The Chuo Alps in the distance. Walking the Nakasendo/Kiso-ji, central Japan.

Nakasendō/Kiso-ji – Yabuhara to Kiso Fukushima

This was one of the quieter stretches of the Nakasendō/Kiso-ji so far, from Yabuhara (藪原) to Kiso Fukushima (木曽福島) — a ‘get it done’ section. In autumn last year I walked from Kiso Fukushima to Agematsu, and by reaching Kiso Fukushima this time have now walked from Shiojiri to Agematsu. It feels good, but I won’t pretend to have learnt a great deal about the people and region, other than it’s geography because there have been few people around. Maybe that will change the closer I get to Nakatsugawa.


Incidentally, anyone who has been in Japan long enough will know of the awkwardness when you are in the middle of nowhere and see another ‘foreigner’* approaching. What do you say? — Hello, Konnichiwa, give a smile, or a quick nod of the head? The answer is probably all of them in quick succession. Everyone I walked past that day smiled and said hello in Japanese. But this particular stranger completely blanked me. An intentional look down at the smartphone, no acknowledgment of my presence (although they definitely saw me), and staying firmly put on the other side of the narrow street. Yes, there’s no obligation to say anything of course, but I thought foreigners* in Japan were over that kind of pettiness. Obviously not.


I shot some very short video clips of the walk this time to accompany the scarce amount of photos I took. I’m no video wizard but it does seem a waste to be carrying around a modern hybrid LUMIX S5 and not use it to try some video, so I gave it a go. Next time I’ll use a better microphone, tripod, and do a better job of blocking out the noise of the wind.

*They may of been Japanese, of course.


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Based in Japan since 2001 I spend free days adventuring into the mountainous regions of central Honshu and occasionally Hokkaido. In 2021, I plan to slow down and talk to more people. Feel free to email me.

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