magome to tsumago hiking trail

Magome to Tsumago: Nakasendo Trail Day Hike [2023]

This guide details the Magome-Tsumago trail route. It is an easy trail and it is well-signposted.  Magome-Tsumago signposting is available in English and Japanese.  You can also use this article to walk from Tsumago – Magome.  Japan is a great place to hike, fellow hikers are friendly, accommodating, and helpful – we hope you enjoy it!  The Magome Tsumago Trail is the most famous of the Kiso Valley hikes and takes in both of the ancient post towns.


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The Nakasendo Trail Magome to Tsumago hike is mentioned in most of the guidebooks as one of THE things to do for travelers to Japan.  It’s also referenced as the most popular part of the Nakasendo Hiking Trail.  Because of this, there are two things that you’ll want to do as soon as possible.

  1. Get your JR Train Pass if you plan to take the train here (there are details about trains and buses to get to Magome and Tsumago later in this article. And you can buy a JR Pass here.
  2. Book your accommodation in Magome and/or Tsumago ASAP if you plan to stay there before or after your hike. There is very little accommodation in these two small towns and it goes quickly. There are more details on top places to stay in Magome later, but the top picks are
    • Magome Chaya: Simple traditional rooms with futon bedding and a tatami-mat floor. Free WiFi – public onsen. Great reviews. Reserve a room now.
    • Guesthouse Nedoko – an amazing place to stay – with comfortable rooms, a shared kitchen, a shared lounge, and free WiFi. Check rates and availability here.

A Magome Tsumago day trip is easy from Nagoya especially if you have a JR Pass for the trains. (Buy your JR Pass BEFORE you get into the country and save a fortune!)   The Magome to Tsumago trail is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) long and has only gentle elevation changes.  We hike and travel in standard Merrell hiking shoes but you could do this in sports sandals if you wish.

We’ve covered the buses, trains, and options that you need if you plan to do to this part of the Nakasendo Trail independently, however, nowadays there’s an easier option.



Take a Guided Magome-Tsumago Trip

This trip includes the hike, an English-speaking guide, and all your transport (apart from the bit where you’re walking!!) It’s a great option if you’re finding the trains and buses a little overwhelming.

How to Get to the Magome – Tsumago Walk

The closest train stations to the Magome – Tsumago trail are Nakatsugawa, Nagiso, and Nagano.  As most walkers traveling to this hike will use a JR Pass (find out everything you need to know about them here), we’ll cover how to get from these stations to Magome and Tsumago.  As you may wish to do this hike in either direction we’ll cover options to arrive in either Tsumago or Magome

Taking the train and bus to Magome

There are a variety of routes to Magome – from Tokyo, from Kyoto, from Nagoya.  Here are the primary routes to get to the Kiso Valley.

How to get from Nagoya to Magome

You can either take the train from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa and then take the bus to Magome or you can take a bus.  The bus from Nagoya to Magome leaves from the Meitetsu Bus Centre ever hour and stop at the Chuodo Magome stop, from there it’s a 1.5 kilometre walk to the centre of Magome.

Nagoya to Nakatsugawa Train

Take any Japan Rail train to Nakatsugawa.  These trains are covered on the JR Pass, which saved us a fortune in travel fares during our month in Japan.  You can buy a pass for 7, 14 or 21 days of unlimited travel, but you should buy it from outside the country for 10% discount.

Once in Nakatsugawa and make your way to Magome – here are the details of how to get to Magome from Nakatsugawa.

Nakatsugawa to Magome Bus Stop

The stop is right outside the Nakatsugawa train station, which is also where the friendly (and English speaking) tourist information office is.

The bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome costs 570 Yen (2023) and takes around 35 minutes. Once you’re in Magome, it’s a 300 metre hike uphill to the tourist information office. It’s obvious and signposted.  It’s a cute little pedestrian only walk way, past stores and cafe’s and renovated houses. Almost a little twee.  If you’re looking for peace and quiet before or after your hike, then Magome or Tsumago is your place.

