Friday, January 03, 2014

The Nakasendo Way - In Training

Inspired by our travel companions, Zuzu and Debra, we're going to attempt a hike, well...not really a hike, more a walk, in Japan in April. Zuzu and Debra have done major hikes all over the world: The Hautes Alpes,  Tour du Mont Blanc, Iceland's Eastern Fjords. For them, this journey will be little more than a stroll. For me, it will be a major accomplishment. I'm in training now trying out "time on feet" which I understand is the largest part of the challenge. The 26 kilometer day, almost 16 miles, will be tough for me. Richard is in wonderful condition and it will be a cake walk for him. Fortunately, they'll "call you a cab" if necessary - I may need it. Here's a description of the walk from WalkJapan, the group we will travel with.

If you see me pounding the pavement downtown as part of my conditioning, I haven't lost my mind. Not exactly.

The Nakasendo Way is a fully guided, walking tour between the Nakasendo’s beginning in Kyoto to its end in Edo, modern-day Tokyo. Walk Japan’s pioneering walking tour of Japan, the Nakasendo Way provides a unique, intimate experience of Japan and its people. 

The Nakasendo Way explores one of Japan’s ancient highways, the Nakasendo literally ‘the road through the mountains’. The tour starts in Kyoto, an ancient capital and cultural epicentre of Japan, and follows some of the best preserved parts of the old road deep into the mountains.

In its heyday in the seventeenth century, the Nakasendo was crowded with travellers, including feudal lords, samurai, itinerant merchants and pilgrims. Now largely forgotten and quiet, the road provides a pleasant path through scenic countryside and, also, the history of Japan. We pass through and stay in picturesque, old post towns on route in much the same way that the Japanese traveller of old did. Charming, traditional inns, which have somehow survived into the modern world, provide us with friendly and atmospheric overnight accommodation. In the evenings, in an ambience reminiscent of Hiroshige’s woodblock prints of feudal Japan, we relax and enjoy excellent meals.
Photo from WalkJapan

The Nakasendo Way follows the most enjoyable, scenic and best-preserved parts of the old highway. Seventeenth-century travellers insisted on a reasonably easy route for their journey and so do we. This is a walking tour, not a trek. The average daily walking distance is a moderate 10-26 kilometres. Transport, however, can be arranged for those who desire a more relaxed day. Baggage goes by taxi, except when we travel by train. We climb several passes, but they have fairly gentle inclines and can be taken at a comfortable pace.

We meet in Kyoto and travel through Hikone, Sekigahara, Magome, Tsumago, and Narai (the last three, difficult to find on a map, are to the north and east of Nagoya), before finishing our journey along the Nakasendo in Tokyo. 


  1. sounds absolutely incredible. read Yoshikawa's Musashi first...

  2. Are you sure you want to do this?