Hiking road between Magome and Tsumago is quite popular lately, it’s a well preserved trail as a part of the historical Nakasendo Road between Edo (the old name for Tokyo) and Kyoto. It was about 200-300 years ago when samurai lords and common travelers walked on this way, taking 14 days from Edo to Kyoto. Nowadays, we can just spend 3 hours from Magome-juku (Magome post town) to Tsumago-juku (Tsumago post town) or vice versa, to see what it was like.
Our hiking tour starts from Magome-juku (Magome post town). Once you get there, you’ll walk on the cobblestone streets which are lined with old, lattice-windowed residential houses. You can feel like time-slipping to Edo period, hundreds of years ago.
Let’s try some local food before the hike! Gohei mochi is famous in Kiso Valley, being made from non-glutinous rice. There are many Japanese traditional foods here such as Oyaki and Kuri-kinton and many tourists can eat freshly-hand-made foods.
Oyaki Grilled Buns is a kind of manju made by wrapping flavored ingredients such as Japanese vegetables or anko (Japanese red sweet beans). Kuri-kinton is a mashed sweetened chestnuts, originally comes from this area. Particularly the Kuri-kinton in this area is a little harder than in others.
It’ll be good to start walking a little earlier than noon. At the Magome panorama deck, you can enjoy viewing Mt. Ena and beautiful nature in Magome through four seasons. Some hikers bring a stick, a bell and a straw hat like an ancient traveler!
While walking the trail, you can see the scenery of Japanese countryside, surrounding mountains in Kiso. Some parts are still the same as the Edo period, this will make you nostalgic feeling. In the middle of the way, a tea will be served by local volunteers.
After the 3 hours easy hike, you will arrive Tsumago-juku (Tsumago post town). This is the first town which started preserving the old cityscape in Japan. The atmosphere is quieter than Magome-juku, so you can relax having local soba lunch and Japanese matcha tea.
The local handcraft is one of the must-sees in this town, Hinokigasa is a kind of straw hat for the pilgrims or travelers. Here you can see the people making their original Hinokigasa.
Seasonal sweets will treat you in the tea houses. Hoba-maki is a traditional sweet in the Kiso area, made from red sweet beans wrapped by rice flour dough and wrapped over by Ho-onoki tree leaves. In this area, people celebrate Boys’ Festival one month after in June, with Hoba-maki. Why don’t you get one of these?
You will be able to reach Magome or Tsumago by 1-2 hours bus or train ride from Nagoya. Let’s spend a day for an unforgettable hike or overnight here will be also a very romantic experience.