Can You Hike From Magome To Tsumago In December?

Preparing for a thrilling hike from Magome to Tsumago in December? Well, here’s a guide on how you can hike between the two towns in the month of December and everything you need to know about the trekking journey. 

Magome to Tsumago is one of the most popular hiking trails in Japan that’s flocked by both local and foreign tourists throughout the year.

Historically, these towns were frequently used in ancient trade routes during the Edo period. Hence, the entire hiking journey from Magome to Tsumago is encircled by preserved Edo culture, giving you the experience of time-traveling back to ancient Japan.

However, what’s the hiking season from Magome to Tsumago? Can I hike from Magome to Tsumago in December?

To answer all your questions, I’ve brought you a simple guide along with my experiences of the hiking route as well. Make sure to check them out below!

Can You Hike From Magome To Tsumago In December

What’s The Hiking Season From Magome To Tsumago?

The hiking season from Magome to Tsumago is between April and the end of November. This is because spring hits Japan during March and April thus it makes this an ideal period to hike conveniently from Magome to Tsumago.

During November, Japan experiences autumn and since this is the season before winter, numerous tourists flock to the hiking trail to attempt the walk before cold weather strikes. 

Can You Hike From Magome To Tsumago In December
Source: Instagram

In fact, I can guarantee a subtle nostalgic experience when you trek during the autumn season.

I honestly adored the autumn vibes I was getting from the atmosphere of the little cottages and shops along the walk. Not to mention how I felt as if I traveled back in time to ancient Japan.

Furthermore, most services provided by tourist offices in Magome and Tsumago are commonly rendered between the periods of April to November, which I’ll analyze below.

And hiking from Magome to Tsumago between April and November will ensure that hikers wouldn’t be interrupted by unfavorable weather that might ruin or possibly delay your trekking journey. 

Is It Possible To Hike From Magome To Tsumago In December?

The favorable season to hike from Magome to Tsumago ends in November. The month of December is usually off-season for hiking on this route.

However, it’s still possible to walk through the hiking trails of Magome and Tsumago in December although not many tourists or locals attempt this during this time period.

As we know, the month of December is the beginning of the winter season in most countries including Japan.

This time the weather can get quite cold due to snowfall in the prefectures of Gifu and Nagano where Magome and Tsumago are located in respectfully. 

nakasendo way
Source: Instagram

However, the hiking trails are well kept up by the locals so that snow wouldn’t be a hindrance on your path while trekking. In fact, trekking from Magome to Tsumago in December is a dream come true for several people.

As I walked down the trail the breathtaking views of the foggy mountains and the trees and trails covered with snow are just fabulous. 

The perks of hiking during December are high. Since it’s the off-peak season for hiking on this particular route, the trail wouldn’t be congested with tourists who’d be scattered everywhere taking pictures.

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Therefore, you can enjoy hiking on a desolate path and experience the old-era atmosphere of Japan peacefully.

Although coldness is a factor you must keep in mind, if you have the right gear and an extra set of clothes to keep you warm then you’re all good to go.

How Long Will It Take To Hike From Magome To Tsumago?

Magome is a town in the Gifu Prefecture while Tsumago is a post town in Nagano Prefecture. Both post towns are bonded together by Kiso Valley which is one of the key terrains of the hiking trail. 

nakasendo trail on your own
Source: Instagram 

The distance between Magome to Tsumago is approximately 8.2 kilometers (5 miles). Since the borders of both prefectures are in close proximity, it won’t take an eternity to reach the end of the trail.

The estimated number of hours to trek from Magome to Tsumago is between 2 to 3 hours. 

The time you take to walk through the trail will also depend on other factors like the weather and how long you decide to spend relaxing on the way.

If you experience heavy snowfall or rainfall while trekking you’ll be advised to stay back until it stops. You might also stop by for some snacks or tea that will be served at some compact restaurants on the trail.

However, the total time taken to walk the trail isn’t going to exceed any more than 4-5 hours so you should be totally fine.

What To Expect On The Hiking Trails From Magome to Tsumago

The hiking trail from Magome to Tsumago is unlike any hiking trail you’ve seen across most countries. The entirety of the hiking trail is well preserved of the Edo cultural aspects that are displayed in every restaurant or cabin along the way.

To ensure that hikers experience the authentic nature of the Edo period even vehicles are restricted from driving on the streets of Tsumago. 

tokyo to tsumago
Source: Instagram

There are historical inns still preserved in their original state along the route where you can visit to learn how the early government officials traveled on this once commercial zone.

As you hike by, you’ll come across a few tea houses that serve tea and other goodies in a traditional manner.

The interior of these tea houses is unique as the floors are covered with tatami mats and the kettle that brews your tea is heated with firewood which is placed on the sand.

Nakasendo trail

You can even witness some naturistic sceneries like waterfalls on your hiking journey which might be frozen if you’re hiking in December.

On the hiking trails of Magamo, you’ll witness how the path is graveled with stones. The sideways of the trails are packed with eateries that sell authentic Japanese food and also shops where you can get your hands on souvenirs. 

Every path on this hiking trail is picturesque and calm that’s going to grant you the best pictures for your Instagram portraits. 

