Recommended Route Hokuriku-Shinetsu (Nagano) autumn
Take a Trip to the Past along Nagano’s Ancient Roads
Many people visited Nagano back in the Edo period (1603-1867), not only travelers but feudal lords, monks, and even ukiyo-e artists looking for inspiration. On this trip, you will hike the Nakasendo , one of the major routes that connected Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) , as well as the spiritual trails of Mt. Ontake and Togakushi , and spend the nights in ancient post towns and at a temple lodging. As you enjoy the beautiful natural settings, you will find yourself slipping back in time to the Edo period.
Next, you’ll head to a nearby lodge for lunch. You’ll eat a meal not unlike what Mountain ascetics would have eaten. They ate a strict plant-based diet, but the lodge makes their meals more accessible to the non-ascetic palate. Your instructor can go over the various ingredients and dishes that make up your meal. After lunch, you’ll take a bus to your accommodation in Kamisuwa Onsen . You’ll stay in a local hot spring hotel on the shore of Lake Suwa , where you’ll have a welcome dinner featuring an abundance of local and seasonal products.
After check-out in the morning, your guide will go over the day’s schedule. Then, you’ll start with a kayaking tour , where you’ll gaze upon the beautiful scenery of Lake Suwa and Mt. Fuji that once inspired the artists Hokusai and Hiroshige.
For lunch, you’ll take a tour bus to a restaurant that serves what many consider to be one of Japan’s soul foods—unagi (grilled eel). After lunch, you’ll take another bus ride to Shimosuwa, a post-town where two historical roads once met. First, on the tour is the Suwa Taisha , one of the oldest shrines in Japan, with a planned Kiyari performance. Next is the Iwanamike, the former principal inn (or honjin) of the post town with matcha tea and Japanese wagashi in the gardens.
Your last activity will be at the neighboring Kamisuwa post-town, a 15-minute bus ride away, where you’ll visit Miyasaka Brewery . Established during the Edo Period, it has produced sake for hundreds of years and is known throughout Japan for its Masumi brand. At the brewery, you have the chance to taste-test sake while listening to a talk from the head brewer. Finally, you’ll take a bus from Suwa to your next accommodation in Hakuba .
For lunch, you’ll make your own hotpot meal outdoors using local rice and vegetables under the farmers’ supervision. In the event of rain, the rice harvesting will be replaced with a visit to a local museum where you’ll make your hotpot indoors instead. In the afternoon, take some time to relax. Your guide will introduce some activities in Hakuba for those interested.
For dinner, enjoy a traditional style of charcoal grilling, robatayaki-style meal of local produce and fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan at a renovated storage house. While you dig into your meal, a storyteller will immerse you in local folktales. Here, you can take in the atmosphere of a former post-town along the Chikuni Kaido, which served as a trade route connecting Japan’s mountainous regions to the Sea of Japan.
Togakushi soba is one of Japan’s Three Famous soba varieties, so a trip here wouldn’t be complete without trying it for yourself. For lunch, enjoy the delicate flavor of soba noodles made with local buckwheat flour and Togakushi spring water.
After trekking and lunch, you get to experience a display of Togakure Ninpo, a form of ninja martial arts, developed over 800 years ago in Togakushi , at the Togakushi Ninja Museum and Ninja Trick House.
Then you’ll return to the temple lodge and have a filling shōjin breakfast. After a briefing by your guide, you’ll ride the Hokuriku bullet train towards Tokyo as you say your farewells to the beautiful lands of Nagano .
The contents of this page are meant as an example to use in creating your travel plans and do not represent a package tour. Lodgings, travel, guides, and all other accommodations must be arranged for by the traveler.