On our fully guided group trek you’ll enjoy the benefits of a local guide | Get a great understanding of the feudal history of the Nakasendo Way | Enjoy meaningful experiences with the people you’ll meet along the trail
- Discover Japan on this fully guided walk with our qualified Japanese guide.
- Dive into the colourful history of the Shogun/Samurai and walk on the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years.
- Visit 16 of the original post towns from the Nobi plain land to deep in the Kisoji valley.
- View spectacular scenery in Japan’s central mountains.
Japan’s Nakasendo Way – or Central Mountain Route – was one of five major routes established by the Shogunate (Military Dictator) during the Edo period (1603–1868). The route is 533km long and has 69 post towns, which were set up to feed and accommodate the feudal lords, Samurai and merchant travellers. The ancient way passes through the Kiso Valley wedged between two of Japan’s sacred Mountains (Mt Ontake 3067m and Mt Komagatake 2956m) and is one of Japan’s most breathtaking and scenic areas.
You will travel on the ancient paved paths known as ishidatami, pass hidden waterfalls, walk through stunning cedar and cypress forests and numerous wayside shrines. Stay overnight in family run ryokans and enjoy the well-preserved ancient villages of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai, and taste the local delights of the Kiso Valley and Gifu Prefecture.
* Trip guaranteed to depart with 6 clients
Are you a first-time or solo traveller?
We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.
Day 1: Nagoya to Mitake to Hosokute (12km)
Today you will meet your guide at the Nagoya train station at a set time (refer to your travel documents). We will then board the train as a group for Mitake where we will start our Nakasendo Way walk after lunch. Our guide will lead us through the town to the pathway that will lead us into the forest and up a short hill known as the Cows Nose is Missing. This is the true beginning of our Nakasendo Way walk. We stay in the forest on this very scenic section through woodland and lush green countryside, walking on some of the original stoned paving known as ishidatami. There will be a chance to stop at La Provence Café as we steadily climb towards Hosokute. Your first evening will be in a very old traditional inn.
Day 2: Hosokute to Ena (21km)
We enjoy our first traditional Japanese breakfast and prepare for an exciting day following in the footsteps of the Samurai. Our guide will explain the walk for today, which will take us through an old section of undulating hills and forests. We’ll also find out about the bears in the forest; we will see bear bells along the way which we ring entering their area. The original route used to go through the golf course; nowadays you will follow the boundary of the course and again we will be walking on traditional stone paths. There is even a section that has only been rediscovered in the last 2.5 years. Continuing on our way through the mountains we will come across the well-preserved post town called Okute. It’s here we will discover a sacred cedar tree thought to be 1200 years old. We will travel along the ridge tops before descending into Ena, where we can visit the museum known as the Hiroshiga, which features prints of the Nakasendo Way. Arriving in Ena, you may wish to enjoy a hot Japanese bath to soothe your tired feet.
Meals: B D
Day 3: Ena to Nakatsugawa (12km)
Today is a much shorter day, with gentle and undulating walking. We will pass through towns and villages and parts of the city across rice paddies and fields and even through home gardens. Our guide will stop and talk to the locals along the way and will explain about the Japanese culture in this district, and we are sure that we will be offered tea and cake along the way. There will be plenty stops for food and water. When arriving into Nakatsugawa, which was number 45 of the 69 traditional post towns of the Nakasendo Way, you can spend the rest of the day exploring or our guide can show you around the town. You could walk up to the Naegi Castle ruins, a 3km walk from your hotel. Tonight we will be staying at a wonderful traditional Japanese ryokan called Nagataki.
Meals: B D
Day 4: Nakatsugawa to Tsumago (16km)
After leaving Nakatsugawa at the ancient Kosatsuba (official proclamation board) we will come across red torii gates just after Nakatsugawa Juku. There will be some steep slopes today before Ochiai and then we will be walking on an old cobblestoned way. It’s on this route that we will be walking up to the entrance of Magome, one of the highlights of the Nakasendo Way. Magome (Horse & Basket) is 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 (1603–1868). We will have lunch in Magome at one of the many Japanese inns (own expense). The Nakasendo Way continues through the centre of Magome past the old shops and inns. The trail begins to climb up to the small settlement of Touge, and there is a good rest break here. We will then walk over the Magome Pass (800m) and slowly descend through peaceful woodland. We will hear the roar of the Odaki-Medaki waterfalls, which slowly fade as you pass streams and rice paddies coming into the old (smaller) village of O-Tsumago. Leaving O-Tsumago, the trail climbs briefly before descending into the enchanting village of Tsumago (number 42 of the 69 post towns). The street is lined with traditional Japanese wooden houses, shops and ryokan (inns). You might want to stroll through the streets after dinner wearing your traditional yukata gown provided by your inn.
Meals: B D
Day 5: Tsumago to Kiso-Fukushima (17km walking; 30km train travel)
Today’s walk takes us through Nagiso and the beautiful Yogawa Forest. The trail will take us along some road sections broken up with interesting villages and scenic bamboo and cedar forest. It is quite hilly today and the Nenouetoge pass has some steep, sustained ascents and descents. A highlight are the streams and rivers running alongside the trail. After a late lunch in Nojiri, we make our way to the train station for a 40-minute ride to Kiso-Fukushima.
Meals: B D
Day 6: Rest day in Kiso-Fukushima
Today is free for you to explore the town of Kiso-Fukushima. This 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 old-town area and along the river are great spots for a stroll and to view the distinct Edo-style buildings. Along with the Kozenji-Temple, which houses the valley’s most famous temple and the largest stone garden in Japan, the Yamamura Residence and the Fukushima Checkpoint are really worth a visit. Both museums have a wonderful collection of weapons, clothing and other artefacts that provide a great insight into the fascinating history of the time.
If you feel like exploring a little further, you may like to take a bus to Mt Ontake, one of Japan’s most sacred mountains. There is an option to take a gondola and hike to the top (late April to early November), or perhaps you may enjoy a hike in the lowlands. Once back in town, if you haven’t already discovered the free public footbath on the banks of the Kiso River, we definitely recommend a visit; the steaming, natural hot spring water is wonderfully soothing for tired legs and will help you feel refreshed and ready for tomorrow’s walk over the Torii Pass.
Day 7: Kiso-Fukushima to Narai (8km walking; 14km train travel)
Today we will catch the train from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara and start our final day’s walk of the Nakasendo Way, hiking up to the Torii Pass, named after the Shinto Torii Gate, which marks one of four protective sites surrounding Mount Ontake. At 1197m, the Torii Pass is a great vantage point for views of Mount Ontake on a clear day. The descent takes us along narrow mountain paths until you emerge at the outskirts of Narai, a lovely post town and the wealthiest of the post towns along the trail. Explore and relax in the cafes and shops of this well-preserved and atmospheric town.
Meals: B D
Day 8: Depart Narai
Today is departure day. After your traditional Japanese breakfast, you will say goodbye to your guide and take the train to your next destination.
2020 prices: $3995 per person (twin share)
The 10 November 2019 departure has 1 spot left for a female traveller (sharing with another female).
The 27 April 2020 departure has 1 spot left for a male traveller (sharing with another male).
04 Oct 2019
11 Oct 2019
14 Oct 2019
21 Oct 2019
10 Nov 2019
17 Nov 2019
Limited Places Available
13 Apr 2020
20 Apr 2020
27 Apr 2020
04 May 2020
Limited Places Available
10 May 2020
17 May 2020
Guaranteed to Depart
24 May 2020
31 May 2020
01 Oct 2020
08 Oct 2020
12 Oct 2020
19 Oct 2020
27 Oct 2020
03 Nov 2020
12 Nov 2020
19 Nov 2020
- 7 nights in traditional Japanese guesthouses/inns (ryokan)
- Daily meals (as listed in the itinerary)
- 8 days fully guided by local guide
- Luggage transfers on your hiking days
- Travel with guide to Mitake from Nagoya Station (ticket included)
- Pre-tour briefing at Mitake
- Pre-departure pack including track notes, maps, Japanese phrasebook, list of places to eat (1 pack per 2 clients travelling together)
- Local and Australian emergency contacts
- Local bus and train tickets
- Travel insurance
- Beverages other than water at meals
- Expenses and items of a personal nature
- Lunches on all days (we have recommended places to eat)
Map & Guide
Andrew Cupit, Chapman (ACT) – April 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 (local inns) and Japanese banquets each night were excellent and made the trip unforgettable.
Anna Lainson, Kuranda (QLD) – October 2018
The highlight was meeting my guide and the other travellers in the group. Ukky was very knowledgeable and fun. Obviously an expert guide, he knew the area so we all felt safe, especially with the looming typhoon as we were making our way deep into the forest. I really enjoyed the Japan countryside and the many waterfalls along the way. To summarise, OMG, what a beautiful place! I would recommend this trip to anyone; above all I would recommend RAW Travel – you did an amazing job. Looking forward to my next trip with you!
James Lloyd, Fern Tree (TAS) – October 2016
I loved how all of our accommodation, food and baggage transfers were all organised prior to the start of our trip. It allowed us the concentrate on the experience of our walk.
What our Clients Say
Ukky was very knowledgeable and fun. Obviously an expert guide, he knew the area so well. I really enjoyed the Japan countryside and the many waterfalls along the way. I would recommend this trip to anyone!
Anna Lainson, QLD – October 2018
We loved the walk through small towns, forests and rural areas of Japan. The local guides were fantastic. 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
Andrew Cupit, ACT – April 2019
I loved the whole trip: the trekking, the culture, the people, and the challenge of navigating the trail, the rail systems, the cuisine.
Phillip Coppleman, NSW – April 2017
Mark Conyers – Japan
(03) 5976 3763
This trip has a difficulty rating of 4-6 out of 10.