Kiso Valley: a trip back in time

05 Sep 2018 in Discover Japan

Travel back to the Edo Period by walking this ancient trade route.

In the heart of Nagano Prefecture is an ancient path where it feels like time has stood still. The Kiso Valley is a collection of tiny towns joined together by almost 50 miles of mountain paths.


Take a day trip from Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto – or hike the whole route over a few days and discover a fascinating slice of Japanese history.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto


The Kisoji is an ancient trade route that runs through the Kiso Valley and became part of a much longer route between Edo and Kyoto in the 17th century. Known as Nakasendo (“path through the mountains”), this 300-mile route was a vital link between Japan’s two major cities, and so-called post towns were established along the way to allow travellers to eat and sleep.


The best-preserved of these post towns are in the Kiso Valley. Narai-juku in the north, for example, features over half a mile of Edo-period wooden buildings with overhanging upper floors.


It’s like being on a film set or stepping back in time. Other highlights include Tsumago-juku and Magome-juku in the south.



For the full experience, hike through all 11 post towns in the valley – a physical undertaking that will take several days. Your reward? Stunning mountain scenery, idyllic waterfalls and the luxury of enjoying the towns after day-trippers have left!

Alternatively, a short train ride will give you a taste of what Japan was like in the Edo Period – and you can still enjoy an atmospheric walk in the forest.



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