What You Should Know When Trekking From Magome To Tsumago In December

The Magome – Tsumago hiking trail is open all year round which is an indication that it’s quite safe to hike on this route irrespective of the time of the year.

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However, if you’re planning to trek from Magome to Tsumago in December there are a few things you should keep in mind.

tokyo to magome
Source: Instagram

Weather – As I said above, the weather is going to get cold in December in Japan so you’ll most likely encounter snowfall during the first few weeks of the month when hiking on this trail.

The weather isn’t going to be a concern as long as you have the essential gear and clothing. The trail will unlikely be completely covered with snowfall hence it’ll be convenient to walk. 

Luggage Transfer Services – The hike route from Magome to Tsumago offers luggage transferring services only from Magome to Tsumago and not vice versa.

This service is only provided during the hiking season that’s between March and November. Since you’re hiking in December you won’t be able to transfer your luggage to your hotel through this service. 

However, there are other private luggage transferring companies that will be at your service during this time.

You can do this by contacting your hotel and letting them know in advance that you’ll like your luggage to be transferred to the new destination and they will contact the transporting company who’d do the job.

Don’t worry these services are completely safe and credible and your luggage will reach its destination on time.

How To Reach The Magome To Tsumago Route?

Since the trail route begins from Magome to Tsumago you must reach Magome first. There are some hikers who have attempted the reverse method which is hiking from Tsumago to Magome.

Although this can be done, it’s not a hiking method most tourists prefer because it’s unorthodox.

magome juku
Source: Instagram

If you’re traveling to Magome from Tokyo then you railway is the ideal mode of transportation. You can buy a JR rail pass from your home country for the number of days you wish (7, 14, or 21 days).

This will help you travel conveniently across Japan and you’re even eligible for discounted offers. 

From Tokyo to Magome, it’s approximately a 320 km journey which will take up to 4 hours to reach. You can even travel to Magome by bus from Tokyo but it’ll be time-consuming.

Despite the mode of transportation you choose, you’ll have to stop at Nagoya to move to Magome. And to reach Magome you’ll have to take the bus from Nakatsugawa which is next to the railway station. 

A ticket to Magome from Nakatsugawa will cost around 560 yen and the journey will take at least 30 minutes.

How long to walk from Magome to Tsumago?

The hiking trail from Magome to Tsumago is one of the popular trails in Japan. Magome is a post town located in Gifu Prefecture while Tsumago is a post town located in Nagano Prefecture.

Although both post towns are located in two different prefectures, they’re not quite far from each other.

The estimated distance between Magome to Tsumago is 8 km and it would take nearly 3 hours to walk down this hiking trail.

Can you hike in December from Magome to Tsumago?

The hiking season from Magome to Tsumago is between March and November as the period between these two months Japan experiences summer, spring, and autumn.

See also  Where To Go Hiking In Japan In November? | Exploring Japan's Beautiful Trails In Japan in Autumn

Although it’s uncommon to hike from Magome to Tsumago in December, due to winter the hiking route is open all throughout the year.

Therefore, it’s possible to hike from Magome to Tsumago in December even when it’s snowing.

How many days do you need for Nakasendo trail?

The length of time it takes to complete the Nakasendo trail can vary depending on your pace and itinerary, but most people typically take 2-4 days to hike the trail.

The trail is approximately 8.5 miles (13.5 kilometers) long and connects the post towns of Magome and Tsumago in the Kiso Valley of Japan. 

Nakasendo trail

Some hikers choose to complete the entire trail in a single day, while others prefer to take a more leisurely pace and spend several days exploring the towns and attractions along the way.

If you’re looking to experience the Nakasendo trail at a more relaxed pace, you may want to consider breaking the hike into two or three days. 

This will allow you to explore the post towns, visit historical sites and museums, and enjoy the scenic countryside along the way. 

Many hikers choose to stay in traditional ryokans or minshuku (Japanese-style guesthouses) along the trail to experience local hospitality and cuisine.

Ultimately, the amount of time you spend on the Nakasendo trail depends on your preferences and interests. 

Whether you choose to hike the trail in a single day or take your time and savor the experience over several days, the Nakasendo trail is a memorable and rewarding hiking experience that offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and culture.

Tips for hiking the Magome-Tsumago trail in winter:

  • Check weather conditions

Make sure to check the weather forecast before embarking on your hike. Winter conditions can be unpredictable, and snow and ice can make the trail slippery and more challenging.

  • Dress appropriately

Wear warm, waterproof clothing and sturdy hiking boots with good traction. Don’t forget to bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf to protect your face and hands from the cold.

  • Use caution

The trail can be icy and slippery in winter, so take extra care when walking on steep or narrow sections. Consider using hiking poles to improve your stability.

  • Plan for shorter daylight hours

In winter, the days are shorter, so plan your hike accordingly. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp, in case you need to hike in the dark.

  • Enjoy the winter scenery

The snow-covered landscape can be breathtakingly beautiful, so take time to appreciate the winter scenery along the trail. You may even see some wildlife that’s not typically visible during other seasons.

Overall, hiking the Magome-Tsumago trail in winter can be a unique and rewarding experience for those who are well-prepared and willing to brave the cold.

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