Quietly standing among mountains, an atmospheric post station
Magome-juku is the 43rd post station on the Nakasendo situated at the southernmost end of the Kisoji road. Even within Japan, it stands out for its location on a steep slope of 600m. Due to a huge fire in 1985, almost all of the buildings from the Edo Era were burned down, but with the efforts of the townspeople, the townscape has been completely restored to reflect those old times. On either side of the cobblestone slope, there are residences, museums, teahouses, souvenir shops and other establishments. Although there are relatively few houses with latticework, Magome-juku deeply retains signs of its old status as an Edo Era post station. As you look back while halfway on the slope, you can see the beautiful mountains.
Museums connected with author Touson Shimazaki
The post town is also famous for being the birthplace of the author Touson Shimazaki. A number of museums dedicated to the author are along the road. The Touson Memorial Museum is representative of Magome-juku, and it is a former residence which acted as an inn, a wholesale store and a home for the village headman in the Edo Era. There are 6000 artifacts on display including a statue of Shimazaki and his chronological record, along with the remains of his retreat which was burned down in the fire, his manuscripts and a library. It is also a valuable site where you can get a glimpse of the lifestyle back in those days. There are also buildings within Magome-juku that have connections with novels such as the Magome Subsidiary Inn Museum which was the model for the Yanagida House in Shimazaki’s “Before The Dawn”. The feelings of a journey will be even more enhanced during a walk evoking the thoughts of the setting in a novel.
Tired after a walk through the post station? Enjoy some local cuisine!
Along the road, there are plenty of restaurants. Within the many dishes of Magome cuisine, you just have to try the local specialty of Gohei mochi (rice cakes). Gohei mochi is often seen in Nagano Prefecture as wide flat cakes, but the type over here in Gifu Prefecture is in the form of dumplings. The dumplings are made from Uruchi rice combined with walnuts and sesame, then brushed with a mixture of soy sauce and sugar and grilled to a smoky deliciousness. The regional dish of chestnut rice is also recommended. At the restaurant Daikokuya, there is a course you can enjoy which includes mountain vegetables and herring along with the chestnut rice. There is also the popular soba restaurant Keiseian once you reach the top of the slope. The homemade soba created from flour ground through a millstone is an exquisite dish with a firm bite and a unique taste.