japan's best historic castles. 


After lunch, head onwards to Tokyo by train, which is both the end point of the Nakasendo trail and of our tour. Stay at a comfortable Japanese-style hotel in the city and enjoy a final farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation:
Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Farewell Dinner

Day 8 Tour ends this morning

Our tour ends today after breakfast at the hotel in Tokyo. Your guide will be available to provide assistance and advice for travelling onwards, whether you have homeward flights, or on plan on extending your stay in Japan.

   
Meals: Breakfast