On this trip I enjoyed the beautiful tourist spot of Magome-juku in the Kiso valley of Gifu prefecture. The towns Feudal-era buildings and inns have been well preserved since the Edo era.
43rd of 69 “post towns” on the Nakasendo route.
During the Edo era the Nakasendo road was the main route linking Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). The road originated at Nihonbashi bridge in Tokyo and ended at Sanjyo-Ohashi bridge in Kyoto, bringing it to 530 km in total length. The Nakasendo road had 69 “post towns”, or in Japanese “Shukuba” (small towns designated as rest stops providing lodging and food to travellers). Of the 69 “post towns” Magome-juku was designated the 43rd.
11 out of 69 “post towns” on the Nakasendo route are in the Kiso valley area. The most famous towns to visit are Magome-juku and Tsumago- juku.
Being only 7km apart, you can easily access both towns when you’re in the area.
The Nakasendo route runs south to north through Magome-juku which is situated on a steep hill. On both sides of the road you will see stone walls with houses and inns built atop them. This is a “hilly post town”.
Magome juku is also known as the home town of the famous Meiji era novelist/poet, Toson Shimazaki(1872-1943).
Magome-juku was the setting for his famous novel “Yoakemae” which means “Before the dawn”. You can visit the Toson memorial museum which was his former residence.
At the southern entrance of Magome-juku one must twice make 90 degree turns to enter through the gate. The Mountain side of the road is steep and built up with stone walls, imitating castle architecture. This style of entrance is called “Masugata” which is the form of a square measuring box often used to measure Sake. This style of entrance forces all who enter the city to pass through a box shaped gate. Built with the purpose of confusing and trapping invaders who approach the town the entrances also prevented enemies from easily understanding the layout of the town. Masugata entrances are a good representation of common castle building techniques for that time.
Transportation to Magome-juku
- Magome Nakatsugawa city, Gifu prefecture
- Public transportation
- Take the bus from JR Nakatsugawa station to Magome-juku station.