I was at a dead end. In front of me was a wild mountain landscape of towering trees, rugged rocks and dense vegetation.

I had been trying to find a statue of a legendary sennin, an immortal mountain ascetic who is reputed to have called this area home long ago, but I could not locate the path that would lead me there. After several unsuccessful attempts, I called the local tourist board only to have an official suggest that I get off the mountain, since it could be dangerous.

Earlier that day I arrived in the town of Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture. Off the radar of most foreign visitors, Shinshiro is most famous for the Shitaragahara Plain, an area connected with the founding of early modern Japan. It was here that the allied forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu — who would later found the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled for nearly three centuries — crushed the forces of Takeda Katsuyori in the decisive battle of Nagashino in 1575.