Nakasendo and the Kiso Valley Tour Overview
The Nakasendo is the historic road running inland from Kyoto to Edo (modern day Tokyo). The trail passes through picturesque historical post towns proudly restored and preserved by the local people and through valleys with beautiful rolling countryside.
On this eight night tour starting in Nagoya, we walk approximately 100 kilometres over seven days. Our tour takes us to a section of the Nakasendo in the central Kiso region.
For five days we walk the prettiest sections of the Nakasendo trail through the Kiso valley. We then detour off the Nakasendo trail, walking past waterfalls and through forest into the highlands of the Kaida plateau, famous for its blueberry farms, native Kiso horses and wonderful views of Mount Ontake. After spending the night at a traditional inn, we return to the Nakasendo trail for a final morning of walking into the picturesque Edo period post town of Narai before finishing our tour in the castle town of Matsumoto.
Along the Nakasendo trail we stay in a variety of traditional Japanese inns steeped in history, some of which have onsen or traditional Japanese hot spring baths. Meals are one of the highlights of staying at these traditional inns and we are treated to meticulously prepared regional cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. With the exception of dinner on the first night, all dinners and breakfasts are included in the tour price.
Luggage shuttles are provided on this tour as per the itinerary and we carry light packs for walking. On a few nights of the tour (not consecutive) our luggage is forwarded one night ahead and we need to carry our overnight requirements in our packs. As the Japanese inns provide a cotton yukata for wearing to dinner and to bed and also towels and basic toiletries (toothbrush, shampoo, body wash), items required for overnight can easily be kept to a minimum to keep our packs light on these days.
Our Nakasendo tour through the Kiso valley is suitable for active healthy people prepared to walk for 5 – 6 hours per day. On three days we walk approximately 20 kilometres, although we are able to offer options if required to shorten these days. The trail is hilly in parts and has some steep sections but these are relatively short. Generally speaking the terrain is even underfoot.
Thank you both for the wonderful introduction to Japan. It really couldn’t have been better! Walking the Nakasendo Way was a perfect way to start. Firstly there was the massive advantage of your knowledge and guidance and secondly, walking through the countryside, passing through post-towns and experiencing the history was a more authentic introduction to Japan than arriving in a big city. Even if I’d done heaps of research I never could have constructed anything approaching the Tour you’ve designed. I really appreciate your fantastic trip notes, even more after the event. The experience of the ryokans and food was amazing and our daily routine became everyday life rather than a one-off touristy experience.October 2018 | Nakasendo Early Autumn Tour
Thank you for the extraordinary job you both did to make our walking tour so enjoyable - from the logistics of food and lodgings to sharing your love and your knowledge of Japan. I admired how you managed the needs and wishes of your clients, how you were always supportive and respectful to and about each other and how you use each other’s separate strengths to get things done.October 2018 | Nakasendo Autumn Tour
Walking the Nakasendo trail guided by Alison and Carolyn was a pure joy. Not only had they chosen exceptionally beautiful sections of this famous ancient highway, but the accommodation in the traditional inns gave us a unique and authentic Japanese experience. Every meal was a journey into Japanese gastronomy, exquisitely presented and explained. Both competent Japanese speakers they smoothed the way through the normal difficulties, enjoyed the walk themselves and offered in depth information about where we were and the history along the way. We traversed remote countryside, forests, preserved ancient villages and small towns and were rewarded with a traditional hot bath/onsen and celebratory drink at the end of each day. We also appreciated the comprehensive lead up preparation and information before we departed. If you want to see the real Japan, we can highly recommend walking the Nakasendo with Kumano Camino. A unique experience.April 2017 | Nakasendo Spring Tour