The Nakasendō, also called the Kisokaidō, was one of the five routes of the Edo period, and one of the two that connected Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan. There were 69 postal stations between Edo and Kyoto, crossing through Musashi, Kōzuke, Shinano, Mino and Ōmi provinces.
In late March we decided to walk this trail and signed up with Walk Japan for a 5-day guided walk on the Kiso Road starting from Nagoya and finishing in Matsumoto.
Day 5 – Matsumoto to Kuruizawa
After breakfast at the hotel our group made a visit to the nearby Matsumoto Castle. It was again a rainy morning as we walked to the castle and then waited outside for it to open.
Matsumoto Castle, originally known as Fukashi Castle, is one of Japan’s premier historic castles, along with Himeji and Kumamoto. The building is also known as the “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior. It was the seat of Matsumoto Domain under the Edo Period Tokugawa shogunate.
The castle had many steep wooden stairs as we walked around the tour circuit inside with numerous artefacts including armour, and guns of the period. The castle gardens were beautiful with many blooming sakura.
At the end of this tour this was the official end of the 5-day Walk Japan itinerary and everyone then departed for their trains to various destinations.
We headed from Matsumoto to Kuruizawa to spend one night in the Wellies Hotel which offered some traditional British hospitality. Our train from Matsumoto to Nagano was delayed due to a “body” on the rail tracks. Apparently this is a common method of suicide in Japan. However we managed to catch an earlier train luckily and made our connection on the Shinkansen from Nagano to Kuruizawa.
The Nakasendo Trail also goes through Kuruizawa and we had hoped to have a walk on part of this during our stay. However on arrival it continued to rain heavily so we could not face heading out in that. So we relaxed in the hotel with some lovely afternoon tea. In the evening we had a really excellent meal with smoked salmon sprayed with Laphroaig single malt whisky, salad with very nice local tomatoes, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding in a red wine sauce and an excellent rhubarb crumble with ice cream for dessert attended by the owner Terry who had been in Japan for many years. After days of Japanese food during the walk it was good to have some good British fare.
Terry had just returned from a trip to UK and had brough back some haggis and he offered some for our breakfast the next morning. What a treat!! A full English breakfast with haggis and a small piece of black pudding.
The next morning after the wonderful breakfast at the Wellies Hotel we headed back to the local JR Kuruizawa station and took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, then transferred to a local line for a train down to Yokohama where we had one night in a hotel before boarding our ship for a 2-week cruise around the Japanese islands plus Taiwan. You can read about the cruise trip in subsequent blog postings.
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