Sunny Saturday on the Nakasendo Trail

February 9th, 2017 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing

Last weekend, a few of us traveled from the Northern area of Nagano into the Kiso Valley to walk part of the Nakasendo trail. It was one of five major roads used during the Edo era and connected the former capital of Kyoto to the new capital of Edo (now Tokyo). While it may take weeks to travel the whole thing, we just walked between two post towns: Magome and Tsumago.

Saturday was a beautiful day so I’d like to share some of the photographs we took along the way!
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Summer Fun Around Lake Suwa

May 27th, 2016 by
Category: Experience, Information, Onsens (Hot Springs), Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

A view of the lake from the rooftop of the Clasuwa restaurant.

In a land-locked prefecture, the Suwa area is surprisingly blessed with water. The surface of lake Suwa offers beautiful, reflective views of the surrounding mountains and sky. Hot springs bubble up from the grounds of Kami and Shimosuwa and feed over 150 public bathing facilities in the area. And, fresh water from the highlands helps brew Suwa’s many award-winning rice wines.

Visitors to the area have been increasing in advent of the 2016 Onbashira festival, so I thought I’d take a closer look at Suwa’s activities and sights.

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Little Secrets of Kiso Fukushima

February 12th, 2016 by
Category: Cuisine, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing
Latticed wood buildings form a long alleyway to the gate of a buddhist temple.

A picturesque alleyway that leads to Daitsu-ji in Kiso Fukushima.

The Kiso Valley is a very popular destination in Nagano prefecture, especially for backpackers and history buffs who enjoy its beautiful forests and undisturbed post towns. Most visitors head straight for Narai, Tsumago or Magome-juku, but there are eight other historical towns in this forest valley with their own secrets waiting to be uncovered by adventurous travelers.

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The Sake Breweries of the Higashi Nakasendo

January 22nd, 2016 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Sightseeing
A white farmhouse stands alone in the midground surrounded by yellowed farmlands. Low-lying clouds crown Mt. Asama and the sky above is blue.

Blue skies and Mt. Asama are constant companions on the Higashi Nakasendo.

After cutting through the forest valley of Kiso, circling lake Suwa and passing through the towns of Nagawa and Wada, the Nakasendo continues into Eastern Nagano. The land here is open and the skies are always clear. In the distance beyond miles of farmland and rice paddies, travelers can look upon snow-capped Mt. Asama, one of Nagano’s two active volcanoes.

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The Nakasendo: Narai-juku, Suwa and beyond

October 30th, 2015 by
Category: Cuisine, Events, Information, Sightseeing

Princess Kazunomiya in the post-town of Narai.

From Kyoto, the Nakasendo passes through the Kiso valley and continues into the Eastern area of Nagano prefecture. There are 15 more post-towns along the way up to Karuizawa, many of which have preserved parts of their history. Recently, there has been resurgence in interest in these less-traveled areas, particularly in regards to one of its travelers.

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Kiso Route Hiking

March 21st, 2015 by
Category: Information

waterfall along Nakasendo

watermill along the way no more in use

accommodation still in business

The temperature has become much warmer recently, and we ventured to go on a hike along an ancient Nakasendo lane.

 

Nakasendo Lane is now paralleled to the state route 19, and some parts of it are preserved as they were during the ancient times from the Samurai Period.

In the Edo Period, this lane was one of the main official routes which ran between Tokyo and Kyoto al the way for more than 600km.

All through the route, there used to be altogether 69 post station towns to cater for travelers.
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Nakasendo Narai-Yabuhara Hike & Erupting Mt Ontake

October 21st, 2014 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing

Erupting Mt. Ontake Seen from the Shrine at Torii Pass

Some travelers who plan to visit central Japan are worrying about any trouble by the eruption of Mt. Ontake, the 3067-meter volcano. It is a big tragedy that more than 50 climbers died by the sudden eruption of Sep. 27. Mt. Ontake is popular for climbers and also pilgrims who believe in its mountain religion, and the eruption occurred at noon on a weekend of the peak hiking season.​

Old Paved Walking Pass

Now, however, troubles by the eruption are limited. You cannot enter ONLY the 4km-radius cautionary zone from the summit of Mt. Ontake. It doesn’t affect ordinary lives and travel in other areas. All trains, buses, roads in Nagano Prefecture are operating as usual.

Tsumago, Magome, and Narai historic post towns of Nakasendo, which are popular sightseeing spots with walking courses among foreigners, are more than 30 km away from Mt. Ontake and can be traveled safely.

Oct 11, I actually hiked between Yabuhara to Narai post towns via Torii Pass, the highest point on the historic Nakasendo highway that connected Kyoto and Tokyo in the Edo Period and before.
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Ancient Post Station Towns along the Ancient Highway

June 4th, 2014 by
Category: Information
Narai-juku

before the Edo period, most travels are on foot

One of the many tourists attractions in Nagano is to stroll through some ancient post station towns along  one of ancient highways.

 

Among some ancient travel highways through Nagano , the longest is Nakasendo-highway.

Nakasendo-highway was designated as one of the 5 government official highways by the Tokugawa-Shogunate government.

So it explains the palanquin above.

There have been 2 highways conneting Edo( the present day Tokyo), where the Shogun resided, and Kyo( the present day Kyoto), where the Emperor resided.   They were Tokaido highway and Nakasendo highway.

While Tokaido highway became the base of the present national route No. 1 and thus changed its appearance to a much  busy road, the other Nakasendo highway , which trailed through Nagano, has retained its ancient atmosphere here and there.

Especially in Kiso area, there are some post station towns where the locals try to preserve the historical touch .
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Hidden Treasure: Motai Post Town

February 3rd, 2011 by
Category: Sightseeing

During a recent exploration with my son, I recently went to Motai, a way-station along the old Nakasendo road. Located in Saku City, it is technically an “in-between” station that caught the overflow from Mochizuki post town on one side, and Ashida post town on the other. I was happily amazed to see such an unmarred Edo-era townscape, with beautifully maintained earthen walled storehouses and not one but two operating historical sake breweries.

Frozen in time?

Frozen in time?


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