Nakasendo from Magome to Tsumago 馬籠から妻籠
Kisomura michi no eki is fine for shachuhaku. The traffic did not prove to be a problem. The toilet is modern but does smell a bit. It has no natural ventilation and the automatic fan is not effective enough. That’s my diagnosis – for what it’s worth.
Nakasendo from Magome 馬籠 to Tsumago 妻籠
From the michi no eki we drive Route 19 towards Nagoya but branch off and travel through Tsumago and on up to Magome to walk the famous section of the Nakasendo. This is the old Edo era road from Kyoto to Edo, today’s Tokyo. Along this route were numerous – 69 in fact – rest places, or juku. These were small communities providing food and lodgings for travelers.
All local lords were obliged to travel to Edo, every other year, to pay their respects to the Shogun. Once there, they remained for one year before returning home. After a year in their respective domains, it was Edo time again. Thus the Bakufu, the Tokugawa government, could keep an eye on all local power bases and involve them in exorbitant expense as the lords would travel with a considerable number of retainers and servants, The number of travelers on the road was, therefore, significant and communities evolved to serve this traffic.
Tsumago is number 42 and Magome 43. of the way stations on this ancient route. The walk from Magome down to Tsumago is about 8 kilometres and takes around 2½ hours. Walking from Magome is mostly downhill so much easier. Magome was less important than Tsumago in the Edo era and has twice been destroyed by fire. Consequently, Tsumago is more of a place and its remaining traditional buildings are protected. Parking is Magome, unlike Tsumago, is free. So, it makes more sense to start a walk in Magome and catch the bus back. The bus fare is 600 yen.
The walk itself is pleasant and easy and is very popular with tourists from overseas. We met few Japanese on the walk. Most tourists don’t make the hike, preferring to wander the street of traditional buildings that is Tsugamo, before getting back on the bus.
D. and I made this same hike, we realized with surprise, 39 years ago, but we did not remember that so much of the way was through woods. There were far fewer people in those days too and the only Gaijin (foreigner) was me.
Another difference was the number of bear warning signs complete with a little hammer to ring the warning bell. We have walked many places where one is more likely to come across bears than on this well traveled tourist track. The signboards we felt were, perhaps, part of the attraction. An extra thrill for the tourists. Or maybe a nervous local government covering it’s arse due to the number of potentially litigious foreigners.
Hidagawa Onsen Shimizu no Yu
After the walk we take a longish drive to Takayama to find an onsen and a michi no eki with some elevation. Height is necessary in hot weather. The bath, long overdue, we find at Hidagawa Onsen, Shimizu no Yu. This was very good and very reasonable. It was quite busy with mostly local people.
Next April, 2020, it will be taken over by a private company so expect the price to rise.
Clean we drive to Hidakaido Nagisa michi no eki. The evening is cool so we may have a comfortable night.
＊Hidagawa onsen Shimizu no yu ; 700 yen / adult
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.