Kiso Valley, you're beautiful
In the picturesque town of Tsumago.
Today started off as the coldest day I’ve experienced on the Tour so far. Sutou-san from Kiso City Tourist Association picked me up from Onyado Tsutaya in the morning and was my guide for the entire day. Otsukaresama deshita!
The morning view from Magome.
I received a present from Onyado Tsutaya at breakfast, making it an great start to the day. The service here has been excellent, and the food, absolutely delicious. At dinner today, I was also given a set of chopsticks made of lacquered Kiso wood. What a wonderful present! Today I also learnt that Kiso Hinoki (cypress), also known as Goshinboku, is very valuable wood that is used for building Ise Shrine.
My breakfast present, a two tiered bento set filled with delicious food.
We headed to Magome and started our walk towards Tsumago. This is also the first time I’ve walked across two prefectures in about 4hours. Magome is in Gifu prefecture, while Tsumago is in Nagano prefecture. This stretch of the Nakasendo is very beautiful; and the area around it as well, definitely worthy to be part of The Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan (Ine village is also one!)
At the start of the walk.
Neatly stacked firewood with a mountain view.
Along the way, I got my chance to see my first beware of bears sign that Karolina has seen many times. Sutou-san had a bear bell attached to his bag, and we also rang the bear bells we saw along the route; so all was well and we didn’t run into any bear trouble. Phew!
My first bear sign and bear bell sighting!
We also stopped at one of the rest stops where we met Suzuki-san. He is one of the four caretakers of that rest stop, offering drinks, food, warmth and information for those who are walking the Nakasendo. Suzuki-san and Sutou-san gave an awesome performance of Kiso-bushi (singing) and Kiso-odori (dancing) together - Suzuki-san sang while Sutou-san danced. It was my first time seeing this and words cannot describe how great it was live and unplugged.
With Sutou-san and Suzuki-san.
I would love to have an irori in my future house.
We arrived in Tsumago hungry and ready for lunch, and for dessert, we had kuri shiruko. It was great to have on a rainy day like today, warming me up from inside. In Tsumago, we had a guide introduce Waki-Honjin Okuya. Our guide also explained the seating arrangement when it came to sitting around the Irori. There’s definitely a reason for everything!
Sweet goodness of Kuri-shiruko in my belly.
Sutou-san waiting for me at the Honjin.
After completing our Nakasendo walk, Sutou-san brought me to a couple more scenic places like the Momosuke Bridge, which I got to walk across. Nezame no Yuka, a series of rock formations created by gradual water erosion (one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen on the route so far). We also went for a scenic drive along Kaida Highlands. Needless to say, the view was great with the autumn colours just starting there.
View of Nezame no Yuka.
We had to scramble over rocks to get to where the two people are standing.
The bridge over the river.
Did you know that valuable wood was once used as a form of payment as well?
Scenery along the route
Mushrooms and Alfafa sprouts. Yum?
This Sawara tree is about 300 years old!
Proof we walked the route.
Presents from Sutou-san. Thank you very much!