Leaving Okute, the road passes the site of the former bansho and turns sharp right to climb a short, steep hill. From this vantage point there is a fine view of the old post-town, which still retains many traditional features.
A 1200 year old cedar tree in the grounds of the shrine is the most obvious landmark. Also readily apparent, on the hillslope opposite, is the site of the former honjin. Although it now houses a modern elementary school, the dominating aspect of the site can still be fully appreciated. Just below the school, next to the former bansho, is Okute’s newest, and proudest building – the new Community Hall. Opened in 1992, the hall incorporates a public library, meeting hall, and kindergarten. There is also a spacious foyer where modern-day travelers of the Nakasendo can rest and admire a fine collection of historical prints describing the old road. Sadly, Okute has no inn or tea-house today which might offer accommodation for a longer stay.
A footpath follows the line of the old Nakasendo back up to the ridgetop which has served as part of the ancient highway since the Nara period. The worn, trench-like cut of the path attests to the fact that the original 8th century route has been rejoined. The solitude is only faintly disturbed by the quiet hum of traffic along the modern road, far to the south. Ahead are the thirteen gentle passes (Jusan-toge) which give this stretch of highway its name. A mile or so from Okute the solitude is broken once again by a crashing sound high in the trees, accompanied by a belated cry of ‘fore’. The antique browns of the old highway blend into the nouveau greens of the ‘Nakasendo Golf Club’.