Magome Tsumago Trail

The Magome-Tsumago Trail is a picturesque walking route in the Kiso Valley, nestled between Nagoya and Matsumoto in central Japan. This historic trail was part of the Nakasendo Way, a key medieval route connecting Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo).

Today, it offers a scenic and tranquil hike through lush forests and charming old post-towns that seem frozen in time.

I recently hiked the Magome-Tsumago Trail with my husband, and I found it to be a manageable and rewarding day trip, especially from Nagoya. It should be added to any Japanese itinerary for nature lovers.

In this guide, I’ll share the easiest way to experience this beautiful trail in one day. I’ll also recommend the best hotel options for starting your journey and provide insider tips to enhance your visit, like the perfect little lunch place in Magome where locals enjoy soba and tempura away from the usual tourist spots.

JR Shinano that takes you from Nagoya towards Magome
JR Shinano that takes you from Nagoya towards Magome

Getting to Magome-Tsumago trail from Nagoya

To do the Magome Tsumago trail in one day, you will need to first reach Nagoya. You should aim to stay in Nagoya for the night when you get back from the trail and I will explain exactly with times on how to do it so it all makes sense.

07:40 – We got the Hikari 633 from Shinagawa to Nagoya station. If you catch a later train to Nagoya than this, you will arrive at the trail too late, and you won’t be able to take advantage of the shops open along the route.

09:14 – Arrive at Nagoya main station. From here, you will need to go to your hotel to drop off your luggage. It’s very early and of course you won’t be allowed to check in, but almost all hotels will happily store your luggage.

10:42 – You will leave Nagoya station towards Magome. You will take the Chuo Line to Nakatsugawa station (covered by your JR Pass). From Nakatsugawa station, you will take the M Magome bus for 21 stops to Magome. You will arrive at 12:42. For this trip, please ensure you have cash to pay for the bus. If you are like me and suffer from motion sickness, I do recommend taking one before the bus journey as it will be a twisty road into the mountains.

12:42 – Arrival in Magome. You are now ready to experience the Magome-Tsumago trail.

Walk the Nakasendo trail from Magome to Tsumago
Walk the Nakasendo trail from Magome to Tsumago

The Trail Experience

The trail between Magome and Tsumago is approximately 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) long and allows for a relatively gentle hike suitable for most fitness levels. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on pace and how often you stop. There are some uneven steps at the beginning of the trail, but all you need is comfortable footwear, sunscreen and plenty of water.

If at any point during the walk you get too tired, know that there is a bus running between Magome and Tsumago and you can board it at any time. You do need cash for it, and you need to pay close attention to the timetable.

Magome juku with its famous steep slope
Magome juku with its famous steep slope

Magome Juku

Magome might be small, but it’s an excellent place to start the journey on the Nakansedo towards Tsumago. I would say that you need around 1-2 hours max in Magome to get to see the town, eat and shop for souvenirs.

Magome is, in my opinion, the most picturesque post towns along the historic Nakasendo Trail. This town is very well-preserved with charming wooden buildings and stone-paved streets.

The most beautiful feature of Magome is its position on a steep slope, providing scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

Juri traditional Japanese restaurants in Magome
Juri traditional Japanese restaurants in Magome


Let’s face it, you’ll have arrived in Magome around lunchtime anyway so make sure to eat in Magome before heading too far from town, as there aren’t really any restaurants along the route.

There are three really great restaurants in Magome but on my last trip to, I stopped at Juri which is just slightly out of Magome, around 20 minutes from the center, as you walk toward Tsumago. Juri is a small restaurant ran by really cute old ladies who make incredible dishes. I cannot recommend their lunch menu enough, with traditional soba and tempura. Prices are very reasonable, I’ve paid just 1600 yen for a full lunch.

Other options are Soba Restaurant Mikazukian – great for duck soba but usually sell out fast. Haginoya is a kaiseki restaurant right in the heart of Magome. Reservation is required. You can use their official contact form to request a table in advance.

