Nakasendo Way

Walking in the heart of old Japan

You'll love walking the nakasendo way.

The Nakasendo Way is an ideal introduction to walking off-the-beaten-track in Japan. Step into a world of rural villages and delightful old post towns. Enjoy the stone paths and wooden buildings of a bygone era at the same time as you explore life in modern Japan.

The 533km Nakasendo Way was a centuries-old highway through the heart of feudal Japan. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ travelled by lords, samurai, merchants, and travellers between Kyoto and Edo, modern-day Tokyo. As a result, post towns developed every few kilometres to provide travellers with places to rest, eat and find nightly accommodation during their arduous journey. A few towns still survive today and give an enticing glimpse into Japan’s past and modern day rural life.

Walking among mountains and fields, passing villages, towns, pine and bamboo forests, the  Kiso Valley shows off the natural beauty of Japan whilst also giving insights into the culture with various local cultural activities offered. 

the raw travel difference.


Taste the real Japan

As you walk the Nakasendo Way you can indulge in the Kiso region's culinary delights: buckwheat noodles, mountain trout from crystal clear streams, tender beef and delicious traditional sweets. Remember to try the delicious local sake!


Our own local staff on the trail

We book all our Nakasendo Way arrangements directly. You'll have the back-up of our own staff member on the ground who lives in this area and will meet you at the start of your trip. If you need assistance at any time, he is never far away. We also have an exceptional daily luggage transfer service.



The Kiso Valley offers you quality time in nature with its abundance of mountainous forest, sacred Kiso Cypress trees and the beautiful Mt Ontake as your backdrop. For much of the time on the Naksasendo trail you will be walking through fields and villages seeing rural life in small-town Japan close up.


Authentic Japanese culture

Stay in authentic Japanese accommodation and discover the fascinating history of local Samurai connections and the post towns that connected Kyoto with Tokyo during the Imperial era. The well-preserved towns of Tsumago and Magome are well-known attractions, but there is so much more to discover!


What will your Nakasendo way walking adventure bring you?


We had such a great trip. The itinerary was perfect – with a mixture of forest walking, exploring villages and open farmland. The accommodation was excellent and the meals a real highlight. The planning by RAW Travel was excellent – thanks so much. An exceptional experience overall.

Jennifer Bryant (VIC)
June 2019

Loved the traditional accommodation and exquisite Japanese food. Loved walking through the sensational scenery and meeting the Japanese people. Everything was well mapped out. A truly exceptional experience.

Helen Newbiggin (QLD)
June 2019

We had a great trip and couldn’t fault the organisation. Our pre-trip guide Ukky, who we met on day one, gave us excellent explanation and tips. Accommodation and meals were first class and the route was fantastic. We loved it!

Jan Ellis (VIC)
May 2019

Walking the Nakasendo Way was more than I expected. The scenery was magical, the towns full of history and allowed us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in traditional Japanese culture. Would highly recommend this walk.

Margaret Taborda (NSW)
April 2019

We had a most amazing experience. Japan is a beautiful country and walking on the Nakasendo Way was magical. It was easy to navigate our way along the trail. The Ryokan’s were authentic and the Japanese people were hospitable and delightful.

Elizabeth Ford (NSW)
March 2019

We loved the Nakasendo Way walk through small towns, forests and rural areas of Japan. The local guides were fantastic because they provided valuable insight into the culture, people and history of Japan. This added richness to the experience which you would not have gained doing a self guided walk. The selection of ryokans and Japanese banquets each night were excellent and made the trip unforgettable.

Andrew Culpit (ACT)
April 2019

The meal on the first night at Nakatsugawa was probably one of the best I have ever had anywhere in the world. It was superb! The overall experience for the night was also great. The hot tub and food in Kiso Fukushima was also very good and the people in general along the way were so wonderful.

Graham Schultz (NSW)
April 2019

Could not have asked for better! Loved the ryokans and the food was amazing. Trip notes awesome – didn’t get lost once! Would recommend to anyone who loves to walk.

Jennifer Ronalds (QLD)
April 2019

Exploring japans' NAKASENDO WAY.

Click on each of the trail points to read about each destination. 

Historic accommodation

There is the option to stay in 400-year-old ryokans and old farmhouses, some of which have been in the same family for 13 generations servicing travellers along the Nakasendo Way.

Original stone paths

Some of the original sections of the Nakasendo highway still exist as beautiful stone paths through the forest.


This beautifully preserved post town is a popular destination for visitors. The walk along the Kiso Valley on the historic footpath between here and Tsumago is one the most scenic sections of the Nakasendo Way. Step back in time and enjoy the atmospheric old streets and the many cafes and shops.


This beautifully resorted post town on the Nakasendo Way is surrounded by mountains and is a favourite among travellers. Its old-world charm makes it a delightful place to wander, especially in the evening down the quiet lantern-lit streets.


One of the biggest and best of Nakasendo's old post towns, this was also the wealthiest in its day. Narai sits in a picturesque wooded valley and the exquisitely preserved main street stretches for more than 1km. It is a delightful piece of old Japan and is a highlight of the Nakasendo way

Rural villages

Walking Nakasendo bring you into contact with rural Japan as you pass through a succession of small hamlets and towns for the most part. It's a chance to see modern Japanese villages as well as historical ones and meet people going about their daily lives.

Please note that August - September is also the peak of Typhoon season in Japan with a potential risk of disruption to your travel plans during these events.  Travel insurance that will cover Typhoon travel disruptions is strongly recommended.


View our guide written by RAW Travel's destination experts to inspire and prepare you for Japan's Nakasendo Way. 

Why are we your Nakasendo Way experts?

  • RAW Travel has a dedicated team who deal with just the Nakasendo and Kumano Kodo hiking trails.
  • We have great knowledge and experience of both walks and our staff travel to Japan each year to update their local knowledge.
  • We have our own Japanese staff on the ground to help with any difficulties you may have during your trip and smooth the way.
  • Preparation is key to enjoying this walk; we run free Japan hiking information nights and training walks to help our clients prepare properly for the rigours of the trail and travelling in Japan.