I went to Iwaki this weekend to visit with friends, it was great. We went to a water park, made tacos and sang karaoke. Randy and I even stopped at the Aizu castle again on our way back home. Since I still have more to talk about from my vacation with the parents, I shall continue describing my epic golden week.
This post will be about our stop in Magome-juku. This is a well restored Edo post town in the Southern Japanese Alps. Magome was forty-third of sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendō, an ancient road that connected Kyoto and Edo during the Edo period. Prior to the Nakasendō, this trail was the last of eleven stations along the Kisoji which ran through Kiso Valley. Magome was a fairly successful post town until the completion of the Chūō Main Line railway, which did not pass through it. Now it is famous for its rows of reconstructed homes from around the 1700s, most of which were built as shops and inns for travelers along the Nakasendō. Here are some of them.
My parents and I actually walked the only remaining strip of the Nakasendō which took about 3 hours and brought us to neighboring town Tsumago-juku. This was also a well restored post town and had many of the same styled shops and buildings. The hike was quite peaceful and had many natural things to appreciate.
Magome also had an amazing view of Mount Ena, rising at about 2190 m.
Another fun thing from Magome was our Minshuku. A minshuku is a family run inn that is authentically japanese. We slept on tatami mats on the floors and ate elegantly prepared Japanese food for breakfast and dinner. Each minshuku we stayed at also had a small onsen for bathing which was fun. An onsen is like a communal bath. They usually consist of one or many large hot tubs for sitting/soaking and many small bathing areas. The owner of the Minshuku we had been staying at in Magome invited everyone to come out dancing on our last night. He taught us a traditional local dance in the main area and then had us try it again on wooden slippers outside. The slippers only covered the first half of my foot and were steeply angled so keeping my balance was half the fun. Here was our Minshuku in Magome from the outside.
If you ask my parents about the trip they will probably omit this next story but that’s the fun of still being in Japan! On our way here we travelled to the train station just over an hour early to make sure we caught our train to Gifu. We however, missed our train because we were talking to this man from the states that had come to visit his son. We then had to wait another hour and pay an additional 2000 yen. At this point in our trip I was the only one who saw the humor in it, shrugged it off and continued to talk to the man while my father brooded for a good half an hour before rejoining the conversation. We all had a good laugh about it once we were settled in Magome. That is mostly it for this town, next week is Matsumoto, one of the oldest castles in Japan.
Here are the rest of the pictures.