Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Day 9: Hosokute - Magome

Distance covered: 39.2km
Weather: Fine

I was woken several times during the night. Not many cars pass Daikokuya, but when they do they make the entire building shake. So I'd wake when I heard a car approaching, then there'd be this rattling and shaking, and then I'd hear the car drive off into the distance.

We got up at 5.30am and were called down for breakfast at 6.15am, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. As you may have guessed, I'm not a great fan of traditional Japanese breakfasts (I always eat Western style in the morning if given the option), but this one I enjoyed just as much as dinner the night before. The yoghurt and berry dish was particularly delicious. In fact I started getting cravings for yoghurt and fruit after eating it. I had yoghurt and fruit for breakfast whenever I could, and I'd sometimes buy a pottle of yoghurt with fruit at a convenience store and eat it in my room at night for dessert.

We set off at 7am and found ourselves walking through the mist with the early morning sun poking through the trees alongside the roadway. The section of the Nakasendo from Mitake to Oi is the most remote part of the Nakasendo as it exists today, with no railways or major highways in the vicinity. The scenery was lovely, and the section of ishidatami stone paving (discovered as recently as 1973) leading up to the top of Biwa Toge was perhaps my favorite of the entire journey. We stopped after an hour and a half for a short break, then pressed on over the 13 passes (Jusan Toge), which were more like 13 gentle rises and falls in the road. The man we met at Daikokuya said that these passes weren't actually necessary but were added to the route to dissuade people from making the journey to Edo.

A while later we passed the Nakasendo Golf Course, a reminder that we were getting closer to "civilization" again. While walking alongside the golf course, we heard a loud thwack in the trees above us. A moment later a golf ball landed on the pathway no more than a couple of metres in front of us. We were both astounded. Erik took a couple of photos as evidence, then picked up the ball and threw it back onto the course. Unfortunately he threw it in the opposite direction from which it came.

We passed one lone walker on the trail before making the descent into the post-town of Oi, which is now a sizable city called Ena. We arrived there at 11.30am, and after lunch we decided to pay a quick visit to the Hiroshige Museum of Art, where there was an exhibition of prints from the 69 Stages of the Kisokaido series. We didn't get away from Ena until around 12.45pm.

The next few kilometers into the town of Nakatsugawa were pretty easy going. We stopped at Nakatsugawa for a coffee before pushing on to our final destination for the day: Magome. We had to tackle a couple of steep climbs before dropping down into the town of Ochiai, but the views during the descent were lovely. From Ochiai we had to go uphill again for a few kilometres. It was early evening, and the light was fading, but our spirits were lifted when we turned around and saw a beautiful sunset across the valley below us.

The last stretch, which included a section of ishidatami, seemed endless. Just when I was sure the town of Magome was around the next corner, we'd see a sign telling us there was 2km to go, then 1km, then 500m. We eventually arrived at the bottom of Magome at 5.35pm, and phoned the ryokan to tell them we were on our way. Unfortunately we then had to climb halfway up the steep main street to get to our accommodation.

The room was smaller than at Masuya, but the bath was great and dinner was nice. We even had the energy to have a long chat to a couple from Melbourne seated at the next table (we were the last ones to leave the dining room). My legs felt pretty good. I felt confident about the following day's walk, which, although it was going to take us over some steep terrain, was just 20km long (I'd double-checked to make sure this time).


Anonymous said...


I've fallen in love with the idea of walking the Nakasendo and booked a last minute trip. How did you arrange your accomodations? Looking around the web, I can't find any good resources. Thanks for any advice.

Walking fool said...

Thanks for your comment. I sent you an email.

Anonymous said...

hi, also been following your very helpful blog, could you help me with finding accodomation as well?

am going to train from tokyo to shiojiri then walk through narai, fukushima, nojiri, tsumago, magome, nakasugawa then hop on a train again.

looking to do another stretch of the trail or another near lake biwa or at least closer to tokyo. any pointers?
thanks :)

Walking fool said...

Hi. I sent you an email.