One of the reasons we made Nagoya part of our travel plans this Spring was Tsumago-juku, one of the post towns on the Edo-era Nakasendo route that linked ancient Tokyo with the rest of the areas on the mainland.
Tsumago-juku is accessible from Nagoya by the Shinano Limited Express. It takes about an hour from Nagoya station to Nagiso Station, and then a five-minute bus ride to the entrance of the well preserved town.
Tsumago-juku is the 42nd post town on the Nakasendo route while Magome-juku is the 43rd. We explored the latter two years ago, also in Spring, and we fell in love with it. It was Magome-juku that led us to desire setting foot in Tsumago-juku too, and one day, when Titus is older, we will all trek from Tsumago-juku to Magome-juku.
Residents of Tsumago-juku have turned part of their ancient houses into souvenir shops and eateries, but there’s nothing crass about that. The units are still quiet and elegant, and you get a sense of how life might have been in the past when horsemen rode through this post town and stopped to rest and feed their horses.
In Magome-juku sticky rice with chestnuts are the main staple. In Tsumago-juku, it is soba noodles with seasonal mountain vegetables and gohei-mochi, a grilled glutinous rice patty smeared with a savory, nutty miso paste. Gohei-mochi is one of the best things we ate on this trip. 😄
There are several eateries selling these, but we had ours at the first shop on the right at the top of the entrance to Tsumago-juku, from the main entrance.
Grilled beef skewers from cows reared in Nagano Prefecture, as well as steamed buns with different fillings such as beef and bean paste, also make awesome snacks as one meanders through the long, narrow roads in Tsumago-juku.
While we were there, we came upon a bold cat sitting in the middle of the road and staring off into the scenic mountains in the distance.
Titus and I were drawn to it, and it to us. At one point it approached us and sat staring at Titus. It was funny watching the two of them face off – with one grinning and the other meowing away gently. 😊
Tsumago-juku is beautiful but we had so little time there. Shops close around 5pm and the last bus to Nagiso Station as well as the last direct train to Nagoya Station are also around that time.
To truly see and feel Tsumago-juku (as well as Magome-juku), it is best to set off for the town early in the morning.
Or better yet, spend a night there at a home-stay.