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Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/6 23:01
Has anyone done the hike between Magome and Tsumago in early January?
We have a couple of days to fill in our itinerary (January 3/4, we would be sleeping in Magome on the 3rd then hiking on the 4th).

Assuming there isn't too much snow, do you think it would be worth it to visit even if many shops/places to eat might be closed? Maybe on the 4th (It's a saturday) some shops will be open? Are we going to be the only people there or (considering it's new years holiday) people will visit anyway?

I am afraid that traveling all the way there (from Osaka) might not be worth it just to do the hike (we are from northern Italy so it's not like we haven't seen mountains).

(The alternative would probably be a daytrip to Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa, any other suggestions for 1/2 days trip from Kyoto/Osaka, possibly to a snowy place?)
by Chiara (guest)  

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/7 17:31
I would say that It is definitely not worth travelling from Osaka for. Especially if you are from near the Italian alps. There are plenty of other options nearer to Osaka. Mount Koya comes to mind but you might already be planning to go there.
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/7 18:36
I wouldn't consider whether the shops will be open or not as a reason for visiting the Kiso Valley or not - they're not the main attraction. I very much enjoyed the Kiso Valley when I visited last year, but I did it as a stopover/link between Nagoya and Matsumoto. It's a bit out of the way as a detour from Osaka. Shirakawago from Kanazawa would be easier.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/7 18:48
I've done the hike in late December and it was surprisingly warm, I actually went down to a tee shirt during the hike. The hike is not so impressive for mountain scenery, it is more a pleasant bush walk with an interesting town at each end. I wouldnt get too excited about it, really. When we were there the towns were very quiet on the week days and probably 5 years ago now.

I think if you lower your expectations it would be great, but if you are expecting it to be dripping with history (as I was) then it is a bit flat.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/8 08:13
I did the Magome - Tsumago hike in early March couple of years ago. It is pleasant but the scenery is not necessarily breathtaking but there is this one tea house on the way that was well worth the trip on its own. Not sure if it is open in January though. Like some other posters, if you will already be in Osaka - I would recommend Mt Koya/Koyasan for a more interesting experience. If you are really into snowy scenery - Hokkaido is absolutely the best but not feasible for your itinerary.
by Bizarre Journeys rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/8 16:51

do you think it would be worth it to visit
No, it would be a waste of your time and effort.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/8 17:53
Thank you everybody, your advice has been very helpful.
I think we will keep Magome/Tsumago in mind for a future trip maybe with Nagoya/Matsumoto/Nagano, itfs a bit too much out of our way to make it worth it this time.
Hokkaido would be nice but Ifm havenft been skiing in a long time and if I go in winter I want to feel comfortable skiing, then again, a trip on its own.
This is our third time in Japan and we have already visited Nara, Koya etc.. I think we will check the weather/snow accumulation for shirakawa-go (we are interested mostly in the winter scenery) or otherwise make a daytrip to maybe Kobe/Himeji/something easily accessible.
by Chiara (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/8 23:54
Going to Kanazawa isnft a bad idea, although it could be hard to get train reservations on January 3. But I expect Shirakawago would be mobbed on that Saturday and it might not even be possible to get a bus there. (I could be wrong.) I have been in Kanazawa several times around New Yearfs, and I really love Kenrokuen in that season (the times Ifve been, the plum trees were just starting to bloom, and as I recall there were some camellias as well\but the flowers were just a slight accent). Unfortunately, I think Omicho Market (my second-favorite place in Kanazawa) may still be closed. But Kenrokuen is definitely open. I donft know about other sightseeing/shopping venues in Kanazawa.

If you could get the train reservations, you could see lots of stunning winter scenery on a loop from Osaka to Kanazawa to Nagano and then back via Nagoya. Spend the night in either Kanazawa or Nagano (maybe visit Zenkoji, a fine major temple, which will probably still be going strong with New Yearfs spirit through the weekend, I would guess). But I would see that mainly as a train-riding excursion. If you made it a 2-night outing then you could easily fit some hiking in somewhere, even Magome-Tsumago if you left Nagano fairly early). The main question would be whether the trains will be too packed. The way the holidays fall on the calendar, traffic for people returning home should be much more spread out than usual, but they could still book out. Ifve always enjoyed the Shinano Limited Express from Nagano to Nagoya (took it many times). Of course, something like this is much more logical if you have a suitable rail pass. It would be very expensive otherwise.

I once did a loop from Nagano using the Hokuriku Shinkansen and the Resort View Furusato (picking it up from Minami Otari), and the winter scenery was quite memorable. Depends on the conditions of course, and it was a long day trip. (You couldnft do it with a single overnight from Osaka, I wouldnft say.)

Kii Peninsula is another excursion worth considering. Maybe stay in Kii-Katsuura and do the Daimonzaka walk. (Many people would find this more appealing then Tsumago-Magome, but it all depends on what you like.) But I expect it would be crowded that weekend.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/9 02:34
Thank you so much Kim! thatfs a lot of very interesting itinerary ideas, I guess I have some researching to do now!
I would love a scenic train ride, also Kenrokuen in the snow would be amazing, I didnft know about the Kii peninsula but it looks really interesting.

I made bus reservations for Shirakawa-go just in case as I saw they were getting full fast and the tickets are refundable. Itfs my first time traveling during the holidays in Japan so I am a bit nervous. Anyway I will exchange my JR pass on dec 23 so I hope I can get most of my reservations done then and adjust my plans accordingly if I canft book everything, so a scenic train ride might be doable...maybe I am over planning but better safe than sorry I guess!
Thank you for taking the time to answer, I really appreciate it!
by Chiara (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2019/12/9 03:05
Well, if you happen to do the loop I suggested (Kanazawa and Nagano, returning via Nagoya) itfs more like three scenic train rides (Osaka to Kanazawa by limited express, Kanazawa to Nagano by shinkansen, and finally Nagano to Nagoya via limited express), which could be too much for some people. And there isnft much point in doing it after dark, so there wonft be that much daylight left for sightseeing or hiking (but some). But all three of them are nice scenic rides, and you can break the loop up in any number of ways.

Donft count on snow at Kenrokuen. The times Ifve been there in early January there was a tiny bit, but itfs hit or miss. You would see it on the train from Kanazawa to Nagano, though. There is some excellent mountain scenery on that shinkansen ride.

However, if you already have reservations for the Shirakawago bus, then thatfs a pretty good thing to do. These days, many people are negative about Shirakawago as a destination because it is so popular, but if youfve never been, itfs a fun trip. It could be crowded, but not as bad as some places in Kyoto, for example. As long as you have guaranteed seats on the bus, why not go for it?
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Magome-Tsumago in early January 2020/1/8 23:56
A littel update since I ended up going to Kiso valley last week because there was no snow in Shirakawa-go.
We traveled by train Kyoto>Nagoya>Nakatsugawa then the bus to Magome, slept at Magome Chaya in Magome, did the hike in the morning and had lunch in Tsumago, then on the way back Tsumago>Nagiso>Nagoya>Osaka.

The weather was really nice, a bit cold but we hiked wearing only sweaters.
Most of the shops were open on the 3rd and the 4th, so was the rest stop.
There were some tourists but it wasn't crowded at all.
We had a nice dinner at Magome Chaya, that we booked along with our stay.

The hike in the woods was really nice (it's very easy and well maintained- no need for trekking shoes or anything) and the travel time didn't feel like too much, just make sure to take the shinano and not a local train.
Would definitely recommend if you are looking for a couple of relaxing days away from the crowds and have already seen the "main sights", there is not much "to see" but the scenery is very pleasant.
by chiara (guest) rate this post as useful

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