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Walking the Nakasendo





Fast Facts

  • Location: Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan
  • Significance: Historic Trail
  • Attraction Type: Historic Trail, Cultural Trail, Heritage
  • How to Reach: You can start your journey from Kyoto or Tokyo, depending on your choice.
  • Nearest Airport: Tokyo International Airport

Many consider this to be the most fascinating walking trail in the world. This path was followed by the feudal retinue in Japan’s history right from the early times of Japan’s history. The Nakasendo Highway, also known as the mountain road, connects Kyoto to Edo (or Tokyo). Walking the Nakasendo is probably the best way to immerse yourself completely in Japanese culture and heritage. The great scenic beauty and the touch of tradition that one invariably feels during this march makes this trail one of the most attractive ones in the country.

History of Nakasendo

Nakasendo has a history that dates back to the 8th century AD, and reached its height during the Edo Period in Japan’s history. The greatest attractions of the Nakasendo trail are the post-towns, the 69 stops where the weary travelers could rest for the night and get necessary refreshments. The entire trail passes for 500 km through Japan’s main island of Honshu. The journey is basically formed around the post-towns. Some of the districts that you can expect to cover while undertaking this historic trail are Musashi, Kozuke, Mino, Shinano and Omi. The trail runs through the modern day prefectures like Gunma, Saitama, Gifu, Shiga and Nagano.


Nakasendo Itinerary

The walking trails of Nakasendo can be availed at various levels of difficulty. They range from easy to the moderate, and usually continue for five days. However, it should be remembered that the historic Nakasendo of the Edo period no longer exists, although certain common trails have been reconstructed. Some of the Routes that are usually pursued by followers include Route 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and Route 142. These are basically different sections of the Nakasendo trail, and the total time needed to undertake them varies depending on the trail you choose to follow. The levels of difficulty also differ from one trail to another. Usually, you get to stop on the post-towns on the way, and do no more than four to five hours of walking every day.

There are a number of agencies that offer Nakasendo trails. The best way is to reach Tokyo and then book an agency that offers this service and then choose your itinerary according to the specifications. You can also do the same from Kyoto.


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