length

8 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

From $3375 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

8 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $3375 pp

Group Self Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • On the Trail
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar walks

Overview

Nakasendo way

This self-guided walking trip combines the freedom and flexibility of a self-guided trek with the support and company of other like-minded travellers | Guaranteed to depart on the dates outlined | Travelling on your own? We’ll pair you up with another solo traveller of the same gender on a twin-share basis.

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 wonderful well-preserved ancient villages of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai, and taste the local delights of the  Kiso Valley and Gifu Prefecture.

Nakasendo way _gallery0023

Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Trek in a group of like-minded travellers
  • A journey through the heart of Japan
  • Walk on the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years
  • Visit the post towns of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima, Narai
  • Follow in the footsteps of the Tokugawa Shogun and the Samurai during the Edo period (1603–1868)

Itinerary

Daily details

Week 1: Mitake to Narai
Day 1
Mitake to Hosokute (12km)

Make your way from the Nagoya train station on the Meitetsu Line to Mitake Station (80 mins travel time). Mitake is where you will have a short briefing before you depart on your walk (meeting times will be in your travel documents). Our local RAW Travel representative will be able to recommend a local lunch spot (own expense) prior to your walk. Leaving the restaurant you will begin your walk through the town and then leave the road and make your way into the forest up a short hill known as the Cows Nose is Missing. This is the true beginning of your Nakasendo Way walk. 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 you steadily climb towards Hosokute and your accommodation for the evening.

Meals: D

Day 2
Hosokute to Ena (21km)

Enjoy your first traditional Japanese breakfast and prepare for an exciting day following in the footsteps of the Samurai. Today you will walk over a very old section known as the 13 passes and 13 peaks. There has been no public access through here, which keeps the area completely undeveloped, save for a golf course. The original way used to go through the golf course; nowadays you will follow the boundary of the course and again you 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 your way through the mountains you will come across the well-preserved post town called Okute. It’s here you will discover a sacred cedar tree thought to be 1200 years old. You will travel along the ridge tops before descending into Ena, where you can visit the museum known as the Hiroshiga, which features prints of the Nakasendo Way. Arrive in Ena for a well-deserved break.

Meals: B D

Day 3
Ena to Nakatsugawa (12km)

Today is a much shorter day, with gentle and undulating walking. You will pass through towns and villages and parts of the city across rice paddies and fields and even through home gardens, talking to the locals along the way and taking in the Japanese culture. Nakatsugawa was number 45 of the 69 traditional post towns of the Nakasendo Way, and you can spend the rest of the day exploring. Many of the old buildings and shops still work today. You can also visit the Naegi Castle ruins, a 3km walk from your hotel. Tonight you will be staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Meals: B D

Day 4
Nakatsugawa to Tsumago (16km)

After leaving Nakatsugawa at the ancient Kosatsuba (official proclamation board) you will come across red torii gates just after Nakatsugawa Juku. There will be some steep slopes today before Ochiai and then you will be walking on an old cobblestoned way. It’s on this route that you 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).

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. You will then walk over the Magome Pass (800m) and slowly descend through peaceful woodland. You’ll 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 the main village, 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 a traditional yukata gown provided by your inn.

Meals: B D

Day 5
Tsumago to Kiso-Fukushima (17km walking; 30km train travel)

Leaving the old town of Tsumago at the ancient Kosatsuba (official proclamation board) you will see on the board the old wooden tablets that state that no Christianity can be practised. The trail ascends steeply up the valley then continues through the forest on what is known as the Yogawa Forest Route on your way to Nojiri, passing through cedar forests and farmland. It is one of the most scenic sections of the walk. The forest walk joins the Kiso River at Nojiri. After a late lunch in Nojiri, we make our way to the train station for a 40-minute ride to Kiso-Fukushima. Located halfway on the Nakesendo Way between Kyoto and Tokyo, Kiso-Fukushima was an important checkpoint during the Edo period.

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 you will catch the train from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara and start your 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 you 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

Week 2: Narai
Day 8
Depart Narai

Today is departure day. After your traditional Japanese breakfast, you can take the train to your next destination.

Meals: B

Nakasendo way _gallery0000

On the Trail

The experience

The Nakasendo Way offers picturesque, tranquil walking and a variety of trail conditions as you progress along the Kiso Valley. Much of the time you will be walking through fields and rural villages and enjoying gentle inclines that can be taken at a comfortable pace. In the forest you will be walking on a track that can be wet or uneven underfoot. In the more built-up areas the path itself is asphalt, while at its wildest it becomes unformed grit winding between alpine conifers. For sections in between these two extremes, the path is clad in what’s known as ishidatami – a traditional style of stone paving.

Inclusions

Inclusions

Included
  • 7 nights in traditional Japanese guesthouses/inns (ryokan)
  • Daily meals (as listed in the itinerary)
  • Luggage transfers on your hiking days
  • Pre-tour briefing in Mitake
  • Local and Australian emergency contacts
  • RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app
Excluded
  • Flights
  • 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)
Nakasendo-Way-Destination-Guide-Cover

Exclusive Guide

get inspired

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

Similar walks

Japan

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
  • Walk on 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
from

$3,995.00

view trip
6 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Highlights Trip with Shimo-Suwa 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
  • Walk on ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai
from

$2,895.00

view trip
7 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Highlights Trip with Togakushi – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Nakasendo Self-Guided
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Learn the feudal history of the Nakasendo Way with our local guide
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima and Narai
  • Togakushi, visit shrines, walk amongst giant cedar trees
  • Nagano, home to Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s most important
from

$2,895.00

view trip
5 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Kiso Valley Highlights Trip – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • A short hike offering a great introduction to walking in Japan
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Walk on ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years
  • Understand the history of the Nakasendo Way with our local guide
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai
from

$2,090.00

view trip
11 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Kyoto and Tokyo Trip – Nakasendo Way

Kumano Kodo Moderate Self-Guided
  • Explore Kyoto, the cultural and historical heart of the country
  • Discover old and new Tokyo with a private, guided tour
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima and Narai
from

$4,650.00

view trip
8 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
from

$3,495.00

view trip
9 Days

Nakasendo Way

The Shimosuwa Trip – Nakasendo Way

Moderate - Challenging Self-Guided
  • Journey through the heart of Japan
  • Visit Shimosuwa, the only hot springs district
  • 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
from

$3,750.00

view trip

TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

dates
availability
price
single occupancy
dates
17/04/2022 - 24/04/2022
availability
price
$3,375
single occupancy
$0
dates
16/10/2022 - 23/10/2022
availability
price
$3,375
single occupancy
$0
dates
11/11/2022 - 18/11/2022
availability
price
$3,375
single occupancy
$0

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw