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walking stories  |   asia   |  china  | japan | kiso valley summary | kiso valley story
Kiso Valley: Magome to Tsumago, Honshu, Japan


Walking through the Kiso Valley provided a complete contrast both to the crowds and modernity of Tokyo, and the mass movement of climbers up and down Mount Fuji.  It's a place of tranquility and history, in a little-known part of central Honshu which was once very much on the beaten track.  An easy half-day walk through peaceful rural surroundings between two well-preserved little towns, along a well-maintained hiking trail.

  • I will remember most the ancient traditional buildings.
  • The best bit for me was the sense of relaxation on the walk during a busy holiday schedule.
  • There weren’t any “worst bits” on this route.
  • The funniest moment was eating the deep-fried locusts after the walk.
  • I didn’t expect to be eating green tea ice with sweet bean sauce either.
  • I had never seen rice fields up close before, although I had seen plenty through the windows of the trains.
  • There was nothing to warn others about, and no scary bits – just a lovely walk!  


Read the full walking story, with lots more photos of the hike

Contributed by: Andrew Llanwarne

Houses along the old post road

Walking past houses along the old post road

Key Facts

Location Kiso Valley, Nagano prefecture, central Honshu
When it was walked July 2003
Walk type Countryside paths and easy hills
Difficulty Suitable for anyone who enjoys an easy walk
Distance approx 8 km (5 miles)
Height climbed approx 50 m (150 ft)
Time taken approx 2 hrs
Map used if any None
Source of info on walk Information in the Lonely Planet guide, and signs along the route
Getting there

Train to Nagiso, bus to Tsumago. 

Bus from Tsumago to Magome.
Places to stay

Minshuku (guest house) in Tsumago

Places to eat/ buy food Small food shop in Magome
Any other local attractions or facilities

The old timber buildings in the two villages. Folk museum and house of the nobility in Tsumago. Museum in Magome devoted to Shimazaki Toson, early 20th century writer