If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling back in time, visiting Nakatsugawa is the next best thing. Formerly a stop on the Nakasendo route, an Edo-era highway that connected Tokyo and Kyoto, it was host to countless samurai and geisha in a time when shogun still ruled the land. Nakatsugawa has retained its classical charm through the ages, making it an ideal spot for history-adoring travelers.

Three former post towns make up present-day Nakatsugawa: Nakatsugawa-juku, Magome-juku and Ochiai-juku. At each spot, you can immerse yourself in traditional dishes, cobblestone streets and centuries of culture.

Step into the Past

Of the 69 post towns along the Nakasendo route, Magome-juku stands out as a true slice of history, untouched by time. As you pass by the latticed-window teahouses and museums on either side of the gray cobblestone streets, you can almost start to hear the clacking of horse hooves as they carry goods along the steep terrain. Magome-juku boasts an array of historical crafts and a unique, tranquil feel — the whole town is like an open-air museum, making it a photographer’s dream.

Experience Traditional Japanese Culture

Ochiai-juku is the perfect spot for those who want an immersive experience, offering several fascinating cultural workshops for visitors, including zazen meditation, calligraphy and tea ceremony in a temple near the town. Ochiai-juku is also the site of the Ochiai Cobblestone Path, an 840-meter National Historic Site that will take you through a stunning cedar forest, in the footsteps of travelers who walked the same route centuries before.

Catch a Glimpse of Rural Life

A flourishing merchant town in the Edo period, Nakatsugawa is home to charming, beautifully preserved backstreets which are considered the hidden gem of Gifu. Take a two- to three-hour walking tour through these narrow alleys to discover locations most tourists never encounter, including traditional inns, stone bridges and a sake brewery (with tastings, of course).

Japanese desserts

Sample Local Delicacies

A trip to Nakatsugawa wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the local fare. Fuel yourself while roaming the streets by stopping at a local shop to try the region’s famous soba, the sweet and salty sauce-covered gohei-mochi and the delectable chestnut treat kurikinton.

For the best access to all these sites and experiences, book a tour with Nakatsugawa Walking Tours directly through Wawo Japan Travel’s website.

For more inspiration for your visit to the Nakasendo Samurai Trail, check out Nakatsugawa city’s official website.