|View from our Tsumago guesthouse of unplanted rice paddy|
In the seventeenth century, the Nakasendo Highway was a bustling trade route with travelers of all kinds: samurai, feudal lords, traveling salesmen, townspeople, and pilgrims traveling between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). The "highway" was established during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868) a stable time for Japan under the shoguns of the Tokugawa Shogunate. At this time, the Emperor, merely a figurehead, was ensconced in Kyoto.
The Tokugawa clan was defeated and the Meiji Period (1868-1912) began with the Emperor, no longer a figurehead, moving his residence to Edo (Tokyo). The Nakasendo Highway continued to be an important trade route connecting present day Tokyo and Kyoto until the completion of a rail line in 1911.
With the rail line established, Tsumago gradually became a deserted village. In 1968 a movement to preserve Edo and Meiji Period buildings began and during the following three years many structures were repaired and restored. In 1976, Tsumago was designated as a "Protected Area for the Preservation of Traditional Buildings" by the Japanese government.
We stayed in a traditional guesthouse (ryokan) up the hill from Tsumago. The parking area in front of the Shimomura guesthouse was partially filled with flats of rice starts ready for planting. Our rooms were traditional in that we slept on mattress pads on the floor. Painted shoji doors enclosed the closets and the floors were covered with tatami mats. The only furniture was a small tea table. Toilets were shared as were the shower/bath facilities. Fortunately for us, our tatami room was next door to a toilet.
We woke to rain and unfortunately today's walk is part of our transportation to our next night's stop. The temperature was warm, too warm for a rain jacket, but it wasn't an unpleasant walk in the rain.
|View of Tsumago|
|Some of the preserved row houses of Tsumago|
|Tanuki statues are found outside of most Japanese homes/businesses. It is both a welcoming and wealth bringing icon.|
|Figural statues are adorned with red to ensure safety for travelers and other passersby|
The highway took us past waterfalls, primordial looking trees covered with vines, and blooming wild wisteria vines.
We finally reached Magome which is another post town. Magome is more touristy, more visited than Tsumago. Its shops and restaurants were open. It is easier to get to.