The Nakasendo Way is an ideal introduction to walking off-the-beaten-path in Japan. Step into a world of forest inns, remote shrines and delightful old post towns. Enjoy the stone paths and wooden buildings of a bygone era.
The 533km Nakasendo Way is a centuries-old highway in the heart of feudal Japan. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ travelled by lords, samurai, merchants, and travellers.
At the start of the Edo period the shogun created the Nakasendo Way for the feudal lords to travel between Kyoto in central Japan and the new capital of Edo, modern-day Tokyo. It contrasted with the other principal transportation route of the time, the Tokaido, which ran along the sea shore.
Because of restrictions by the shogunate, travellers were almost always forced to make their trips on foot. 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. Many of them still survive today and give an enticing glimpse into Japan’s past.
From mountains and waterfalls to tiny villages and bamboo forests, the picturesque Kiso Valley shows off the natural beauty of Japan. If you visit around mid-April, the valley will be filled with cherry blossom trees of all different varieties and colours. There’s also plenty of wildlife too with birds, monkeys and even wild bears – although sightings are pretty rare.
What makes the Nakasendo Way special
Discover the fascinating history of these great warriors while walking through the beautiful and historic Kiso Valley
Indulge in Kiso’s culinary delights: buckwheat noodles, mountain trout from crystal clear streams, tender beef, delicious traditional sweets and remember to try the local sake!
The Kiso Valley offers you quality time in nature with its abundance of mountainous forest, sacred Kiso Cypress trees and the beautiful Mt Ontake
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of this ancient road - relax in an onsen, visit a traditional inn and meet some locals while exploring the preserved postal towns
Experience the warmth of Japanese hospitality when you stay in traditional family-run guesthouses and ryokans
Wander through old towns and embrace the traditions that make this walk unique