During the Edo Period, Narai (ޗLj) marked the half way point between Kyoto and Edo to travelers along the Nakasendo Route. It was the most wealthy post town of the Kiso Valley, and was sometimes referred to as "Narai of a Thousand Houses". Visitors will understand this nickname when comparing Narai to the other former post towns in the area; the preserved houses stretch on much longer in Narai than elsewhere.

The long walk down Narai's main road is not without interest, though the restored houses are very similar to each other. Among the buildings, two are former residences open to the public, while others house souvenir shops, restaurants and minshuku. Narai's main drawbacks are that the Honjin and Wakihonjin (the main inns of former times) no longer remain, and that vehicular traffic is permitted on the street.

  • Nakamura Residence
    Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:00 December to March)
    Closed: Mondays from Dec to Mar (or next day if Mon is a national holiday)
    Admission: 300 yen
  • Kamidonya Shiryokan
    Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (until 16:00 in March and November)
    Closed: December to February
    Admission: 300 yen
  • Narai Notice Board
  • Kiso Ohashi

Getting there and around

Narai is a station along the JR Chuo Line, 25 minutes south of Shiojiri Station and 20 minutes north of Kiso-Fukushima Station by local train. Limited express trains between Nagoya and Nagano do not stop at Narai Station. Instead, change to a local train at Shiojiri or Kiso-Fukushima.

Narai Station is located at the town's northern end. You can explore the entire town on foot from the station. If arriving by car, the most convenient parking lot is located at the town's southern end.

How to get to and around the Kiso Valley