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Japan: Nakasendo

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Nakasendo | Japan | Asia

[Visited: December 2010]

After exploring the attractive town of Tsumago on an early winter morning, we left the town on the southern side. Soon after that, we found a picturesque path leading away from the main road. With a stone marker, and old stones covered in snow, the path looked very authentic: this was clearly an ishidatami or stone paved stretch of the famous Nakasendo. While the stones looked icy, they were not slippery, so even walking the path uphill proved quite easy. Once inside the forest, we stood still just to enjoy the view. The wintery sun was shining through the tall tree tops, while snow showers were slowly coming down from the branches above.

Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Snow-covered stones marking the Nakasendo

The forest had a high fairy-tale calibre, with the wintery conditions, and the snow silently coming down. After a while, we came across a bell with a sign and a warning: it was advised to ring the bell to scare away the bears. We assumed the bears would be in hibernation and did not want to disturb the peacefulness of the area, so did not touch the bell. From here, we just followed the old Nakasendo, the post road between Tokyo and Kyoto in the Edo period. We crossed the main road several times, but fortunately, the Nakasendo is still mostly untouched and the walk was just plain pleasure to do.

Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Trees towering above the Nakasendo

At one point, we diverted from the official Nakasendo road to be able to get a glimpse of the Odaki and Medaki waterfalls. First, we had to cross a bridge with a thick layer of snow on top, before we reached the waterfalls, which are called male (Odaki) and female. They were modest waterfalls, but their setting in the middle of the snowy landscape was just great. We backtracked to get back to the Nakasendo trail and continued our way up, until we reached a bigger house where an older Japanese man invited us in for Japanese tea. After this welcome break, we continued the walk, and after we crossed the Magome Pass, the temperature went up notably. Immediately, most of the snow was gone, and the walk down to our destination Magome was even easier than before. Magome turned out to be quite distinct from Tsumago. Walking the Nakasendo had been a great thing to do and we returned to Tsumago very happily.

Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Odaki (male) waterfall, close to Medaki (female) waterfall near Nakasendo
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Sunlight and snow falling through the trees
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Nakasendo post road leading up a hill
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Nakasendo covered by snow in the woods
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): At the Nakasendo: snowy stairs
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Nakasendo bordered by bamboo near Magome
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Sign advising passers-by to ring the bell to scare away the bears
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Snow and old Japanese house on the Nakasendo road
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Nakasendo signpost covered in snow
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Narrow part of the Nakasendo leading through the woods
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Snowy curve on the Nakasendo
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Traditional Nakasendo post road through a village
Picture of Nakasendo (Japan): Friendly house on the Nakasendo between Tsumago and Magome

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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