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11. KISO VALLEY
Access to Nakasendo and Kiso Valley

Access to Nakasendo and Kiso Valley

While the most convenient way to get to the Kiso Valley and Nakasendo is by participating in one of Snow Monkey Resort’s tours, below is information on how you can get there via public transportation from several different starting points in Japan.

For tours, check out the following:

2-Day From/To Nagano: Historic Nakasendo Walking Tour

3-Day From/To Nagano: Snow Monkeys and Historic Nakasendo Walking Tour

3-Day Nagoya to Tokyo: Snow Monkeys, Mt. Fuji, and Nakasendo Walking Tour

4-day Nagano to Tokyo: Snow Monkey, Nakasendo, and Mt. Fuji

If you want to venture to Kiso on your own, see the following information on access from Tokyo, Nagoya, Nagano, Matsumoto, and Takayama:

From Tokyo

By Train
There are two options you can take if you are coming from the Tokyo area.

Starting from Tokyo Station and accessing Kiso Valley via Nagoya

Take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station. In Nagoya, transfer to the Shinano Express train on the JR Chuo West Line. The Shinano Express makes limited stops at stations in Kiso (these stops depend on which express train you are riding) so you may need to transfer to a local train, depending on your exact destination (see “Which station should I get off at?” below).

Starting from Shinjuku Station and accessing Kiso Valley via Shiojiri

Take the JR Azusa Express train on the JR Chuo East Line to Shiojiri. In Shiojiri, transfer to the JR Chuo West Line. Depending on your destination in Kiso Valley, you can use either the Shinano Express train or just a local train. Since the Shinano Express train makes only limited stops, you may need to transfer to a local train at some point along the track. See “Which station should I get off at?” below for further information.
Shinkansen

 

From Nagoya

By Train

Take the Shinano Express train on the JR Chuo West Line from Nagoya Station. The Shinano Express makes limited stops at stations in Kiso (these stops depend on which express train you are riding) so you may need to transfer to a local train, depending on your exact destination (see “Which station should I get off at?” below).
shinano from Nagoya

 

From Nagano

By Train

Take the Shinano Express train heading towards Nagoya. The Shinano Express train goes directly through Kiso Valley, but you may need to transfer to a local train once you arrive in the area since the train makes only limited stops. See “Which station should I get off at?” below for further information.

 

From Matsumoto

limited express azusa (old)

By Train

Taking the Azusa Express train is the most direct and easiest way to get to the Kiso area from Matsumoto. The Azusa Express train doesn’t go directly through Kiso Valley, so you may need to transfer to a local train once you arrive in the area since the train makes only limited stops.

Because Matsumoto is relatively close to Kiso Valley, taking a local train can also be a good option. Local trains are slower but less expensive. However, make sure you look up whether or not you need to make a transfer at Shiojiri Station when using the local trains, as the track splits in Shiojiri going towards either Tokyo or Kiso/Nagoya.

 

From Takayama

By Bus

The best way to get to Kiso Valley from Takayama is by using the Nohi Bus. This bus departs from Takayama in the morning and arrives in Magome. If you are planning to do the Nakasendo Trail hike from Magome to Tsumago, then you start as soon as you get off the bus! If you aren’t planning to do the hike but still want to see Tsumago, the Nohi Bus waits in Magome for around 2 hours, giving you time to explore the town. You can then hop back on the bus and it will take you to Tsumago.

By Train

The Nohi Bus is convenient, but it only departs once a day from Takayama. To get to the Kiso area by train, take the Hida Express to Nagoya and then transfer to the Shinano Express. The Shinano Express train goes directly through Kiso Valley, but you may need to transfer to a local train once you arrive in the area since the train makes only limited stops. See “Which station should I get off at?” below for further information.

 

Which station should I get off at?

The JR Chuo West Line runs all the way through Kiso Valley between Nagoya and Shiojiri. Depending on where you want to go within Kiso Valley, you will need to choose a different station. Here is a quick overview of the major destinations:

 

For Narai, use Narai Station.

The old post town area is near the station.

Narai Post Town

For Akasawa Natural Recreational Forest, use Kiso-Fukushima Station or Agematsu Station. To get to the forest, use the Akasawa Line bus that departs from either station. The bus runs once every two hours (morning/early afternoon) from late April through early November, with an extra bus available during the summer months and weekends/holidays.

Akasawa Natural Recreational Forest and Otaki Forest Railway

For the Ontake Ropeway, use Kiso-Fukushima Station.

To get to the ropeway, use the Ontake Ropeway bus that departs from the station. The bus runs once approximately once every two hours (morning/early afternoon) from late April through early November, with an extra bus available during the summer months. Buses run every day during peak season (Golden Week, summer months) but only on weekends and holidays during the off-season.

For Tsumago (and Magome via Tsumago), use Nagiso Station.

From Nagiso Station, take the Magome Line bus to Tsumago. The bus runs about once every two hours (morning to late afternoon) with an extra bus during peak season. You can explore Tsumago first then take the next bus from there to Magome (or vise-versa). For those planning to hike the Nakasendo Trail between Tsumago and Magome, the bus provider offers a convenient luggage drop-off service for a reasonable fee. This service allows you to have your luggage dropped off at Magome if hiking from Tsumago, or at Tsumago if hiking from Magome.

Tsumago Post Town Honjin

For Magome, use Nakatsugawa Station.

Take the Magome Line bus from the station and get off at the Magome stop. The bus runs about once per hour from morning to evening hours. You can take the same bus back to Nakatsugawa Station or head to Tsumago from Magome via the hiking trail or a separate bus.

Magome Kiso

For Atera Gorge, use Nojiri Station.

From the station, you can walk to the entrance to Atera Gorge and continue to trek up the road to the nature trail (about 3.5 km). There are several beautiful sights along the way. There is also a shuttle bus available to the nature trail from late July to early September. The bus departs from the Forespa Kiso resort about once per hour (during the Obon holiday, every 30 minutes) from morning to late afternoon. Forespa Kiso is a 30-minute walk from Nojiri Station.

Adera Ravine/Valley