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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3 Days of Instagrammer Heaven Along the Nakasendo Kisoji Route
Winter attraction in Nakasendo Kiso Valle

3 Days of Instagrammer Heaven Along the Nakasendo Kisoji Route

This 3-day tour will give you all the opportunities you need for getting fantastic Instagram-worthy photos of the scenery along the ancient Nakasendo Trail in the area known as Kisoji in Japanese, which literally means Kiso Road “Kisoji”. The first day, takes you on a fantastic train journey, followed by a scenic hike, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Day 2 is more natural scenery, but this time from up high in the sky, followed by a healthy stroll through a historic, lush forest to refresh both body and soul. The final day, water is the theme when you visit a gorge with the clearest river you have ever seen running through it and a great rushing waterfall. Finish off your journey with another hike through historic post towns before heading to your next destination in Japan.

Day 1 (Nagano or) Matsumoto - Yabuhara Post Town (Torii Pass) - Narai Post Town (Chopsticks making) - Spend the night in Kiso Fukushima

9:04 Depart Nagano

JR Resort View Furusato train

Take the JR Resort View Furusato train to Matsumoto. This train is very special in that it consists of only 2 cars and is designed to give passengers an excellent view of the scenery. It only runs in each direction once a day and operates on a very limited calendar schedule.

10:27 Arrive in Matsumoto and change to the Chuo line / 11:32 Arrive at Yabuhara Station

Check which platform the Chuo line will depart from ahead of time as you only have 3 minutes to make the change. The Chuo line departs Matsumoto Station at 10:30.
When you arrive at Yabuhara, you will probably want to grab a slightly early lunch and fuel up for the hike that awaits, or you may choose to forgo lunch until you arrive at the next destination, which is Narai Post Town.

Kisoji
Kisoji

As mentioned earlier, Kisoji is the leg of the ancient Nakasendo Trail, a trade route that ran from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto in the days of feudal Japan. There are eleven post towns that functioned as rest stops along the Kiso Road “Kisoji” from Nagano to Gifu and the road between Yabuhara and Narai Post Towns was said to be the hardest leg as it traveled deep into the mountains. Today, it is much easier and enjoyable 2 - 2.5 hour hike.

Yabuhara Station

11:45 Depart Yabuhara Station and begin your walk along the Nakasendo Trail traveling through the Torii Pass, one of the the hardest points along the entire 534 km trail.

ToriiTorii

13:45 Arrive in Narai Post Town

Narai Post Town
Gohei-mochi

If you skipped lunch in Yabuhara, you are probably famished by now. Enjoy a late lunch at any number of quaint restaurants. There is plenty to choose from in Narai, though most places offer similar menus as the area is well known for soba, which are buckwheat noodles served hot or cold, and Gohei-mochi, a traditional rice dish grilled with miso paste (please note that shops might be closed in winter season).

NaraiNarai

Narai was once a thriving post town marking the halfway point along the Nakasendo Trail. It looks much the same today as it did back in the Edo period. The town of a “thousand buildings” as it was once called, is lined with a variety of shops and restaurants. Interestingly, this is perhaps the only post town along the ancient Nakasendo Trail that is still actively inhabited. The residents are committed to maintaining its historic appearance and visitors get a real sense of what life was like here 100 hundred or more years ago.

Narai
making your own chopsticks

Walking up as you enter  the town from the trail, you’ll come upon the Narai-juku Tourist Information Center on your right where you can try your hand at making your own chopsticks! The process takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. The tools are simple to use, but require a little bit of muscle and may be a little too fiddly for anyone younger than 8 or 9. Reservations can be made in English and are not required but are recommended.

16:29 Depart Narai Station on the JR Chuo Line/16:51 Arrive at Kiso Fukushima Station

After the excitement of the day you will be ready to take a load off and enjoy a slow-paced evening at one of the available hotels or inns in Kiso Fukushima.