How to Get the Nakatsugawa to Magome Bus

From the Nakatsugawa train station, you can actually start walking from Nakatsugawa station to Magome and then onto Tsumago, but we chose to take the local bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome.

Nakatsugawa to Magome Bus Times 2023

The Nakatsugawa Magome bus takes about 35 minutes and runs at different times during the week and weekends.  The Nakatsugawa to Magome bus timetable during the week you can get a bus at 09:10, 09:55, 10:45, 11:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16:15.  At the weekend there are additional buses at 07:42, 08:10, 12:15, 17:15, 17:45, 18:30.  It costs 570 yen per person.

How to get from Tokyo to Magome

There is no Tokyo to Magome train.  There is no train station at Magome.  To come to Magome from Tokyo it’s easiest and quickest to take a bus from Shinjuku Bus Terminal to Magome.    You can take the three times daily Chuo Liner Kani at 0720, 1040, and 1650.  It takes 5 hours to get to Magome from Tokyo and stops at the Chuodo Magome stop, which is 1.5 kilometers into the town.

If you’re in Tokyo and like hiking, then why not take a day trip to Mount Takao and go hiking there?

How to get from Kyoto to Magome

Take a train from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa and from there take the bus to Magome.  The train to Nakatsugawa from Kyoto takes around 90 minutes on a regular train that’s covered by the JR Pass.  Faster Shinkansen trains will get you from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa in 30-45 minutes but are not covered on the JR Pass.

If you take an early train to Nakatsugawa, and then the bus to Magome, you can hike the Magome-Tsumago trail in a day from Kyoto.   When you finish the hike in Tsumago, simply follow the directions later in this article to return from Tsumago to Nagiso JR Station and from there to Kyoto.

Taking the train and bus to Tsumago

To use the train to get to Tsumago, the closes station is Nagiso station.  You will likely need to get a stopping service from Nagoya, however, many trains do not stop at Nagiso.   A Tokyo to Nagiso train takes around 3 hours.  If that’s the case then transfer to Nakatsugawa Station.  From here you will need to take the bus from Nakatsugawa to Tsumago.

Nakatsugawa Bus to Magome

If you have got off the train at Nagiso you will need to take a taxi or bus to Tsumago.

Nagiso to Tsumago Bus Timetable 2023

08:35, 10:10, 10:40, 12:40, 14:15, 15:00, 16:35, 18:00

This bus also carries on from Nagiso to Tsumago to Magome (Nagiso to Magome takes 30 minutes) and costs the following:

  • Nagiso to Tsumago bus = 300 yen
  • Tsumago to Magome bus = 600 yen
  • Nagiso to Magome bus = 800 yen

Tsumago to Magome Bus Timetable 2023

1012 (arrives 1040), 1247 (arrives 1315), 1422 (arrives 1450), 1642 (arrives 1710)

Kiso Valley Tourist Offices

There are tourism offices in the towns on the route of the Nakasendo trail.  They are easy to find, the staff are superbly helpful and will provide you with maps and assistance for hiking.

Magome- Tsumago Tourism Office at Nakatsugawa

The Nakatsugawa tourist information office is at the train station, (to the left as you come out), and they hand out hiking maps and information.  It is handily close to the bus stop, which you just can’t miss right in front of both the station and the tourist info.

Magome Tourist Office

The Magome tourist information centre is where you drop your bags if you want them transported to Tsumago, which we did.  You’ll find the Magome tourist information office a few hundred metres up the hill (it’s on the way to the walk signposted, so no backtracking required).  They’re friendly and speak great English.

Tsumago Tourist Office

The tourist centre in Tsumago will provide you with onward bus times and it’s where you’ll be able to collect your bags from the luggage transfer service.  This office is in the centre of Tsumago and is easy to find.

Walking from Magome to Tsumago

Walk uphill from the bus stop and drop your bags at the tourist information office.  As you cross the road at the top of the hill, there’s a fabulous viewpoint.

Walking through Magome

There are signposts along the way.

Signposts along the way

Then you head off downhill again, skirting through a small wood to cross the road again.  Crossing the road is a feature of this walk. At the entrance to the wood is a static bear bell.  Give it a good yank and scare them off. We didn’t see any bears, but you’ll find bells by each wooded area.

