Walking in the heart of old Japan

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

food icon


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!

map marker icon


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.

Boot icon


We have great knowledge and experience of both walks and our staff travel to Japan often to update their local knowledge. Preparation is key to enjoying this walk; we run Japan hiking information nights and training walks to help you prepare properly for the rigours of the trail.

Tori gate icon


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!

View Our Walks


Nakasendo way ancient stone path
7 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Self-Guided Trip – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • A journey through the heart of Japan
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Walk on ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima and Narai


view trip
Japan Yoga group0000
8 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Group, Self-Guided Trip – Nakasendo Way

Group Self Guided Moderate - Challenging
  • Trek in a group of like-minded travellers
  • A journey through the heart of Japan
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima and Narai


view trip
Nakasendo way Mountains
8 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Group Guided Trip – Nakasendo Way

Group Guided History Moderate - Challenging
  • Fully guided walk with our qualified Japanese guide
  • Dive into the colourful history of the Shogun/Samurai
  • Visit 16 of the original post towns from the Nobi plain land to deep in the Kisoji valley


view trip
Nakasendo way, Narai
6 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Highlights Trip with Shimosuwa Onsen – Nakasendo Way

Group Guided Moderate - Challenging
  • Visit Shimosuwa, the only hot springs district
  • Understand the feudal history with our local guide
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai


view trip
Nakasendo way Magome
5 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Kiso Valley Highlights Trip – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • A great introduction to walking in Japan
  • Taste the specialities of the Kiso Valley
  • Enjoy wonderfully preserved ancient villages
  • Stay overnight in family-run ryokans


view trip
Nakasendo way _gallery0045
9 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Shimosuwa Trip – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • Extended walk on the ancient Nakasendo Way
  • Explore Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima and Narai
  • Visit the historic town of Shimosuwa and unwind in the onsens


view trip
Best time to visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit


Nakasendo Way Route Map


Mitake was number 49 of the 69 post towns of the Nakasendo Way connecting Edo with Kyoto. It flourished with the passage of people, materials, information and culture, and was said to be one of the liveliest post towns in southeastern Gifu.


Hosokute was first established in 1610 as a temporary post town between Okute-juku to the east and Mitake-juku to the west. It was originally built to alleviate the major congestion of travellers along this section of Nakasendo.


Ena was an important post town and the Edo heritage can still be seen today. The Hiroshige Museum of Art features some wonderful woodblock prints of the Nakasendo Way and is well worth a visit.


Nakatsugawa was number 45 of the 69 traditional post towns of the Nakasendo Way. In the town’s narrow winding streets there are myriad well-preserved wooden buildings, residences and warehouses (kura). Worth a visit is the Naegi Castle ruins, located just north of the town.


Magome (Horse & Basket) was number 43 of the 69 post towns along the way to Edo (Tokyo). It truly is a reminder of how the post towns were in the Edo period.


The enchanting main village of Tsumago (number 42 of the 69 post towns) is lined with traditional Japanese wooden houses, shops and ryokan (inns). You might want to stroll through the streets after dinner wearing a traditional yukata gown provided by your accommodation.


Kiso-Fukushima was one of the four security checkpoints during the Edo period and thus flourished as a political and economic centre in the Kiso Valley. The Kozenji-Temple houses the valley’s most famous temple and the largest stone garden in Japan.


Yabuhara was number 35 of the 69 post towns and is located shortly before the Torii Pass (1197m), which offers great views of Mount Ontake on a clear day.


Lovely Narai was the wealthiest of the post towns along the trail. Explore and relax in the cafes and shops of this well-preserved and atmospheric town.


Historically, Shimosuwa was an important resting and healing spot for wounded samurai during the Edo period. Much of the traditional architecture remains. There are a number of temples and shrines, including the Suwa Taisha Shrine, considered to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan, the mossy Jiunji Temple with its zen stone garden and the impressive Manji Stone Buddha.

Travel Experts

Your Dedicated Travel Team


Exclusive Guide


Ready to step back in time and discover a centuries-old road through the mountains of central Japan? The Nakasendo Way is a stunning 94km journey from Mitake to Narai. Steeped in history, much of this walk weaves through the picturesque Kiso Valley. The ‘post towns’ strung out along the route give an enticing and authentic glimpse into Japan’s past.

There is so much to discover on this route! Find out more in our comprehensive destination guide – it’s bursting with inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more!

Download Now


Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to walk the Nakasendo Way?

The best and most popular times to walk the Nakasendo Way are March to May (spring) and September to November (autumn). The cherry blossoms and autumn colours are big drawcards. During summer (June to August) you can expect longer daylight hours, high humidity and higher rainfall, but the scenery is beautifully green and verdant. Read more about the best times to walk the Nakasendo Way.

How long is the Nakasendo Way?

Back in the days when feet were just about the only way to travel, the shogun created the Nakasendo Way for the feudal lords to travel between Kyoto in central Japan and the new capital of Edo, present-day Tokyo. In its heyday, the 534km-long ‘highway’ was bustling with samurai, nobles, merchants and commoners alike. Today, you can walk the most beautiful and enjoyable parts of the old ‘highway’ from Mitake to Narai – a stunning 86km journey steeped in history. Much of the route weaves through the picturesque Kiso Valley, nestled between imposing mountain cliffs and home to a handful of preserved towns. In days gone by, these were known as ‘juku’ or post towns and served as overnight spots for weary travellers. Strung out along the route, they give an enticing and authentic glimpse into Japan’s past. The well-known 8km trail between Tsumago and Magome is particularly impressive, and offers delightful teahouses and waterfalls.

What are the highlights of walking the Nakasendo Way?

There is lots to discover on this route. This is a world of traditional inns, moss-covered Shinto shrines, old Buddhist statues, stone paths and post towns. Much of the time on the trail you will be walking through tranquil fields and rural villages seeing life in small-town Japan, close-up. In some sections you’ll walk on the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years. It really will give you a unique and authentic experience of traditional Japan.

How long does it take to walk the Nakasendo Way?
What is the highest point on the Naksendo Way?

The highest point on the Nakasendo Way is the Torii Pass (1197m) when you are walking between Yabuhara and Narai.

What are the differences between the Nakasendo Way and Kumano Kodo?

For most people, the Nakasendo Way is an easier hike than Japan’s more rugged and remote Kumano Kodo. It won’t push you to the edge of your physical limits, but it still offers a challenge. The daily walking distance is a moderate 8–21km and there are inclines that can be taken at a comfortable pace. The walk will be more enjoyable if you have a good level of fitness and are participating in regular exercise in the lead up to your trip. The more training you do and the better prepared you are, the more you will enjoy this beautiful walk. Find out more about the differences between these two walks.

Is the Nakasendo Way suitable for beginner hikers?

The Nakasendo Way is an ideal introduction to walking off-the-beaten path Japan. If you are seeking something between the extremes of a strenuous hike and a village ramble, the Nakasendo Way is ideal. It offers variety and beauty; excellent accommodation; and plentiful, traditional and authentically regional food. The majority of the trail is signed in English and Japanese; enthusiasm and a sense of humour can overcome any language barrier.

What accommodation is available on the Nakasendo Way?

We pre-book charming, traditional ryokans (inns), which offere friendly and atmospheric overnight stays. Read more about what to expect when you stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Travellers pointing at a world map

Not quite what you're after?

Tailor-made trips

If you don’t see the exact trip you’re looking for then consider a customised trip, individually tailored to your ideal walking distances and timeframes. Or if you have a group of friends or family you can have your own private group departure. Have a look at our tailor-made trips page on the link below and drop us a line:

Customise this trip

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw