Nakasendo Way best route (by bike?)

Answered Answered
Michael Male Australia 2018/05/18

Dear Blair 

I will be in Matsumoto for 2 days in early June.  From there I would like to experience the Nakasendo Way! : )

My many questions include:
1) Can I ride the Nakasendo Way on a cross bike instead of hiking the trail?

2) Can you suggest a preferential route to follow the Nakasendo Way along taking into account the background below?

A bit of background

  1. I am in no rush (I can give around a week for this journey +/- a few days), so the experience is more important (what that means is very vague I know – I suppose I am seeking a unique insight into Japanese culture/lifestyle/history and, if possible, various natural environments).
  2. I am fairly fit and travelling alone but not into exhausting hikes or bike rides – a 50 to 70 km bike ride is comfortable, whereas 120 km is not. 
  3. Where I finish needs to be on a train route so I can get back to Nagano city.

Thanks for your time considering my route: I am looking forward to your thoughts.



Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2018/05/22

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your question.

It is possible to bike around Kiso and the Nakasendo, but there are areas that aren’t suitable for bikes. Particularly, the main road that runs through the valley (Route 19) has very narrow shoulders and is quite busy. There are also sections of the Nakasendo that are unpaved, bumpy, and quite steep.

Also, if you are traveling on the train with your bicycle, it is important to note that bicycles are only allowed on the train if they are properly stored in a bike bag (so that no parts of the bike are visible). You’ll most likely want to return via Nakatsugawa Station (near Magome) or Nagiso Station (near Tsumago) as they are at the bottom of the valley. Nakatsugawa also has more express trains.

If you would like to explore the most popular section of the Nakasendo, the trail between Tsumago and Magome, I recommend approaching it on foot. While I don’t personally know much about cycling through the Nakasendo, I found an interesting blog about it that may be of use to you.

I hope that helps answer your question. Let me know if I can help you with anything else.


Guest 2018/05/23

Thanks Blair 

Once again, a very helpful response:

I will walk the Kiso trail & book Ryokans on route as bike riding the route does not sound ideal : )



Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2018/05/23


I’m glad I could be of help. Let me know if you have any other questsions.


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