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Written by
Elisabeth Norberg
Elisabeth Norberg

Walk of the Week: Nakasendo Trail

Japan: a dream destination for many of our travellers. By combining a walking holiday with cultural explorations, you get the chance to experience this fascinating country from all aspects. Walk from village to village on ancient roads, stay in family-run accommodations and indulge in the flavoursome Japanese cuisine. The Nakasendo Trail can be combined with a longer stay in Tokyo or Kyoto, making it the ideal mixture of adventure and city life. Distance: 52.4 km of walking. Grading: Moderate, although the itinerary can be adapted to exclude some of the longer walks.

Where is it?

The Nakasendo Way is an ancient Japanese road linking the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto through the central mountains. DSCF0312

Why Walk It?

There is no better way to discover rural Japan than by walking this ancient road, staying in minshukus (family-run inns) and absorbing the local culture. After a day of exploring the beautiful Japanese countryside, you will be welcomed by your minshuku host and treated to a delicious home-cooked meal. This traditional way of experiencing Japan lets you immerse in the local customs, such as enjoying a Japanese bath before dinner. Look back at your memories from today’s walk while soothing your aching limbs, a real treat for the weary walker. 7242259962_cc1722b0df_h The Nakasendo Trail has connected Tokyo with Kyoto since the Edo Period (1603-1868) and runs for a total length of 534 km. 69 stations, or post towns, provided places to stop and rest along the way, some of which the modern Nakasendo traveller can still enjoy. Part of the trail has been preserved in its original form, while other parts have been restored in modern times in order to provide a pilgrimage. For the Japanese, walking the Nakasendo Trail provides an opportunity to re-connect with their ancestral roots. The food along the way is a real highlight of the trip – when Laura from the Macs Adventure HQ travelled this route, she claimed she ate so much, and so well, she thought she would burst. Each minshuku has its own specialities, but meals often include buckwheat noodles, miso soup, grilled fish (mackrel, salmon, ayu and others), tofu, eggs, rice, pickles, vegetables and hotpots with beef or chicken. No risk of going hungry there!

Watch Laura in Japan where she walked the Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo Trail

Planning to Walk it

This part of Japan is best visited between April and November. Spring, typically between April and May, is a beautiful time of the year to experience this country. The best airport to arrive in is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has connections with many international airports. When returning, it is best to depart from Tokyo Airport. As Japan has plenty of foreign tourists, almost all airports, train stations and buses have English information displays, making in it an easy country to travel (for more information, read Laura’s blog post about travelling in Japan. Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan. British nationals can visit Japan for three months or less for tourism purposes without a Visa, but we recommend looking up the most recent regulations. Contact info@macsadventure.com if you’d like more information or read about our walking itinerary along the Nakasendo Trail, many of which can be combined with further travelling in Japan. For more inspiration, why don’t you read about Laura’s experiences in Japan?
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