After winning the battle in Sekigahara in 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Shogun of Edo period, set up the government in Edo (present Tokyo) and took control of Japan. Starting 1601, his Edo government began the construction of five major highways leading to Tokyo. These highways were mainly used by the government officials, feudal lords throughout Japan who were obliged to travel to Tokyo every two year, royal families from Kyoto, but later also by common people who made visits to holy sites such as Ise Jingu shrine (Ise, Mie prefecture). As the number of travelers increased, "Shukuba", post towns, were set up and they provided horses, food, and accommodation to travelers. Unfortunately, most post towns were either deserted or destroyed due to the modernization in Meiji period, but some of them survived. Today, many tourists go there to enjoy "Edo" atmosphere created by the remains of the post towns.

The most important and famous highway of all is Tokaido which ran between Tokyo and Kyoto. This highway was set up for a military purpose at first, but as it was used more often for other purposes, post towns were set up along the highway (53 in total). Tokaido and its 53 post towns became famous by the series of Ukiyoe paintings of post towns by Hiroshige Ando, an Ukiyoe artist known to have huge influence on Vincent Van Gogh. You can see some of his paintings in Metropolitan Museum, Boston Museum, and Brooklyn Museum. Sekijuku (Kameyama, Mie prefecture) is the only post town on this highway which has survived to this day.

Like Tokaido, Nakasendo connected Tokyo and Kyoto. But while Tokaido ran along the coast and required a ship, Nakasendo ran through mountains. Though Nakasendo was longer, it was considered a safer route, so a lot of women preferred this route when they traveled.

There are three post towns remaining on Nakasendo: Naraijuku (Shiojiri, Nagano prefecture), Tsumagojuku (Kiso, Nagano prefecture) and Magomejuku (Nagatsugawa, Gifu prefecture).

Hiking route has been set up between Tsumagojuku and Magomejuku, and a certificate of completion (available in English) will be given to all travelers walking the route. Here is how to obtain the certificate:

1) Stay overnight in either Tsumagojuku or Magomejuku
2) Get a hiking ticket from your accommodation before you start
3) Upon your arrival, submit your ticket to a tourist office and receive the wooden certificate of completion*

* "Nakasendo maintenance fee" (100 yen) will be charged. (US 80 cents)

Access to Naraijuku: Take a highway bus from Shinjuku Sta. (Tokyo) to Kisofukushima. Get off at Naraijyuku Stop. Please note that reservation is required.
Access to Tsumagojuku: Take Express Train "Shinano" to Minamikiso Sta. from Nagoya
Access to Magomejuku: Take JR Tokai Chuo line from Nagoya Sta. to Nakatsugawa Sta. and take a bus or taxi; Take Chuo liner bus (from Shinjuku Sta, Tokyo) and get off at Chuodo Magome bus stop. Walk 1km.

There are also smaller roads constructed and managed by either the Edo government or feudal lords in the area, and as on the major highways, post towns were set up along them as well. Hokkokukaido, which branched off from Nakasendo, was mainly used to transport gold from Sado, but many people used it to visit Zenko-ji temple in Nagano. The surviving post town on this road is called Unnojuku (Toumi, Nagano), the town now famous for its sericultural industry. And there is Kumakawajuku (Wakasacho, Fukui) on Wakasakaido. Kumakawajuku was first built by a feudal lord Yukinaga Asano in 1589 as the transportation and military center and later became the post town with more than 200 houses. Wakasakido was known as "mackerel highway" because it was used to transport mackerel and seafood to Kyoto. Now "Mackerel marathon" (76km) is held every year.

Access to Unnojuku: Take Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo to Ueda sta.. Transfer at Ueda Sta. to shinano Line and get off at Tanaka Sta.
Access to Kumakawajuku: Take Obama line to Kaminaka Sta. from Tsuruga Sta.

Kawagoe is a city which flourished as the castle town in the Edo period. Rows of merchant houses which have been well preserved give a perfect nickname to this town, "Koedo" or little Edo. From March 25 to May 8th, Kawagoe is holding a number of spring festivals. If you happen to be in Tokyo during this time, Kawagoe makes a perfect one-day trip destination!

Fore more information, please visit

Japan Airlines to Join One World and Visit Japan Pass

To celebrate the affiliation of Japan Airlines (JAL) to One World on April 1, 2007, One World, with the partnership of the Visit Japan Campaign, offers Yokoso! Visit Japan pass. One World's Yokoso! Visit Japan pass offers flights serving 42 destinations throughout Japan, operated by JAL and its affiliates. The pass can be used for up to five flights within 2-month period from the departure date of the first Japanese domestic sector. Each sector flown is charged 10,000 yen (approx. $80). Customers need to stipulate how many sectors they will need before they arrive in Japan, and book the first sector. The rest can be confirmed during the trip. The pass must be bought in conjunction with an international flight with any of One World airlines to Japan. Yokoso! Visit Japan pass goes on sale from April 1, 2007.

For more information, please go to

Prince Hotels & Resorts

Prince Hotels & Resorts will begin new hotel operations under the following 3 brands on April 1, 2007.

"The Prince" : As a flagship hotel, "The Price" will provide ultimate comfort and services.
"Grand Prince Hotels" : They offer convention facilities and quality service in city centers.
"Prince Hotels" : Casual and simple, they provide comfortable accommodations for all travelers.

In addition, Prince Hotels & Resorts open "Prince Grand Resort" ; in Karuizawa, Hakone and Furano. Their facilities include banquet halls, convention facilities, golf courses, spa and other facilities that are unique to each area: Shopping plaza in Karuizawa, Aquarium in Hakone, and ski resort in Furano.

Please go to for more information.

Information is provided in this Japan Travelers' Page as a courtesy to readers of this newsletter. Though the JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgment and at their own risk. Neither the JNTO nor any holder of copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information.

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