The walk from Magome to Tsumago along Japan‘s Nakasendo Trail is more than just transportation from one small tourist town to another; it is, in many ways, a trip back in time. This is a short chunk of a path which thousands crossed for decades, making their way from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) and back. It was one of the five main “highways” of the era and travel along the path today is very similar to those times in that it is all walking. And also very different with full cell phone connectivity along the way and far more well developed infrastructure in the towns where one stops for the night. And, I suppose, the part where it is now mostly a recreational trip rather than a necessity to move between the two main cities in Japan. But I still really enjoyed the day.
We had missed the main Cherry Blossom season in Japan by a couple weeks but that didn’t mean our vacation was flower free. There were tons of azaleas in bloom and even a second round of cherry blossoms which presented spectacular colors (occasionally multiple colors in the same tree or even the same bloom!) and great shade along the trail.
There was the Odaki–Medaki Falls along the way, a pair of waterfalls located adjacent to each other where one is seen to be male and the other as female. I have no idea why that is but there they are, in all their glory. It is a great place to relax along the trail and enjoy a snack or just to rest your feet.
There were temples small and large along the trail. Some required a bit of extra effort to visit and some were just along the side of the path, easily accessible and visible.
And, perhaps because of the season or our walking speed or the way the trail is crafted or any of a number of other factors, most of the time we were truly on our own. After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and even the smaller crowds of Kamakura that level of solitude was most welcome.
It was a very different version of Japan than from my previous trips and one I was very, very happy to discover.
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