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Ancient Nakasendo Highway

Ancient Nakasendo Highway

The Ancient Highway that Connected Tokyo and Kyoto

During the Edo period of Japan (1603~1868) there were five great routes, or highways, that spread throughout the heart of the land. One of these, which ran through central Japan and connected the cities of Edo (current-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, was the Nakasendo. Though much of this route has now been replaced by modern motorways, there are still certain areas where it remains preserved in its near original form. Of the 69 post stations (towns where travelers would stop for the night during their journey) located along the Nakasendo Highway, Gifu Prefecture is home to 17 of them where visitors can walk or cycle and experience what it must have felt like to be a traveller during the highway's heyday.

The Ancient Highway that Connected Tokyo and Kyoto

Magome-juku: the Mountainside Post Station

As the 43rd post station heading away from Edo along the Nakasendo, Magome-juku was a thriving site of traffic and cultural exchange during the Edo period. Built on mountainside terrain, it is unique among Nakasendo post stations because of its steep slope. Compared to other stations, which are constructed on level ground, the slope gives Magome-juku a very distinct ambience and makes it such that walking uphill towards Tokyo offers different views than does walking downhill towards Kyoto! Make sure and walk along the trail from Magome-juku to Tsumago-juku (the next post station heading towards Tokyo) considered one of the nicest and most well-maintained stretches of old highway along the entire Nakasendo.

Magome-juku: the Mountainside Post Station

Hiroshige Museum of Art, Ena

Ukiyo-e woodblock prints were an exceedingly popular art form during the Edo period and are highly recognizable in all parts of the world today, partially because of the fame of Hokusai's The Great Wave. The Hiroshige Museum of Art, Ena is located in Oi-juku (the 46th post station along the Nakasendo) and houses many of the masterpieces of Utagawa Hiroshige. Hiroshige was one of the great masters of the ukiyo-e tradition and was mostly active in the late Edo period. In addition to appreciating the beauty of these works, you can also experience first-hand what printmaking is all about by pressing blocks inked with different colors onto a print of your very own!

Hiroshige Museum of Art, Ena

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