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Kiso Valley Travel Guide | Experience traditional Japan

by Steven
Published: Last Updated on Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Located in Nagano and Gifu Province, the Kiso Valley (木曾谷) is a beautiful region where you can still experience the real traditional Japan. In the past, this valley was part of one of the two walking routes between Tokyo and Kyoto. That route, the Nakasendo Trail is a pleasant walk through beautiful nature and past quaint villages. And some of these villages are decorated in such a way that you soon feel as if you are 200 years back in time. Only for this reason is a visit to this region more than worthwhile. Are you ready to learn more about traditional Japan? You can read more about it in this travel guide about the Kiso Valley.

What would you like to know about the Kiso Valley in Japan?

The beautiful nature of the Kiso Valley, Japan

Historical Facts – Did you know that…?

  • Between 1603 and 1868, this was one of the two main running routes between Tokyo and Kyoto? The other route ran along the coast and was a lot easier to walk.
  • There were 11 post villages in the Kiso Valley where the samurai could spend the night? A few of these villages still exist, including Magome and Tsumago.
  • The Nakasendo Trail was over 500 kilometers long and took over 100 hours to complete on foot?
History of the Nakasendo Trail In Japan
A beautiful historical photograph of traditional Japan

Sightseeing – What to do in the Kiso Valley?

By far the most tourists who visit the Kiso Valley do so to walk part of the Nakasendo Trail. The route between Magome and Tsumago is quite popular and also for the inexperienced tourist easy to maintain. The route is only 8 kilometers and although there are height differences it is not very difficult. The Trail begins in the traditional village of Magome, is well marked along the way and ends in the equally traditional Tsumago. Along the way you can take a break at a café where they serve tea and during the walk you can enjoy the beautiful nature of this valley. Want to know more about this walk? Read more about it in the article Nakasendo Trail | The Historic path of the Samurai.

The little village of Magome in Japan
Traditional Edo houses in the town of Magome in the Kiso Valley

Accommodation – Where to stay?

Do you have time to spare and would like to stay in a traditional village? Then there are plenty of possibilities. For example, it is possible to drop off your suitcase or backpack at the tourist office in Magome and it will be transported to Tsumago for a fee. In Tsumago you can then spend the night in a nice Ryokan, a traditional hotel. If you want to walk more of the Nakasendo Trail you can also visit the village of Narai. This is the largest village in the region, but looks just as nice and traditional as Magome and Tsumago.

The beautiful Kiso Valley in Japan

Transportation – How to get there?

The Kiso Valley is best reached by train. From Nagoya, the JR Shinano Limited Express departs with Nagano as the end station. In between, the train stops at the Nakatsugawa (for Magome), Nagiso (for Tsumago), Kiso-Fukushima, Narai and Kiso-Hirasawa stops. To get to Magome and Tsumago, you must use a bus, but these trips take 30 minutes at most.

Next destination in Japan?

Now that you’ve experienced the real Japan, it’s time to move on. Heading north, you’ll explore the Japanese Alps and encounter the cities of Matsumoto and Nagano. For the south, you’ll head to Nagoya, which is the stopover for cities in western Japan, such as Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. For the east, continue on to sacred Mount Fuji or to the country’s modern capital, Tokyo.

Do you have more tips, ideas and comments about the Kiso Valley in Japan? Then feel free to leave a comment below.

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