Explore the Magome-Tsumago Trail and Discover the Beauty of Magome

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Welcome to Magome, Japan (also called Magome-juku), a historic post station and a hidden gem in the heart of the country. Magome is an enchanting place that preserves the beauty and traditions of Japanese culture. Nestled in the charming countryside along the Nakasendo Trail, Magome offers you a trip back in time and a chance to experience authentic Japan.

In this article, we will give you a glimpse into the history of Magome, explore its fascinating sights and attractions, and provide you with valuable tips for your walk along the Magome-Tsumago-Trail. Join us on this unforgettable journey and let the magic of Magome work its magic on you.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan and love hiking, you’ve most likely heard of the Nakasendo Trail or Nakasendo Way. (If not, now is the time!) The Nakasendo Way is a hike from Kyoto to Tokyo that usually takes about 11 days.

One of the most popular hikes along the way is from Magome to Tsumago (Most likely on day 6). But even if you only want to hike for a day, the Magome-Tsumago trail is also a great hike that can be done without a too great fitness level. But let’s start from the beginning.

Magome, Japan, Facts

  • Village in the Japanese Alps
  • Old post station
  • Popular stop (#43 of 69) on the Nakasendo Trail
  • Situated at an altitude of about 611 m/2004 ft
  • Located in Kiso Valley, about 300 km/ 186mi from Tokyo

Why visit Magome

Magome is an absolute must-see for anyone who wants to experience authentic Japan. A beautifully preserved post town along the historic Nakasendo Way, Magome allows visitors to immerse themselves in history and experience first-hand the traditional life of old Japan. The quaint wooden houses, cobblestone streets, and traditional stores and inns make Magome a unique experience not to be missed.

The breathtaking nature that surrounds Magome also provides a perfect backdrop for unforgettable hikes and walks, especially along the Nakasendo Way, which connects Magome with the equally historic Tsumago. But more on that later.

How to get to Magome from Tokyo

Magome Highway Bus (cheapest option)

Travel time: ca. 4 ½ hrs

Price: ¥ 4.800 (ca. 33 €/$36)

Buses from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Nagoya stop at the “Chuodo Magome” stop, which is located on the highway. From the stop, Magome can be reached in about 20 minutes on foot. If you take a public bus, the bus will let you out at the bus stop, which is about one km from Magome. And the walk from there is uphill! So definitely carry some water with you.

By Shinkansen train via Nagoya

Travel time: ca. 3 ½ hrs

Price: ¥ 13.070 (ca. 90 €/$100) or Japan Rail Pass + ¥ 570 (4 €/$4.3) for the Bus ride (not included in JR Pass).

Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya (about 1.45 hours) and change there to the JR Shinano Limited Express train to Kiso Valley. The entire train ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass (except for Nozomi trains).

From Nagoya, take the Shinano Limited Express to Nakatsugawa (50 minutes). From Nakatsugawa, you can reach Magome by bus in 30 minutes.

By Limited Express Trains via Shiojiri

Travel time: ca. 4 ½ hrs

Price: ¥ 10.070 (ca. 70 €/$75) or Japan Rail Pass + ¥ 570 (4 €/$4.3) for the bus ride (not included in JR Pass).

Take the JR Azusa Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Shiojiri (2 ½ hours) and change there to a regional or Limited Express train to Kiso Valley. The train ride is completely included in the Japan Rail Pass.

To reach Magome, take the JR Shinano Limited Express train from Shiojiri to Nakatsugawa (1 hour). From Nakatsugawa, you can reach Magome by bus in 30 minutes.

From Nakatsugawa to Magome

There are regular buses from Nakatsugawa to Magome. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs ¥570 (about €4/$4.3) (not included in the JR Pass). You can check the recent Bus schedule here.

The best things to do in Magome

Magome vicki viaja
Magome is a super cute village in the Japanese Alps. It just has one main street which guides you up the mountain.

Discover Magome

Magome-juku, street, traditional houses, man with backpack

Probably the most beautiful sight of Magome is Magome itself. Even though the village is very small and feels like it consists of only one street, we could have walked around for hours and fallen even further in love with every detail of this picturesque landscape.

