Following in the Footsteps of Samurais on the Nakasendo Trail

17.09.2018

©Naraijuku Tourist Association

It is on the Nakasendo trail, totalling 330 miles, that statesmen, salesmen, artisans and samurais would have once travelled in order to cross Japan. Connecting Tokyo and Kyoto via the mainland, the trail is one of the five routes to Edo (now Tokyo) that existed during the Tokugawa period.

There are large stretches that remain as picturesque as the day the trail was conceived of, however among the most beautiful by far is the Kiso valley. To travel along this part of the route is to relive a forgotten moment in time, traversing tiny villages and the real Japanese countryside. In each valley there are a number of stop-off points called Juku which once allowed travellers and their accompanying animals to take a break before continuing on their voyage. Today 69 of these Juku still exist and are exceptionally well preserved.

While hiking it is also the opportunity to learn more about those who would have once taken this route, such as the newlyweds who would have travelled to Edo for the ceremony. Among them is Kazunomiya, the youngest sister to the emperor (and great aunt to the current emperor) who was sent to Edo in 1861 aged 16 to marry the fourteenth Shogun. According to legend, tens of thousands of people accompanied her on the great voyage.

©Naraijuku Tourist Association

©Naraijuku Tourist Association

©Naraijuku Tourist Association