Hike Japan’s Nakasendo Trail – Episode 479

categories: asia travel

Nakasendo Trail, Japan

Hike Japan’s Nakasendo Trail – Episode 479

Hear about hiking Japan’s Nakasendo Trail as the Amateur Traveler talks to Dave Grenewetzki about his experiences on this trip into the Japanese countryside between Kyoto and Tokyo.

“I spent many years in the video game business and I traveled to Japan often on business, mostly to Tokyo and Kyoto. So we went back at this time purely in vacation mode and we decided to get off the beaten path and out of the big cities and indulge our hiking hobby at the same time.”

Dave and his wife decided to hike parts of the Nakasendo Trail after seeing an article years ago in the New York times about this route that connected Kyoto and Edo (later Tokyo), emperor and Shogun, during the Edo period of Japan (1603-1868). A portion of the towns along this route were preserved in the 1960s and that is the portion they decided to hike.

Along the way Dave and his wife stayed at ryokans, small family houses that had been turned into inns. “You’ve heard about Japan being expensive. This is really not that expensive for what you are getting. We were paying about $120 a night per person which includes 2 meals, incredible meals, probably twenty plates in front of each one of us both for dinner and for breakfast, and we would grab lunch along the way. The best kind of hiking, just a bottle of water in your pocket and hiking through the Japanese countryside.” Dave shares some of the secrets of how not to offend local customs in a ryokan.

“We started in a town called Magome and its a beautiful town. It has services for tourists but it’s not touristy. There are no cars allowed in this town. Everything has been rerouted since this 1960s preservation movement. There is a wide stone path surrounded on both sides by Ryokans. You’re always hearing water. All along this trail you’re hearing running water, water wheels, waterfalls. You’re going through the countryside as you would imagine the countryside to look like. So you’re going through small farms and rice paddies, bamboo, random shrines along the side of the road. There are ancient sign boards that were along the road back when it first opened.”

Dave describes getting lost along the way. A place where you were instructed to ring a bell to keep the bears away, gorgeous views and one active volcano along the route. Come with us into Japan’s countryside and into its past.

subscribe: rss feed | Apple podcasts | stitcher

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)


TravelSmith – Inspiring people to go places they’ve never been

Show Notes

Hiking in Japan
Nakasendo Trail
Magome Inn
Tsumago Inn
Japanese Alps
Kiso-Fukushima Inn
Narai Inn
Robot Restaurant
Robot Restaurant Video
Dave’s Flickr Album


Jeffrey on Jeffrey comments on Travel to Hyderabad, India – Episode 477

Listened today and was excited as it is one of my favorite cities we visited on our last 3 month trip to India. Your guest left a lots out. The Hyderabad zoo is one of the best in India. Golconda fort at night has a great sound and light show and the shah tombs are very interesting to walk through. A great city to visit.

Davo on Travel to Kyrgyzstan – Episode 478

The recent podcast on Kyrgyzstan was spot on. Your guest definitely hit the highlights, there was one thing that wasn’t covered in the depth I feel it deserves… the overwhelming Kyrgyz hospitality.

After spending two weeks there, my partner and I were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people we met. For example, while in Karakol we rented bikes. We got about 10km out of town when one broke down. We were able to hitchhike back to town. The guy who picked us up brought us to his brother’s house and fixed our bikes for us. Had his brother been home, I think he fully intended on serving us tea, then insisting we stay for dinner, then probably drinks, later. Based on anecdotes from other tourists we met, this is a common scenario. Hitchhiking is a great way to have a very personal cultural experience, and it seems pretty safe. My partner said it is the only country of the 33 we’ve been to that she would consider hitchhiking as a solo female traveller.

Thanks for highlighting this incredible destination, one that is too often and undeservedly overlooked. My favorite thing about Amateur Traveller is that it highlights so many places like this that most people wouldn’t think to go (or even know where they are).

Nakasendo Trail, Japan

Share this:

by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

4 Responses to “Hike Japan’s Nakasendo Trail – Episode 479”



thanks for the japan story, planning to return after 30 yrs and it will be interesting



Just returning from Japan, I was very happy indeed that I listened to Dave’s description of the Kiso Valley. We walked the trail and stayed at the historic Fujioto Ryokan. We would have never thought to have visited this area, and it turned out to be a real highlight of our trip. Hope you will have Dave on the show again soon…



I travel to Japan a few times a year for work. I like to take the weekend free and explore. This year (June) I want to hike part of the Nakasendo Trail (probably starting nearer Tokyo end). Do you have any suggestions on places to stay? Any specific Onsen to go to?



I don’t but can pass your question along to Dave.

Leave a Reply

Tags: , ,