Old Nakasendo Highway trek, Kiso Valley – 2

untitled-316 untitled-319 untitled-320It is hard to get lost on this trail as wooden markers are embedded into the ground intermittently along the trail. It indicated direction and distance. We walked through a picturesque village set in a valley with a few homes but seemed devoid of people. No sound of chatting or music. Only birds’ chirping and rustling of leaves. Perhaps they are out working in the nearby fields. Corn and other tubers on bamboo trays were left to dry in the sun. Wooden horse cart wheels lay leaned against rustic brick walls. Near a water trough, a few stem of an orange inflorescences was left to dry in the sun. I had seen these several times along this trek – sometimes hung on windows. This place seemed distant to the neon lit cites not too far away. A single female Japanese trekker walked past us with a lovely smile. We basically walked alone on this trek today. Signs of life, a fruit orchard emerged. The trek continued and sometimes along little streams. This made the walk pleasant although humid. It was great and a relief not lugging our luggage on our backs. Kudos to the luggage transfer service.

“Hi my name is Suzuki. I drive a Suzuki car”, said this small elderly but affirmable man dressed in a Jinbei and straw hat.

“He was very kind and friendly……..Then, he wished us luck and we once again plunged into the forest”  – Navindd

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Just below the pass, we were greeted by Mr Suzuki, whom was the care taker of an old inn. He invited us for some tea, fresh fruits and sweets. The wooden house was spacious and had an old fire place, “iorii” with a rusted pot hung above it. Typically it had a fish symbol on it. We bid farewell and descended further into a densely forested area. Thoughts of bears had vanished. Some of the trees seemed old with impressive buttress roots spreading out.

The flora became more diverse with broadleaf plants. A roar drowned the sounds of rustling leaves. The path led to two waterfalls, O-dake and Me-dake. The coolness of the forest here was like an elixir. Ferns covered parts of the ground. Shafts of light filtered through the forest canopy heightened the natural beauty of the forest. Eventually, after about four hours of trekking, the forest cleared and we entered Tsumago, another prosperous and preserved post town. It was a nostalgic walk, at places the original path, on a piece of Japan’s historic highways of a bygone era.

“Sitting at the base of a huge waterfall felt refreshing and very cooling……the cool water droplets dabbling our faces made us feel fresh……” – Navindd

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