Friday, October 11, 2019

Adventure 28/50 : Walking the Nakasendo Way, part 2

After our huge breakfast at Tajimaya, we set off for our second day of walking along the Nakasendo. Today we would be hiking over the Magome Pass and then down to Tsumago and Nagiso, before taking the train back to Nagoya and home to Tokyo.

We started by climbing the hill to the kosatsuba (message board) and a viewpoint.

And then we jointed the trail and headed off.

There's another stretch of ancient pavement leaving Magome, but it's not as lengthy. It is, however slightly more slippery because it goes steeply downhill in parts. This wouldn't have been pleasant during the rainstorm the previous day!

Soon we headed up the trail to the pass.

And woods here mean there might be bears, soooo... ring the bell!

Up up up we headed, on a nice path.

The vegetation was lush, and there were lots of small waterwheels.

We passed a small stretch of houses, possibly "Toge", which means "pass". There were a couple of small inns here, too. We passed a few other walkers, including a couple who worried that everyone was walking so quickly, but we told them to enjoy their walk.

Then, finally, we arrived at the pass itself. Not super high at just 801meters, but still.

It looks a lot different now than in the 19th century:

On the way down we passed yet another bear bell, this one marked as the "lucky spot" because it was 777 meters above sea level. 

And the trail just kept descending after that point.

Very soon we'd already traveled 3km -- this downhill stretch was shaping up to be an easy walk.

But it was really nice to be walking, usually completely on our own, through forest.

Every so often we'd reach a signboard. And have no idea what it said. Perhaps this is the story of how the timber in this area was so precious that checkpoints were set up to deter smuggling?

At some point we reached another super clean restroom and a bridge over the river.

See the power line? The toilets here have HEATED SEATS. Will I ever be able to hike again???

Safety first!

We took a little detour to visit the Odaki / Medeki (Male / Female) waterfalls, which were pretty enough, but the spray and shade were more appealing on the hot day.

Then back on the main track, and another stretch of (restored) stone pavements:

As you can see, the trail is pretty steep in places. 

We passed through another small village -- O-tsumago, ("Greater Tsumago"), thought to have served mainly as overflow lodging for the larger post town of Tsumago, just down the road.

Then through some ripening fields...

... to the outskirts of Tsumago, where we saw this lovely, life-sized straw horse:

and a large tanuki statue in front of seemingly every home.

We passed a few small shrines...

Before entering the town proper. Tsumago has even more heritage buildings than Magome, but I was less impressed by them than by the lovely setting in Magome. Apparently Tsumago is the most popular post town on the Nakasendo, and gets crowded by day. We did see lots of tourists there, so perhaps it was just bad timing on our part?

Because we were really just passing through we didn't linger and continued on to Nagiso. We passed a famous sight -- Carp Rock. Yeah, we couldn't figure it out either.

Apparently it was heavily damaged in an earthquake, but used to look like this -- from a woodcut featured in a 19th-century travel guide:


Then back into fields and sunshine and fresh air...

The path to Nagiso was easy to follow, and pleasant... well, until this little stretch of shared road on the edge of a hillside...

"Be wary of cars" -- I suppose it's nice to have little escape platforms every 100 feet or so, but as Wil noted, the platform bottom was a bit rickety!

We arrived at this cute shrine with all of its denizens dressed up fancy:

Seriously, how cute are these little hats???

In Nagiso we grabbed some snacks and went to the station to eat lunch and hang out until our train arrived. We took the train all the way to Nagoya, and from there switched to an earlier shinkansen. Who loves a bullet train? Who doesn't love a bullet train!!!

Walking the Nakasendo was a very Team Wil-Sun thing to do -- a bit off the beaten path, a bit of exercise, a visit to something very traditional ... oh, and RIDING A TRAIN!!! 

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