Walking the Nakasendo – Utozaka to Nihonrain-Imawatari

A woman in her garden on a busy section of the Nakasendo.

Last year after finishing the Kisoji I extended the walk by continuing on the Nakasendo, eventually stopping at Utozaka in Mitake, Gifu prefecture.

I’ve cycled in Mitake countless times but this was the first time walking in the area.

As I walked I dictated this into my Notes app:

Walking and have a strong desire to ride my bicycle again. I almost feel like crying. Must be because of Noa and my age.

The landscape brought back memories of when I didn’t have a daughter, my father wasn’t sick, the pandemic didn’t exist, and I was still in my early forties and enjoying cycling.

In other words it reminded of being younger.

These feelings manifested while walking and I paid attention. But then I reached Pachinko Road, the name coined by Craig Mod for National Route 21 and my mood changed instantly.

Trucks. Pollution. Pachinko Parlours. Home centres. Convenience stores. Noise.

Noise. Noise. Noise.

Why the hell was I walking this section? How has humanity taken a route that used to be so beautiful and turn it into… this? Why was I doing this when I could be enjoying time with family?

When I reached Nihonrain-Imawatari station I jumped on the train and headed home.

If I continue I will probably cycle the next few sections until the Nakasendo reaches the mountains again. Or I might endure the noise and pollution, shut up and just walk. Maybe I’ll learn something. Perhaps by cycling I’ll reconnect with a younger version of myself.

You never know until you try.

2 responses to “Walking the Nakasendo – Utozaka to Nihonrain-Imawatari”

  1. Hi Sean,

    I enjoy reading your notes on walking the Nakasendo – and remember my walk 5 years ago. At that time, I walked the whole Nakasendo as the last part of my 3 months / 2,000 km journey through the Western part of Japan, and I vividly remember these less than beautiful stretches. Which I thought were part of the journey, and made me appreciate the beautiful parts even more.

    The big difference, for me, was the possibility to really get immersed in that journey. Not just a day or two, as I had done before, but to walk day after day after day. Somehow, it then became a different experience, even with those busy parts…

    Enjoy your walking!

    Best regards,




    1. Hi Stefan,

      Thanks for your comment. I have your book and was planning on looking at it again recently to help keep me motivated. It must make a huge difference to be able to walk day after day.

      Some parts of the walk aren’t much fun but with a camera in hand I think I can make it bearable, even in the urban areas.


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