Samurai Trail's Little-known Spots

Biggest Zen Rock Garden & Old Post Town in Kiso Valley

By Akira Matsuo    - 2 min read

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.

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Akira Matsuo

Akira Matsuo @akira.matsuo

Nice to see you in this useful and cool website! I was born in Osaka and moved to Nagoya, then, Tokyo. After I founded my company MT Laboratories and work all day and night, I moved both my residence and company to a beautiful castle town, Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. Living in this area surrounded by wonderful nature and the Japan Alps was one of my dreams. My company’s business is translation services and web development; so, I am working with development and managing of official tourism websites such as Go! Nagano and Matsumoto Welcomes You and leaflets. My current dream is to make Matsumoto and Nagano Prefecture international tourism towns!