We took the JR train from Kyoto to Nagiso (via Nagoya) and planned on taking the bus from Nagiso to Tsumago. When we arrived in Nagiso, we quickly decided to take a taxi to Tsumago since the buses are rather infrequent, plus we didn’t feel like waiting around. The Nakasendo Trail is an old route along the Kiso Valley that connected Kyoto to Tokyo in the Edo period. We were excited to walk on the same path of Shogun and Samurai, and since we both love hiking this seemed like a great way to enjoy the nature and history. We walked the relatively easy 8km trail from Tsumago to Magome. Two beautiful yet different historic post towns. Most people do it in the reverse because it is less of an incline making the hike easier, but it was better for our onward travel to leave from Magome.
Before setting out from Tsumago, we took ample time to visit this beautiful historic post town. It’s one of the best preserved post towns in Japan.
Long ago, this notice board was the way announcements of prohibitions and warnings were made to the residents from the Shogunate.
After looking around Tsumago and taking one last look at the map, we set out on our hike. We were lucky that we pretty much had the trail to ourselves until we reached the waterfalls. Even then, we only saw a handful of people.
Along the way, we stopped to see Otaki and Metaki Falls, which translates to Male and Female Falls. The falls were made famous by a fiction book about the life of a samurai ‘Miyamoto Musashi’.
Apparently there are bears in the Kiso Valley and there were signs advising hikers to ‘ring the bell against bears’, so we did. There’s also a lucky bell – better ring that one too!
At the halfway point we stopped at a designated rest area for a snack, but where are the cherry blossoms?
Near the designated rest area was a fantastic teahouse. It was nice to warm up and enjoy a cup of hot tea. The owner also had a very cute dog that loved all the attention from the hikers.
There were beautiful views of the area on the outskirts of Magome.
Upon entering Magome, there was another notice board like the one in Tsumago. Magome was different from Tsumago in the sense that it wasn’t as rugged. It had a beautiful stone walkway with manicured shrubs and flowers.
We stopped in at the tourist information booth to get our commemorative certificate to confirm we completed the hike.
There aren’t a lot of places to stay in Magome, maybe 2 or 3 that we’re aware of. We chose to stay at Tajimaya Inn (a traditional Japanese Ryokan). That evening we were served a very traditional Japanese dinner. It was fun to try all the different dishes!
It was fun walking the Nakasendo and we really enjoyed seeing these two beautiful post towns. We departed in the morning to Nakatsugawa for our train to Kanazawa.
Note: There is a luggage forwarding service available from the tourist information centres in both Tsumago and Magome. You need to drop the bags off between 08:30-11:30 and they will be delivered at the other end by 1pm. Cost is ¥500. We didn’t use the service because we arrived after 11:30am. Luckily we packed light for the hike and had our big luggage forwarded from Kyoto to Kanazawa.
Where we stayed: Tajimaya Inn 👍