Kiso Valley Walkway - Magome to Tsumago.

On the second day it was an early start at 6:00 am, my adventure started with a trip on the Shinkanen which travels at a top speed of 285 km an hour and looks kinda like a Ferrari racing car at the front. 

Shinkanen2

After 3 trains and a bus I arrived in Magome set to walk the 8 km journey to Tsumago in the Kiso Valley.

I set out on this journey with Gaik (a Malaysian lady from Melbourne) whom I meet on the bus and was looking for a walking buddy.  Magome is at the start of an approx 3 km uphill walk before descending back down into the valley below.  The path climbs though the lovely little post town before hitting the bush trail and the beware of the bear signs begin. 

There are bells along the walkway which you ring to scare the bears away. I made it my mission to ring every bell…somehow we missed one bell…luckily no bears were to be seen.


Within minutes of leaving Magome the heavens opened and down came the rain.   It was warm enough so getting wet was a bonus to keep you cool.  The walkway is very beautiful .

 

Just as the rain stopped we arrived at this very old tea house which provides green tea and sweats to those passing bye.  We stopped in and had a lovely conversation with a local volunteer who mans the house once a week.   We sat by the fire and listened to stories about the building and had tea boiled in a pot over a fireplace that was centuries old….very surreal.

 
On reaching Tsugamo we were taken back by the beauty of this ancient post town.  The Tsumago post town dates back to the Edo period in the early 1600’s. 

   

After taking loads of photos I said good-bye to Gaik and headed to Fujioto Ryokan were I was staying for the night.  You are greeted at the door with slippers to wear leaving our outdoor shoes at the door.  After a quick tour of the place, I was taken to my room which was like Alice in Wonderland as I entered my room through a cupboard door!  The room had the traditional Japanese mats on the floor, a futon to sleep on and a table and chairs for midgets- all adding to the experience.  We are given a Yukata to wear to dinner in the evening.

   

The place is run by a local family and dinner was a 10 course banquet!  Each mouth-watering dish was presented beautifully.  Many local delicacies were served, including:

  •  wasp larvae which were really yummy and were eaten regularly over the winters centuries ago to provide much needed protein
  • tempura including one peace made in the shape of a cherry blossom tree made by mum with such precession and was the best tempura I have had.  It was served with a special salt which enhanced the flavours of the tempera
  • salmon trout from the local river
  • beef cooked over a little tealight type fire – sitting on a Mangola leaf to enhance the flavours and the family special miso sauce recipe which is only handed down to the oldest son.  No one else can know it – I love hearing about these special family traditions.

 
I only wish I can remember everything that was served, but one thing was very clear – the family had a passion for using local foods, and delivering outstanding food to their guests.  It was truly an unforgettable meal!!  The owner joked that most people would only remember eating wasp larvae in a years time.

More photos can be found in the photo gallery