Magome Post Town
Magome Post Town
In the heart of the Japan Alps, located in the Kiso valley far away from any busy metropolis and neon lights lies a slice of old Japan. Surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of central Japan’s Chubu region, this quiet post town has been referred to as a woodblock print come to life.
Magome offers a side of Japan that many travelers never get to see, a mountain town where water wheels spin slowly in front of ryokans, and where the bells of Buddhist monks collecting alms from shopkeepers echo through the narrow streets as afternoon approaches. Although Magome and Tsumago are similar, it is said that while Tsumago has rugged authenticity, Magome is its beautified version.
Both Tsumago and Magome served as post stations located on the Nakasendo Route, which is one of the five routes that connected Edo and other larger and smaller towns in the Edo Period. The Nakasendo linked Edo and Kyoto through the inland area and had 69 post stations in total. Tsumago was the 42nd station while Magome was the 43rd, adjacent to the Kisoji Route that is surrounded by picturesque mountains and forests.
Between Tsumago and Magome is an ideal hiking course of Nakasendo. The distance is about 8 kilometers. Hight difference is about 400 meters. You can enjoy walking in the cedar forest, waterfalls, rice and vegetable fields and small villages. You will see the rural life of the local people by following the trail.
Shimazaki Toson is a name that is strongly connected with Magome, he was a highly regarded writer who was born in the area and described Magome in his book “Yoakemae” meaning before the dawn. The Honjin/Toson Memorial Museum is, therefore, a highlight you can’t skip while you are here. If you visit the graveyard nearby, you can find the Toson’s grave.
If you want to learn more about the town’s history in general, you should visit the Wakihonjin museum. For a scenic view of the town and its surrounding mountains, the Magome Observatory is a good spot. You can enjoy a nice view of the Kiso Mountain Range. The highest peak is Mount Ena which is 2,191 meters high. Near the observatory, there is an old Kosatsuba which is a bulletin board to indicate the orders from shogunate.
If you are lucky enough to make it here, a visit to Magome is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Japan.
Access from Nagiso (南木曾) Station (JR): Take a local bus to Jinba (陣場) stop for about 30 minutes.