Walk the ancient Nakasendo route in Kiso Valley

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In the Kiso Valley (木 曽 路, Kisoji) a few towns have been preserved where visitors can get a good impression about the ancient trade route “Nakasendo”. In particular, the old road between Magome to Tsumago is approx. 8km (5mi.) and will take about 3 to 4 hours to walk in order to get a good impression of this ancient route. Visitors can enjoy the old paved paths and wooden buildings from a bygone era.

The Kiso Valley is located in the Nagano prefecture and runs along the mountains which have “the Japanese Alps” as a nickname. Through this Kiso Valley lies a part of the nearly 500 km long ancient Nakasendo route. The Nakasendo (“path through the mountains”) was one of the two trade routes between Edo and Kyoto. The other route was the Tokaido, which ran along the coast.
You can walk the remaining cobbelstone road between Magome and Tsumago in about 3 to 4 hours and is well worth the effort. To get there you grab a train at Nagoya station to Nakatsugawa. From there to go by bus to Magome. Back from Tsumago you take the bus to the station of Nagiso and from there a train back to Nagoya.

Kiso

Kiso

In the village of Magome you arrive at a large parking lot. The Nakasendo here runs through the middle of this old village with left and right a variety of souvenir shops and restaurants. Halfway the village you will find the local tourist office. Here you get a map of the trail and also the certificate to collect your arrival stamp at Tsumago later. This way you will gety a unique wooden souvenir as a prove you walked part of this ancient trail.

With your map along with the many singsposts along the path it will be hard to get lost.The first part of the route is quite hard to walk at a sunny day. The trail winds steep up through several smaller villages, rice paddies and cropland and there were not too many trees that could provide shade. Our watersupply shrank by the minute and we were worried about whether we could get a refill. The first 2.5 kilometer will take just over an hour but fortunately at the highest point a small shop with a variety of vending machines filled with plenty chilled beverages.

Initially it seems an odd location to find these vending machines in this forest, but you will be glad they have put them here! After a short rest you can walk down in the two-hour mountain walk past beautiful waterfalls and fast-flowing streams that were in the forest.

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Tsumago Tourist Info Center: 35.576480, 137.595295
magome Tourist Info center: 35.525959, 137.566778
Nakatsugawa Trainstation + Bus stop: 35.499461, 137.502909
Nagiso Trainstation + Bus stop: 35.599054, 137.608538
Magome Bus stop: 35.524316, 137.565458
Tsumago Bus stop: 35.578976, 137.595005
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Nagiso Trainstation + Bus stop
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Magome Bus stop
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Tsumago Bus stop
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Tsumago Tourist Info Center
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magome Tourist Info center
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Nakatsugawa Trainstation + Bus stop
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About Author

Travel Photographer, Writer/blogger & Planner for Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan & other Asian countries. Since 2001 he visited a number of Asian countries like Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Tibet and Nepal. There he enjoyed centuries of history and culture, local habits and beautiful locations. By this website www.myAsiaTravelguide.com he shares his experiences about these trips for a number of Asian countries to inspire other travelers.

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