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Worth a detour
Rating 1.6 (111 votes)

Nakasendo Trail

Listed under Walking in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
  • Photo of Nakasendo Trail
Photo of Nakasendo Trail
Photo by flickr user yeowatzup
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During Japan's feudal period the Nakasendo Trail linked Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) via the mountains, rather than the Pacific coast, via the Tokaido route. Samuri, merchants, feudal lords and their entourages walked or rode the route which passed through 69 towns along a relatively gentle pathway.

The route does take in some wonderful mountain scenery, and pass quite near to hot springs and famous temples, and being off the bullet train route this way winds though a more peaceful and traditional Japan. From the zero point on the Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge), the journey heads out of Tokyo into the Kiso valley, hopping from small village to small village.

It's traditional for travellers to stay in ryokans, traditional Japanese inns. Narai and Tsumago, both very well preserved towns, Niekawa, known for its local lacquer ware, Magome and Kiso-Fukushima are all worth staying in, though there are many choices along the route. The whole route is 530kms long and takes about 22 days of tramping without too much dallying, however most people plan only to walk a section of the whole – the bit between Magome and Tsumago being one of the most popular.

Written by  Eric Hallum.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Nakasendo trail

if we just wanted to walk a tiny part of the trail closest to Kyoto, how could we do that? Can you catch a train to get close?

1 Reply

The trail ends (or begins) in Kyoto so you shouldn't have any problems with it.

Accommodation Nakasendo

Hi, would like to know if it is necessary to book accommodation before walking the Nakasendo and if you have a website which will be useful for these bookings. We are walking in November, but don't want to be caught with no space available when we arrive at our destinations daily. Thanks

1 Reply

One of the main reasons it's a good idea to book your accommodation ahead of time when travelling though Japan is that not everyone you meet in the smaller towns and villages has excellent English, so if your Japanese is limited then it might give you peace of mind to have your accommodation organised.

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