Magome-juku was the forty-third of the sixty-nine stations of the ancient road that connected Kyoto and Edo (today’s Tokyo) during the Edo period. Nowadays it consists of a beautifully restored row of wooden houses along the former post road. I’m not sure the town was ever larger than it is today, which is really not that large. The difficult part coming from Nakatsugawa is that you have to go up hill, which can be a bit steep at times. Most houses were built in the mid-18th century by common people and therefore are nothing grant, just extremely interesting for the European eye. Most houses host shops, restaurants, and little museums. The whole town is built around tourism and it didn’t seem to us that people lived here after work. Magome is a cute open air museum stripped of the joys of daily life, lined along a pedestrian only cobblestone street, which makes it quite unusual and unique.
|One of the many funny English signs we spotted in Japan|
As it was past 2PM, and knowing we had less than four hours of daylight left, we walked the slope in a hurry. At half-way, there was a tourist office renting bells for the people hiking to Tsumago, the next post town. Apparently bears are not uncommon in this area and having a bell with you can save your life. We didn’t bother with the bell, not really believing in its ‘magical’ powers, so we continued our journey determined to rush though Magome and follow the original highway to Tsumago-juku. This well preserved road through the woods is supposed to be of an unparalleled beauty, passing waterfalls and streams of water. We actually adventured ourselves out of Magome, ready to embark on a 3-hour, 9-kilometer walk through the forest. And then we decided to give it up for 5 reasons:
TIP 4: Whenever you have too many choices, stop for a moment and prioritize. Take it easy and enjoy. There’s no point in rushing from one attraction to another without enjoying any of them. Traveling is not a race. You don’t travel to score, nor to tick off items from a list. Living in the present has an infinity of advantages.