Hiking the Hakone Hachiri
Tourism Shizuoka Japan
To gain an insight into what it was like to travel on foot between Tokyo and Kyoto during feudal times a guided walking and bus tour along the Hakone Hachiri is recommended. The day tour, which starts in Odawara on the coast of Kanagawa, takes in some of the sights of the resort area of Hakone and finishes up in Mishima in Shizuoka. Mishima featured as a setting in James Clavell’s epic novel Shogun.
In 2018, the Hakone Hachiri was declared a Japan Heritage Area. Hachi means eight and ri is an old Japanese unit of distance equivalent to about 4km (2.5 miles). The Hakone Hachiri therefore covers a 32km (20 mile) stretch of the old Tōkaidō highway between the post stations of Odawara and Mishima. For five centuries the Tōkaidō highway linked Japan’s Imperial capital of Kyoto with Edo (now Tokyo) the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate. During feudal times most travelers along the Tōkaidō were on foot – horses or palanquins being a luxury for the elite only.
The tour starts with transportation by local train, then bus to Amazake Chaya, one of the few remaining of the many traditional teahouse that once lined the Tōkaidō. Here you can enjoy a cup of the warm non-alcoholic sweet rice drink amazake before starting the hike along the stone-paved Tōkaidō to the shores of Lake Ashino where there is 1km long avenue lined by towering 400-year-old Japanese cedars. Following lunch and another bus ride there is a hike along a 5km section of the Tōkaidō through the forest to ruins of Yamanaka Castle. Weather permitting there may be good views of Mt. Fuji along the way. Before finishing the tour at Mishima Station there is the chance to explore the Genbegawa World Heritage Water Area, a beautiful stream originally fed by springwater from Mt. Fuji.
30 minutes by shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station. Shinkansen fare is not included in tour price, but can be covered by a valid JR Rail Pass.
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