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Tsumago (Nagiso-machi, Nagano) and Magome (Nakatsugawa City, Gifu) 妻籠・馬籠

Enjoy time travel and slip back to the Edo Period. Tsumago is the first area designated as a national preservation district of important traditional structures.

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  4. Tsumago (Nagiso-machi, Nagano) and Magome (Nakatsugawa City, Gifu)

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Enjoy time travel and slip back to the Edo Period. Tsumago is the first area designated as a national preservation district of important traditional structures.

"The entire Kisoji is in the mountains" - this is the first phrase of a famous novel, "Yoakemae (Before the Dawn)," written by Toson Shimazaki, a leading writer of Japanese modern literature. Both Tsumago and Magome served as post stations located on the Nakasendo Route, which is one of the five routes that connected Edo (current Tokyo) and locals in the Edo Period. The Nakasendo linked Edo and Kyoto through the inland area and had 69 post stations. Tsumago was the 42nd station while Magome was the 43rd, adjacent to the Kisoji Route of many mountains and woods.

If you walk through these two post station towns, you will feel as if you went back to the Edo Period of 300 years ago. The area is already well known internationally as a place that retains the atmosphere of old Japanese post stations and welcomes a number of overseas tourists. Hiking the Nakasendo is especially popular among foreign visitors, as they can experience the atmosphere of the Edo Period while walking through the route.
 
In Tsumago, there is an officially appointed inn "Wakihonjin Okuya." The current building was reconstructed in 1877, using a plenty of Japanese cypress, whose use was actually prohibited in those days. Furthermore, "Honjin," a town director's house restored in 1995, and other historical structures are there to reproduce the views of the town from the late Edo Period.

When you walk from Tsumago through the Magome-toge Pass to O-tsumago, where you can still feel the atmosphere of a rustic post station town, you will be surrounded and astonished by the dense lines of cedar and Japanese cypress standing on the both sides of the path, making you feel that you are "in the mountains" indeed. Descending from the peak of the Magome-toge Path of 790 meters high, you will arrive at Magome after walking about nine kilometers in about two and a half to three hours. This is the perfect course for hiking the Nakasendo, the street of history.
 
Magome spreads on a steep slope along the mountain ridge for more than 600 meters. In recent periods, the area suffered from two big conflagrations. However, after setting the resident charter, local people worked for the landscaping and beautification of the road, utilizing the stone pavement and walls that survived the fires, and their efforts enable you to enjoy the atmosphere of this old route from the Edo Period. Around the midpoint of Magome, there is an old "Honjin" (current Toson Memorial Museum), as well as inns with a traditional fireplace and 'tatami' mats where you can stay and enjoy their unique and special features that cannot be offered by modern hotels.
 

Directions

[To Tsumago]
From Tokyo:
2h 30 min from Shinjuku to Shiojiri Station by JR Chuo Line "Super Azusa" (limited express), and 1h from Shiojiri to Nagiso Station by JR Chuo Line "Shinano" (limited express). 9 min from Nagiso Station to Tsumago by bus (or 35 min to Magome).
From Nagoya:
1h from Nagoya to Nagiso Station by JR Chuo Line "Shinano" (limited express).

 

[To Magome]
From Shiojiri:
1h from Shiojiri to Nakatsugawa Station by JR Chuo Line "Shinano" (limited express), and 25 min from Nakatsugawa Station to Magome by bus.
From Nagoya:
48 min from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa Station by JR Chuo Line "Shinano" (limited express)."