Nakasendo, the way from Kyo to Edo through several provinces, i.e. Omi, Mino, Shinao, Kozuke, Musashi, was one of main Kaido-roads. It had been called Tozando in the Ancient days. The Road connected with Hokkoku-kaido and Koshu-kaido in Shinao country.
Nakasendo had 67 Stage-Towns as its own ones in the Edo Period. And it shared two common Stage-Towns, Nihonbashi and Kusatsu as the teminal, with other Kaido-roads, for example Tokaido.
Nanaksendo was also called Kiso-kaido or Kisoji in a wide sense, as it ran through Kiso area.
Nowadays we call it National Road No. 19 and its side roads Nakasendo or Kiso-kaido.
In Kiso area Nakasendo is running through the bottom-line of the deep ravine. The road, processing towards south after leaving Shiojiri, is surrounded by high mountains up to Magome.
The chaned peaks of Mt. Ontake-san raise in the west, and the mountains of the Central Alps, whose summit is Mt. Kiso-komagatake, raise in the east of the road. The altitude of Mt. Ontake-san is 3,067 meters and Mt. Kiso-komagatake is taller than 2,950 meters.
⇒Reference note about Naming of Kaido
▲Kisoji is surrounded by huge mountains : in the place near Niekawa
The picture above : Torii-ridge
is drawing behind Narai-town.
The picture right : Such a scene recall us
the feature of the road in thold days.
In the whole Nakasendo the zone from Niekawa to Magome is Kisoji in a narrow sense. There have been 11 Stage-Towns, i.e. Niekawa, Narai, Yabuhara, Miyanokoshi, Fukushima, Agematsu, Suhara, Nojiri, Midono, Tsumago, Magome.
For the provincial administrative agency located in Ueda in the Nara Period, we may presume, some kind of fomula of Kaido-road had already been formed in 8th century.
Among those Stage-Towns Narai was well known over almost Japan in the Kamakura Period (12th century).
The road running in the ravine is cut off by the steep ridge line. The serial peaks and ridges which continue far from Mt. Kiso-komagatake are straddling in front of the way.
The travellers had to walk carefully over Torii rige-peak, which is creeping near the wast end of Narai town.
As there was only one narrow path through the steep mountain, in the old days the ridge-pass was famous
as the most difficult place in the Nakasendo.
The skyline raising steeply from north to south are the great dividing peaks which dvide two water-systems, i.e. Naraigawa as a branch of Shinanogawa river, flowing into the Japan Sea, and Kisogawa river, flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Therefore the road from Shiojiri to Narai is a journey raising up and from Yabuhara to Tsumago is a journey going down.
- A picture-map of whole Nakasendo from Edo to Kyo.
- Shinano country and other main roads connected with Nakasendo.
- A simple map of Kisoji's geography
- Ways, rivers and stage towns
- A picture-map of the rows of the town-houses
- A guidance for sight-seeing of townscapes
- Explain the design of the town-house in Narai
- From the design of houses, learn the lif-style of the people