Japan’s ancient trails: The Nakasendo Road

The ancient ‘Nakasendo’ Road is a scenic rural footpath, but which for centuries was a major highway between Kyoto and Tokyo.

During the 250 years or so of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan between the early 17th Century and mid-19th Century, it was used by Japan’s regional feudal lords or Daimyo, who were required by the Shogun to make regular visits to Tokyo, and to bring their families with them effectively as hostages, in order to discourage them from being overly ambitious and attempting to overthrow the Shogunate.

In particular the two well-preserved villages of Tsumago and Magome, just a few miles apart on the old Nakasendo road, give the visitor the best idea today of how towns along the route would once have looked as the Daimyo passed by with their grand processions of retainers.