Traveling the Old Tokaido Highway is something I want to do before I die. Nine kilometers of the original road still remain and I intend to walk it.
The Old highway ran between Kyoto and Edo (modern day Tokyo). As Japan was still divided into kingdoms hundreds of years ago, this road ran through many different fiefdoms. Travelers had to go through check points or border crossings. Some were labeled as spies and the appropriate penalty for spying was merited out. The threat of being so labeled was very real.
One can still wal this historic path as the original still exists between Hakone Yumoto and Moto Hakone.
Anazake Chaya is the last tea house of many that once line the Old Tokaido Highway. It is even run by the same family! Satoshi Yamamoto’s relatives first started serving travelers over 350 years ago. Satoshi Yamamoto told of the travelers:
“Travelers coming from Kyoto who’d just passed would be relieved,celebratory. Those going the other direction would be anxious. Anyone could be suspected of being a spy,” (From The Guardian article, “Hidden Hakone,” by Rebecca Milner Feb. 3, 2012)
Take the Odakyu or Tokaido line train to Odawara. Then take the Hakone Tozan line train to Hakone Yumoto. Next, take a Hakone Tozan bus on the K line along the Old Tokaido Highway and get off where you would like to start walking. You can use your Hakone Free Pass on the buses!