Recommended Accommodations in Kiso Fukushima

・Yama Mizuki Urara Tsutaya:

Directly in right front of Kiso Fukushima station

・Iwaya:

Located in central Kiso Fukushima. It is a renovated storehouse with guestrooms available

・Kiso Mikawaya:

Reasonably priced ryokan. Offers an all-you-can-drink soft drink bar at no extra cost! It is a bit far from the station…

See the accommodations list for more options.

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Other Itineraries

Want to do it all? Now you can this tour!

3-Days of Instagrammer Heaven Along the Nakasendo Kisoji Route

Period Dec. 2019 to Mar. 2020
Duration 3 Days
Destination Troii Path / Narai Post Town / Ontake Ropeway / Akasawa Forest Train / Kakizore Gorge / Tsumago Post Town / Magome Path / Tsumago Post Town
Start / End Nagano City / Nakatsugawa Station, Matsumoto City, or Nagano City
Regions Central Japan
Operator Snow Monkey Resorts
2pax JPY 416,000~/group

Day 2  Day 2 Kiso Fukushima - Ontake Ropeway - Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest - Spend the night in Kiso Fukushima

8:40 Depart Kiso Fukushima

Mt. Ontake ropeway is accessible by bus from the end of April to the beginning of May and from late-June to the beginning of November, and there are 3 buses in each direction every day.

9:32 Arrive at Mt. Ontake ropeway (in spring-summer season arrive at 9:46)
and take your time to see the sites around the 7th mountain station.

the Mt. Ontake ropeway
Ontake

Buses run to the Mt. Ontake ropeway which will take you up to the 7th mountain station, but the last bus to the ropeway departs Kiso Fukushima station at 1:40 p.m. and takes about 50 minutes. Taking the bus one way costs ¥1500, but I recommend getting a one-day pass for ¥2500 so you can take the bus back down again. The one-day pass can only be purchased at the ticket office outside Kiso Fukushima station.

Once you arrive at the ropeway station you can buy a roundtrip ropeway ticket inside the facilities. The ropeway is essentially a ski lift gondola that takes you up to what used to be a ski resort. The trip up (and back down) takes about 15 minutes, and the views are breathtakingly spectacular. There are also beautiful mountain streams and small waterfalls in the area around the ropeway station.The area is so idyllic, it feels like if you watched closely, you might see a band of fairies playing in the distance.

OntakeOntake

11:55 Depart Ontake ropeway
12:48 Arrive in Kiso Fukushima (12:58 in spring-summer season) / Lunch

You’ll take the same bus you took up the mountain back down. By the time you arrive back in Kiso Fukushima you will ready for lunch. There are some options near the station, or if you have time, taking a bus or taxi to Agematsu and catching a glimpse of Nezamenotoko is also a nice option. There are a few lunch options in the area here too.

Magome to Tsumago

Nezamenotoko is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. The name literally means “bed of awakening” and it is said its stunning beauty will awaken the senses of anyone who views it. It is also associated with the legend of Urashima Taro, as it is said he awoke from his adventures in this spot.

13:35 Depart Kiso Fukushima (or 13:50 Dep. Agematsu on the same bus)

The bus between Kiso Fukushima, Agematsu, and Akasawa only runs from the end of April through the beginning of November, in line with the Akawasa Natural Recreational Forest’s operating season. A roundtrip fare for one adult is ¥2800, and there are only 3 buses per day, with an extra 4th bus during the summer months. Make sure to take this information into account when planning your trip.

14:20 Arrive at Akasawa Natural Recreational Forest / Sightseeing / Forest Train

Akasawa

The Kiso area is famous throughout Japan for its forestry industry. The cypress found here was once used in the construction of castles and shrines. At one point, the forest was practically stripped bare until the government stepped in and forbid cutting down anymore trees, and the crime was punishable by death! Once the forest had regrown, the trees were once again used in the construction industry, but this time strictly regulated. The trees here are the designated  lumber for Ise Grand Shrine, and in the early 1900’s a forest railway was built to aid the forestry industry. It remained in use for this purpose until 1975.

