Day 3 (of 3) on the Nakasendo

(With apologies to readers who may have supposed that I became stranded along the Nakasendo never to be heard from again: below is the last entry, delayed by inattention and busy-ness.)

My last day on the Nakasendo was Thursday, Sept 29, 2016. This was my least eventful day. I walked southwest through early rain and clearing clouds from the western edge of Karuizawa to the Sakudaira shinkansen station. Along the way I passed through several charming post towns, and from some promotional billboards at resort hotels I got the idea that I was supposed to be able to see a beautiful mountain (Mt Asama) that was unfortunately deep in cloud cover.

The road on this day often followed a quite busy road, though at times it veered off to pass through charming post-towns. At one such point it also passed a homespun-looking Nakasendo museum (which I had read about elsewhere), complete with a miniature replica of the Nakasendo.

At one point I stopped to get a hair cut. I had a very fun conversation with the barber in which I struggled mightily to explain the expression “fire that before it quits”, the philosophy of hair care that I have adopted since signs of male pattern baldness became impossible to ignore.

As I got closer to Sakudaira the route became busier and busier. The most charming feature along this stretch was that the road passed several apple orchards with ludicrously large apples. Eventually I veered off to follow a parallel road that was not marked as Nakasendo in my guide book, but it was just as charming and showed signs of being on some people’s walking itinerary even if it wasn’t technically on mine.

Near to the Sakudaira station I stopped in front of an udon shop and checked the tabelog web site for recommendations. As it turned out, the udon shop in front of me was the top recommendation in the area, so I had a happy bowl of noodles before heading to the station and boarding the shinkansen for Kanazawa, where my trip in Japan continued.

I hope to return to Japan someday to do more of the Nakasendo trail, ideally with enough time to walk in the Iida Valley.  To Tokyo-based people with just a few days I would recommend doing the part I did, which gave a taste of history and nature while being highly accessible by public transport.

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