Nakasendo self-guided walking 5 days

Our best-loved Nakasendo Trail package is a 5-day hike perfect for hiking enthusiasts and those who wish to experience more of the Nakasendo. Enjoy hikes of 1 to 6 hours and visits to the most beautiful post towns.

Nakasendo self-guided walking 5 days

Number of travellers

Start date

April 2024

Tour details

Nakasendo self-guided walking 5 days
x1 traveller
Single room additional charge
USD 420

If you would like to do multiple tours in one trip or have a question about any of our tours, do not hesitate to contact us with the button below.

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Trip level:
  • Availability: Recommended from April to November
  • Type:Self-guided
  • Price: USD 1,465(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)


  • Village to village walking on the loveliest parts of the old Nakasendo Trail
  • Visit the exquisitely-preserved villages of Magome, Tsumago and Narai
  • Bathe in the thermal waters at a hot-spring Ryokan
  • Walking over 5 days in the picturesque Kiso Valley and Karuizawa
  • See Matsumoto castle, one of Japan's best historic castles
  • Hike country trails and quiet rural roads, with some moderate ascents and descents

The Nakasendo or 'Road through the Central Mountains' was part of feudal Japan's network of highways. Travellers moving between Kyoto and Tokyo took several days to travel the Nakasendo, staying overnight in Juku post towns. Today's visitors can walk sections of the original route by day and stay in local inns by night.

All our self-guided Nakasendo Trail tours offer the opportunity to spend a leisurely second night at the comfortable Ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima, part-way along the trail. Please ask for information about our tour extensions; enjoy spectacular views of Mount Fuji from the Hakone hot spring area and the rural village of Oshino Mura, or the peaceful, agricultural community of Asuka at a charming Japanese inn or with a local family for a unique homestay experience.

Learn more about how our resident staff support our guests in interacting with locals in the village of Tsumago along the Nakasendo trail, and how we we foster relationships with, and contribute to the community by visiting our local Nakasendo branch page.

Daily luggage transfer is available as an optional extra service on some sections of the trail - read about luggage options here

Download PDF itinerary

What is included
4 nights at Japanese inns along the Nakasendo Trail
4 breakfasts and 4 dinners
Train tickets from Kyoto or Tokyo to the trail and from the trail to Tokyo
Train tickets for intermediate journeys on the Nakasendo trail
Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking directions
Topographical maps
Local support by telephone
Our Preparing for your trip and Travelling in Japan Guidebooks
What is not included
Airport transfers
Drinks and meals not included in itinerary
Local bus journeys which must be paid directly to the bus driver
Single room supplement(s) for solo occupancy
Daily luggage transfer

We supply train tickets for your journey starting from Kyoto or Tokyo to Nakatsugawa, including a ride on the world-famous bullet train to Nagoya. At Nakatsugawa, you board a local bus for the short journey to Magome. Walk over Magome Pass to Tsumago, one of the best-preserved and most evocative of the Nakasendo post towns. Spend the night at a family-run minshuku in Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago. Enjoy a delicious home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast included in your stay. After dinner, enjoy a stroll through the village streets in the magical quiet of the evening, wearing the yukata gown supplied by your inn.


Walking distance: 8.3 km / 5.2 mi
Elevation gain: 326 m / 1,069 ft of ascent and 430 m / 1,410 ft of descent
Time required: About 3 hours


Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)
Meals: Dinner



The longest day on the trail is a beautiful and varied hike from Tsumago to Nojiri. You may also choose the shorter alternative to Nagiso instead. The trail travels through small valleys and past forests of bamboo and Japanese cedar, through some of the most unspoilt scenery on the tour. Continue by train to Kiso-Fukushima, a historic post town that once flourished as a political and economic centre in the Kiso Valley. Tonight, enjoy kaiseki-style cuisine and hot spring baths.


Walking distance: 18.4 km / 11.5 mi
Elevation gain: 723 m / 2,275 ft of ascent and 644 m / 2,112 ft of descent
Time required: About 6 hours


We offer a shorter alternative of 1 hour (3.7 km / 2.3 mi). You can choose which option you prefer on the day – no need to decide in advance!


Accommodation: Onsen ryokan (hot spring inn) or onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner



We supply train tickets for the short journey from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara, the starting point for the hike over the Torii Pass to Narai. Explore this atmospheric village before you continue on today's journey to the small town of Kiso-Hirasawa, famous for its lacquerware. There are many small shops selling beautifully crafted tableware and furniture. From Kiso-Hirasawa, transfer by train to the castle town of Matsumoto for your overnight stay. Your hosts will serve a home-cooked Japanese dinner and breakfast.


Walking distance: 8.7 km / 5.5 mi
Elevation gain: 344 m / 1,128 ft of ascent and 270 m / 885 ft of descent
Time required: About 4 hours

Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse) or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

After breakfast, you will have time dedicated to sightseeing around Matsumoto. Highly recommended is a visit to Matsumoto Castle, one of only 12 castles in Japan that has retained its original interior and exterior structures. When you are finished in Matsumoto, you will travel by train to your final stop for your onward journey to Karuizawa or Komoro for your final overnight stay. Both locations have lovely inns with a real sense of history and fine Japanese baths. Arrive at your accommodation in time for a wonderful dinner featuring local produce.


Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

After breakfast, your final walk on the Nakasendo Trail is from Karuizawa to Yokokawa. Leaving Karuizawa, the trail takes you over the Usui-toge Pass and down a gentle descent along one of the most beautiful sections of the Nakasendo. From Yokokawa, board the local train to Takasaki and change there for your ride on the bullet train to Tokyo. The train journey takes around two hours and you will arrive in Tokyo in the late afternoon or early evening.


Walking distance: 16.7 km / 10 mi
Elevation gain: 372 m / 1,220 ft of ascent and 862 m / 2,828 ft of descent
Time required: About 5-6 hours


The walk can be shortened by 5.9 km /  3.7 mi by a taxi ride at the start of the day.


Meals: Breakfast

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