A Three-Day Trip along the Nakasendo

Experience the Nakasendo's history by walking the road, staying in traditional inns, eating the local food and soaking in hot springs as the samurai did.


Until the late 1800s thousands of Samurai walked the Nakasendo between Kyoto and old Edo, passing through Nagano’s Kiso Valley where the best-preserved post towns are located. Experience the history by walking the road, staying in traditional inns, eating the local food, and soaking in hot springs as the samurai did.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit the three best-preserved post towns of the Nakasendo
  • Walk the most popular section of this ancient trail
  • Walk a less-discovered section over Torii Pass with views of sacred Mt. Ontake
  • Enjoy a hot spring ryokan stay, historical district walk and sake tasting in Kiso Fukushima
  • Visit Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s five national treasure castles


Day 1: Explore Kiso Fukushima

Travel to Kiso Fukushima and walk up to the Uenodan historical district. After sake-tasting, enjoy a relaxing stay at a traditional inn.

11:00 Depart Nagoya on JR Limited Express “Shinano” bound for Nagano
 84 min.
12:30 Depart Kiso-Fukushima Station to your ryokan on foot
 10 min.
12:45 Kiso Fukushima's Uenodan
Drop off your luggage at the ryokan for your two-night stay. Then orientate yourself with this major Nakasendo transit point by walking up the Uenodan historical district. The well-preserved post town area is full of restaurants, shops, and cafes.
14:30 Depart Uenodan to follow the old Nakasendo road to the Sekisho Museum
 10 min.
14:45 Sekisho Museum
Kiso Fukushima served as a sekisho (checkpoint) on the Nakasendo. Learn about the workings of the old samurai road at the Sekisho Museum.
15:15 Depart the Sekisho Museum to descend to the brewery district
 10 min.
15:30 Sake Tasting
Some of the Kiso Valley’s most important sake breweries are located in Kiso Fukushima’s narrow alleys. The iconic Nanawarai brewery offers sake tastings.
16:00 Ryokan Stay
Immerse yourself in traditional Japan by staying at a ryokan.
 Traditional ryokan in Kiso Fukushima

Day 2: Magome to Tsumago

Walk the most popular section of the entire Nakasendo from Magome to Tsumago.

9:16 Depart Kiso Fukushima on JR Limited Express “Shinano” bound for Nagoya
 35 min.
10:10 Depart Nakatsugawa Station to Magome on local bus
 30 min.
10:45 Magome
Magome is a well preserved Nakasendo post town that features many cafes and shops. Especially notable is the Shimazaki Toson Museum, honoring the 19th century author. While in Magome, be sure to try goheimochi (grilled rice on a stick).
11:30 Walk the Nakasendo from Magome to Tsumago
This 7.5-kilometer walk offers two post towns, a look into the Japanese countryside, and stunning views of the mountainous terrain with a historic teahouse and a pair of waterfalls along the way.
Depart Magome to Tateba Chaya on foot
 45 min.
12:30 Tateba Chaya
Stop at the Tateba Chaya for a picnic lunch or tea. This original Nakasendo teahouse offers travelers complimentary tea.
Depart Tateba Chaya to Tsumago on foot.
 75 min.
14:00 Tsumago
Tsumago is arguable the best-preserved post town on the Nakasendo because it has many original buildings intact. Of special importance is the Waki Honjin, which the Meiji Emperor visited in the late 1800s.
15:26 Depart Tsumago to Nagiso Station on bus
 10 min.
16:00 Depart Nagiso to return to Kiso-Fukushima on JR Limited Express “Shinano” bound for Nagano
 25 min.
Stay: Second night at ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima. Consider indulging in the nightlife and eating out at one of the many chic local izakaya.

Day 3: Yabuhara to Narai

Yabuhara to Narai is a relatively undiscovered section of the Nakasendo, crossing scenic Torii Pass before arriving at Narai, the longest post town of the entire route.

08:56 Depart Kiso Fukushima to Yabuhara on JR local train bound for Matsumoto
 15 min.
09:15 Yabuhara
Known for lacquerware, Yabuhara is the post town just before Torii Pass. Before ascending visit Yabuhara Shrine, relocated here from the summit for the locals’ daily prayer.
09:30 Depart Yabuhara to walk the Nakasendo ascending to Torii Pass
 30 min.
10:30 Torii Pass
The Torii Pass section of the Nakasendo is a beautiful 6-kilometer hike from Yabuhara to Narai post town. The summit was the location of a shrine for practitioners of shugendo, a form of ascetic mountain worship. Sacred Mt. Ontake, Japan's second-tallest volcano (3,067 m), is visible on clear days.
10:15 Continue walking the Nakasendo, descending to Narai-juku
 30 min.
11:30 Narai-Juku
Descend into Narai, another beautifully preserved post town with a distinct look and feel. This post town is the exact midway point between Tokyo and Kyoto. While in Narai, have lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants and visit a lacquerware shop. Saito Lacquerware offers lacquerware-making experiences.
15:00 Cedar Avenue
Just past Narai-juku’s main street is a section of the Nakasendo lined by ancient cedar trees. In addition to the beautiful trees, here you will find over 200 jizo statues.
15:57 Depart Narai Station on JR local train bound for Matsumoto
 56 min.
16:48 Matsumoto
Matsumoto Castle is one of the only original wooden castles remaining in Japan. With the Japanese Alps in the background, the view from the top floor is spectacular on a clear day.
From Matsumoto you can return to Kiso Fukushima or transit on to Tokyo or Nagano.

Optional Day: Kaida Kogen


If time allows consider visiting Kaida Kogen and Mt. Ontake, a pilgrimage destination for many travelers on the Nakasendo.