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  • Other Names: 東山道 (Tôsandô, Tôsendô), 木曽街道 (Kiso Kaidô)
  • Japanese: 中仙道 (Nakasendô)

The Nakasendô (lit. "Central Mountain Road"), also known as the Tôsandô or Tôsendô (東山道) and as the Kisô Kaidô (木曽街道), was one of main highways of Edo period Japan, connecting Edo and Kyoto through a more inland route than the Tôkaidô. The Nakasendô began at Nihonbashi in Edo, and passed through Takasaki (to the northwest of Edo), the Usui Pass 碓氷峠, Lake Suwa 諏訪湖, the Kiso River 木曽川 valley, and the Sekigahara Pass 関ヶ原峠 before merging with the Tôkaidô for the last three stations including the terminus at Kyoto. The 67 stations of the Nakasendô were spaced an average of 5.2 km apart, and in 1843 each had an average of 1,165 residents and 27 hatagoya.[1] The highway was home to 73 honjin and 102 waki-honjin in total, amounting to roughly 1.1 honjin and 1.5 waki-honjin per post-station on average.[2]

The Nakasendô saw some thirty sankin kôtai entourages each year.[3]

Like the Tôkaidô and other major highways, the Nakasendô already existed in some form during the Sengoku period, but the post-stations, checkpoints, and so forth along the highway were formalized in the early Edo period. This formalization is considered to have been completed by 1694.[4]

The Mino Road (Minoji) split off from the Nakasendô at Tarui-juku (modern-day Gifu prefecture), to join the Tôkaidô at Miya-juku (Nagoya City).


  1. Constantine Vaporis, "Linking the Realm: The Gokaidô Highway Network in Early Modern Japan," in Susan Alcock et al (eds.) Highways Byways and Road Systems in the Pre-Modern World, Wiley-Blackwell (2012), 90-105.
  2. Gallery labels, Futagawa-juku honjin shiryôkan.[1].
  3. Miyamoto Tsuneichi 宮本常一, Daimyô no tabi 大名の旅, Tokyo: Shakai shisôsha (1968), 57.
  4. Hosokawa-ke monjo: ezu, chizu, sashizu hen II, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (2013), 197.