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The Nakasendo RoadPost TownsTraditionsNatureSightseeing Information
現在位置:Topの中のEnglish Topの中のNakasendoからThe Southern Section of the Kisoji

Traveling the Kisoji

01

The Southern Section
of the Kisoji

Magome, Tsumago, and Nezame-no-Toko

The southern part of the Kisoji runs from Magome (in Gifu Prefecture) to Kiso Fukushima in central Kiso. This part of the route is especially popular for the trail that runs between Magome and Tsumago post towns, a two-and-a-half to three-hour trek through the woods along the Nakasendo. You’ll find a number of picturesque waterfalls, ravines, and rivers here as well.

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Magome

Magome was a prosperous post-town just outside of the Kiso Valley. Its stone-paved street climbs up a steep hillside lined with old-fashioned Edo-period buildings and a large, wooden water wheel. At the very top of town is a viewpoint where you can see Mt. Ena, one of Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains.

You’ll find many stylish cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops here, selling local delicacies such as gohei mochi, soba noodles, and chestnut rice. While the exteriors all retain their Edo-period appearance, the interiors of such shops range from blasts to the past to immaculately designed spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Japanese gardens.

Many stylish cafes and souvenir shops line the street of Magome

Many stylish cafes and souvenir shops line the street of Magome

The Magome-Tsumago Trail

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A cobblestone section of trail descends towards Tsumago

From Magome, the Nakasendo continues uphill into the Kiso Valley. The wide-open terrain gives way to steep mountains and forests as you approach Magome Pass (790m), then gradually descends through the Kiso Valley towards Tsumago. Along the road are many small shrines and statues where travelers prayed for their health and safety.

Near the halfway point of the trail, you arrive at a small clearing with a large wooden building. Called Ichikokutochi Tateba Chaya, this restored tea house welcomes travelers on the Nakasendo. A volunteer provides tea and snacks to those who stop by, and visitors can swap stories with one another as they take a break from the hike. After enjoying hot tea next to the crackling irori hearth, you’re just another hour or so away from Tsumago.

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Our kind host pours tea for us as we sit down at the Tatebatea house.

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Admiring its rustic interior.

Tsumago

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Tsumago’s main road on a warm winter day.

Tsumago was the first post town in Japan to be designated an important preservation area for historical buildings (1976). As part of their preservation efforts, locals swore not to sell, lend, or destroy the buildings they owned. As a result, Tsumago-juku retains its Edo-period atmosphere, surrounded by the lush forests and precipitous mountains of Kiso. At night, when the lanterns illuminate the old buildings in a warm glow, you can’t help but imagine yourself slipping back in time.

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Colorful dried fruits and mochi decorate the exteriors of many buildings around Tsumago.

You may notice some of the unique design elements of the buildings along the road here. Rooves weighted with rocks. Paper doors nestled within paper doors. Firewalls jutting between houses. Each of these elements served a specific function. With a careful eye, you can appreciate the ingenuity of the carpenters who built these towns.

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The entrance of Tsumago’s Wakihonjin inn

To see the beauty of these buildings more closely, stop by Tsumago’s Wakihonjin Inn. Once one of the principal inns of the town, it is now a museum where visitors can learn more about how people used to live during the Edo Period. And if you visit during winter, you may also be able to see a stunning phenomenon where beams of light pierce through the smoky air and fall on the irori hearth and tatami floor below.

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Beams of light bathe the interior of the Wakihonjin in winter sun.

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Sitting at the best spot in front of the irori hearth.

Waterworks along the Nakasendo

The Kiso area is famous for its crystal-clear waters. Originating from the peaks of the Central Japanese Alps and Mt. Ontake, pure streams flow down the mountains and feed the Kiso River. Waterfalls appear at many points along the Nakasendo, and if you take a few detours, you’ll find some of the most beautiful ravines in Japan.

Ono Falls and Nezame-no-Toko are located near Agematsu on the way towards Kiso Fukushima. Along the JR Chuo line and Route 19, they are both easily accessible by car. Even during winter, the falls are still active and you can see the cliff covered in frost and icicles. The falls flow more vigorously during the rest of the year.

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Ono Falls covered in ice in January

Nezame-no-Toko is farther north. Large, geometric slabs of stone flank the Kiso River, whose rapids carved out this ravine long ago. A small patch of woods grows on one of the central boulders, and a small shrine here is dedicated to Urashima Taro, a character often described as Japan’s Rip Van Winkle. Legend has it that he spent time here fishing on the rocks of Nezame-no-Toko during his travels around Japan.

Many stylish cafes and souvenir shops line the street of Magome

Nezame-no-Toko as seen from the roadside station on Route 19.

Spend the Night in Kiso Fukushima

After a long day traveling across the Kiso Valley, stop for the night in Kiso Fukushima. As one of Kiso’s largest towns, you’ll find plenty of hotels here to spend the night—some even have hot springs on the premises! There are also many restaurants and izakaya pubs where you can taste local food and sake.

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The Onyado Tsutaya Ryokan on the riverside in Kiso Fukushima

Close

Route and Stops along the Way

Nakasendo walking map


Blair’s Tips

Blair’s Tips

The trail from Magome to Tsumago is a must-do activity while you’re in the area. The Ichikokutochi tea house is one of my favorite parts, giving you a chance to interact with other travelers along the way. For the best scenery, visit in spring (mid-April to May) when the azaleas and cherry blossoms are in bloom, or in autumn (late October to early November) for colorful fall leaves. You can certainly visit during winter, but you’ll need boots with tread and a warm jacket (and a way to transport your luggage as the forwarding service doesn’t run during winter).

Places Nearby

Top Picks


Attractions

Ichikokutochi tateba-chaya


Attractions

Magome Post Town


Attractions

Atera Gorge


Attractions

Akasawa Natural Recreational Forest

Attractions

観光施設

Akasawa Natural
Recreational Forest

観光施設

Forespa Kiso

観光施設

Furusato-taikenkan
Kiso Fukushima

観光施設

Kiso River Rafting Club

観光施設

Natural Lake Nature
Canoe Tour

観光施設

Takahashi Stream

camp

Camping field

golf

Golf course

観光施設

Ski Resort

Accommodations

 

Post Towns Nearby

 

Magome
Post Town

Magome Post Town is the furtherest south of the Kiso's 11 post towns.The old street was destroyed by a fire leaving only the stone path and entry gate.

 

Midono
Post Town

Midono was together with Tsumago a prosperous Post Town being at a key junction of traffic even before the completion of the Nakasendo.

 

Nojiri
Post Town

Nojiri Post Town was the second longest after the Narai Post Town among the 11 post towns of Nakasendo.

 

Suhara
Post Town

 It is a historic post-town which flourished and the oldest in the Kiso valley. The width of the road is wider than other post towns.

 

Tsumago
Post Town

 It was the first Post Town in Japan that preserved an old street and was selected as an 'Important Traditional Buildings Preservation District'.

 

Accommodations places
at the Foot of the Mountains

travel area.