The post-town of Hosokute was established somewhat later than most other post-towns on the Nakasendo, in 1610. Originally, no official rest-stops had been planned for this remote, rather mountainous region, but popular demand required that some provision for travelers be made here. Today the town is populated mostly by old folk since the younger generations have left to find work elsewhere. It is surprising, therefore, to find that one of the original Edo period inns is still operating. This is Daikokuya, rebuilt in the 1850s after the original had been destroyed in a fire. It is the only accommodation available along the whole of this upland stretch of the Nakasendo, from Mitake to Oi. This part of the old highway has been renamed the ‘Tokai Natural Trail’ in recent years, and attracts many young ‘week-end walkers’ who usually stop overnight at this charming, traditional inn.
Leaving Hosokute, the first glimpse is caught of the distant Kiso mountains, including Mount Ontake. The peace is frequently shattered, however, by the roar of sports cars making their speedy way to the racing circuit at nearby ‘Motorland’. Once past this, the walker can proceed along the wooded road with a much greater feeling of safety, passing by a well-preserved ichirizuka, with two mounds, and an ancient lily pond known as Benten-ike.
A little further on, there is a police dog training school in front of which is a memorial to ‘graduates’ who have died in the line of duty. The present ‘students’ come to the fence, however, and beg a tickle behind the ear. Their barks are a clear indication of the route to follow.
After another half mile, there is a former tateba. There are two farm houses on the site today, but neither sell refreshments. The modern road turns right here, but a grassy footpath leading straight ahead marks the line of the old highway. A sign now marks the way, but until 1970 this had been a lost section of the Nakasendo. The path is pleasant, but slippery underfoot. For this reason ishidatami were placed here in the Edo period. This line of stones, suggested to be the longest “ishidatami” section of highway in Japan, leads up the slope to Biwa-toge.