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The Kisokaido, or Kiso Road (also known as the Nakasendo or Central Mountain Road) ran between Japan's two leading cities; Edo, the headquarters of the Tokugowa clan of shoguns who ruled Japan during the Edo period, and Kyoto, the ancient capital of the figurehead emperor in who's name the shogun governed. The Kisokaido took the mountainous inland route and for much of its time followed the path of the Kiso river.
The Tokaido Road connected the two cities via the coast and was also known as the Eastern Sea Road. Both roads where a part of a network of highways maintained in accordance with the regulations of the shogunate. Certain towns along each route were designated official rest stops and were required to provide facilities to weary travellers; 53 post stations along the Tokaido and 69 post stations along the Kisokaido.
These two main highways became the subject of many print series by Ukiyo-e artists of the Edo period including Hiroshige, Eisen, Kuniyoshi, Kunisada to name a few.