Musings from the Old Nakasendo Post Road


Day 15 on the road and day 7 of vacation brings me to an interesting cross roads, both literally and figuratively. We hiked from Magome to Tsumago on the Nakasendo Trail today. The path connects Tokyo and Osaka and dates back a few hundred years as a formal route – one of five connecting the two cities – and probably a thousand years beyond that as a settled area. To say that there is plenty of history here would be an understatement. This little section is one of the better marked and maintained, great for tourists. And that’s the role we’re playing this week.

The towns at each end are preserved and restored in the older style; many are converted to shops, restaurants and inns (Ryokan) catering to the tourists but the architecture remains true to the older generation. And, as we set out on the hike, I snapped a photo:

At the time I mostly just liked the framing of the image and the concept of the old “news board” used to share information to locals. As we set out to climb up the hill and across the trail for a few hours I continued to think about that image, that concept of the news board, and the fact that with a couple taps of my fingers that image was broadcast around the world in milliseconds. Quite a change in the way information travels.

I spent some of the breaks on the hike refreshing my Twitter feed, reading updates from @jonk and others about the earthquake in Nepal. I checked in with friends back in NYC and caught up with the DLD crew about the next podcast episode. And I also was able to just relax in front of the incredible waterfalls or in the shade of the cherry blossom trees.

That contrast – the ability to be completely connected and also disconnect if desired – makes for an interesting set of thoughts to ponder as we meandered the ~5 miles from town to town. I’m not certain there is a right or wrong, but I’m pretty sure I enjoy having the option more than not. Even if it means I am a bit too connected some days. Completely worth it for the time I get to spend exploring.

Lots more to come from the Nakasendo trail and the rest of the trip, just as soon as I bother to sort through the photos and take a break to write. Too much fun being offline for that right now. In the mean time, my instagram feed has lots of the fun on in contemporaneously.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

2 Comments

    1. We did it all via public transit. Train to a bus to the trail head in Magome and then bus to train in Tsumago when you’re done. The transit options in Japan really are impressive (and occasionally overwhelming) so most anything can be reached that way.

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