Journey by Back Roads into Japan's Past

Illustration for TIME by Annie Lee.

The wooden notice-board carries the kind of travelers' advice common across Asia. There are the recommended prices for porters and transport, the usual warnings against pushy vendors selling fakes. News on bandits in the area catches our attention: it seems a little paranoid in law-abiding Japan. But it's the sizeable reward for turning Christians in to authorities that offers the most obvious hint that it has been a while since this bulletin was updated.

Walking the ancient Nakasendo highway from Kyoto to Tokyo is a trip into a nation's past. As the reproduction notices suggest, travel along the...

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