Nakasendō Trail – The Kiso Road – Day 4 Kiso-Fukushima to Matsumoto

The Nakasendō, also called the Kisokaidō, was one of the five routes of the Edo period, and one of the two that connected Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan. There were 69 postal stations between Edo and Kyoto, crossing through Musashi, Kōzuke, Shinano, Mino and Ōmi provinces.

In late March we decided to walk this trail and signed up with Walk Japan for a 5-day guided walk on the Kiso Road starting from Nagoya and finishing in Matsumoto.

Day 4 – Kiso-Fukushima to Matsumoto

Group photo outside Iwaya Inn taken by our guide Yuta Arai

After breakfast at the Iwaya Inn we took the train up to Yabuhara where we would continue to walk the Nakasendo Trail through the Toriitoge Pass.

On the outskirts of Yabuhara we made an interesting stop at the 藪原神社 Shinto Shrine where we were given a private tour and explanation by the Priestess who looked after this temple.

Group photo taken at the shrine with the Priestess (bottom right) taken by our guide Yuta Arai

From the shrine we walked up the hill through the village and joined the trail that would take us up over the steep hill through the Toriitoge Pass. The pass is named after the Shinto torii gate, which marks one of four protective sites surrounding Mt. Ontake and at 1,197 m, the Toriitoge Pass is also the second highest point on the Nakasendo.

The winding path up the hill took us through some beautiful forest and once near the top we got a commanding view of the Kiso River Valley below.

When we reached the top was the Toriitoge Mitake Shrine with incredible carved stones, stone statues and a large torii gate.

Descending on the other side we walked along narrow paths through forest until we came out on the outskirts of the beautiful postal town of Narai.

Narai is a well preserved old post town with wonderful old wooden buildings with many shops, cafes and restaurants to explore. We had lunch here in a lovely old soba noodle restaurant 徳利屋 before taking some time to explore the town and have a lovely local soft scoop icecream. We then took the train from Narai Station to Matsumoto.

On arrival at Matsumoto Station we walked to the Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu where we once again had a wonderful hot onsen bath. Later we walked out for dinner at the しなののてっぺん 松本本店 Izakaya restaurant. This was our last dinner together as a group as the next day after our visit to Matsumto Castle we would all head off on our respective journeys either back home or onward to other locations.

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