Ah the temptations…

I’ve read WalkingFool’s Nakasendo Diary, and I must say there are things tugging at my resolve to walk the Old Tokaido. The more I read and chat with folks who’ve done one or the other or both roads between Kyoto and Tokyo, the more attractive the Nakasendo is sounding. It’s got the more picturesque areas, including a couple of carefully-restored post towns and a fair amount of nature, as opposed to city, highway, city, highway.

From what I understand both roads are nearly gone; there are bits of original paving and lined paths and markers along each route, but modernization, industrialization have covered up most of each path with highways, trains, buildings. Of the two, the Old Tokaido seems to have been covered up more than the Nakasendo.

And then there was the link I got (maybe it was on WalkingFool’s site, though I’m not sure) for WalkJapan’s. Their solution is to take small groups of hikers on trains and buses over the paved-over bits and spill them out onto the more picturesque sites. Rooms are arranged; the language is not a problem (guides are, at least, bilingual), and there aren’t problems taking wrong turns. This is such a temptations for the aging English teacher. On the other hand, the hike itself is supposedly easier along the more-traveled Tokaido.

But the convenience comes at a price: it’s certainly an adventure, but it’s not an ADVENTURE. It’s got my head in a dither.

I’ll field more opinions on which route would be the better choice (keeping in mind that my original inspiration was the Hiroshige prints but trying to be reasonably flexible). I’ll keep up the (weak but better-than-nothing) Japanese lessons, read, look at maps, follow the diaries of others, and plan. All thoughts are most welcome.


The Old Tokaido

In 1832 the artist Hiroshige accompanied a group bringing prize horses to the emperor in Kyoto (the old capital) from the shogun in Edo (now Tokyo, the new capital) of Japan.  The route between the two capitals was well traveled and was called the Tokaido (roughly, the view of the eastern sea).  Fifty-three post towns dotted the route at convenient distances, and Hiroshige sketched scenes that represented each of these fifty-three stages (as well as the start and stop areas, bringing the total to fifty-five).  The series of woodblock prints he produced are among the most famous in Japan’s history.

You can view images of his prints here: