|Magome has been nominated for featuring on the main page as Off the Beaten Path. We may have failed to notice some minor glitches in the article. Please plunge forward and help improve it further before it hits the main page.|
Magome (馬籠宿, Magome-juku) is a post-town in Gifu. One of the most visited places in the Kiso Valley, Magome has been beautifully restored as an Edo Era post-town and stone walkways line the town. Magome served as an important stop on the Nakasendo, a route that connected Tokyo and Kyoto.
Magome, the 43rd post-town of the Nakasendo long flourished as a stop for travellers and merchants travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto on the Nakasendo. Travellers were usually forced to walk the Nakasendo by the shogunate during the Edo Period and Magome along with other post towns served as rest points for said travellers. Since then much of the town has been restored to help retain its appearance as an Edo post town though some will argue that it is over embellished and inferior to neighbouring Tsumago which is much more rugged and authentic. Visitors can still walk the Nakasendo and the most popular option is the Magome-Tsumago trail which is still preserved with cobblestone. One of the most important figures in Magome's history is Shimazaki Toson, a Meiji era author whose book "Before the Dawn" describes life in Magome during the Meiji period. Along with Tsumago, Magome is the most visited post-town on the Nakasendo and one should expect to see other tourists even during the off-season, however they will mostly be domestic tourists.
Tourist information center
- 1 Magome Tourist Information Center (馬籠観光案内所, Magome kankōan'naijo), 4300-1 Magome, ☏ . 08:30-17:00. Centre with helpful staff who speak good English, they will forward your luggage to Tsumago for ¥500.
By public transport
The only way to access Magome by Public Transport is by bus. Both long and short distance buses service Magome. The most common way to access Magome is by taking a train to Nakatsugawa station and then taking a bus to Magome. Buses from Nakatsugawa cost ¥800 and take 30 minutes, they depart 12 times every day and are operated by Kitaena Bus. One can also take a taxi from Nakatsugawa Station for ¥3,000. Nakatsugawa Station is connected to Nagoya, Nagano, Matsumoto and Tokyo though direct trains to Tokyo depart rarely and it may be faster to transfer in Shojiri or Nagoya. JR bus offers daily long-distance buses from Tokyo Station, it takes 5 hours and depart at 06:00, Keio Dentetsu Bus also offers night buses departing from Shinjuku Station though they are more expensive than those operated by JR. Meitetsu operates direct buses from Nagoya, costing ¥2,700. The 1 Main Bus Stop is at the southern side of the preserved area.
The only highway that runs through Magome is Route 19 which connects Nagoya with Nagano. Many other highways run through nearby Nakatsugawa and one will transfer there if coming from any other city, the nearest car rentals are also in Nakatsugawa.
Because Magome flourished as a post-town where travellers would stop while walking from Tokyo to Kyoto, the town is very walkable, much of the towns walking path have been preserved with cobblestone.
You could travel around the city by car, but it's not necessary as most sites are near the Nakasendo, a walking street with no parking spots on it and the short distances encourage walking.
Most of the cities attractions are centred around the cities preservation area which is centered around the old Nakasendo.
- Preservation Area (stretches from the bus terminal to around the old bulletin board). The preserved area of Magome runs beside the Nakasendo, most tourist sites are in this area and cobblestone streets connect the area. The photogenic streets are one of Magome's biggest tourist draws, and it is a good idea to spend time absorbing the rural atmosphere of the area. Be aware that people still live in the traditional buildings of the area.
- 1 Old Official Bulletin Board. All hours. Just off the Nakasendo, this board was where the shogun would post his orders during the Edo Period. Free.
- 2 Shimizuya Museum (清水屋 資料館, Shimizuya shiryōkan), 4284 Magome, ☏ . 08:00 to 17:00, 08:30 to 16:30 from December to March. Small museums with artifacts from when Magome served as a post-town. ¥200.
- 3 Toson Memorial Museum (藤村記念館, Tōson kinenkan), 馬籠4256-1, ☏ . Apr-Nov: 09:00-17:00, Dec-Mar: 09:00-16:00, closed on Wednesday from December-February. Once the honjin of Magome, this former large inn serves as a memorial to the author Shimazaki Tosin and tells stories about his various works. Adult ¥500, child ¥100.
- 4 Tsuchimaya Shiryokan (槌馬屋資料館) (On the second floor above a restaurant and souvenir shop.), ☏ . 09:00 to 18:00, closed irregularly during winter, check website for dates. Small museum remembering Toson and displaying artifacts of his family, it also features artifacts from the Meiji Era, which was when most of his early works were published ¥200.
- 5 Wakihonjin Museum (馬籠脇本陣史料館, Wakihonjin shiryōkan), 4253-1 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-17:00, closed from December 15 to February. The wakihonjin served as the post town's secondary inn after its honjin, there is now a small museum recounting Magome's history as a post-town and features various artifacts from the Edo Era. ¥300.
- Views of 6 Mount Ena. Mount Ena is one of the tallest mountains in the central japan alps and can be seen from the town, the main area for views of the mountain is the 7 Magome Lookout Point on the towns northern side and it offers panoramic views of the mountain.
There are very few activities in Magome other than exploring its old town, more activities like onsens and kabuki shows can be found in the much-larger Nakatsugawa.
- Walk the Magome-Tsumago Trail. Open at all times. Simply follow the Nakasendo north out of Magome and in about 7 km (4.3 mi) one will arrive at the next post-town Tsumago, the trail is still well preserved and an enjoyable trip. Free.
As it draws many tourists there are many souvenir shops around town most specialize in folk crafts and wagishi, traditional sweets.
- 1 Kawakamiya-ten (川上屋 馬籠店), 4267 Magome, ☏ . Founded in 1864, this traditional sweet shop is one of the oldest in Magome, most famous for their chestnut sweets like Kurikinton, a common souvenir from the area. ¥200-300 per sweet.
- 2 Magomekan (馬籠館 本館), 4571-1 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-17: 00. Magome's largest souvenir shop serving various dishes like udon and curry. about ¥500 per item.
- 3 Shimizuya (豆吉本舗 馬籠店), 4285 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-16:00 on weekdays, 11:00-15:00 on weekends and holidays. Snack store with many bean snacks and other souvenir snacks.
- 4 Simooogiya, 4264 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-17:00, 09:30-16:30 in winter. Selling straw folk crafts like toy horses and bags, also sells rice crackers. Only takes cash.
- 5 Suzumiya, 4279 Magome, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. Store with sake products and handmade products.
- 6 Usagiya (うさぎや), 4295 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-17:00 from December-February, 09:00-16:00 from March-November. Senbei (rice cracker) shop with a very large variety with many different flavours. ¥120.
- 7 Yaoya, 4571-1 Magome, ☏ . 09:00-17:00. Souvenir shops with local folk crafts, they also sell a few snacks including preserved red turnips. ¥380 for food, ¥1000 for crafts.
- See also: Kiso Valley#Eat
Most restaurants in Magome are in old buildings in the preserved area, the specialities of Magome are similar to those of the Kiso Valley, with Goheimochi (grilled mochi with sauce) and Soba being found all over the area. Wagishi, traditional Japanese sweets are also sold at many souvenir shops around Magome.
- 1 Kanameya (かなめ屋), 4291-1 Magome, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. Shop only serving Goheimochi. ¥300 yen for mochi with fruit.
- 2 Keiseian (恵盛庵), 5438-1 Magome, ☏ . 11:00-14:30 or until sold out. Soba hand milled by local grandmothers, only takes cash, no english menu. ¥800.
- 3 Haginoya (萩乃屋), 4572 Magome, ☏ . 11:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00. Kaiseki restaurant using fresh ingredients specializing in tempura and fish. ¥2000 for lunch, ¥3000 for dinner.
- 4 Marujiya (丸治屋), 4302-1 Magome, ☏ . 10:00-16:00. Makes handmade Goheimochi and shaved Ice along with Soba
- 5 Masuya (ますや), 4288 Magome, ☏ . Spring-Fall: 10:00-16:00 Winter: Open 11:00-15:30. Restaurant making fresh soba, their most popular dish is soba served with fresh Ena Chicken. Only takes cash.
- 6 Nakaizutuya (中井筒屋), 4241 Magome, ☏ . 11:00-15:00, closed on Sundays. Soba served with seasonal ingredients and Goheimochi.
- 7 Ontaya (恩多屋), 4270 Magome, ☏ . 11:00-20:00, reservations needed after 17:00. Shokudo with Goheimochi, soba and rice bowls. ¥200 for Mochi, ¥1000 for soba rice bowls.
