Journey with us on A Mystical Odyssey in Bhutan (12 - 18 March '23).

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Realms of Ancient Kisoji

Embark on an expedition through the enchanting landscapes of the Kiso Valley where time seems to slow down, allowing you to immerse yourself back to the ancient realms of the Samurai. Nestled within the heart of Japan, a region brimming with natural beauty, ancient traditions, brings with it a palpable sense of serenity. We follow in the footsteps of samurais and merchants of centuries past along the Nakasendo, an ancient highway that winds through picturesque villages and dense woodlands. The cobblestone paths beneath your feet bear witness to the countless travelers who have tread upon them, their stories echoing through the whispering leaves and moss-covered stones. Underneath the blanket of stars, allow yourself to be captivated by the tranquility that envelopes the Kiso Valley in a place where time ceases to exist, where the past dances harmoniously with the present, and where the beauty of nature and the grace of Japanese tradition converge in a symphony of unforgettable moments.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Arrive Nagoya / The Nakasendo

Arrive into Nagoya Chubu Centrair Intl Airport, where after a 1.5 hours drive, we enter into the realms of the Kiso Valley.

Journey into the hinterlands of Mino in Gifu Prefecture, a mecca for Japanese green tea where pause for a lesson in tea, making a visit to the tea farms admiring the stunning scenery of tea terraces, understanding the varietals before a chance to make your own blends with a tea master. Thereafter, we will arrive at the stunning Zenagi Expedition Hotel, an exclusive and experience-based hotel elegantly-restored from a 130-year old farmhouse that retains its historical features but brings all the modern conveniences of a luxury hotel. Your all-inclusive stay includes accommodation, half board meals, and a team of private experience butlers that will create unforgettable memories for you in the Nakasendo over the next 3 nights.

Day 2
The Nakasendo

Get into the heart of the Nakasendo where we will walk the backroads of the famed Nakasendo trail in the footsteps of the samurais and merchants of days bygone. Embark on a 2.5hrs hike towards Tsumago-juku, 42nd station on the Nakasendo and one of the best-preserved post towns that still remain untouched by time. A great visual spectacle awaits with vestiges of the feudal era still very much omni-present, accompanied with incredible storytelling of one of the great periods in Japan’s history. Visit the stunning Waki-Honjin Okuya, formerly used as accommodation for officers in the era. Built in 1877, the current house was constructed by generous amount of hinoki wood that was once banned from harvesting.

Stop at the Nagiso Town Museum where we learn about the history of the Nagiso and Kiso region through compelling exhibits that presents life in the feudal era. Worth visiting as well is the Kotokuji Temple, a Rinzai Zen temple founded in 1500 during the Muromachi Period as part of the Kiso Valley’s “Seven Gods of Fortune Pilgrimage”. Thereafter, enjoy an exclusive lunch experience awaits in a secret location with a setting that allows you to immerse in nature along the Kiso River, surrounded by the serene beauty of the bamboo groves.

Day 3
The Nakasendo

Another spectacular day beckons as we setoff this morning to discover the photogenic Magome-juku, which flourished as the 43rd station on the historical Nakasendo. Upon entry into the post station, we immediately witness 90-degree angles on some of its roads, designed specifically to protect against invasion. The timeless atmosphere of stunning Edo Period buildings and stone-paved streets takes you back in time as we wander through this special hometown of writer Shimazaki Toson, where a lot of his great literary works are displayed.

Later, we will make a visit to a tiny hamlet, meeting with a legendary lacquerware craftsman, learningthe secrets of “Maki-e”, where you draw a picture with lacquer on the surface of lacquerware before applying gold or silver powder on the surface to create a design. We then return to Zenagi Expedition Hotel where we will enjoy lunch at Maru Sankaku Shikaku, with an open terrace next to the hotel, blessed with stunning views of the beautiful landscape. You will have the rest of the day to luxuriate in the refined surroundings.

Day 4
The Nakasendo / Narai

This morning, we have the opportunity to venture to a hidden gorge at the Kiso River where you will witness scenery similar to “The Lost World” together with a former Olympic athlete in canoeing and world champion of whitewater rafting, guiding you through the incredible waterscape to encounter some spectacular natural wonders that are not open to the public.

Thereafter, we depart Zenagi Expedition Hotel continuing our sojourn of the Nakasendo and the Kiso Valley. Driving north for45mins, we arrive at Kiso-Fukushima, the halfway point between Kyoto and Edo on the ancient Nakasendo and designated as one of four security checkpoints. Visit the Yamamura Residence – former home to the governing family who ruled Kiso-Fukushima. Admire the ornate and lavish gardens and later, consider a visit to the Kozenji Temple, Kiso Valley’s most beloved for its tranquility and beautiful sand garden.

Day 5
Narai / Matsumoto

Our sojourn in the Nakasendo comes to an end as depart the Kiso Valley. On an hour’s drive, we arrive into the historic city of Matsumoto, regarded as the gateway city to the Central Japanese Alps. We witness the iconic Matsumoto Castle, originally constructed in 1593 by Kazumasa Ishikawa  and one of Japan’s most beautiful and well-preserved castles, its black exterior earned it the nickname, the “Crow Castle” and designated a National Treasure of Japan.

Continue on to the Nakamachi Merchant District, showcasing traditional architecture and atmosphere of the Edo Period. Adorned with well-preserved wooden buildings, merchant houses and stores. Enjoy a stroll in the Nawate Shopping Street, with its vibrant atmosphere home to restaurants, stores and festive area for performances, events and more. Visit the historic Ishii Miso Brewery, founded in 1868 at the end of the Edo Period and gradually solidified its status as one of the best miso breweries in Nagano Prefecture.

Day 6
Matsumoto (Domains of Azumino)

Enjoy a visit to the Daio Wasabi Farm in Azumino. Covering an area of more than 15 hectares, the farm is situated in a picturesque valley surrounded by lush greenery and clear flowing streams. Taking advantage of the region’s cool climate and pristine water sources, which are essential for cultivation of high-quality wasabi, we will get an immersive understanding of the meticulous farming.

Visit the Rokuzan Art Museum, one of 18 museums making up the Azumino “Art Circuit”, that explores the work of renowned sculptor, Rokuzan Ogiwara. Considered a pioneer of modern Japanese sculpture, Rokuzan’s work explores themes of inner turmoil and conflict. In addition to the museum’s artwork, the all-brick and stained-glass design was built to resemble a church where the founders of the museum wanted to convey the artist’s Christian beliefs. Not far away, a rare opportunity to dive into the world of “Shinshu Salmon”, a crossbreed of rainbow trout and brown trout in a landlocked region and a novelty idea brought to life by Masao Takahara, head of Shinshu Tatsumi that specializes in sustainable farming and creating the brand of salmon that are resistant to diseases and tasty texture. A not-for-general public visit is organized as we visit the facilities and learn about the breeding process and visions of the company.

Day 7
Depart Matsumoto

Today, transfer to Nagano Station for your onward train journey to Tokyo where you may continue your adventures in Japan or a return flight home.

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at


Practical Information

Locations covered

Nakatsugawa, Kiso Valley, Narai, Matsumoto, Azumino

Recommended months to travel

April - November

Level of difficulty

Easy - Moderate

Indicative price

SGD$9,500 - $12,000/pax based on twin-sharing, on a private basis. Excludes international flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

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