Nakasendō – Walking Nakatsugawa to Takenami

An old pink Nakasendo sign attached to an electricity pylon on a cloudy, cold day.

With the Kiso-ji section of the Nakasendō coming to an end on my last walk I needed to decide on a plan to continue. Either turn around and start again heading northeast back along the Kiso-ji (but why so soon?) or continue walking west along the Nakasendō. I‘ve chosen to continue walking west for now but to start walking sections with my daughter in spring. Anyone that follows along through my newsletter will know why.

For her to join me I ideally needed to walk one more section first. That would mean a shorter train ride to the start and also allow us to finish at a friend’s place a few kilometres east of Mitake station if necessary. If (when?) all hell breaks loose and she decides she hates the walk then help will only be a short distance away. 

  • An awful looking three story grimy yellow building in central Nakatsugawa. Tonkatsu restaurant on the first floor.
  • Cloudy snowy skies over an old dry cleaners and photo lab. Another old concrete building in Nakatsugawa. A relic of the 1970s? While walking the Nakasendō
  • A precarious and old grimy building on 'stilts' on the Nakasendō. A relic of the 1970s perhaps? I wouldn't trust this in an earthquake.

Grimy relics from past generations.

So with all that in mind, last Sunday I made one more solo walk from Nakatsugawa (中津川) to Takenami station ( 武並駅). In total about 20kms of easy walking. Takenami is the nearest station on the JR Chuo line before the Nakasendō and Chuo lines separate and take different directions – the Chuo Line heading south west towards Nagoya (and straight home), the Nakasendō heading west towards Gifu city, Lake Biwa, and eventually Kyoto.

  • The Nakatsu River flowing down from the mountains on a cloudy, snowy day. Mountains in the distance. While walking the Nakasendō.
  • School kids on a freezing morning in the school yard. Ready for soccer practice. Mountains shrouded in cloud in the distance. While walking the Nakasendō.
  • A hamlet on the Nakasendō. Mountains in the distance.
  • A fluttering of snow. A ladder perched leading to the roof. Tools by its side. Signs of human life but nobody around. Too cold? While walking the Nakasendō.
  • Perhaps an old ceramic sake jar at the entrance to an abandoned Japanese house. While walking the Nakasendō.
  • An ichirizuka distance marker, (cherry?) tree, and small shrine along the Nakasendō.
  • A huge boulder with the Nakasendō written in Japanese engraved.
  • The Nakasendō passing through the narrow streets in the centre of Ena in Gifu prefecture.
  • The Nakasendō passes a cement factory. Bright blue signs, yellow arrows, show the route.
  • Snow falling at Takenami Station, Gifu, Japan. While walking the Nakasendō.

The walk from Nakatsugawa to Takenami was cold, snowy, dull and without signs of life for most of the day. One woman searching for her lost cat and a couple of keen scaffolders/builders braving the temperatures on a Sunday morning were the only people to break the monotony by saying hello, but apart from that I saw almost no one outside of the two larger towns, Ena (恵那) and Nakatsugawa. 

  • Two keitora trucks parked along the Nakasendō in Nakatsugawa, Gifu.
  • Another parked keitora truck in a garden behind a tradional Japanese stone gate. While walking the Nakasendō.
  • One of many white keitora farmers trucks scattered throughout the Japanese countryside on the Nakasendō. This one parked in a gravel driveway, next to a pine tree, mountains in the distance.
  • Another farmers truck visible on the otherside of the train tracks, which the Nakasendō passes under. A sheet on the windscreen to keep off the snow.
  • A keitora farmers truck parked along the Nakasendō. This is the point where I turned off the route to head for Takenami station.

Playing a game of spot the keitora.

I spent the walk needlessly fussing over the GPS function on my camera (why can’t I just leave it until I get back home to fix?!) while also playing a game of spot the keitora trucks scattered throughout the countryside. I was also on the lookout for grimy looking buildings of past generations that probably shouldn’t have been built at all. Nakatsugawa and Ena seem to have an ample amount that would be fun to photograph sometime in the future.

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