Akasawa

In the early 80’s the concept of forest bathing began right here in these woods, and the railway came back into use, but this time to carry people deep into the healing forest and share the area’s history. The Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest is now a Japan Heritage Site and the many miles of maintained forest trails within offer visitors a place to relax and refresh. I recommend taking the train out into the forest and enjoying a leisurely stroll along one of the paths on the way back. The station has a lovely little museum with lots of photos and memorabilia from the railway’s heyday, as well as a display of the actual train cars that were once in use.

AkasawaAkasawa

16:20 Depart Akawasa Natural Recreational Forest (Notice: this last bus is available on between mid-July to Sept. 1st))
17:05 Arrive Kiso Fukushima Station

Tomorrow is another big day with a long walk between the last two post towns along the Kiso road “Kisoji”, so you may want to get an extra long soak in tonight to rest your legs, eat a hearty and delicious dinner, and prepare yourself for another day of excitement at your accommodations of choice in Kiso-Fukushima.

Recommended Accommodations in Kiso Fukushima

・Yama Mizuki Urara Tsutaya:

Directly in right front of Kiso Fukushima station

・Iwaya:

Located in central Kiso Fukushima. It is a renovated storehouse with guestrooms available

・Kiso Mikawaya:

Reasonably priced ryokan. Offers an all-you-can-drink soft drink bar at no extra cost! It is a bit far from the station…

See the accommodations list for more options.

Close
Show More

Other Itineraries

Want to do it all? Now you can this tour!

3-Days of Instagrammer Heaven Along the Nakasendo Kisoji Route

Period Dec. 2019 to Mar. 2020
Duration 3 Days
Destination Troii Path / Narai Post Town / Ontake Ropeway / Akasawa Forest Train / Kakizore Gorge / Tsumago Post Town / Magome Path / Tsumago Post Town
Start / End Nagano City / Nakatsugawa Station, Matsumoto City, or Nagano City
Regions Central Japan
Operator Snow Monkey Resorts
2pax JPY 416,000~/group

Day 3  Kiso Fukushima - Kakizore Gorge - Tsumago Post Town - (Trail) - Magome - Nakatsugawa/Matsumoto/Nagano

Kakizore

We have saved the best for this last day of our recommended itinerary! The first stop is Kakizore Gorge, which will fill you with feelings of wonder and excitement as you walk over bridges, along paths against the high gorge walls, and climb long flights of stairs around the gorge and its crystal clear waters to be rewarded at the end with hidden treasure: a truly stunning waterfall.

10:00 Depart Kiso Fukushima Station

Take a sightseeing taxi (Approx. ¥17,900 and a 2.5 hour drive. There is an English inquiry form that explains the process and reservations must be made one week in advance. https://www.n-taxi.com/en/)

10:45 Arrive at the parking lot near the gorge

Kakizore Gorge is a site of spectacular natural beauty on the opposite side of the gorge from Atera Gorge, which runs parallel. Walk down a set of stairs along the mountain face and you will come to a suspension bridge. If you are absolutely terrified of heights, this is probably not the best option, but as someone who doesn’t do well with heights, I was still able to make it across. The bridge runs across the beautiful, clear blue gorge waters.

KakizoreKakizore
Kakizore

Enjoy the roughly 15-minute riverside hike to Ushigataki Falls. There is a lot of climbing up and down stairs involved, so I recommend going slow and really drinking in all of the fantastic scenery.

A trail will take you 300m further into the gorge until you come upon the stunning Ushigataki Falls. The site of the water rushing over the granite into a pool of deep, clear, emerald green water is awe-inspiring.

Kakizore

11:45 Depart Kakizore Gorge
12:30 Arrive at Nagiso Station
12:40 Depart Nagiso Station

From Nagiso Station there is a bus that will take you to Tsumago Post Town in just under 10 minutes for ¥300. There are 4 buses a day running every 1.5 - 2 hours. There is an additional bus first thing in the morning (8:35 departure) the last week in April/first week in May and from the beginning of July through the end of August.

12:47 Arrive at Tsumago Post town /sightseeing / lunch

Arrive at Tsumago

Tsumago Post Town is the last post town on the Nakasendo Trail within Nagano Prefecture. This was once a prosperous and flourishing town. The original honjin (main inn) was destroyed and rebuilt in 1995, but the original waki-honjin (secondary inn) still remains and was designated an Important Cultural Property in 2001. Both are open to visitors.

Tsumago-jukuTsumago-juku

13:30 Depart Tsumago to Magome

Tsumago and Magome are two post towns along the ancient Nakasendo Trail. The trail between them can be walked in 3 to 3.5 hours, giving you a real sense of how our Japanese ancestors lived, as recent as 100 years ago while you take in the natural beauty of the trails themselves. Upon arriving in Tsumago you will notice that every effort has been made to restore the town to its original appearance, and even the electric and phone lines have been concealed so as not to interfere with the scenery. Take some time to explore the town before departing along the trail for Magome.

trailtrail
trail

The trail that stretches between Tsumago and Magome has been relatively well-maintained making for a gentle journey that even non-hikers can enjoy. It is well-marked in both English and Japanese. Be aware that the Tsumago to Magome direction is a slightly more uphill hike than the other direction.

trail

16:00 - 16:30 Arrive at Magome Post Town

Magome

Magome is actually located in Gifu Prefecture, and compared to Tsumago it may appear to be a slightly more embellished re-creation in comparison to Tsumago’s stark authenticity. There are a few buildings of particular interest in this post town, and all charge some kind of entrance fee, albeit minimal. The Shimizuya Shiryokan only charges ¥200, and inside you can see items and artifacts that once belonged to the residents of the town giving you a better feel for what their lives might have been like.

Magome

When you arrive in Magome, the last of the eleven post towns on the Kiso Road “Kisoji”, you’ll have time to explore the shops and inns along the cobblestone streets.

MagomeMagome

16:50 Depart Magome

From Magome, it is a 25-minute bus ride to Nakatsugawa Station, and from there you can choose to continue southward onto Nagoya, or go back north up to Matsumoto or Nagano. Be aware that if you want to take the 17:35 train to Nagoya, you’ll only have about 20 minutes to explore Magome, and buses run roughly once every hour. So, if you want to stay longer you can take a later bus. If you decided to head back in the Matsumoto direction, the 17:50 bus is probably a good choice!

17:15 Arrive at Nakatsugawa

Congratulations!! You have seen almost everything there is to see in the Kiso area, and probably collected some fantastic photos for your Instagram followers to “ooh” and “ahh” over.
From Nakatsugawa you can either head towards Nagoya or back up north towards Matsumoto or Nagano depending on where your next destination will be. If you take the 17:35 train to Nagoya, you will arrive at 18:57. Or, you can take the 18:30 train north arriving in Matsumoto at 19:46 and Nagano at 20:39.

17:35 Depart Nakatsugawa Station to Nagoya or 18:30 Depart to Matsumoto / Nagano
18:57 Arrive at Nagoya Station or 19:46 Arrive at Matsumoto Station / 20:39 Arrive at Nagano Station

Other Itineraries

Want to do it all? Now you can this tour!

3-Days of Instagrammer Heaven Along the Nakasendo Kisoji Route

Period Dec. 2019 to Mar. 2020
Duration 3 Days
Destination Troii Path / Narai Post Town / Ontake Ropeway / Akasawa Forest Train / Kakizore Gorge / Tsumago Post Town / Magome Path / Tsumago Post Town
Start / End Nagano City / Nakatsugawa Station, Matsumoto City, or Nagano City
Regions Central Japan
Operator Snow Monkey Resorts
2pax JPY 416,000~/group