March 27 – April 3, 2018, 7 nights, 8 days, creative walking tour along the Nakasendo Way for artists and writers. Begin in Ena,(near Nagano) finish in Tokyo.
Join us on a unique creative adventure, following the footsteps of Japan’s most famous haiku poet, Matsuo Basho through a spring landscape at the time of sakura (cherry blossom). This year we travel the ancient Nakasendo Highway, staying in inns, hot springs and local hotels, walking for a part of each day (train inbetween) and ending our tour in Tokyo. Open to writers, poets and creative artists of all modalities, daily creativity workshops will take their inspiration from our explorations of the haiku form. Bringing our attention to observing the small details of nature in the present moment, we learn how to take this stimulus into our chosen art form, creating a haiku journal of poems, observations, sketches, photos and writings as we go.
Basho travelled the Kisoji in 1685, one of several pilgrimages he made as an exercise in spiritual and artistic refinement. In 1687, Basho traveled along different parts of the Nakasendo, immortalizing his journey in “Knapsack Notebook (Oi no kobumi).” “Sarashina Journal (Sarashina Kiko)” followed in 1688.
The woodblock artist Hiroshige, came this way too. His famous print series, Sixty-Nine Stations of Nakasendo, made between 1834–1842 exquisitely document the stages of the journey. In the seventeenth century, the Nakasendo was crowded with travellers, including feudal lords, samurai, itinerant merchants poets, artists and pilgrims. Now largely forgotten and quiet, the road provides a pleasant path through scenic countryside and, also, the history of Japan. We pass through and stay in picturesque, old post towns en route, in much the same way as the Japanese traveller of old. Charming, traditional inns, which have somehow survived into the modern world, provide us with friendly and atmospheric overnight accommodation. In the evenings, in an ambience reminiscent of Hiroshige’s woodblock prints of feudal Japan, we relax and enjoy excellent meals.
The daily walking distance can be adjusted as you go. Medium level fitness is required. Transport, however, can be arranged for those who desire a more relaxed day. Baggage goes ahead by taxi, except when we travel by train. We climb several passes, but they have fairly gentle inclines and can be taken at a comfortable pace.
For prices and itinerary see here.
Woodblock print above by Kawase Hasui .