Tsumago, Magome, and Narai historic post towns of Nakasendo, which are popular sightseeing spots with walking courses among foreigners, are more than 30 km away from Mt. Ontake and can be traveled safely.
Oct 11, I actually hiked between Yabuhara to Narai post towns via Torii Pass, the highest point on the historic Nakasendo highway that connected Kyoto and Tokyo in the Edo Period and before.
Yabuhara is a small post town and there are shops selling handmade wooden combs, a traditional product of the town.On the top of the pass (1,250 m), there is a shrine where you can see Mt. Ontake when the sky is clear. It is a “substitute” shrine for prayers who can’t climb Mt. Ontake, so many statues of gods exist there. After you walk down from the hiking pass, you can see Narai Post Town, which has more than 50 historic buildings lining in one kilometer. They are used for nice shops of traditional handmade goods, coffee and food, small museums, and hotels even now.
This hike takes two and half hours, then you can catch a train.The Kiso area is very nice and is my favorite place. Mt. Ontake is introduced in the Lonely Planet’s guidebook “Hiking in Japan” and also has ski resorts at the mountain foot. Many workers in the tourism industry are much harmed by decrease in tourists. I hope the eruption would calm down, the 7 still missing climbers would be found soon, and tourists would come back.