17 years. That’s how long I’ve been cycling past the entrance to the Tōkai Shizen Hodō (東海自然歩道) next to Jōkōji Station (定光寺駅) without ever venturing past the entrance. If you’ve followed this blog for long you’ll know that Mt. Dōju (道樹山) is a regular destination for one of my local hikes but until now I’d never started from the base at Jōkōji.
It was a fulfilling 2.5 hour hike that felt good, left me out of breath on a few occasions, but had little in the way of scenery. There was plenty of shinrinyoku (forest bathing・森林浴) to be had though, a particularly common theme in Japan until you get way up over the alpine tree line. There were a couple of steeper than expected sections and with few other hikers around I had the whole forest and trail to myself for the entire walk until I reached Mt. Dōju’s modest summit (429m).
The Tōkai Shizen Hōdō, incidentally, runs along a similar route to the historical Tōkaidō route from Tokyo to Osaka but shizen (自然) in Japanese is nature and so as you’d expect the route tries to stay within natural surroundings as much as possible. That’s quite a task on Japan’s heavily industrialised/urbanised Pacific coast.
The hike I did is easily accessible from Jōkōji Station but make sure you time it correctly so that you can catch a bus back to Kōzōji Station from the botanical gardens if you want to get back into Nagoya.