Bear Bells

For a lot of the route – it’s only 7.7 km long – you’ll skirt around and close to the road.  It’s a very quiet road, so it won’t bother you.

The trail starts in Magome at an altitude of 600 metres, rises up to 801 metres and then descends to 420 metres in Tsumago.  There are woods to go through but few views until you start the final descent towards Tsumago.

Once you leave Magome there is nowhere to buy water for the trail, so either buy water in Magome or take your own filter water bottle.  There are streams along the way.  Check out our guide to buying the best filter water bottles – these allow us to drink river, stream and untreated tap water.


Best Filter Water Bottle

The Lifestraw Go Water Filter Bottle has a 22-ounce capacity, it has a two-stage carbon filter that lasts for 100 liters of water and a membrane microfilter that lasts up to 4,000 liters of water.  The bottle itself is reusable, extremely durable, and BPA-free.  

Woods and waterfalls

Stop at the Teahouse on the Magome – Tsumago – Nakasendo Trail

Before that though be sure to stop at the Teahouse that you’ll find perhaps two-thirds of the way to Tsumago. The tea is free, and the kind gentleman here will also offer you fruits and candies.

He’ll ask you to sign his guest book and you can marvel at the range of nationalities that you’ll find in it. Be sure to leave pop a few yen into the box on the table by the entrance so that he can replenish his supplies.


We saw perhaps 10 people the day in mid-October that we walked this trail. It was a glorious autumn day, but the leaves hadn’t started to turn at all. It’s a pleasant walk, but won’t tax you much at all, but it’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

Best Time to Hike Magome-Tsumago

The best time to hike from Magome to Tsumago is between April and November.   If you are planning to hike from Magome to Tsumago and then move on to your next destination, then the luggage forwarding service available from the Magome Tourist Information to Tsumago Tourist Information is only available from April to November.  This would also be the best time to walk the Nakasendo trail in its entirety.

Which is the Best Direction to Hike Magome-Tsumago-Magome?

There’s debate about which way round to do this walk – it’s hard to call it a hike because it neither took very long nor was it particularly difficult. Having walked from Magome – Tsumago I’d say that’s the way to do it and here’s why.

You can hike this part of the Nakasendo way in either direction.  We found that taking the Magome to Tsumago walk was a better route for a number of reasons

  1. If you have luggage that you wish to transfer then the transfer service operates in the direction of Magome to Tsumago only.
  2. Altitude gain (it’s not much, but every little helps make it more pleasant)
  3. For us, the transport to get to and from Magome-Tsumago and Nagano is better suited to hike it this way.

What is the Altitude – Magome – Tsumago Trail?

Magome’s altitude is 600 metres.  The trail from Magome to Tsumago rises to a pass at 801 metres and then descends to 420 metres in Tsumago.

View from the Top

Frequently Asked Questions about the Magome-Tsumago Day Hike

Got questions about the Magome to Tsumago day hike? Or want to know more about how to get to Magome or Tsumago and we haven’t answered your questions?  Check out our frequently asked questions about hiking from Magome to Tsumago below, or ask us yours in the comments.

What Distance is the Magome – Tsumago Trail?

The trail between Magome and Tsumago is 5 miles (8 kilometres).

What is the Magome Tsumago Weather like?

The Nakasendo trail weather will differ hugely depending on where on the trail you are.  We have had readers who have hiked in glorious weather in December and had snow in March. The prime hiking season is from the end of March until the end of November.

You are best to travel with layers and rain gear.  Check the Kiso Valley weather before you go.  The Japanese Meteorological Agency has a good forecasting site here.  You should look for the following locations

  • Tsumago Magome Weather
  • Kiso Valley weather
  • Nakatsugawa weather

Searching for Nakasendo weather won’t be too helpful as the Nakasendo is 534 kilometres long and there is a lot of different terrain on the trail.

What is the altitude of Magome Tsumago?

