The Kiso Valley is, in our opinion, one of the most picturesque parts of Japan. It is located in mountains of the Central Japanese Alps and is part of an ancient 70 km trade route, called the Kisoji, that was developed along the valley and served as a very important means of commerce in the area. The Kisoji became even more important from the beginning of the Edo Period, when it was amalgamated with other routes in the formation of the 500km “Nakasendo”. The Nakasendo ("path through mountains") was one of the two means of transportation between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. It contrasted with the other principal transportation route of the time, the Tokaido, which ran along the sea shore.
Because of restrictions imposed by the shogunate, travelers were almost always forced to make their trips on foot. As a result, "post towns" developed every few kilometres to provide travelers with places to rest, eat, and find nightly accommodation during their arduous journey. Along the Kiso Valley a few post towns, in particular Magome and Tsumago, have been preserved to maintain the look from when they served travelers of the Nakasendo. The original stone paths and wooden buildings of a bygone era make for a truly unforgettable experience of ancient Japan. It really is a place caught delightfully in a time warp; it is not difficult to imagine the ancient Samurai walking the trails 500 years ago.