The Kiso Valley (木曾谷 Kiso-dani) is a geographical area that centers on the valley of the upper portions of the Kiso River in the southwestern part of Nagano Prefecture in Japan. It is a v-shaped valley with length of approximately 60 km (36 mi) that follows the river as it flows from north by northwest to south by southwest into Gifu Prefecture.
Through much of Japan's history, the Kiso Valley was used to connect the former Mino and Shinano provinces. However, it came to be known as a difficult route because of its steep climbs. The Shoku Nihongi recorded that the Kiso no Yamamichi (岐蘇山道) was opened in 702. The same route was again mentioned in a 713 article, but it was then called the Kisoji no Michi (吉蘇路). The Kisoji (木曽路) would eventually follow the same path. However the official Tōsandō did not run through the Kiso Valley; instead, it ran from Mino Province towards the Kamisaka Pass and into the Ina Valley. During Japan's Middle Ages, the Nakasendō, an old trade route, ran through the valley, which led to the creation of eleven post stations along the route. Since the Meiji period, the Chūō Main Line (for trains) and Route 19 (for vehicles) have been cutting through the valley.
The following communities are part of the Kiso Valley:
- Nagano Prefecture
- Kiso District (including Tsumago-juku, a former post town, )
- Ōtaki, Nagano ( )
- Shiojiri ( )
- Matsumoto ( )
- Gifu Prefecture
- "Practical Travel Guide - 408 - Kiso Valley" (PDF). Japan National Tourism Organization. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
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