Nakasendo – Nihonrain Imawatari to Unuma

It’s the routine that kills you. Knowing what’s coming when you step out the front door. I know what’s down the road and I don’t want to walk it.

Unuma was always the likely final destination because it’s the closest the Nakasendo gets to my front door.

Maybe I’ll return one day but the busy plains of Gifu with it’s overwhelming urbanisation will bore me to tears.

I want to be back in the mountains.

Besides, I’m gradually becoming obsessed with Masaharu Sawada (沢田正春), a photographer that spent twenty or more years photographing and documenting the Kisoji, mostly in the 1950s and 60s but also reaching into the 70s, too.

Following in his footsteps is becoming more and more appealing.

3 responses to “Nakasendo – Nihonrain Imawatari to Unuma”

  1. Stefan Speidel Avatar
    Stefan Speidel

    Hi Sean,

    As I remember it, the stretches beyond Inuyama, around Sekigahara, were indeed not very exciting… But from Inuyama all the way to Karuizawa and a bit beyond was quite enjoyable.

    I was wondering about your claim ‘it’s the routine that kills you’, and would like to turn it upside down: ‘it’s the routine that saves you…’. This is, of course, also not really true – but I need my routine! I love to walk the same (or nearly the same) streets every morning, which allows my thoughts to flow freely and to go to places that they would not go to if I were to explore new ways every day. And even on my long walk, I enjoyed the routine – getting up early, starting to walk even on days when I didn’t really feel like walking… I assume that Sawada Masaharu also followed some routines when photographing the Kisoji for so many years? There is something new to be discovered when you become very familiar with a place, something you might have, should have seen before, but just didn’t. Probably you need to have some kind of special relationship with the environment that you build your routine in. And yes – a change will be necessary once in a while. Which makes your statement true as well…

    Have a great day!




    1. Hi Stefan,

      I walked from Shiojiri to Unuma covering all of the Kisoji and I guess just under half of the Nakasendo.

      I really don’t want to walk from Unuma to Sekigahara. It’ll drive me to tears.

      But I do think getting into a routine of regularly walking the Kisoji is a good middle ground, especially as I’ve already done it. Walking it in different directions, in different seasons covers both the routine of knowing where you are and not knowing what to expect.


  2. […] Masaharu Sawada (沢田正春), a photographer who spent years on the Kisoji. I mentioned him in a previous post, and his books and photographs have inspired me to explore in more depth, going off the actual […]


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