- 8 Oumiya (近江屋), 4308 Magome, ☏ . 09:30-16:00 on weekends, 09:30-17:00 on weekdays. Goheimochi shop also serving soba and zenzai. ¥500 for five pieces of Goheimochi, ¥550-¥600 for soba, ¥350-¥500 for sweets.
- 9 Sakanoie (坂の家), 4272 Magome, ☏ . 10:00-15:00, Closed on Thursday. Soba shop using local Kiso ingredients like chestnuts.
Although there are no sake breweries based in Magome though some souvenir shops sell sake. Some vendors also set up stalls and sell sake around the Nakasendo.
- 1 HillBilly Coffee Company, 4278 Magome. M-F 10:00–15:30, Sa Su 09:30-18:00. Cafe making coffee inspired by the flavours of the Kiso Valley, also has a small selection of pastries. ¥400-600 for coffee, ¥660 for flavoured lattes.
- 2 Kamiougiya (上扇屋商店), 4322-1, ☏ . 09:00-18:00 Apr-Nov, 10:00-17:00 (Dec-Mar). Liquor store with local Kiso sake and other alcohol.
- 3 Yomogiya (四方木屋), 4257 Magome, ☏ . 10:00-16:30, only open on weekends during january and febuary. An old house of Toson, now functions as a tea-house that also serves coffee and snacks.
Most accomadation is in tradional buildings in the preserved area though other options can be found at other points on the Nakasendo.
- 1 Eisho Temple (万福庵 永昌寺, Eishōji), 5358 Magome, ☏ . Check-in: after 15:00, check-out: before 10:00. Toson's former temple now serves as a Ryokan with Shojin Ryori (Buddhist cuisine). It also offers meditation. Also open to non-overnight guests. ¥15,000 per night, comes with meals.
- 2 Gaku guesthouse (ゲストハウス学まごめ, Gesutohausu-gaku), 4797-230 Magome (north of preserved area), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. In a former elementary school adapted into a hostel, offers breakfast and yukata. ¥7,500 per person.
- 3 Guesthouse Nedoko (ゲストハウスねどこ, Gesutohausu nedoko), 4315-1 Magome, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Inn with handmade furniture and both private and shared rooms Toilets and showers are shared, meals are not provided. ¥6400.
- 4 Motomiya (本三屋), 4944-2 Magome (follow the nakasendo out of Magome towards Nakatsugawa), ☏ . Check-in: 18:00, check-out: 10:00. Aimed at international guests this gueshouse has free wifi and air condioned rooms, it serves American breakfasts and traditional dinners which are included with the price. ¥8,060 per person.
- 5 Shin Chaya Ryokan (新茶屋), 5110 Magome (Outside of city center, beside the Nakasendo and between Nakatsugawa and Magome), ☏ . Check-in: 14:30, check-out: 09:30. Open since 1950 this inn is build in a former tea house and has yukatas for adults to wear at night. ¥9,000 per person with meals, there is an ¥800 fee for solo travellers.
- 6 Shirokiya (白木屋), 4568-3 Magome, ☏ . Check-in time: 14:00 Check-out time, 10:00. Minshuku in the preserved area, it serves meal using local ingredients and Goheimochi as dessert. ¥7,000 without meals ¥10,000 with meals.
- 7 Tajimaya (御宿 但馬屋), 4266 Magome, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Open for more than 120 years in a preserved building, kaiseki meals are included in the price. ¥17,670 for a twin sized room, meals provided.
Pocket wifi works in the city and the nearest rentals can be found in Nagoya. There are some free wifi rest stops around Magome, most only allow one to connect for 15 minutes.
Within the Kiso Valley
- Tsumago, another post-town on the Nakasendō, it is usually visited alongside Magome and most visitors access Tsumago by the Magome-Tsumago Trail though there are also buses.
- Nakatsugawa, city that administers Magome with various attractions both cultural and natural.
- Narai, the richest post-town of the Kiso-Valley.
- Shiojiri, the northern-most city in the Kiso Valley
Also in Chubu
- Gero Onsen, one of Japan's top onsens.
- Ina, home to Takato Castle Park, one of japan's top 3 cherry blossom spots.
- Matsumoto, home to one of Japan's best castles.
- Nagano, temple town and former Olympic host city.
- Nagoya, Chubu's largest city south of Magome.
- Takayama, city with well-preserved post-town.
- Yaotsu, town with museum commemorating the history of Jews in Japan.
|Routes through Magome|
|Nagoya ← Nakatsugawa ←||' '||→ Shiojiri → Matsumoto|