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Time travel to the Japanese Edo Period (Nakasendo Way)

by Winnie Wong | February 24, 2017

Top 3 trails we recommend on the Nakasendo Way

During the Edo period there were 5 routes that connected Edo (Now known as Tokyo) and other important regions.

The Nakasendo Way used to be a major trail connecting Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo Period, lying along the Kiso Valley. It had 69 post stations, the most popular being Tsumago, the 42nd  and Magome, the 43rd.

1. Magome (馬籠) –> Tsumago (妻籠)(Walking Trail 3 hours)

The towns of Magome (馬籠)and Tsumago (妻籠)have been beautifully restored. You can find houses built in the Edo era, as well as in the classic Japanese style standing along the broard stone walkway in Magome.

Due to the fire’s that often struck during the Edo period, houses were made to be built easily. Structures were simple and classy, plus their respect for nature had a great influence on the way they constructed houses.

The areas are full of townhouses that have a store in front, the living quarters behind and a storehouse in the back.

You will feel like you were back in Japan 300 years ago in the Edo Period. You can experience the classic Japan and learn their traditional life on the 3 hours trail between Magome and Tsumago.

2. Midono-juku (now Nagiso town) –> Nojiri-juku (Walking Trail 5 hours )

On this trail, you will be walking from Midono Town (now Nagiso Town) to Nojiri Town, which should take about 5 hours.

You will start by seeing the Tokaku-ji Temple (東覚寺).

A poem was written by the poet/monk Ryokan (1758 -1831) when he went passed this place.

“木曽路にて この暮れの もの悲しきに若草の

妻呼びたくて 小牝鹿鳴くも” – 良寛

“In the loneliness of this evening the young male deer calls for his mate among green leaves.” – Ryokan

Along the way, you will get to Matsubara O-koyasumijo (松原御小休所跡) where it used to be a resting place for the noble travelers with good views in Edo Period.

On this trial, you will cross the white fenced Rankan- Bashi Bridge (Japanese bracket bridge), which used to be a grand structure during the Edo Period.

Then you can continue your trial to the Nojiri station

3. Yabuhara juku (薮原宿)to Narai juku (奈良井宿) (Walking Trail 3 hours )

On the trail, you will walk pass Yabuhara Shrine(薮原神社)where Yabuhara Shrine Festival held in the summer each year. It is a festival of Kiso-mura tradition. There will be a parade with male and female lion parade car and glamorous lion dance performance.

You will also walk pass the Gokuraku-ji Temple (極楽寺)with a peaceful, green and serene atmosphere and relax in this meditating Zen temple.

After 55 minutes walk pass the cedar trees forest, you will arrive the Ontake Shrine (御嶽神社) and its torii gate. It is used for safekeeping the sacred spirits, in another word, the Japanese god.

You will also have a chance to pray and ask for protection and health in Joryi-ji Temple like the ancient hikers before climbing the mountain and reach the Narai-juku (town), the  most prosperous post town in the Kiso valley where it is home to the Nurigushi (お六櫛) – Japanese Lacquered combs and Magemono (曲物)-Japanese wooden container.

After that, you can catch a local train to Matsumoto to visit its famous castle and the surrounding rice fields, vineyards and wasabi farms.

Seems like you are interested if you read till here.

So… Do you want to time travel back in Japan 300 years ago via the Nakasendo Way?

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