Winter Nakasendo Trail

Winter Nakasendo Trail

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour


  • Enjoy hearty, warming seasonal cuisine at welcoming Japanese inns 
  • Escape the crowds of busier seasons and enjoy a magical perspective on Japan 
  • Ride the world-famous bullet train 
  • Walk or snowshoe village to village on the loveliest parts of the winter Nakasendo Trail 
  • Visit beautifully-preserved old post towns in the snowy Kiso Valley 
  • Soak in natural thermal onsen hot springs – indoors and outdoors! 

Winter transforms Japan into a wonderland. The days are crisp and clear with plenty of sunshine and with much less crowds making winter an ideal time to visit Japan. Walk the ancient path of Nakasendo Trail on this small-group guided tour. Beginning in Kyoto and ending Tokyo, you will be visiting the perfectly restored villages of Narai, Tsumago and Magome and staying in ryokans much like samurai, merchants, and travellers did during the Edo period. There is nothing more enchanting than the winter landscapes of these traditional wooden villages. If snowfall is heavy then you may need to wear snowshoes but at the end of the day you will have a brief reprieve from the cold by bathing in the relaxing hot springs – a perfect way to end the day walking on these snowy trails!  


  • Day
  • 1
Meet in Kyoto 
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Welcome Dinner

Meet at the tour hotel in the centre of Kyoto. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. 

  • Day
  • 2
Travel to Nakatsugawa and walk to Magome 
  • Walking 8.3km
  • World Heritage site 400m ascent, 200m descent  
  • Walking 3 hours   
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Today we travel by train to Nakatsugawa, one of the old post-towns on the Nakasendo Trail. The original main road through the town retains its Edo-Period heritage with traditional sake shops, restaurants in period wooden buildings and old storehouses. We start our walk here and head towards the next post-town of Ochiai. From Ochiai we ascend through cedar forests and traverse a section of the trail whose cobblestones date right back to the Edo Period. Over the next four days we explore the best-preserved portions of the ancient Nakasendo Trail through villages and hamlets, all set against the magical winter scenery. Our lodging tonight is a charming family-run inn in the post town of Magome. 

  • Day
  • 3
Magome to Tsumago 
  • Walking 8.3km
  • World Heritage site 325m ascent, 430m descent 
  • Walking 3 hours   
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

From Magome, we walk to Tsumago along one of the prettiest and best-preserved parts of the Nakasendo Trail. We’ll likely encounter snow over the Magome Pass with fine opportunities for photographs. After the walk, there’s time for lunch in Tsumago and then an afternoon to explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street with its lovely old wooden architecture. Try gohei-mochi, skewered sticky rice covered in a sweet paste of miso, sesame and walnuts. Tsumago is a living museum, which is still home to local residents whose families might have lived here for generations. We stay overnight in Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago at a family-run inn with a real sense of history.  

  • Day
  • 4
Tsumago to Kiso Fukushima 
  • Walking 3.7 km
  • World Heritage site  100m ascent, 120m descent 
  • Walking  1 hour 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Hot spring Ryokan (Travellers inn) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

This morning we continue our exploration of Tsumago including a visit to the Wakihonjin museum housed in a building which dates back to the 19th century. Today’s walk begins after lunch and is a short but enjoyable stroll from Tsumago to Nagiso along country lanes. From Nagiso we board a local train for the brief journey to Kiso-Fukushima, a delightful post- town which was once an important Sekisho checkpoint on the Nakasendo. We stroll through the town before heading out to our comfortable Ryokan inn on the outskirts of the community. The Ryokan prides itself on its wonderful cuisine and its terrific indoor and outdoor thermal baths – a perfect way to warm up on a winter evening.  

  • Day
  • 5
Kiso-Fukushima to Narai 
  • Walking  6.2km
  • World Heritage site 345m ascent, 270m descent 
  • Walking 3 hours 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

On our fourth day on the Nakasendo Trail, we walk from Yabuhara to Narai over the Torii Pass. This section is likely to have the deepest snow on the tour and if the snow is deep enough, we’ll provide snow shoes to make the crossing of the pass easier. This is a rewarding journey through trees to the charming village of Narai. We arrive in time to explore Narai and have lunch at one of the small local restaurants. Our overnight accommodation is in Narai at a family-run inn in the village. 

  • Day
  • 6
Walk Narai to Kiso Hirasawa then travel to Asama Onsen 
  • Walking  2.5km 
  • World Heritage site negligible ascent and descent 
  • Walking 1 hour 
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn  Hot spring Ryokan (Travellers inn) 
  • Meal Breakfast, Dinner

Our walk on the Nakasendo Trail ends today with a short stroll from Narai to Kiso Hirasawa. Kiso-Hirasawa is famous for its locally-produced lacquerware. The walk takes around an hour and there may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. We then travel by train to Matsumoto, a castle town nestled in the central alps region. We visit Matsumoto Castle, one of four castles designated as National Treasures of Japan before boarding a local bus to nearby Asama Onsen. The spa town has a history dating back 1,300 years and we stay overnight at one of the most elegant, authentic Ryokan inns, with beautiful wooden architecture from the Meiji era.  

  • Day
  • 7
Travel to Tokyo 
  • Hotel  Hotel
  • Meal Breakfast, Farewell Dinner 

After breakfast, we leave Asama Onsen and travel by train to Tokyo. We leave our luggage at the city-centre hotel and enjoy a half-day walking tour of Tokyo, visiting Hama-Rikyu gardens, located near the mouth of the Sumida-gawa river. There is a striking contrast between the gardens and the gleaming towers of the new Shiodome business area beyond. Next, we visit Nihonbashi (the ‘Japan Bridge’) considered to be the ‘centre of Japan’ and the zero marker point for all Japan’s main roads since the Edo period. This is where the Nakasendo Trail would once have finished. In the evening, there is a Farewell Dinner with your guide. 

  • Day
  • 8
Tour ends
  • Meal Breakfast

The tour ends today after breakfast. Your guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homeward flights, or on onward travel in Japan if you are extending your stay. 



Tour Length 

8 days


From $4,840 per person, twin share

Type and Level of Trip

Active – 5 days of walking and hiking from 1 to 3 hours per day along a mixture of paved village paths and dirt trails, which may be snow-covered. Depending on the depth of snow, we may use our snowshoes to follow the route.  

What is Included
  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide 
  • 7 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan and Minshuku) 
  • Due to the rural nature of this tour, some properties will only have Japanese-style bedding and shared facilities
  • Daily breakfast, 2 lunches and 7 dinners 
  • All transportation between tour locations 
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group’s itinerary 
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 4 occasions 
  • Rental gear – a pair of snowshoes, over gloves, gaiters and walking poles 
What’s Not Included
  • Flights 
  • Airport transfers 
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches 
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels 
  • When the group stays at Japanese-style properties you might be asked to share a room with another group member of the same gender

30 JAN 2021

16 FEB 2021

Important Due to the rural nature of this tour, slight alterations of the itinerary are possible.

< 2020s30s40s50s60s70+

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour