Friday, January 8, 2016

Running on the Nakasendo

      The Nakasendo is the old postal road connecting Tokyo to Kyoto.  A few centuries ago, during the Edo Period, the Nakasendo carried much traffic, and there were 69 towns along the 332 mile route through the mountains. 

      The Nakasendo passes through my favor parts of Japan: Gunma, Nagano and Gifu prefectures.  The area is mountainous, beautiful and for the most part sparsely populated. 

       Eventually, the Nakasendo fell out of favor, and the towns became ghost towns.   A few of those towns -- notably Magome, Tsumago and Narai -- have been preserved and restored, and are now attractive and well-attended tourist destinations.  


    The path between Magome and Tsumago has also been restored and improved, and makes a wonderful hike or run.  

Sign just outside of Magome

     On my recent trip to Japan, I ran the 7.7km trail from Magome to Tsumago, then 7.7km back to Magome.  The course is easy to follow, and consists of a combination of paved roads and dirt paths.

Me, near Tsumago
        The route is well sign-posted and easy to follow.   In addition, the government has built a number of rest stops along the way. All have bathrooms, and some even have free wi-fi connections. 

One of Several Rest Houses

On the left is a bear bell.  The sign says to ring the bell loudly, to alert bears that you're in the area.

     The short run I took is beautiful and convenient, but one day I'd like to run more of the Nakasendo.  There must be a lot to explore in those other 67 towns and the other 325 or so miles!

Close to Magome, I think

This picture is Nagoya, and has little to do with the Nakasendo, but it makes me happy so I'm including it