The Old Nakasendo highway, tracing a journey through the Edo Period

The Old Nakasendo highway, tracing a journey through the Edo Period

Of the five historic roads that radiated from old Edo, or pre-modern Tokyo, our tour follows the Nakasendo, or Kyoto-Edo Highway, which best preserves the relics of the period of Edo. Journey 200 years back in time on a route famed for scenes that inspired countless samurai adventures and Japanese woodblock prints. The highlight of the tour is the Edo-era section of the old road linking the villages of Magome and Tsumago in the Kiso Valley. Visiting these beautifully preserved historic villages and trail is a journey into a bygone age, when the last of the shoguns and samurai still wielded power and swords.

Tour Date
Nov. 8th ~ Nov. 15th ( 7 nights and 8 days)
Tour Price
JPY 352,000
Gathering/conclusion
Tokyo / Kyoto
Level
Intermediate ~ Advanced (You have an option!)

Tour highlights

  • Visit the old post stations on the Nakasendo that have not been turned into tourist sites. Get a real feel for how people lived and traveled during the days of the samurai with visits to Tsumago, Magome and Narai.
  • We visit a Japanese sake brewery at Motai, on old post town on the route.
  • While the route does include some mountain passes for the adventurous, you can arrange to glide past the steep parts in a taxi, bus, or train.
  • At Nagiso, we stay in a traditional Ryokan.
  • At Omihachiman, we stay in a genuine Buddhist temple compound.
  • The goal of the journey is Kyoto’s picturesque Sanjo district. Optional accommodations in Kyoto can be arranged by request.

Tour map

 

Itinerary

Day Week
day
Ride
Day
Route Distance Elevation Gain
11/8 Sun. Tokyo – Takasaki (Riders’ meeting)
11/9 Mon. -1 Tokyo - Karuizawa 30 (46) km/ 19 (28) ml 280 (940) m/ 900 (3000) ft
11/10 Tue -2 Karuizawa – Kami-Suwa 57 (78) km / 22 (49) mile 890 (1390) m / 2870 m (4480) ft
11/11 Wed. -3 Kami-suwa - Nagiso 40 km / 25 mile 600 m / 1900 ft
11/12 Thurs. Nagiso - Ogaki
11/13 Fri. -4 Ogaki - Omihachiman 75 km / 47 mile 370 m / 1200 ft
11/14 Sat. -5 Oumihachiman - Kyoto 56 km / 35 mile 140 m / 450 ft
11/15 Sun. Tour ends after breakfast.
TOTAL 258 (295) km/168.97 mile 2,280 (3,440) m/ 7,320 (11,030) ft
Day 1 Tokyo - Takasaki
Riding along the Nakasendo
Riding along the Nakasendo

Meet at Tokyo Station at 16:00 and Take a bullet train for Takasaki, Gumma pref.

After check-in at a hotel in Takasaki, we’ll have a riders meeting to explain traffic rules in Japan and our schedule and route of the tour followed by welcome dinner.

Hotel in Takasaki/ Meals: Dinner

Day 2 Takasaki ~ Karuizawa, Nagano
Lake Usui, along the Usui Pass
Lake Usui

We start cycling for Karuizawa. First, we call at Dharma temple and some samurai houses along the Nakasendo post towns. We’ll have a short break at Arita-ya, soy sauce brewery. You may want to try soy-sauce doughnut! (Actually, it is good.) Then, we visit a temple with beckoning cats. Gradually, we go up towards the Usui Pass.

After lunch at Yokogawa, we have two options, one is to continue climbing (15 km, 570m up), another, to take a bus for Karuizawa. Climbing up the winding road, you’ll see a beautiful lake and so-called “Spectacles Bridge”. It is hard climbing but a lot of fun.

Dharma: Indian Buddhist saint who is believed to have sat on a large stone in meditation for nine years. As a result, his limbs were numbed and he became unable to walk.

Beckoning cat: Sitting in a sitting posture with one front paw raised high and believed to attract customers, and another front paw put on a smaller-sized oval gold coin, believed to attract money.

