Nowadays, walking the old Nakasendo Road at Tsumago, Magome, and Narai is popular among foreign visitors, but they are crowded, especially in the early May ‘Golden Week’ holidays in Japan.
I visited Kozenji Temple and the Uenodan area of the post town of Kiso-Fukushima (not Fukushima Prefecture) to find some of the little-known great spots in the area. They are accessible by train (10 and 20 min walk from Kiso-Fukushima Station).
The Japanese rock garden in Kozenji is the biggest in east Asia, and I was impressed by how it uses Kiso’s beautiful nature as ‘borrowed backdrop scenery’.
It is said that this garden represents mountains in a sea of clouds or in the cosmos, but I felt it represents the inner world of humanity.
Uenodan is smaller than Tsumago and Narai, but very historical and cozy.
I also visited Atera Gorge, which is famous for its clear, emerald green water and its Kiso hinoki cypress forest. There is also a groomed walking trail (access: one hour and twenty min walk from Nojiri train station) which I also recommend you visit.