Travel back in time: Walking the Nakasendo in Kiso Valley

Date: 2nd May 2015

Today was the first day I took the shinkansen (bullet train), definitely loved traveling in a bullet train more than a flight. Without the JR Pass, it would have been pricey, so thank goodness I had the nationwide pass.

Lets talk about the Nakasendo first. It was the old “highway” which connected Tokyo and Kyoto. Today, one can still travel between Magome and Tsumago in the Kiso Valley using this road. And so I headed from Tokyo to Magome to start the journey. Upon arriving Nagoya, I took the train to Nakatsugawa Station, and then from there a bus to Magome. Riding the bus was also a first-time experience in Japan. Altogether it would take roughly 3 hours to get to Magome from Tokyo.

First impression: Woah. That is some preservation.

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View of the Central Japan Alps
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Where most tourist stop and turn back
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Beautiful scenery before heading into the woods

Most tourists take buses to Tsumago, but I did the 8km hike because that was the point of coming here anyway. Did not meet many others along the trail, mostly elderly people. The bear cautionary sign at the start of the trail freaked me out.

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After a while, I came upon a small shop selling drinks and food. Hungry I was, I had hot soba on this sunny day.

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To my delight, there was still some sakura (cherry blossom) along the trail. Could not see them in Tokyo this late into spring.

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It took roughly 3 hours to reach Tsumago, in which then I was too tired to take my camera out. From there, I took a bus to Nagiso train station, and from there took the train to Narai.

Narai is another post town along the Nakasendo route.

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Narai – Looks like a different era eh?

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It is not really off-the-beaten path, but there were definitely less tourists here. Especially the trail between Magome and Tsumago! It really brings memories back to Rurouni Kenshin, haha.

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Author: Jennifer

Hi! I am Jennifer. I enjoy planning my own travels and love traveling in Japan - for the history, nature, temples, and the food! Read more for travel guides of places I have visited.

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