length

7 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

From $2995 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

7 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $2995 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • On the Trail
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • Walking App
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar Walks

Overview

Nakasendo Way

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.

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • A journey through the heart of Japan
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Walk on the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back over 400 years
  • Visit the post towns of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso Fukushima, Narai
  • Following in the footsteps of the Tokugawa Shogun and the Samurai during the Edo period (1603–1868)

Download Itinerary

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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.

The video shows the beautiful Kiso Valley and some of the cultural attractions of the Post towns that comprise the route of the Nakasendo Way.

Itinerary

Daily details

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. You will begin your walk through the town and then 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 Province Café as you head 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 few years. Continuing on your way through the mountains you will come across the well-preserved post town called Okute before then travelling along the ridge tops and descending into Ena. In Ena you can visit the museum known as the Hiroshiga, which features some wonderful prints of the Nakasendo Way.

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. Also worth a visit is the Naegi Castle ruins, located just north of the town.

Meals: B

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 this is a good spot to take a rest break. 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 main 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 a traditional yukata gown provided by your accommodation.

Meals: B, D

DAY 5: TSUMAGO TO KISO-FUKUSHIMA (19KM 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 which 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 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 as you descend into Nojiri. After a late lunch in Nojiri, make your way to the train station for a 40-minute ride to Kiso-Fukushima. Located halfway on the Nakasendo Way between Kyoto and Tokyo, Kiso-Fukushima was an important checkpoint during the Edo period.

Meals: B, D

**Option to add an additional night in Kiso-Fukushima if you would like to have a day free to explore this area further. (Subject to availability)

DAY 6: KISO-FUKUSHIMA TO NARAI (8KM WALKING; 14KM TRAIN)

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

DAY 7: DEPART NARAI

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

Meals: B

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Map

Explore

Mitake

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.

CLICK ON A PIN TO REVEAL INFORMATION ABOUT THAT LOCATION
Hosokute

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

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

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

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.

Tsumago

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

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

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.

Narai

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.

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • 6 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
  • RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app
  • Local and Australian emergency contacts
Excluded
  • Flights
  • Local bus and train tickets
  • Travel to Mitake from Nagoya Station
  • Single supplement
  • 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)
RAW Travel App

Walking App

FINDING YOUR WAY

Our unique RAW Travel walking app has been designed to help you navigate easily on the Nakasendo Way, as this is a route with not much English signage. Simply download your map with the unique link we send you and you’ll be able to follow your route with ease, showing your location in real-time without any internet connection needed or cumbersome pages of notes. The app has many great features; it shows the location of each night’s accommodation, and weather forecasts localised for each of your overnight stops. There is information on how and where to catch trains you need and there are important reminders, safety information, videos and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail.

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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

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Cherry blossoms, Japan
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Exploring the narrow backstreets of Nakatsugawa
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Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Fabulous trip! Loved the combination of a hike with the Japanese cultural experience. I like to be independent but with the luxury of knowing where I’m headed – quality accommodation guaranteed. The route mapping on the app was always accurate and I really enjoyed the local accommodation. The food was beyond expectations.

Melissa Mills, Cairns (QLD) – November 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

A flawless experience. We enjoyed the solitude and the traditional and authentic the accommodation.

Kevin & Libby Manfield, Maroochydore (QLD) - October 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Gourmet extravaganza! The hotel views were stunning, the old buildings so romantic and the phenomenal food and helpfulness of the hosts was truly next level.

Andrea Fleming, Willunga (SA) - September 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Fantastic experience! I was sad when it was over. Loved the beautiful countryside, getting up close look at the areas we walked through, and the sense of satisfaction.

Rosemary Mathlin, Greenwich (NSW) - June 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We enjoyed the walk very much. Chris was extremely helpful and quick to answer any questions we had. Loved having everything organised for us including forwarding luggage.

Jill Toohey, Redfern (NSW) - June 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Our journey along the Nakasendo Way was everything we’d hoped it would be. The app, route preparation notes and the initial contact in Japan were faultless and seamless in preparing us for the impending adventure. Then we began an amazing cultural, scenic and soul-fulfilling journey. Immersed daily in tradition, nature, history and mystery. Thank you so much. We will remember this experience for many years to come. Your contribution in making this memorable trip a reality is very much appreciated.

Karen & Vivien (QLD) - April 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Our Nakasendo Way journey was incredible. Walking beside rivers and through forests then arriving to an onsen and fabulous Japanese cuisine – heavenly. RAW Travel were incredible: great communication, excellent service and a competitive price. Could not recommend this experience enough.

Cherie Butcher, Beaconsfield (WA) - April 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We walked the Nakasendo Way with the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. We did not plan for this extraordinary spectacle. All our interactions with the Japanese people were delightful. The ryokan in Hosokute was fantastic and the ryokan at Nakatsugawa was beyond belief. It was extraordinarily beautiful.

May Tompson, Dunbible (NSW) - April 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Had a brilliant time! Loved seeing the countryside of Japan outside of the major cities. We had a great group so we all had a very fun time together. Cherry blossoms were spectacular! We honestly had the best weather too, sunshine every day.

Elizabeth Robertson, High Range (NSW) - April 2023

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Our self-guided walk on the Nakasendo Way during autumn was awesome in every way! Beautiful scenery, accommodation, hosts, food and experiences. Degree of difficulty was as described. The walk left us all feeling completely relaxed and invigorated at the same time. Highly recommended.

Dianne Williamson, Newport (VIC) – November 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We loved staying in the ryokans and meeting our wonderful hosts. The food was exceptional; the trail beautiful and varied. We met people who were there to do the main three historic villages but are pleased that we chose to do the longer trail with RAW Travel. The travel notes and photographs were really helpful.

Jennifer Elizabeth Allan, Auckland (NZ) – November 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

A wonderful hiking holiday through beautiful Japanese hills and forests – with mostly traditional accommodation to enhance the experience. Maps, accommodation, meals and portage all worked well, making for a stress-free holiday.

Christopher Humphreys, Brunswick (VIC) – September 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

The Nakasendo Way was an amazing opportunity to see Japan at its best in terms of history, culture and food. The scenery and natural environment of Japan was spectacular. The itinerary provided us with the experiences of both traditional and modern Japan. Our stay in ryokans was fabulous as was the introduction to many new foods and customs. Another great walking experience!

Patricia Williams, Guildford (NSW) – September 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We had the best experience and everything was thought of well in advance – from accommodation to our Guide, Ukky.

Tania Frazer, Tyabb (VIC) – May 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

My girlfriend and I booked the Nakasendo Way tour of 8 days, 7 nights – absolutely awesome! From the first briefing of our tour until the end of our trip, we were kept completely informed by RAW Travel. I will definitely be looking at booking my next holiday experience with RAW Travel.

Gabrielle Herbert, Dromana (VIC) – May 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

RAW Travel has become our ‘go to’ travel expert when we begin planning another walking adventure. From planning to organising, staff are friendly, helpful and have first-hand experience. From walking notes, to bag service and accommodation, everything meets our expectations.

Patrice Scales, Brighton (VIC) – April 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Wonderful hike and cultural experience. I loved the ryokans – where the owners where so welcoming and provided amazing food that we had never seen or eaten before. The hike was just enough to challenge us but not overwhelm us. The guide who met us at the beginning of the walk was very helpful. Everything went to plan. The cherry blossoms were an added bonus we didn’t expect.

Ann Louise Whitehouse, Brookfield (QLD) – April 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Trip was fabulous! We were met at the agreed time and provided good information. The first ryokan was amazing. The hosts met us in the street and were marvellous. The walking was great a mixture of villages, forest, mountains. The autumn colours were unexpected and fabulous.

Vicki Tyler, Geraldton (WA) – November 2018

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Loved the variety of ryokans, cuisine and cultural experiences, the beauty of the autumn foliage and scenery, and friendliness of the locals. Ukky, our local contact, was so helpful and responsive. He always made sure that in spite of the luggage hassles, we were having a good time and not letting that spoil our trip. We were so grateful to Sakai in Daikokuya, Masa in Nagataki and Masabi in Tsutaya who went above and beyond to show us the best of Japanese hospitality.

Frieda, NSW – November 2018

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Highlights of this trip were meeting the 16th generation innkeepers at Ichikawa in Hosokute, and the fabulous food and private tub with a view in Kiso-Fukushima. The food was actually fabulous at all the places we stayed.

Richard Ledgar, Peregian Beach (QLD) – October 2018

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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

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