Join a unique 7-day off the beaten track adventure holiday in Nagano, the mountainous heart of Japan, for stunning scenery and an in-depth cultural experience

History

The Salt Road (Shionomichi) was an ancient highway that connected that interior regions of Honshu Island in Japan with the coastal regions.

Part of it was called the Chikuni-kaido that connected the castle city of Matsumoto with Itoigawa on the Japan Sea coast.

In landlocked Shinshu (today’s Nagano), the route saw the transportation of various kinds of goods, the most-prized of which was salt, along treacherous mountain roads, carried by porters and oxen and often traded for rice and tobacco.

Getting to the start

The Shio no Michi Trail starts in Itoigawa, on the coast of western Niigata about 350km northwest of Tokyo, where the mountains of the Northern Japan Alps meet the Japanese sea and travels inland for over 120 klms to finish in the famous castle town of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture.

A shorter version of the hike  – of 70klms – finishes at Shinano Omachi, 20 klms past the famous ski area of Hakuba – which – in summer -offers some of Japan’s most spectacular mountain scenery.

The JR Oito Line connects several towns between Itoigawa and Matsumoto, including Hakuba and Shinano Omachi, making it easy to hop on and off the train as required between walking stops or return to the trail start upon finishing the hike.

Itoigawa

Located between two mountain ranges and the Sea of Japan, Itoigawa offers striking scenery.

In this single city, the elevation ranges from sea level along the coast to the 2,766m peak of Mt. Korenge.

Cycling, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, swimming, fishing, and onsen hot spring bathing are just a few of the exciting outdoor activities enjoyed in Itoigawa. Of particular note for onsen enthusiasts is Renge Onsen, which includes 4 rotenburo (outdoor baths ) located on a mountainside about 1,500m above sea level.

The climate in Itoigawa is warm and temperate, with summer temperatures averaging around 24°C in summer and 2°C in winter

Access

Once considered an area quite difficult to get to from the main cities , access to the area since  2015 has improved dramatically, with the introduction of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train.)

The Hakutaka service on this line now takes just over 2 hours direct from Tokyo – on one of the most picturesque fast train rides in the country.

Featured Articles

Farmhouses on the Shio No Michi

The northern half  of the Shio-no-michi trail runs along the sides of a narrow and rugged valley and was relatively isolated until the road and train line were built, mainly running through tunnels, in the […]

The Shio No Michi Festival

Japan is a country of matsuri-  or festivals –  which are usually based around the changing seasons. At the beginning of May each year, Golden Week – when three public holidays mean that most Japanese […]

Yukiwarisou – a unique cultural experience

‘Yukiwarisou’ is a lovingly restored 150 year old traditional farmhouse located in ‘Irori no Sato’, a tiny village of 11 homes located in northern Nagano at 800m above sea level at the foot of the […]

Hot Spring baths on the Shio no Michi Hike

The Shio no Michi area is located along a major geological fault and in an area of volcanic activity. This same geology has bestowed a number of blessings –  and few of these hold as […]

Shio no Michi Trail Hike

18-25 Oct 2020

view tour details at ShumiStay Japan