About the Tsumago and Magome Hiking Route
The Nakasendo route was one of 5 routes used for feudal lords and their families to travel between their homes in their respective domains and their alternative home in Edo, nowadays called Tokyo, where the ruling Tokugawa shogunate was stationed. This system of traveling between homes was called the Sankin Kotai, and was instituted by the Tokugawa as a way to control the income and the presence of noble families.
To travel to Edo could take months for some of the more remotely located nobles. Since it took that much time, post towns were made one the road to provide rest stations for the traveler. The Nakasendo route, the route that went through mountainous terrain, was made up of 69 post towns, with Magome and Tsumago being part of the Kiso Valley route.
The hiking route running between Tsumago and Magome still has many parts remaining of the centuries old road. Walk past rivers, old countryside houses, age-old trees, and more to get from one town to another.
Both Tsumago and Magome are is well-preserved and lively with shops and museums. Try local staples such as soba or gohei mochi, a grilled rice cake with a such made up of a mix of several nuts.
If you’re going to walk the trade route between Magome and Tsumago, make sure to start bright and early as shops in the two towns close around 16:00. The walk is 8km and can take 2 to 3 hours so if you’d like to do some sightseeing in both towns, it’s best to start your hike before midday.
We recommend starting the hike from Magome as the walk from Magome is more downhill than uphill. Tsumago to Magome tends to be more a more taxing walk.
General Information about Tsumago & Magome
Tours & Charters
Bus, Train, Charter, or Tour
If you want to walk the Nakasendo Walk between Magome and Tsumago, we recommend starting from Magome. Magome is situated on a higher elevation than Tsumago and thus, the walk from there is less uphill than starting from Tsumago.
Magome and Tsumago are two small towns in the countryside of Nagano and Gifu Prefecture. To get there might take some time if you are traveling via public transportation (see option 1, 2, and 3). A faster and more convenient method of transportation is via private charter from your location in Japan (option 4) or a private tour from Nagano (option 5).
Option 1: Tokyo Station → Nagano Station → Nakatsugawa Station → Magome Bus Stop (±15,500)
1. From Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour 25 minutes):
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station.
*The Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass, the JR East Pass, and the nationwide JR Pass.
2. From Nagano Station to Nakatsugawa Station (2 hours 25 minutes):
From Nagano Station, take the JR Shinano Express to Nakatsugawa Station.
3.From Nakatsugawa Station to Magome (30 minutes):
Go to the bus platform of Nakatsugawa Station and get on the bus bound for Magome. Get off at the Magome bus stop.
Option 2: Tokyo Station → Nagoya Station → Nakatsugawa Station → Magome Bus Stop (±13,500)
1. From Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station (2 hours):
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen* from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station.
*The JR Pass is valid on the Kodama and Hikari Tokaido Shinkansen, but not for the Nozomi.
2. From Nagoya Station to Nakatsugawa Station (50 minutes):
From Nagoya Station, take the Shinano Express* bound for Nagano Station and depart at Nakatsugawa Station.
*Fully covered by the JR Pass.
3. From Nakatsugawa Station to Magome (30 minutes):
Go to the bus platform of JR Nakatsugawa Station and get on the bus bound for Magome which departs about once an hour. Get off at the Magome bus stop.
Option 3: Nagoya Station → Magome Highway Station → Magome Town (±1,860)
1. From Nagoya Station to Central Do-Magome Highway Bus Stop (1 hour 30 minutes):
From the Meitetsu Bus Center at Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu Bus* bound for Iida Station and get off at the Magome Bus Stop.
*Not covered by the JR Pass and departs regularly once an hour.
3. From Magome Highway Station to Magome (20 minutes):
Walk the Old Nakansendo road – a car road – mostly uphill until you get to the town of Magome. Please note, there are few road signs pointing you towards Magome.
Option 4: Your location in Central Japan like i.e. Tokyo Station or Nagano Station → Magome & Tsumago
If you want to travel to the Snow Monkey Park in a convenient, comfortable way, a customized private charter from your preferred location in Japan to the Park is the best method of transport.
Option 5: Tour from Nagano Station → Magome, Tsumago & Matsumoto:
Having a guide along for the ride and hike is one of the most informative ways to travel. Learn all about the post towns and surrounding attractions like Matsumoto Castle on a 2-day tour from and back to Nagano Station!