Magome is at an altitude of 600 metres.    The trail rises to 801 metres and then descends to 420 metres in Tsumago. This is not a high route.  The trail itself is quite sheltered.  Tracks are very well formed and maintained.

How long does it take to walk from Magome to Tsumago?

The route from Magome to Tsumago takes 2-3 hours. But you shouldn’t rush through this route.  You’ll want to take the time to explore the teahouse en route and enjoy the country of the Kiso Valley.    You will want to take some time to explore the villages of Magome and Tsumago.

What to do in Magome

Visit the Magome tourist office to find the latest things to do in Magome.  The tourist office in Magome also has lists of places to stay in Magome (although we recommend pre-booking your room prior to arrival) and the latest bus timetables to leave Magome.

Magome is famous, not just for being part of the Nakasendo Trail, but also as it is the birthplace of Shimazaki Toson, a key figure in Japanese literature, one of his most famous novels is Yoakemae (Before the Dawn).

Views on the Way out of Magome

Visit the Honjin / Toson Memorial Museum in Magome

Housed in the old official inn of Magome, Toson’s father was the last overseer of the Magome honjin and Toson was born here.   The honjin is now a memorial to the writer.   The museum is open from 0900 – 1700 and admission is 550 yen.

Magome’s Wakihonjin Museum

Serving the lower class travellers, this is a reconstruction of the original building and the displays inside reflect Magome’s history as a post town.  Admission is 300 yen and the museum is open from 0900 – 1700.

The Tsuchimaya Shiryokan in Magome

This museum also focuses on Toson and his life during the Meiji period.  It costs 200 yen and is open from 0900 – 1700, although winter hours are irregular.

Where to Stay in Magome

There are some fabulously rated places to stay here, from dorm beds to the full ryokan experience.  If you do decide to stay in a ryokan here, be sure to check out our guide to ryokans and etiquette.  Once all the day trippers disappear you’ll have the place to yourself. You’ll need to book ahead though to ensure your Magome accommodation

We recommend the following places to stay in Magome.Stay over and experience cultural Japan before you head out on the Magome – Tsumago day hike!

Japanese traditional style accommodation at the Tajimaya. Enjoy a cultural experience at this gorgeous ryokan in Magome.> check prices and availability now.  The Tajimaya is located in a 110-year-old building and is just 5 minute walk from the Magome bus stop.  You’ll get a Japanese Yukata robe provided, there’s a shared onsen bath, and free Wi-Fi in public areas.  There’s a Japanese-style breakfast and dinner included. Reserve a room here.

Simple traditional rooms with futon bedding and a tatami-mat floor can be found at the Magome Chaya Hotel. Rooms have shoji paper screens and low table > Check availability and prices here. There’s a public onsen, free Wi-Fi in the lobby a shared microwave/fridge and a washing machine available for a fee.  Meals are available if reserved in advance at an extra cost.  Check rates and book now.

The Guesthouse Nedoko is a glorious place to stay, with homemade furniture, and amazing views of both Magome and the mountains.  There are a variety of rooms available here and the reviews are amazing.  This is the perfect place to stay before your Magome-Tsumago hike.  Reserve a room asap.

What to do in Tsumago

Visit the Tsumago tourist office to find the latest things to do in Tsumago.  You’ll find cafes and small stores to purchase souvenirs here in Tsumago.   The tourist office in Tsumago also has lists of places to stay in Tsumago and the bus timetables to leave Tsumago.


Visit the Honjin in Tsumago

Buy a combo ticket for 700 yen and also visit the Wakihonjin and the Rekishi Shiryokan too.  Open 0900 – 1700 (closed Dec 29-Jan 1). In olden times the Honjin was the main inn in town and served government officials.  The Tsumago Honjin was reconstructed in the 1990s, but it is faithful to how it was in the 1830s.

Tsumago’s Honjin was reconstructed in the 1990s, but great efforts have been taken so that it resembles its condition in the 1830s when it served as an inn.

Tsumago’s Wakihonjin

Open from 0900 -1700 and costing 600 yen unless you buy the combo ticket for 700 yen, this building is genuine and dates to the 19th century.  A Wakihonjin was an inn that was built to serve lower-class travellers.  The Wakihonjin in Tsumago is now a museum.  Tours are only in Japanese.

