Strolling the Atmospheric Streets of Narai-Juku

Walk along a route once used by pilgrims, aristocrats, and merchants in ancient Japan as you wander the Nagano streets of Narai-juku, one of the best-preserved stations of the Nakasendo route that connected Tokyo to Kyoto.

Art & Culture History Scenery Sites Traditions
Feel like a traditional traveler as you wander a section of Nagano that once connected Tokyo to Kyoto.

Feel like a traditional traveler as you wander a section of Nagano that once connected Tokyo to Kyoto.

The Nakasendo Trail, meaning “middle mountain way,” is one of the most famous transport routes in Japan. Formerly connecting Edo (now Tokyo) with Kyoto, along the trail are 69 rest stations to help weary travelers make their way. With a history of about 400 years, the trail snakes its way southwestward down Nagano’s Kiso Valley, which remains one of the best-preserved sections of the road today.

Narai-juku, one of the stops in the Kiso Valley, is a charming old-world town with wood-latticed storefronts from which paper lanterns and kanji-covered noren (curtains) hang. The narrow stone streets, family-run shops and restaurants, and surrounding mountainous countryside create a picture-perfect world reminiscent of the days when the Nakasendo Trail was used by travelers of all kinds during the Edo Period (1603-1868), including aristocrats, merchant caravans, spiritual pilgrims, and wondering poets.

Narai-juku was also one of the wealthiest post towns on the Nakasendo Trail and was so heavily populated in the past that it earned the nickname “Narai of a Thousand Houses.” A couple of these former residences are still open to the public, so visitors can get a little taste of rural Nagano life in the pre-industrial era. Other houses have been converted into souvenir shops, restaurants, or minshuku (family-operated traditional bed & breakfast lodgings). There is also the Kiso Ohashi Bridge, which measures 33 meters long and stretches over the Narai River.



Narai-juku is one of the best-preserved post towns along the historic Nakasendo Trail, where you can get a feel for Edo Period Japan in the 21st century. Plus, it’s only a few hours from Tokyo by car or train!


Narai-juku Tourist Information Center
497-3 Narai, Shiojiri City, Nagano 399-6303


Tel: +81 264-34-3160

Business hours

09:00 - 17:00


Digital Map

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