Family Adventure Travel Holidays

If you can find a place prettier than the Nakasendo Highway to see Japan, I’ll eat my hat. For those of you who think that’s an easy bet, you’ve never seen the Nakasendo Highway-which isn’t full of Toyotas (or any other Japanese-branded car) on some fast-lane speeding asphalt. Oh no, the Nakasendo Highway isn’t really even paved for some of its 534 kilometers.

Oh, this scenic route isn’t for the faint of heart-a walking route this long couldn’t be. But, think about it for a minute; thousands of people have come this way for hundreds of years. That’s a lot of history under your feet, wouldn’t you say?

The bigger question would be, where were they going-or where were they coming from? It depends on which way you’re traveling-the route could start or end in Kyoto, making the start or end destination a place called Edo. Perhaps you’ve heard of it by its more modern name, Tokyo.

Surely you know Tokyo wasn’t always a mega-city full of cars and people and skyscrapers. And once you’ve gotten outside the city you’ll see the Japan of yesteryear. So, to quote the still popular philosopher, Confucius-a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (or, something to that fact).

Whew, good thing you aren’t going that far. But there are some 67 towns and 69 rest stations that you’ll hit along the way, so if you do get tired there are plenty of places to stay. Don’t worry about getting lost; there are both modern and historic mile markers throughout the entire route.

Throughout the centuries, the Nakasendo Highway has been very popular with the ladies. One of the reasons is that it doesn’t really cross any water. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t find any babbling brooks and postcard perfect waterfalls (like the one found just to the west of Tsumago-juku) along the way.

Ladies, don’t you just love that kind of stuff?

Japan’s Nakasendo Highway is great to do as a family, if only for the fact that you can really get to enjoy each other as you amble along little country lanes. No television, no Nintendo games, no iPods, or other electronics that could distract you from the southern Japanese Alps off in the distance.

Don’t panic, you’re only in the shadows of the mountains-even if its name Nakasendo means “central mountain route”. At most it should only take but a few hours to walk between towns and rest areas, and that’s including time to gasp at the natural scenery.

Some might say the best part of the Nakasendo is along the Kiso Road, a region that’s believed to be the best preserved of this thousand year old route. You can debate that all you like, but the entire thing is one big history and culture lesson. I mean, this road was once heavily traveled by the Shogun-a fun fact that the boys in your family might find interesting.

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