Walking the Nakesendo Way.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2018 by brunyfire

Day six, 8th November, 2018 and the start of our walking tour with Walk Japan. 32C868AA-386E-4846-8FD1-7B64A393B879Departing our traditional Airbnb ryokan in the heart of the Chomuoji Temple complex in Kyoto, the Intrepids grab the first available taxi and off load at the Kyoto train station to catch a mid morning Shinkansen to Nagoya, followed by a local train to Ena in Gifu Prefecture. A short taxi ride from Ena station and we’re deposited at Ichikawa Inn, our traditional ryokan for the night. As we’re early, we dump our cases and head straight out again to the Hiroshige Museum.

Hisroshige is the name of the town’s most famous son, Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) who was a wood block print artist and illustrator in the ukiyo-e* tradition.  However, it was for his landscapes that Hiroshige was best known, particularly his contribution to the 69 views of the Nakesendo highway done in the 1830s. His depictions of the roads, modes of travel and post-town pilgrims are accurate representations of the times, starting with several reproductions on the bridge over the Agigawa river.FF52989E-3AD6-4A2B-A093-44F5FF6E7C5FFortutiously for the Intrepids, there is a special exhibition at the museum commemorating the 160th anniversary of Hiroshige’s death where works from the collection of Hiroshige and Hokusai (of ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ fame) were being shown.2BE54067-C2B1-44FD-AA48-5FAA4B828582After an absorbing few hours at the museum and a turn around the town……0107238C-F33E-4219-B447-A3CA78604B1C121CD2B3-9FA0-4296-8ED7-95FF86193135…….we make our way back to our Inn……..42C817A8-5AC4-4407-9F8F-B400486D461A………to meet our hostesses. Founded in 1624, this family ryokan is currently run by the 14, 15 and 16th generations – daughter Sashiko Ichikawa, her mother and grandmother…..DFF5AC49-1C7B-4A68-95C7-790708E9A563…….all of whom made themselves known to us at dinner time, served up to us Kaiseki style. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that reflects the collection of skills and techniques in its preparation and the balances of taste, texture, appearance, and colors of the food. Only fresh local, seasonal ingredients were used for our meal, and were prepared in ways that aimed to enhance their flavour.  Presentation was enhanced further with the use of a range of serving ware in different mediums – though most were ceramic……9F8339A0-6A9F-4ECB-86BB-F9DE8B8633B7……and all were beautifully arranged and garnished, often with real leaves and flowers – such as the finely sliced fish served upon a perilla or shiso leaf (or ‘beefsteak plant’) – top right and left…….C6C00538-685B-496B-A604-CF60CC5961A6……..and the nuts from the ginkgo** – left and right – leaves from the tree.

After a hot soak in the onsen and the promise of a comfortable night – the Intrepids were all set for their first day of walking…….


* ukiyo-e, often translated as ‘pictures of the floating world’, is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Usually associated with the depiction of the citie’s pleasure districts and its inhabitants during the Edo Period.

** The Ginko biloba were widespread at the time of the  dinosaurs, around 125-220 million years ago. Thus they are ‘living fossils’ because they are the only surviving representatives of a group of plants which was once common all over the world. Thought to be a native of China, it may be extinct in the wild and possibly only survives to this because for thousands of years monks planted it around temples in China and Japan.