Stay at a hotel in Karuizawa / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Beckoning Cat, at Kaiun-ji temple An old house at Sakamoto-juku Guardian deity of children Megane-bashi at Usui Pass Arita-ya, Sou Sauce shop Usui cycling-road daruma-ji-temple image3

Day 3 Karuizawa ~ Shimo-Suwa, (Kiso-ji)
Shiojiri-juku
Shiojiri-juku

Today is the biggest climbing day of the week. We are passing several post towns, where the Japanese woodblock prints were drawn during Edo period. We visit Japanese sake brewery along the route. Then, we start climbing the first peak, Kawatori Pass. After that there is another climbing. Again, you have an option to continue climbing (8km, 400m up, 6.6% average) or to take a taxi we have prepared.

Stay at a hotel/ Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

An old house at Shiojiri-juku An Old temple along the route suwa Japanese sake shop

 

Day 4 Shimo-suwa~ Nagiso
Narai Post town
Narai Post town

Continue cycling along Kiso-Valley, with passing lovely post towns towards Narai. Narai is a town that has a quiet and soothing atmosphere. Enjoy strolling the old town. Then, we take a train for Nagiso, where we stay at a comfortable Ryokan, Japanese traditional inn. Enjoy the first-class “Omotenashi” there.

Stay at a Ryokan/ Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

niekawa araiuma Motoyama Post Town Narai at night

Day 5 Nagiso - Ogaki

 

Tsumago Post Town
Tsumago Post Town

Today is a sort of free day. Nagiso is a foot of Magome – Tsumago area. You may want to enjoy trekking as the trail between Magome and Tumago is very famous. The trail is not difficult and is well marked in English and Japanese. It is about 8 km long and should take two to three hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Of course, you can enjoy cycling to the Magome/Tsumago Pass. After enjoying the day, we move to Ogaki by train.

Stay at a hotel / Meals: Breakfast

Magome Post Town Magome Trail Tsumago Post Town 2 niekwa2

Day 6 Ogaki ~ Omihachiman (Omi-ji)

 

An old shop at Ohta Post Town
An old shop at Ohta Post Town

Leaving Kiso-ji, we enter into Omi-ji. There were many wealthy merchants along the Omi-ji. Therefore, the atmosphere is slightly different from Kiso-ji. Please feel and enjoy differences.  Our goal today is Omi-Hachiman.

Today’s lodging is small rooms in a genuine Buddhist temple compound. Although beautiful, Buddhist temples are not known for luxury accommodations, and conditions can be somewhat cramped. It’s all part of the fun.

Stay at a Buddhist temple compound / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

suwa An old shop at Ohta Post Town 2 Samegai Post TownNemonogatari-no-sato

Day 7 Omihachiman ~ Kyoto
Seto-no-Kawahashi
Seta-no-Karahashi

The last day of cycling. We’ll reach the final destination, Kyoto at last.

We start cycling along the Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. The lakeside road is famous for cyclists in Japan and is well catered for cyclists’ needs. Before we enter into Kyoto pref. we have to cycle some busy area. But the goal is just around the corner. We arrive at Kyoto early afternoon.

Stay at a hotel / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

A Well along the street A house of a Oumi Merchant A house of a Oumi Merchant 2 Hyoshiki

Day 8 Kyoto (no ride)

Tours end after breakfast.

If you would like to extend your stay after the cycling tour, arrange railway, air or other post-cycling travel, please feel free to ask. We’ll be more than happy to help arrange it.

Tour Outline

Date Nov. 8th ~ 15th, (8 days/7 nights)
Tour price JPY 345,600 (Inc. tax)
Gathering/conclusion Tokyo/Kyoto
Minimum Number of Participants 4

Items Included in Tour Prices

Rental Road bicycle (or cyclo cross bicycle/cross bicycle, if you prefer)

Lodging

Van Support on Route

Water and snacks during the ride

Daily Luggage Transport

Experienced Ride Leaders

Meals: 7 breakfasts and 6 dinners

Transportation: Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel will be noted in your itinerary.

Sightseeing and Excursions: Admission to temples and shrines, special events and culinary experiences will be noted in your itinerary.

A limited number of single-occupancy rooms are available for an additional charge on most tours. If you are a single traveler, please ask about room availability. A single-occupancy supplemental charge will be applied.

A note about ryokan, traditional-style Japanese inns

To make your experience of Japan more authentic and memorable, we schedule some tour accommodations in traditional ryokan inns. Rather than single rooms, ryokan accommodate two to five people per room, with traditional tatami mat flooring and futon bedding. Please note that at Planet Adventure, we arrange for our guests to be accommodated in rooms divided by gender.

Not Included in Tour Prices

Airfare, alcoholic beverages and other personnel expenses.