When the city smog gets a bit much, this is a scenic and easy hiking trail to do – perfect for seeing the autumn leaves at their best.
If Japan was mentioned before I had any notion that I was coming here, I immediately thought of city life. Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka – chaos, neon lights and pushing to get on subways. It’s the connotation that most people make before they take a closer look at what there is to do here, when really, the most beautiful things to see are in the countryside and the mountains and people outside of Japan don’t know enough about it. The Japan Tourist Board needs to get on it. Or maybe not – all the more for us to see while it’s quiet, unspoiled and quite perfect.
The Magome-Tsumago trail is an easy day trip to do from Nagoya. The trail itself is not taxing, unbelievably beautiful at this time of year and easy on the pocket. From Nagoya station, take the JR Rapid Train to Nakatsugawa, which takes just over an hour and costs about 1200 yen. On arriving you can call into the Tourist Information Centre, which is right beside the station and they will give you the bus information to get to Magome and a map of the trail. Again, right outside the station and tourist office is where the Magome bus stops, which takes about half an hour and costs 500 yen. It climbs up the mountain and is a journey worth staying awake for – the views out the window are gorgeous if the weather is nice.
There were quite a few Japanese tourists when we arrived in Magome but they ease off as you start on the trail which is about 7 or 8km in length. This is a picturesque little town with Edo style houses and lots of trinket shops and restaurants and is worth a wander before setting off.
You have to walk uphill a little at the start but as I said before, nothing too strenuous. The path leads you through the gorgeous maple trees with their red and yellow leaves, past streams and small waterfalls and plenty of bamboo trees, all the time surrounded by the clean air that can be lacking in urban Japan. We met hardly anyone as we walked along.
Eventually you arrive in Tsumago, where there are more day trippers, and it’s clear why. It is a gorgeous small village with more Edo architecture set against the mountains in autumn technicolour. There’s another tourist office here if you need directions or a timetable for the bus. This takes you to Nagiso for 300 yen, where you catch the train back to Nagoya Station (about 1600 yen) and back to reality.
We left Nagoya Station at 9.30am in the morning and arrived back at about 6 that night, and we probably couldn’t have walked any slower – there were camera memory cards to be filled. This is a day trip worth doing so if you find yourself around Nagoya on a weekend, grab your walking shoes and get thee to the mountains.