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Discussion of Bushwalking, Hiking, Trekking, Tramping, Rambling and Camping elsewhere around the world.
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Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Fri 18 May, 2018 12:07 pm

We are planning to do a ten walk from Kyoto to Tokyo in late September/early October as was looking for advice on suitable footwear. Some of the articles I have read suggest you need proper trekking boots and other seem to advocate something lighter. My regular boots are Zamberlan Tofanes which may be overkill and a pain to take on and off as per Japanese custom but are great if you need “proper” boots. Wondering if anybody has been over the trail and what would you suggest.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Mon 28 May, 2018 1:44 pm

Walk in whatever you currently use and are comfortable with. Lots of articles still regurgitate the now old fashioned concept that boots are a necessity for walking - the writers of those articles are not well informed in most cases. If you have a decent pair of trail shoes (ie with a rock plate) then I would expect them to work perfectly well on the walk, it's not as though you are going to encounter snow and ice. I haven't done that walk but have done a couple of day walks in Japan and am contemplating doing the Shikoku pilgrimage - I would expect to use my Salomon shoes for it.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Mon 28 May, 2018 5:20 pm

I've done some trekking in Japan including the Nakasendo.

It's a footpath. Terrain is not going to be an issue. All the other Japanese hikers are going to have walking poles and gaiters and boots and anything else the catalog had, but you could do it in sandals (and indeed thats often what I wore).

Take whatever you're comfortable with, is easy to get on and off at the doorstep, and will last you the full journey - outside the major cities, proper trekking gear in Japan is surprisingly hard to find. Most of it is fashion-glamping stuff, clothing is sized to much smaller people (esp shoes), and especially in the later months all the outdoors stores switch their stock to skigear.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Tue 29 May, 2018 10:08 pm

Many thanks for your advice. Hard to get anything from the sites as I said. Cheers

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Tue 17 Jul, 2018 5:45 am

We've done the Nakasendo twice (once with light snow falling) and self, wife and young kids just wore our runners both times - as said the steeper sections are a wide stone path.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Tue 17 Jul, 2018 2:21 pm

running shoes will be best something with soft insoles for the hard smooth ground surface. japan make really good tramping gear in the Montbell brand, sold in their own stores but in the major cities.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Sat 21 Jul, 2018 12:40 am

Low ankle runners or firmer hiking shoes are all that’s needed. Perhaps try YouTubing the hike to see what the trail is like.

With regards to local Japanese wearing boots I doubt that all will be in boots. They will merely be using what they have in closet, their terrain and environment presents them with, which to no surprise ain’t like Australia. They have bigger mountains, subzero winter temperatures, more snow and higher rainfall so their gear accordingly. September in Japan is the tail end of summer so quite warm.

In terms of Japanese outdoor gear shops they have equal if not better and greater range of stuff from around the world than in Australia and due partly to more extreme cold weather conditions. Sizes are generally smaller but unless you are some kind of large or giant westerner you should be fine. In terms of hiking shoe choices vastly superior to anything in Australia if you look around.

Re: Footwear for Nakasendo trail

Sat 21 Jul, 2018 4:26 am

most japanese i saw walking in the mountains had high quality gear from any quality gear company you can name from around the world.
they have a lot of high mountains and ridge lines going anything up to 3000m and rocky routes where they will use boots a lot... but not necessarily on the lower lying routes, the variety of terrain you get there varies a lot...
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