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October 29, 2013
Day 26 - Kiso Valley

Kiso Valley (ؑ]H, Kisoji) is located in Nagano Prefecture and it runs alongside the mountains of the Central Alps. The valley is home to a few post towns along the Nakasendo, which was during the Edo Period one of only two main routes connecting Edo (present day Tokyo) and Kyoto.

Several post towns here, namely Magome, Tsumago and Narai, have been preserved to look as they did when they served travelers on the old Nakasendo. Visitors are able to enjoy the stone paths and wooden buildings of a bygone era.

Today's Report
 
Kiso Valley, you're beautiful

In the picturesque town of Tsumago.

Today started off as the coldest day Ifve 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 Ifve 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 didnft 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. Therefs 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 Ifve 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.

Momosuke Bridge

The bridge over the river.

Did you know that valuable wood was once used as a form of payment as well?

Postal box

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!

Today's Program
 
Today's Walk: On the old Nakasendo from Magome to Tsumago

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Today's walk covers a well maintained section of the former Nakasendo between Magome and Tsumago. On sections of the trail, stone paths have been preserved to be as they were in olden times, meandering through the atmospheric woods.

The day's starting point, the post town of Magome, has been beautifully restored with a broad stone walkway lined with carefully tended foliage and historic houses, some of which are opened to visitors as museums. Today's ending point, the neighboring town of Tsumago, retains an atmosphere of rugged authenticity around its old wooden houses. The town and its residents go to great lengths to recreate the ambiance of the Edo Period.

Date October 29, 2013
Start Time 9:45
Start Magome (at Magome bus stop of bus from Nakatsugawa)
Goal Tsumago
Distance 8 kilometers (about 3 hours)
Terrain Today's trail is not difficult and is well marked. Sections of it lead through gentle slopes on stone or earth paths in the forest, while others go through the countryside and pass right alongside the houses and fields of local residents. The trail also intersects with the road at times and hikers must tread along asphalt for some portions.
Weather Average daytime high: 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Nagano
Access The Kiso Valley is most easily accessed from Nagoya or Matsumoto. The 9:10 bus departure from Nakatsugawa Station will arrive in Magome in time for today's walk (see timetables).
More details on how to get to the Kiso Valley
Lodgings Staying at the Kiso Valley itself provides a good experience and is ideal for the walk, however there are only a small number of hotels and ryokan in the area. More lodging choices can be found in the cities of Nagoya and Matsumoto.
Search hotels in Kiso Valley through Agoda
Search hotels in Nagoya through Agoda, Booking.com or Japanican
Search hotels in Matsumoto through Agoda, Booking.com or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 26 has passed.

When travelling along the Nakasendo in direction of Kyoto, at which of the following post towns did the Nakasendo converge with the Tokaido?

73%   Kusatsu
0%   Moriyama
3%   Musa
24%   None, it ran seperately all the way to Kyoto
0%   None of the above

The correct answer is: Kusatsu

The Nakasendo met the Tokaido at Kusastu post town.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

More about the quiz
 

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