Situated in the southwestern part of Nagano Prefecture, this area was once a section of the old Nakasendo Highway, one of Japan's historic transport arteries joining Kyoto with Edo (present-day Tokyo). Roughly following the Kiso River, the once-important post towns now form a well-preserved living museum of the Edo Period, with many modern facilities being hidden from sight.
By JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. By JR Chuo Main Line for 50 minutes from Nagoya Station to Nakatsugawa Station. By bus for 30 minutes from Nakatsugawa Station to Magome.
From Tokyo you can also sign up with local motorcoach tours for a one or two-day excursion to the Kiso Valley region.
Magome: This southernmost post town is famous as the birthplace of the noted poet/novelist Toson Shimazaki (1872-1943). The town often appears in his works. Old inns wind their way up to the old curving street, much as they did in the Edo period. 30 min. by bus from Nakatsugawa Station on the Chuo Honsen Line.
Tsumago: This town was designed as forty-second post town from Edo. Since 1968, the town has been preserved and restored to its former glory by the efforts of the local society and is now a Protected Area for the Preservation of Traditional Buildings. Wonderful old Edo atmosphere. It is a fascinating 3-hour, 9-kilometer walk from Magome to Tsumago to experience the ancient highway as it was in its heyday. 7 min. by bus from Nagiso Station on the Chuo Honsen Line, or 30 min. by bus from Magome.
Narai: This town is also a Protected Area for the Preservation of Traditional Buildings. Once the most prosperous of the post towns, it was called "Narai of a Thousand Houses." Five public wells still refresh travelers with their cool, clear water. 5 min. walk from Narai Station on the Chuo Honsen Line.
Mt. Ontake: A magnificent, active volcano rising 3,067m at the southern end of the Northern Alps on the cypress forest to the top. The view of Mt. Ontake from Kaida Heights is justly famous. 1 hr. 30 min. by bus to the foot of the mountain from Kiso-Fukushima Station on the Chuo Honsen Line. 3 hrs. hike to the top.
There is a historical section of the Nakasendo Highway through the Kiso Valley.