I have XXX days, what would you recommend?So I've been asked, several times, by people who came across this blog, who wish to explore the Nakasendo but have no desire or opportunity to complete the entire route.
In my opinion, the Kiso Valley stretch (Shiojiri - Nakatsugawa) is easily the most scenic. The forbidding terrain saved the region from over-development. Craggy peaks, the cobalt blue Kiso River, quaint towns and ample tourist facilities (its a popular spot for domestic tourism), the region has plenty going for it. I took 2 days to cross the valley, though I would not recommend anyone do the same. Take your time, give it 3 to 4 days at least.
If you are really short on time, I would recommend Tsumago and Magome, at the Nakatsugawa-end of the valley, they are the two most well-preserved post stations along the Nakasendo. The 2-hour trek between the two is easy and a real joy. An easy day trip.
If walking is not your thing, you can visit the more interest towns and cities along or near the Nakasendo easily by rail. My personal favourites...