Along the trail

The trail between Magome and Tsumago is beautiful. The path is well-defined and easy to follow and takes you through beautiful mountain landscape with panoramic views. I finished the trail in late October, and the weather was ideal. It was cool enough for comfort but not too chilly, making thin long sleeves just right for the conditions.

As you get closer to Tsumago, you’ll encounter well-preserved features from the Edo period, including tea houses where you can rest, as well as old watermills and shrines.

The path starts with a steep climb out of Magome, but soon levels out. It includes paved village paths, forested trails, and well-maintained wooden steps. The trail is clearly marked in English and Japanese, making it easy to follow.

There are a few rest areas along the way for a quick break, some local snacks, and restroom facilities.


Tsumago is a beautifully well-preserved post town and, just like Magome, an important rest stop on the historic Nakasendo trail.

The architecture here is especially stunning with traditional wooden inns, shops for souvenirs and some of the most beautiful residential houses I’ve ever seen in Japan.

Allow about 1-2 hours in Tsumago to check out all the shops, maybe have a light snack too. It’s a very photogenic town so you’ll probably want to take photos from all angles.

Please note that there are not many restaurants in Tsumago and the few in the area all close at either 4 or 5 in the evening. If you can, wait until you get back to Nagoya for more food options.

From Tsumago to the Nagiso train station
From Tsumago to the Nagiso train station

Getting from Tsumago to Nagoya

To get from Tsumago to Nagoya, you will need to first make your way to Nagiso Station. Be mindful that the Nagiso station is 3.5 km away from the center of Tsumago, which means it’s either a 15-minute bus ride on the Magome line or an extra 45-50 minute walk.

From Nagisto station, take the local Chuo line to Nakatsugawa Station.

From Nakatsugawa Station, take either the rapid Nagoya Chuo line or the JR Shinano to the main Nagoya station. Both are covered by your JR Pass.

Where to stay in Nagoya

Nagoya is a great city, with plenty of things to do and see, and also lots of accommodation. I stayed in Nagoya multiple times before, and I tend to use the same types of hotels. You can check my comprehensive guide on where to stay in Nagoya if you prefer, but below you’ll find the main recommendations.

Nagoya Kanko Hotel – This is your fine luxury hotel in Nagoya, just 18 minutes walk from the main station or 10 minutes on the Higashiyama Line. Expect classic elegance and modern amenities and located right in the central part of the city. The best part? This hotel is equipped with spacious rooms that often feature views of the city skyline.

Nikko Style Nagoya – This is where we stayed for our trip to Nagoya and for easy access to the train station so we can get to Magome-Tsumago trail with ease. It’s just 11 minute walk from the main station. It’s the second time we stayed in this hotel and it’s great. Affordable rooms which are large and very comfortable.

Hotel Vista Nagoya Nishik – Budget, travelers, you are not forgotten. This hotel is your typical Japanese economy hotel for incredibly affordable prices. It is a little further from the main train station, but it’s just 10 minutes on the Sakuradori Line so you don’t have to compromise much.

Final Thoughs

I loved my time on the Nakansendo trail, and I’m so glad I added it to my list of places to visit in Japan. As I mentioned before, the most beautiful part of the trail is Magome to Tsumago and that’s the most popular hike too. It’s easy to do in just one day as long as you are based nearby in Nagoya.

You now know how to do this hike too, and I’m sure you are going to love every moment of being out and about in the pristine Japanese nature.

How long is the hike from Magome to Tsumago?

The trail between Magome and Tsumago is approximately 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) long. We have average fitness level and took us a total of hours to complete.

Is the Magome Tsumago trail worth it?

The Magome Tsumago trail is totally worth it, and it’s a lot more incredible than any picture could do it justice. It’s pure Japanese nature and Magome and Tsumago are gorgeous towns with traditional architecture and excellent, authentic food.

Is Tsumago worth visiting?

Tsumago is one of the main highlights on the Nakasendo trail and one of the most beautiful postal towns. While small, the main road is lined with traditional wooden houses and machiyas. You’ll see artisanal shops and excellent souvenir shops with affordable prices. Tsumago looks straight out of a postcard and well worth a visit.

Share this post
Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *