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    • Day 9


      May 3 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      Tout le long du chemin on peut trouver des cloches. Il faut les sonner pour éloigner les ours qui vivent dans la forêt.
      Une belle pause à mi chemin près des cascades avant de boire un thé offert par un habitant.Read more

    • Day 35

      Let’s hike today! 🚶‍♀️

      September 4, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

      Vroeg in de ochtend vertrokken wij vanaf het heerlijke hostel in Nagiso om te beginnen aan een waanzinnige hike (tenminste, als we de foto’s mogen geloven). 📸

      Vroeger, lang geleden werd via deze route tussen Tokyo en Kyoto de post op en neer gebracht. 📮Vandaag de dag kan je delen van deze route nog lopen. Wij kozen voor het mooiste stukje, van Tsumago naar Magome. En inderdaad, dit was waanzinnig mooi! Tsumago is een waanzinnig schilderachtig Japans dorpje met allemaal traditionele huisjes, wow! 🎎

      De hike van ruim 7 km was groen, mooi, soms wat stijl en met bellen langs de weg. Want er schijnen beren in de bergen te wonen. 🐻 Bij elke bel, even bellen om de beren af te schrikken. 🛎️

      Na ongeveer 3 uurtjes wandelen en genieten kwamen wij aan in Magome, nog zo een schilderachtig Japans dorpje met nog meer traditionele huizen. Iets groter dan Tsumago en als bonus prachtig uitzicht op nog meer bergen. En het fijne is, hier blijven wij een nachtje slapen. Wel in een Ryokan, waar onze kamer weer bestaat uit een matje op de grond en een zak rijst als kussen. Gisteren hebben wij er heerlijk op geslapen, zou dit vanavond weer lukken? 😴
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    • Day 40

      Day 40, Kiso Valley

      March 19, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 52 °F

      Kiso Valley is an ancient trade route that runs alongside the Japanese Alps. Once the road between Kyoto and Tokyo, it was under the control of the shogun who forced all travelers to make the journey by foot. Part of the route and towns along the way have been preserved to give a visitors a picture of ancient life and natural beauty. We hiked today from Magome to Tsumago, about six miles. Halfway through the hike, we stopped at the Tateba tea house, to meet the tea master and enjoy a cup of warm comfort.Read more

    • Day 13


      May 29 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      Leckes Frühstück, danach nochmal zum Aussichtspunkt hochgegangen, der Weitblick ist großartig. Dann Wanderung weiter auf dem alten Postweg nach Nakatsugawa mit einer kleinen Kaffeepause (8 km), tolle Strecke bei herrlichem Sonnenschein. Das ländliche Japan hat auch seinen Charm. Jetzt geht es über Nagoya mit dem Shinkansen nach Kyoto.Read more

    • Day 6

      Magome-Nakasendo Way

      May 16 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      Caught the first bus at 7:45am to Magome to the start of the Nakasendo Way. Only 6-7 others at that time. We read two forecasts for the day. One said a lot of rain, the other said no rain. Being optimistic (and mostly not wanting to carry a heavy load), I packed for a dry day, but Gary came fully prepared. On arrival, it was overcast and wet. Boo! Gary let me wear his rain pants, which hung loosely and barely stayed on.

      Not knowing what to expect, we entered an entirely charming and picturesque village, complete with wooden homes and water wheels. Uphill all the way. A rough start for Gary's knees.

      As we climbed away from the village, the rain abated, and weather conditions were perfect for the rest of the hike. Entering the first forested area, we were greeted by a warning sign about bears as well as a bell to ward them off. The path alternates between villages and woods, and bells are placed at every wooded entrance.

      At about the halfway point, there's a rest stop in an old teahouse run by a guy named Tosh. He has a fire going and offers tea, individually-wrapped candies, and conversation to visitors. Each day, visitors can use chalk to draw their flag and show where they're from. On our day, there were visitors from Tokyo, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Canada, Thailand, France, Holland, Italy, and Wales. And that was at 10:30am. I'm sure more countries were added later. Hard to believe we were the only ones from the US. Of course, we had to include Hawaii on our sketch!

      During the hike, we saw mostly couples and some groups of 4-6 on the route, but it was by no means overrun. We had plenty of time to enjoy the peaceful environment on our own.
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    • Day 9

      Randonnée entre Nagiso et Magome

      May 3 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

      Hier soir nous avons fait quelques heures de route en train pour partir vers la campagne Japonaise, direction Nakatsugawa.
      Ce matin nous sommes partis pour une randonnée le long du chemin de Nakasendo. Nous avons marché 12km dans des paysages plutôt montagneux avec beaucoup de dénivelé. Une vraie épreuve pour nos petits randonneurs qui ont assuré.Read more

    • Day 23

      Historische Pfad vo Magome uf Tsumago

      October 11, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Nach Ise simer ganz früeh am morge ufe Zug richtig Nagoya. Mir hei aber in Nagoya am Bahnhof nume üses Gepäck ines Schliessfach gleit, z‘ eigetleche Ziel düre Tag isch nämlech Magome gsi. Dert gits e 8km längi Wanderig, wo ‚Nakasendo“ heisst und die 2 Poststädt Magome und Tsumago verbindet. Nakasendo heisst übersetzt „Mitten durch die Berge“, und früecher, also bis zum Bou vor Isebahn im 19. Jh, hetme dä Wäg brucht als Verbindig zwüsche Tokyo und Kyoto. Hüt isch d‘Wanderig zwüsche dene 2 historische Dörfer es Highlight für Touriste, aber zum Glück isches nid so überloffe wie anderi Attraktione bisher, es het eher wenig lüt gha.
      Gstartet heimer auso die Wanderig in Magome. Meh het z‘Gfüehl, i dem Dorf isch d‘Zit blibe stah. Es het keni moderne Gebäude, alles gseht sehr traditionell us. Es japanisches Warnschild miteme Bär druffe hetmer zersch chli Angst gmacht, aber d‘Tatsach dases no anderi Touris het gha hei d‘Chance chli minimiert, das e Bär usgrechnet üs 2 sött agriffe 😂 D‘Wanderig füehrt dürne schöne Wald, a Wasserfäll verbi überne Pass. Underwägs hets überau Glockene wo druff steit „Ring the Bell hard against Bears“. I bi drum de froh gsi womer nach guet 2h in Tsumago si acho, ohni Begägnig miteme Bär. Tsumago isch genau wie Magome o sehr es schöns und traditionells Dörfli, ohni moderne Schnickschnack. Dert heimer när e Nudelsuppe mit ganz viu Gmües gässe, und de Sacha hetsech no e örtlechi Spezialität gönnt: Bratnige Riis amene Stock inere Erdnussbuttersauce. Mit Bus und Zug simer am Nami när wieder zrugg uf Nagoya üses Gepäck am Bahnhof ga hole und hei im Hostel icheckt. Z‘lustige a dem Hostel isch gsi, dasme het chönne e Trennwand ufe tue bide Bett, so hetme auso quasi us 2 Einzelkabine 1 grossi chönne mache. Am Abe simer ga nepalesisch Ässe und derna no ine Bar es paar Bierli ga trinke und Spieli spiele.
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    • Day 7

      Stepping Back in Time: Tsumago

      September 23, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      We said goodbye to Matsumoto with a breakfast of locally made soba noodles and tempura. Stella prefers her noodles less slippery and struck again at the pastry section of the buffet, pilfering more jam packets for ... well.... later.

      We boarded the morning train to Nakatsugawa, and after missing the connecting bus, took the world's most honest taxi, to Magome. (Noah can tell you the story of the travelling Airbuds: spoiler alert, they were safely returned after being ejected by his Big Boys).

      Magome is a formal postal town that served travellers on the major route between Tokyo and Kyoto during the feudal ages. The town is built on either side of a paved street that weaves up a very steep hill. Poor Paul was carrying our luggage like an absolute beast. I guess life's randomness is what he trains for after all. Thank goodness cos I could barely drag myself up the hill! The tourist information centre was at the top for reasons I still can't understand. This this is where we were leaving our bags to be forwarded on to tonights destination, as we spent the next three hours walking the trail to Tsumago.

      After the number of kilometres we have already walked to date, the 7.5km didn't sound too bad. All in a days work for team Blackford. I mean, I had to retire a pair of shoes already due to stitching coming away.

      Alan our trip planner, described the walk as gentle. Yeah. Nah. We didn't consider it gentle and after 50 mins walking uphill in the searing heat, Alan's popularity was starting to diminish. As the walk progressed however, we entered leafy green forests complete with babbling streams and surprise waterfalls, on the whole, it was a bit like the Bibblumum here at home. Except we don't need to periodically ring bells to scare the drop bears at home. Perhaps they are there to motivate the tourists not to linger, so perhaps that's why it only took us 2.5 hours to get to Tsumago!

