Japan 2.0: Nakasendo trail from Magome to Tsumago

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

Hello there! We have a very autumnal & folk(ish) post today, which weirdly fits perfectly well with this chilly start of spring we are having.

We have so many interests in Japan that even visiting it twice has left us with many places ending up on our missing list. In fact, the miss list is called Japan 3.0 because we strongly believe this country and us still have a thing going on that should not end with this trip. Do you also have that feeling with certain places? Well, the Nakasendo trail was precisely one of those experiences which didn’t fit in our first itinerary, and landed up in our Japan 2.0 bucket list waiting for a second chance.

Nakasendo was during the Edo period a walking road that the samurais took to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto, with 69 post towns for them to sleep in. The road is still walkable and you can spend a week visiting the towns while walking the trail that goes through amazing forests with bears and monkeys. What is most amazing is that some of the towns are very well-preserved and maintain its charm by not having visible electric wires or any other modern elements.

Nakatsugawa station - The cat, you and us

At Nakatsugawa station waiting for the bus.

Nakatsugawa station - The cat, you and us

The most famous stretch is the one connecting the towns of Magome and Tsumago, which takes around 2 or 3 hours and is very well paved, signposted and the towns are probably the ones with the best architecture preservation. We read that the easier way was starting at Magome to end at Tsumago, because half of the trail goes down, thus we decided to follow the advice and book a room at a Tsumago inn to spend the night as truly samurais.

We started the day at Kyoto, took the bullet train to Nagoya and from there an express to Nakatsugawa. The only way to get to Magome is with a bus from the Kitaena company. It takes a total of 2 hours to get here. As always, when connecting trains with buses in Japan, we recommend starting with the bus timetable and then check the trains that will get you on time to take the bus. Trains in Japan offer way more combinations.

Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us

First things first, we need a little bit fuel to walk these 3 hours, don’t we?

Magome - The cat, you and us

Grilled rice balls skewers with a bitter-sweet soy sauce

Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us

Like two peas in a pod, ha!

Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us Magome - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

The trail start at the top of Magome’s main street, and it is already breathtaking!

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

As you can see from the pictures, the rain was our best companion during the trail, which made it more surreally magical – hope we were able to capture half of its “Endor forest” appeal.

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

We discovered that bears were going to be our travel companions during the walk, but along the trail you will find bells like this one to avoid an unwanted encounter.

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

Along the road there are some scattered houses from people looking for some alone time in the woods, this one had persimmons (not sure if I’m accurate with this guess, though) drying up and a lovely cat meowing us an “ohayou”.

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

Hello there little tiny tanuki!

Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us Nakasendo trail - The cat, you and us

When we arrived to Tsumago the sun was setting down. If it wasn’t for the rain or the strict curfew to be at our host house at 17:30, to serve us dinner, we would have spent not only 3 hours but many more, to gasp all the little waterfalls, creeks and rice land. The arrival was also something out of the ordinary, the town looked straight out of a painting, even too beautiful to be true.

Tsumago - The cat, you and us Tsumago - The cat, you and us

We stayed at the Matsushiroya inn in Tsumago. The room was quite lovely, wasn’t it? And also warm thanks to a programable heater.

Tsumago - The cat, you and us Tsumago - The cat, you and us Tsumago - The cat, you and us Tsumago - The cat, you and us Tsumago - The cat, you and us

The next morning we woke up quite early to enjoy the town before everyone else, it’s my favorite part of the countryside in Japan, the quietness of the mornings.

Since we have tons of pics from our morning in Tsumago, we thought we should make it justice by posting them in a separate post!

More of our Japan 2.0 adventures:
Tokyo – Part I: Shinjuku & Harajuku
Tokyo – DisneySea
Kamakura
Hakone and the Takuminoyado Yoshimatsu onsen
Osaka – Part I: Osaka Castle, Umeda views and Dotonbori at night
Himeji Castle (& the Hello Kitty café)
Osaka – Part II: Dotonbori, Namba temple and Den Den Town
Kyoto: Gion, Kamo riverside & Nishiki market
Arashiyama: monkey park, the river, Tenryuji temple and the bamboo grove
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6 Comments

  1. omg love the “two peas in a pod” photo, and also the photo right above the ones of the inn–love the layers of the mountains and mist! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    24th March 2017
    • We reply...

      Thanks Audrey! So sweet you like them, you have mentioned precisely two on my top 5 favorites list of this day! Big hug <3 Wish you a nice spring ahead! Your voice sound lovely in your vlog, btw!

  2. Nieves ADDS...

    Cada día os superáis, que fotos más maravillosas. Me dan una alegría verlas! Qué divertido el gato con sombrero, es de verdad?

    24th March 2017
  3. Fiona ADDS...

    *gasp* my jaw is literally on the ground, and I’m left speechless, this is beyond magical!!!! Nakasendo has been added to my bucket list and highlighted with a fluro marker!!!! So much perfection!!

    25th March 2017
    • We reply...

      Thank you so much my dear pal for your words! It means a world to me, you know that! :) I’m sure you will love Nakasendo, I see it totally in your alley too. Biggest hug!

  4. Linda ADDS...

    Hi! We wanted to do this, after watching Joanna Lumley’s japan special haha. It seems hard to get to . Will have to research more, our main worry is getting lost and not being able to get around Japan!
    Also what camera do you use? I love your photos!!

    4th January 2018

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