Magome (Nakasendo) 馬籠宿
No need to imagine 17th-century Japan—come to Magome-juku and see it
Magome-juku and its neighbor, Tsumago-juku , were once shuku-machi, important post towns in Gifu Prefecture on the ancient Nakasendo road from Tokyo and Kyoto . Today, both towns are perfectly preserved "open-air museums”.
- Exploring the cobbled streets of Magome-juku
- A museum dedicated to local novelist Toson Shimazaki
- Overlooking the Nakasendo from the top of the hill
How to Get There
Access to Magome-juku is most convenient from JR Nagoya Station .
From Nagoya take the Shinano Express on the JR Chuo Main Line to JR Nakatsugawa. From there, a regular bus goes to Magome-juku, which in turn is connected to Tsumago-juku by bus. Alternatively, you can take a regular train at JR Nakatsugawa that goes to JR Nagiso Station. Buses at JR Nagiso go to both Tsumago and Magome.
For the adventurous, the walk between Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku is between 2 and 2.5 hours.
Once ignored by guidebooks and considered too far off the beaten track, it has been perfectly recreated as an authentic Edo period (1603-1867) town to give visitors a glimpse into pre-modern Japan.
A photographer's paradise
A bus from Nakatsugawa Station drops you at the beginning of the cobbled road that winds uphill through the town. From seasonal flowers through street-side waterways to enormous working waterwheels, photo opportunities abound.
Local crafts and culture
Plenty of shops sell local products from ceramics to sake and you will also find many cafes and noodle shops. Across from the Tourist Information office is a museum dedicated to local novelist Toson Shimazaki (English signage is minimal). Some of his books are available in translation.
The past and present merge
Magome-juku is still a living, functioning town. Each house is a real residence, and that gives the area and atmosphere an unforced authenticity and helps evoke its lively 400-year history.
It also means you need to be aware when exploring and photographing that private residences aren't exhibits. There are signs marking which buildings are open to the public and which are private.
Be our guest
There is a guesthouse midway between Nagatsugawa and Magome-juku, so if you are on a more relaxed schedule, it is a treat to see the town devoid of visitors as the sun sets and rises behind the dramatic peaks.
The best place from which to observe the area is the viewpoint at the top of the hill as you leave town. From here, the Nakasendo twists through forests and rice fields, passing powerful waterfalls, beautifully preserved farmhouses and waterwheels.