The Rekishi Shiryokan in Tsumago

A 600 yen admission fee will get you into this extensive museum on the Kiso Valley and Tsumago.  There are many English translations here.  Buy the combo ticket and save hundreds of yen.  Opening hours are 0900 – 1700.

Tsumago’s Kotoku Temple

Admission is by donation, which is optional/ this Buddhist temple is thought to have been built in 1500.

Tsumago Castle Grounds

Although the castle here was demolished hundreds of years ago, it’s still worth the trip for the views of the town.  It’s located a kilometre north of the main street.  Get maps from the tourist information office.

What to Eat in Tsumago

Try the local buns filled with bean paste or vegetables (oyaki).  Favourite local foods include chestnut-laced sweets and soba noodles.

Magome – Tsumago Maps

I’ll start this section by saying that you do not need Japanese hiking maps to hike from Magome –Tsumago.   The route is well signposted.  If you plan to hike the full Nakasendo Way, then I’d recommend buying a map of the Nakasendo Trail.

We have included a basic Nakasendo Way Map in this article.


The Magome to Tsumago Trail Map

Here’s the Tsumago to Magome trail map.  This comes courtesy of Nagiso Tourism.  It is an element of the larger Kiso Valley Map and the full Nakasendo Trail Map.


Kiso Valley Hikes

There are other hikes that form part of the Kiso Valley trail, but the most popular part of the Kiso Valley walk is the 8 kilometre / 5 mile walk from Magome to Tsumago.          Kiso Valley hiking is similar to that of the entire Nakasendo Trail and is easy hiking.

Magome – Tsumago Luggage Transfer Provided by the Tourist Office

For 500 yen, if you get your bags to them by 11:30 am, the Magome Tourist office will deliver them to the Tsumago tourist information office by 1 pm. And then you’re free to set off.  The walk isn’t that strenuous, so if you’re carrying light packs, then strap them on and get going! They will also give you directions to the tourist office in Tsumago (although it’s very easy to find).

The Tourist office provides the bag transfer service SEVEN days a week from March 20th until November 30th.

If you wish to contact them to confirm this, here are their details.

Luggage reception time: 8: 30-11: 30 (tourist information office to start walking)

Package receipt time: 13: 00 ~ 17: 00 (Tourist information centre finishing walking)

TEL: 0264-57-3123 FAX: 0264-57-4036 E-Mail: [email protected] Opening hours / 8: 30 ~ 17: 00

You’re also able to rent bear bells at the tourist info office in Magome. We didn’t, figuring that the whistle on my daypack would suffice and we were fine.

Outside of these months, you can use a private luggage transfer service, which we have detailed below.

The Nakasendo Trail

The Kiso Valley hikes that the Magome- Tsumago trail is part of is a small part of the much longer Nakasendo Trail, one of Japan’s most famous hikes.

History of the Nakasendo Trail Japan

The Nakasendo Walking Trail is the historic route between Kyoto and Tokyo.  Towns along the Nakasendo trail are ancient post towns, where those collecting taxes for the emperors used to stop en route in the Edo Period, (1603-1868).   The entire route from Tokyo to Kyoto is 534 kilometres and is dotted with small towns enroute where you can stay in between easy days of hiking.  There were 69 of these stations along the route.  These post towns, or Juku, were where the travellers rested at traditional small family guesthouses or Minshuku.

The Nakasendo Trail is also sometimes known as the Kisokaido and the most popular part of the route winds its way through the Kiso Valley.

Walking the Nakasendo trail on your own is entirely possible, although this entire route will take 12 days and you may wish to organize through private guides.  Hiking through the Kiso valley for 3-5 days is the most popular way to see this ancient route.

Nakasendo Trail Maps and Guides

  • Hiking the Japan Alps:  This book contains full descriptions of nine different hikes in the Japan Alps with maps too.  Buy now from Amazon.
  • A tale of hiking the Kiso Road – descriptive, informative and a good read.  Buy now with Amazon.
  • A whimsical story and intertwined stories of hiking Japan’s inland trails.  Buy now from Amazon.
  • the 69 Stations of the Nakasendo:  an overview of all 69 stations of the original Edo route of the Nakasendo and her postal towns.  Buy now from Amazon.

Hiking the Nakasendo Trail

The Nakasendo Way is primarily a flat, easy hiking trail. Most people will hike the Nakasendo as a self-guided trail, as signposting is simple, although primary signage is in Japanese, apart from the most popular part of the route, Magome – Tsumago.

Hiking the entire Nakasendo Trail and want support along the way?  Check out prices and details here.

There were plenty of domestic tourists in Magome and Tsumago bussed into the pretty villages at either end of the trail, but not so many walking on the Magome to Tsumago trail. Not many people at all walk between the two. In fact, we met one group of domestic tourists and three small groups of foreigners. That’s all.  We hiked between Magome and Tsumago in October.

Luggage Transfer Services on the Nakasendo Trail

The Magome luggage forwarding service to Tsumago is only provided between March and November (exact dates are above).  If you wish to hike outside of these dates and have large luggage then there are 3 private Japanese luggage forwarding services that you can use in Japan.

These Japanese luggage forwarding services are also useful if you plan to hike further stretches of the Nakasendo Trail, beyond Magome to Tsumago there are 3 options that you have for luggage transfer, all of which we recommend that you organized in advance.

If you are planning to have your luggage shipped between hotels, then you will need to let the hotel know in advance that you are doing this.

  1. Through the hotel or ryokan, you are staying in.  We recommend that you organize this in advance when you make your bookings. They will likely use the Yamato transport service, which you can also book yourself.
  2. Use the Yamato Transport Company service – you can find details here. This is an international transport company that provides hotel-to-hotel luggage transfers as well as airport-to-hotel transfers.  You may find it more cost-effective to pack a small pack for your hiking and try and get your bigger bags shipped to a hotel a few days down the trail.   You can also drop bags off at convenience stores with Yamato.
  3. Use JAL ABC luggage transport services – there are more details here.   This is also known as “JAL” luggage.  This company also provides hotel-to-hotel luggage transport services in Japan as well as a luggage storage service.

Onward Transport from the Magome – Tsumago Walk

Leaving the Kiso Valley after your hike is easy, whichever direction you choose to hike the Tsumago Magome trail.

Tsumago to Nagiso JR Station and onwards

Collect your bags from the tourist information office, pick up the bus and train timetable and get directions for your onward journey.  There are buses (latest timetables at the Tourist Office in Tsumago) to Nagiso or Magome.  You can also walk from Tsumago to Nagiso in around 45 minutes.

Tsumago to Magome Bus Timetable

You can take a bus from Tsumago to Magome.  Buses leave from Nagiso station to Tsumago to Magome.  the Nagiso to Tsumago bus schedule is 0840, 1005 1240, 1415 and 1635. The cost is 600 yen.  The bus from Tsumago to Magome takes about 30 minutes.

Bus Tsumago to Nagiso Train Station

The buses from Tsumago to Nagiso station (the nearest train station) don’t go very often and cost 300 yen each.  Or you can take a taxi for about 1000 yen.  The bus takes about 10-15 minutes to get from Tsumago to Nagiso station.  The latest times are posted in the Tsumago tourist information centre.  From Nagiso JR Station you can reach other areas in Japan.

Nagiso to Nagoya

You can take a local train back to Nakatsugawa and then get an express back to Nagoya if you’re doing this as a day trip.  Again this is all covered on the JR Pass – so make sure you get one!

Travel Tips for Exploring Japan

Final Words on the Magome-Tsumago Day Hike

That’s it!  That’s all you need to know about planning a trip to Magome and Tsumago.  We left Tsumago, and took the bus to Nagiso, where our train took us to Matsumoto, where we were bedding down for the night at the next to the train station ACE Inn. This is a lovely day hike, where you’ll get out into the lower Alps of Japan and see some glorious scenery and hike a part of history too.

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