Little-known Great Spots in Kiso Valley Samurai Trail

May 7th, 2017 by
Category: Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing

Nowadays, walking the old Nakasendo Road at Tsumago, Magome, and Narai is popular among foreign visitors, but they are crowded, especially in the early May ‘Golden Week’ holidays in Japan.

I visited the Uenodan area of the post town of Kiso-Fukushima (not Fukushima Prefecture) and Kozenji Temple near there to find some of the little-known great spots in the Kiso area. They are accessible by train (20 and 10 min walk from Kiso-Fukushima Station).

Uenodan is one of post towns in the Nakasendo Road. It is smaller than Tsumago and Narai, but very historical and cozy.

Some old buildings are used for restaurants and shops. I enjoyed soba noodles at Kurumaya, 300-year history soba restaurant.


Then, I went to Kozenji Temple to see a Japanese rock garden (zen garden).

It is called the widest zen garden in the east Asia and I was impressed by how it uses Kiso’s beautiful nature as ‘borrowed backdrop scenery’.

It is said that this garden represents mountains in a sea of clouds or in the cosmos, but I felt it represents the inner world of humanity.

Other Japanese gardens in the temple and approaches to the rock garden are also very beautiful.

I also visited Atera Gorge, which is famous for clear, emerald green water and its Kiso hinoki cypress forest. There is a groomed walking trail (access: one hour and twenty min walk from Nojiri train station), which I also recommend you visit.

8 Responses to “Little-known Great Spots in Kiso Valley Samurai Trail

  1. Hi Looks lovely. How long did you spend there? How did you get there? Would it be ok to drive? Are the hikes to the gorge and the cypress forest easy to get to? We have children with us. Did you stay in the town?

  2. Hi Vivian,
    I drove to these spots by my car from my town Matsumoto.
    Are you interested in Atera Gorge? It is one hour drive from other spots in Kiso-Fukushima I wrote in this blog.
    The hiking area in the gorge and the cypress forest are easy to access (15 min by car) from Route 19 or Nojiri Station of JR.

  3. Thanks so much. Will be staying in Kiso and driving. Is there a number to put in the GPS for directions?

  4. Hello, I will be travelling to Japan next year (2020) and would be interested in walking a part of this trail. Definitely more than just the 8 km between Tsumago and Magome. I was thinking more along the lines of 4 days, maybe 10-12 km per day, and staying overnight in the post towns. I cannot find any useful information online about this, except for one map that covers about 300 km (!!!). Do you have any advice? Can this be done? Is there a decent hiking trail in a particular segment like this? Thank you beforehand for any advice 🙂

  5. Hi Klara,

    There is a well-maintained walking trail between Magome and Sakurasawa.
    Here is a map that gives a detailed breakdown of the trail by section. It even has estimated walking times and distances.
    This site has PDFs with information on places located in the major areas along the trail:
    Local trains and the limited express Shinano stop along the trail, and buses connect some of the post town areas.
    Hope this helps!

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