Take plenty of photos that you’ll still enjoy looking at years later – and any one of which could make a great postcard. And be enchanted by the little wooden houses in the middle of this beautiful scenery.

Hike the Nakasendo Trail

One of the main activities and reasons for coming here for many is the Nakasendo Trail. Maybe you’ve already taken the trail, maybe this is where your hike begins. I can’t recommend the trail through this gorgeous region enough.

In the following part, I will tell you more about the main hike from here, the Magome-Tsumago Trail. But first, let me introduce you to some more sights and activities in Magome.

The Magome-juku Waki-Honjin Museum

Opening Hours Wakihonjin Museum: 09 am – 04.30 pm

Entrance Fee Wakihonjin Museum: 300 Yen (ca. 2 €/2.25)

In this small museum, you can learn more about Magome’s role as a post-town (“Honjin“) in Edo times. There is also some interesting information about Magome’s history.

Magome, as an independent post-village, burned down almost entirely at the end of the 19th century. The village, as you can see it today, is an authentic replica of the original. In the Honjin Museum, however, you can still see some original parts.

Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you if the museum is worth the entrance fee. We were advised not to visit because, according to some locals, you can only find very little information and exhibits.

The Tōson Memorial Museum

Opening Hours Toson Memorial Museum: 09 am – 04 pm

Entrance Fee Toson Memorial Museum: 500 Yen (ca. 3.5 €/$3.75)

Let’s move on to another museum in Magome, located right next door. This memorial is dedicated to the Japanese writer Shimazaki Toson, probably the most famous son of the village. In his book “Before the Dawn” he immortalized not only his talent but also the history of Magome.

The museum houses some 5,000 exhibits owned by the author and donated by his son.

To be honest, the museum is only worth a visit if you are interested in the author and his life and are familiar with his works. Otherwise, I recommend you skip this museum.

Magome View Point

magome aussichtspunkt, gifu, stone with japanese characters in front of mountain backdrop

If you walk up the road through the village towards Tsumago, you will reach the highest point of Magome. Here, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the village and the surrounding landscape. The lookout point can be recognized by the large stone tablet that is located here.

Take a few minutes without your camera and enjoy the beautiful view over idyllic nature and one of the most beautiful places in Japan.

Magome at Night – Ryokan Experience

To completely immerse yourself in Japanese culture, I definitely recommend spending a night in a traditional ryokan. And what better place to do that than in a historic Japanese village in the mountains?

Apart from the fact that a night in a ryokan is something quite special, the overnight stay also offers you a completely new perspective on Magome. Because around the afternoon, the last tour buses leave Magome, giving you a chance to stay with only a few others in the small village. Now is the perfect time to take some great pictures and discover this wonderful place all by yourself.

We decided to stay at the Tajimaya Guesthouse. In addition to two private rooms (living room and bedroom), a large dinner and breakfast were included in the price. But also the Magome Chaya and the Guest House Motomiya, the two other ryokans of the village, were highly recommended to us by guests.

Magome essen vicki viaja

Staying in a ryokan offers a unique opportunity to experience traditional Japanese hospitality and culture firsthand. The cozy atmosphere, sleeping on futon beds, traditional interior design, and exquisite authentic Japanese food all contribute to an unforgettable experience that can only be found in Japan.

In addition, each guest is provided with slippers, towels, a toothbrush, and a yukata (a type of Japanese summer clothing that can also be used as a bathrobe).

Magome yukata vicki viaja
Although there is also the possibility of continuing hiking straight away, I would definitely recommend staying until the evening, when the tourist groups have left again and the village comes to rest. Believe me, you will see the value of an overnight stay as soon as the last tour bus has left around 5 pm. Thank me later 😉

Check further info, prices, and availability of Tajimaya Guesthouse

The Cemetery of Magome

magome cemetery, view over japanese alps

Our absolute highlight was the cemetery, from which you have an incredible view of Magome and the surrounding fields. And the best is, you don’t meet anyone. (Except for a white cat that lives in the village). Settle down on one of the banks and enjoy this incredible view over the nature of the Japanese Alps.

Magome Graveyard, nature Japanese alps

You can also visit the tomb of the famous Japanese writer Shimazaki Toson.

The watermill of Magome

Magome, japan, watermill out of wood

Definitely, one of the most photographed spots in Magome is the watermill. You can follow the small stream through the entire street down to the bottom. Here, the water is greeted by the water wheel, which is powered with its help.

Hiking the Magome-Tsumago Trail (Nakasendo Trail)

Magome vicki viaja streets

As mentioned earlier, Magome is an important stop on the Nakasendo Trail. While some hike the entire trail, others choose to walk only one of the most beautiful sections of the trail, the Magome-Tsumago Trail. But before I tell you more about this section of the trail, I’d like to briefly tell you more about the Nakasendo Trail in general.

The Nakasendo Trail

Hiking magome tsumago

The Nakasendo Trail was once a historically significant route connecting the important metropolises of Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto. It covers a distance of about 534 km and includes a full 69 stops, the so-called Post Towns, including Magome.

There is also a second trail that runs along the coast, the Tokaido Trail. The Nakasendo trail, on the other hand, takes you inland.

Fun Fact: The trail is often referred to as Kiso-Kaido because it passes through the Kiso Valley, where Magome is located.

Nowadays, the trail is still popular with hikers from all over the world. Not only from a historical point of view but also because of its natural beauty, dozens of hikers set out every year to complete this trail, which is about 11 days long.

Make sure to get some comfortable walking shoes on and off you go!

Walking from Magome to Tsumago

Rice fields along the Nakasendo Trail in the Japanese Alps

Hiking Distance: ca. 8 km/5 mi

Hiking Time: ca. 2-3 hrs

Luggage Delivery: Have your luggage brought directly to Tsumago so you don’t have to lug it around. For ¥500 (about €3.50/$3.75), you can pick it up at the tourist information office in Tsumago from 1 pm.

Before you immediately shut down at the word hike, you should know that this trail is more of an extended walk through nature. During this trek, we were in rather less to moderate shape and managed the trail quite well without getting out of breath, so don’t worry – and that’s in close to 30°C/90°F!

Extra tip: It is recommended to start the Magome hike early in the morning, especially in summer. That’s why we arrived the day before and spent the night in beautiful Magome.

The surroundings on the hike are all the more scenic. Everywhere you go, you are surprised by picturesque landscapes. While a large part of the route takes place in the forest, you also pass local cottages, rice fields, and other peaceful places.

Again and again, you will find small turn-offs for temples or similar small sights.

By the way, make sure not to do any of those 5 common hiking mistakes.

Hiking magome tsumago couple vicki and eduardo

And the best thing is, if you are lucky, you can, like us, meet a group of snow monkeys on the way. Even though you can usually only spot them from a distance, these animals are still truly impressive. Later on that trip, we had another chance to see them up close in Iwatayama Park in Kyoto.

magome tsumago away, bear deterrent bells

If you are unlucky, however, you come across a bear. But bear with me for a second (see what I did there? ;)) Such a bear incident only happened once in recent years. To scare off the bears, you can find bells along the way, which you should ring loudly before you continue walking. However, we were not eaten by bears, although we have not rung all the bells along the way.


Tsumago vicki viaja

After about 2-3 hours of hiking, you will reach the second post village, Tsumago. Here you can also expect contemplative wooden houses, which seem as if from another time and contribute to the magic of this region. For us, however, Tsumago didn’t quite match the peaceful atmosphere of Magome. (It was stunning either way, though, don’t get me wrong)

Take a look around, grab a cool Japanese drink to refresh yourself, or pick up your luggage from the tourist information office.

Where to go from here

From Tsumago, you can either take a bus or walk 4 km/2.5 mi to JR Nagiso Station.

We continued from here to the impressive Crow Castle in Matsumoto. You can also add other destinations to your Japan itinerary or return to Tokyo.


About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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2 thoughts on Explore the Magome-Tsumago Trail and Discover the Beauty of Magome

  1. The hike from Magome to Tsumago seems like a great day trip from Nagoya, where I will be moving to next month. Thanks for the post, it really makes me want to hike a little bit.
    It is not a very tough hike, right? Especially without luggage?


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