You’ll find the Magome – Tsumago hike mentioned in most of the guidebooks as one of THE things to do for tourists. It’s also referenced as part of the Nakasendo Hiking Trail. This is the old route that connected Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo period. It’s easily possible as a day trip 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 wished.
This guide details the route from Magome to Tsumago. It is not a difficult trail and it is well sign posted. Sign posting is available in English and Japanese. You can also use this information to walk from Tsumago – Magome. Japan is a great place to hike, fellow hikers are friendly, accommodating and helpful – we hope you enjoy!
What's in This Article?
- Magome – Tsumago Maps
- How to Get from Nakatsugawa to Magome
- Magome Japan Accommodation
- Magome- Tsumago Tourism Office at Nakatsugawa
- Magome – Tsumago Luggage Transfer
- You Set Off UpHill
- Stop at the Teahouse enroute
- Arriving in Tsumago
- Tsumago to Nagiso and further
- Tsumago Bus to Nagiso Train Station
- Hiking the Full Nakasendo Trail
- Resources in Planning our Trip to Hike from Magome – Tsumago on the Nakasendo Trail were:
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There were plenty 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 walking between the two. In fact we met one group of domestic tourists and three small groups of foreigners. That’s all.
We were staying in Nagoya the night before our hike, at the great Eco Hotel (we found it to be good value, great location), < check out prices here – so we took the train from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa. We were also moving on from the area afterwards, so took our bags with us and took advantage of the bag transfer service from the Magome tourist office (details below).
Magome – Tsumago Maps
How to Get from Nakatsugawa to Magome
You can take the bus or the train from Nakatsugawa to Magome. This train is 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 MUST buy it from outside the country. Buy one NOW and get it mailed to your home/current address.
Nakatsugawa to Magome Bus
The train from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa took us just 50 minutes and it was covered on our JR Pass. From the Nakatsugawa train station, you can actually start walking to Magome and then onto Tsumago, but we chose to take the local bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome.
Nakatsugawa to Magome Bus Times
The bus from Nakatsugawa to Magome takes about 35 minutes and runs at different times during the week and weekends. During the week you can get a bus at 07:42, 09:10, 09:40, 10:15, 11:15, 12:12, 13:12, 14:12, 15:12, 16:12, 17:12 and 18:30. At the weekend buses go from Nakatsugawa to Magome at 08:10, 09:10, 09:40, 10:15, 11:15, 12:12, 13:12, 14:12, 15:12, 16:12 and the last bus is at 17:45. It costs 560 yen per person.
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 560 Yen and takes around 35 minutes. Once you’re in Magome, its 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.
Magome Japan Accommodation
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 s. Once all us day trippers disappear you’ll have the place to yourself You’ll need to book ahead though to ensure your bed and board.
We recommend the following three 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 ryokan in Magome. > check prices and availability now
- In a 110 year old building
- 5 minutes walk from the Magome bus stop
- Japanese Yukata robe provided
- Shared onsen bath
- Free wifi in public areas
- Japanese style breakfast and dinner included.
- 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.
- Public onsen
- Free wifi in the lobby
- Shared microwave / fridge
- Washing machine available for a fee
- Meals available if reserved in advance at an extra cost.
- Guest House Gaku Magome is just 7 minutes walk from Magome and is the budget option in Magome. Dorm beds here are the cheapest place to stay in town. > Find a bed and book it now!
- Dorm beds have reading lists, privacy curtains, electrical sockets and lockable storage space
- All rooms have views of Mount Ena.
- There’s a shared kitchen, washing machine and dryer (extra charges)
- Free wifi throughout the property.
- Special price available for the public onsen in Magome (5 minutes drive)
Or search for other properties in the area. The nearest large town is Nakatsugawa, which is just 35 minutes away by bus.
Magome- Tsumago Tourism Office at Nakatsugawa
There’s a tourist information centre at the Nakatsugawa 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.
The second tourist information is in Magome 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 back tracking required). They’re friendly and speak great English.
Magome – Tsumago Luggage Transfer
For 500 yen, if you get your bags to them by 11:30am, they will deliver them to the tourist info office in Tsumago by 1pm. 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 its 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.
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.
Lets say that Magome -Tsumago direction = one third of the walk is uphill and two thirds downhill. It depends whether you enjoy walking up or downhill. It’s well signposted.
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.
You Set Off UpHill
The walk sets off uphill, and as you cross the road at the top, there’s a fabulous viewpoint. Then you head off down hill 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.
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. 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.
Stop at the Teahouse enroute
Before that though be sure to stop at the Teahouse that you’ll find perhaps two third 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 they 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.
Arriving in Tsumago
Arriving in Tsumago you’ll find another sleepy village. Apart from the bus park where loads of domestic tourists are offloaded for a wander around the village. It seems to have been renovated to a high state of visual tweeness.
Tsumago to Nagiso and further
There are cafes and places to eat, places to spend your tourist dollar and finally the tourist office (its signposted). Collect your bags, 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.
Bus Tsumago to Nagiso Train Station
The buses from Tsumago to Nagiso ( 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.
Tsumago to Magome Bus
You can also take a bus back to Magome. They leave from Nagiso station and return via Tsumago to Magome at 0840, 1005 1240, 1415 and 1635. The cost is 600 yen. The bus from Tsumago to Magome takes about 30 minutes.
Nagiso to Nagoya
You can take a local train back to Nakutsugawa 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!
Tsumago Bus to Nagiso Train Station
The bus to the train station is small and takes perhaps 15 minutes to drop you at the Nagiso train station. That’s it. Our introduction to the foothills of the Japanese Alps, via the Magome – Tsumago hike.
Our train took us to Matsumoto, where we were bedding down for the night at the next to the train station ACE Inn – it’s a great place to base yourself and good value. Get the latest prices here.
We always booked ahead of time in Japan. Culturally its much more acceptable, language wise, unless you’ve mastered Japanese, it’s a requirement!
Hiking the Full Nakasendo Trail
It’s also possible hike the longer Nakasendo Trail – which you can do as a self guided or guided tour – check out some great options on this longer 3-4 day route > Check out prices and details here.
Resources in Planning our Trip to Hike from Magome – Tsumago on the Nakasendo Trail were:
- Japan Guide
- The Japan National Tourist Organisation
- Where we stayed in Nagoya – we loved it – Check out prices and availability at the ECO Hotel
- Where we stayed in Matsomoto – the ACE Inn – GREAT location and excellent room value
- Using a Japan Rail Pass in Japan
- What to Eat in Japan