Wilderness Engagement: Nakasendo 2018

From March 12th to March 16th, some 50 students or so and I went hiking along the Nakasendo trail. The Nakasendo trail starts in Kyoto and ends in Tokyo, and has 69 post towns in between. Of course, we did not do the entire trail, that would be absurd for some 16/17-year-olds. The trail was first used in the Edo period when it was used for messengers. Our hiking group only stayed in the Nagano Prefecture. Over the week there were lots of new experiences. Firstly, learning how to pack is essential! Since you will be carrying your own bag, you need to look at the weather beforehand and prep. However, I did not do this, so my bag was so heavy I had lots of back pains. But this taught me a lesson to take more initiative when planning events. Secondly, everyone on the hike was suffering from the warm weather and mountains. But this actually made the hiking fun, because everyone would help and be there each other. Such as giving each other water, food or even band-aids from getting blisters. This lead to making new friends and getting closer to the friends you already had. Lastly, after the long hike and hours of exercise, at one of the post towns we stopped at, we were able to soak in a traditional Japanese Onsen.

In the end, the Nakasendo trip was so amazing– even though I had my doubts. Just being away from the technology that envelops today’s society, it was rewarding to just be hiking in the wilderness. Hearing nothing but the birds’ chirp, leaves crackling beneath our feet and a breeze whistling through the trees was spiritually healing. This trip was so much more than a mandatory hike, it was the pause from work that I so desperately needed.

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