      Tsumago was magic; this little village was frozen in time; only open to pedestrians during the day, with hidden power lines and displays of traditional homes from the Edo era. It was a truly immersive experience of what life would have been like decades ago. Time went so fast, just enough to snavel a few souvenirs, our luggage and a quick bite of rice balls and favoured ice.

      24,000 steps, one manic bus ride and three trains later, we arrived at 9pm into Hiroshima. The hotel is well, something. There are knights guarding the entrance of the "Grand Intelligent Hotel" (not a typo. I thought it was International too 😆) plus an oversized plushie in the foyer, which sat at odds against their attempt at opulence. We were thoroughly confused but too tired to care past celebrating the arrival of the rest of our luggage.

      When we walked into our room, initially we thought we had to share two doubles, until we found folded-up mattresses in the cupboard called 'futons'. Paul and I will attempt to share a bed, Stella the other, whilst Noah volunteered to take the floor with the two wafer-thin futons stacked together. The bathroom is set up like the Onsen washing area, where you sit down to shower in front of a mirror. Sitting is good. Sleeping is even better.

      Working the new kettle (which looks like a Dalek) and scoffing more weird snacks rounds out day seven. Tomorrow Noah is absolutely hanging for a skate on his new board, Stella is keen to op-shop and I'm going to try and find a laundromat (as the hotel doesn't wash on a bloody Sunday). 🙄

      Step count to date: 83,000
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    • Day 16

      Samurai und Ninja

      August 6, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

      Der erste Tagespunkt war leider auch der letzte zusammen mit Chio und Yi Ye.
      Wir haben das Ninjamuseum besucht und viel über Samurai und Ninjas gelernt.
      Um uns wirklich wie ein kleiner Ninja zu fühlen, konnten wir nach der geführten Tour durchs Museum auch selbst Ninjasterne werfen.
      Das Highlight war aber das Tragen von einer sehr einfachen, niedrigrangigen Samurairüstung und des Katana. Das Schwert war natürlich stumpf, aber aus vollem Stahl.

      Der Abschied von unseren beiden Freunden war genau wie ich es mag: Kurz und Schmerzlos
      Man sieht sich ja wieder 😁

      Nach kurzer Zeit sind wir dann auch im nördlicher gelegenen Magome angekommen und haben unser Zimmer im Ryokan mit Onsen bezogen.
      Magome ist eine ehemalige Poststadt, die zur Zeit der Edoperiode eine wichtige Rolle als Rastpunkt auf dem Nakasendo einnahm.
      Nicht nur, weil der Nakasendo eine der wichtigsten Handelsstraßen zwischen Kyoto und Tokyo war, sondern auch weil die Daimyos, die Gebietsherren, regelmäßig beim Shogun vorstellig werden mussten und eine standesgemäße Raststation brauchten.

      Mit Beginn der Meiji-Periode (1868) wurde dies unnötig und die Stadt entschied sich ihr kulturelles Erbe beizubehalten.
      So wurden beispielsweise alle Stromleitungen unterirdisch verlegt, um den alten Charme zu bewahren.
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    • Day 8

      La valle del Kiso: da Magome a Tsumago

      July 25, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      Oggi sveglia presto: il primo treno che dobbiamo prendere parte da Kyoto alle 6.57. Ci aspettano in tutto 2 treni e un bus per arrivare a Magome, punto di partenza del nostro trekking nella Valle del Kiso che
      corre lungo le montagne delle Alpi centrali.
      Nella Valle si è sviluppata un’antica rotta commerciale di 70 km chiamata Kisoji che serviva come mezzo di commercio e come via di comunicazione tra Edo e Kyoto.
      A causa delle restrizioni imposte dallo shogunato, i viaggiatori erano quasi sempre costretti a compiere i loro viaggi a piedi. Di conseguenza, le “città postali” si sviluppavano ogni pochi chilometri per fornire ai viaggiatori luoghi in cui riposarsi, mangiare e trovare un alloggio notturno durante il loro arduo viaggio.
      Lungo la valle di Kiso, alcune città postali, in particolare Magome, Tsumago e Narai, sono state preservate e restaurate.
      Percorriamo 10km, la maggior parte del tempo nel fresco degli alberi, verdissimi.
      A metà percorso entriamo in una casa per il tè allestita gratuitamente e dopo decidiamo di fare una sosta per rinfrescarci vicino ad una cascata.
      Ci stupisce positivamente incontrare pochi turisti lungo il percorso ma soprattutto pochi negozi e attività.
      Pranziamo in un locale alla fine del percorso e ci mettiamo in fila per il bus. Ci dirigiamo a Nagiso per prendere il treno alla volta di Matsumoto.
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