Part 2: Shizuoka Tokaido Trail

Rural backroads landscape, image courtesy of Tourism Shizuoka Japan

Shizuoka Tokaido Trail Highlights

With the support of Tourism Shizuoka Japan organisation (TSJ), the following walking itinerary brings together some of the distinctive elements of this beautiful prefecture – restored and remnant sections of the historic Tokaido trail, landscapes of forests and tea plantations with Mount Fuji views, rural backroads and ancient temples. Access between each day’s walking locations requires bus, train or taxi transfers, and note that this is not remote Japan – urban sprawl frequently overlays the old route, so this itinerary is very selective and not consecutive village to village walking.

The following website has excellent English language maps of the Shizuoka Tokaido Trail: http://www.shizuoka-tokaido.biz/en/index.html

Odawara Castle, while just across the border in Kanagawa prefecture, sets the scene for coming to grips with Edo period history

Day 1 – start at Odawara Castle (Post Station #9); transfer by train and bus to Amazakejaya Tea House; walk the remnant Tokaido trail from Amazakejaya tea house at the top of the pass down to Moto Hakone (Post station #10);
walking distance 3km; overnight Moto Hakone area

Torii gate of Hakone Shrine on Lake Ashi from Moto Hakone

Day 2 – walk from Moto Hakone to Hakone Sekisho (barrier checkpoint), then bus up hill to bus-stop Hakone Toge. Cross at the lights, walk past the Hakone Eco-parking lot for 500m and turn right at the toilets onto Ashinoko Country Club road, walk 400m to Baragadaira trailhead on the left, which is the start of the walkable section of the Hakone Hachiri trail; walk to castle ruins and then take bus down to Mishima (Post Station #11), visit Mishima Taisha shrine and beautiful canals and riverside walk on the Genbei river; walking distance 7.5km; overnight Mishima

Remnant ‘ishidatami’ stone paved trail on the Hakone Hachiri

Day 3 – transfer by train to Fujinomiya, and take a taxi to Asagiri; walk 15km forest and marsh section of the Tokai Shizen Hodo (East Japan Long Trail) from Asagiri to Lake Tanuki; accommodation Lake Tanuki area

sunrise over Mt Fuji seen from Lake Tanuki, image from Tourism Shizuoka Japan

Day 4 – start from Lake Tanuki with guides from Fuji Eco Tours, and walk down to Shiraito Falls through pretty countryside on rural backroads in the Yuno valley; walk on to enjoy tastings at a sake brewery and lunch served by community grandmothers; and return to Fujinomiya city by car or bus; walking distance 15km; overnight Fujinomiya

Shiraito Falls – underground water springing from a cliff of lava
Walking through the quiet rural landscape of the Yuno valley
Fuji

Day 5 – In Fujinomiya visit Fuji Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, then a walking option according to the season and the weather. Mount Fuji climbing takes 2 days, and can only be done in the summer. Walking the mid section to the Hoei Crater can be done from May to October, and from November through to May, there are trails in the foothills on rural backroads and through snowy forests. Local mountain guides are recommended here and I use: https://www.mtfujiecotours.com/

With a guide, you can walk the Murayama Kodo old Shugendo pilgrimage trail from Murayama Taisha shrine up through the Mt Fuji foothills. Walking distance is variable depending on snow cover on Fuji; overnight Fujinomiya area

In the early 19th century Japan’s pre-eminent woodblock artist Hokusai created a series entitled ’36 Views of Mt Fuji’ including this one (below) showing pilgrims emerging from the tree line into the lava scree.

Hokusai woodblock ‘Fuji Pilgrims’, wiki commons image

In summer, walking to the summit or traversing above the treeline is possible.

Walking to the Hoei Crater from the 5th station

Day 6 – Visit the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre. The form of this amazing feat of contemporary architecture by Shigeru Ban reflects the symmetry of the mountain. The interpretation inside is just as good – well worth a morning.


Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre

Extension tokaido walks

Start from Abekawa Station, take a bus or taxi to Chojiya tea shop in Mariko-juku. This is well worth the visit as it is run by the descendants of the original 19th century owners. From Mariko-juku (Post-station #20) take a bus to Sakashita bus stop to walk a remnant section of the Tokaido over the Utsunoya Pass on a forest trail to the village of Okabe-juku (Post Station #21); walk on to Fujieda town* (Post station 22) – walking distance 8km; overnight Fujieda area

*Note that much of this section of the Tokaido has been overdeveloped, and is through urban landscapes, and unless you are a Tokaido history fanatic it can be a dull walk beside busy highways. I prefer exploring the side valleys like sleepy Asahina which has a thriving tea industry.

Mt Fuji from Utsunoya Pass, wiki commons image

Start Kanaya Station (Post Station #24); walk through tea plantations on the Makinohara Plateau to Kikugawa village; continue to Nissaka (Post Station #25). Take a bus on to Kakegawa and visit the castle and the old Edo town area; walking distance 6.5km, overnight Kakegawa area

Note that the views of the pretty tea plantations from the old stone-paved path are somewhat marred by lines of power lines radiating out over the landscape.

Notes

A guide is recommended as minimal route information exists in English about the Tokaido trail through Shizuoka

This walking tour can be booked through https://japanpackage.com.au/

What: easy to moderate hiking through rural areas, some forests trails, and small towns on a mix of earth, concrete and stone paths, and paved roads.
Where: through Shizuoka prefecture with a focus on Mt Fuji views.
When: recommend March, April, May, October November (6 nights 7 days).
Distance: about 75km walking
Highlights:  Mount Fuji landscape, interesting geology, pretty farmland and sleepy villages, Edo period remnant buildings, hot springs and great food

Caution: some sections require walking along very busy prefectural roads and crossing highways – use Hi-Vis pack covers and jackets

Trip grading: moderate (strenuous if walking Mt Fuji)

Accommodation: traditional inns, onsen hotels, minshuku farmhouse lodging and western-style hotels; hostels and mountain lodges are also plentiful (note – in minshuku and ryokan bathrooms are usually shared)

Access & transfers: trains, local buses and taxis

Luggage transfers: possible using Kuroneko (Black Cat) company http://www.global-yamato.com/en/hands-free-travel/scene02.html


Other Shizuoka locations worth a visit:

Izu peninsula – many hiking trails, historic towns and beautiful coastline make this an attractive destination. Include Shuzenji Onsen, Kawazu, Shimoda, Matsuzaki

Tokaido continuation to Kyoto – it’s possible to continue walking sections of the Tokaido on to Kyoto

Visit other interesting locations along the Tokaido in Shizuoka prefecture – Yui checkpoint; walk Satta Pass to Okitsu; Shizuoka City Tokaido Hiroshige Museum

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