Hiking from Tsumago to Magome

Last weekend, in an effort to fulfill goal number 3 (being more sociable), I arranged a trip to go hiking in the hills outside Nagoya with a couple of friends. In reality, it ended up being hiking with only one friend – Sashoy, who lives a few streets down from me. Kim was due to come with us, but due to several transport-related issues was unable to catch up with us (the timings of the whole thing meant we had to press on or risk being stuck on the trail in the dark), which was a shame.

Anyhow, the walk was along the Nakasendo, the original highway, created in the Edo period, that connected Tokyo to Kyoto. After a getting train and bus to Tsumago, it was an 8km walk through woodland to Magome.

Before we set off from Tsumago we had a lunch a lunch of the local specialities – zaru soba – cold soba noodles with a soya sauce/dashi/wasabi/spring onion “dip” – and gohei mochi (top left in the photo above). These were a revelation in deliciousness – white rice packed onto a wodden skewer, brushed with a glaze of ground sesame seeds and walnuts, sugar and soya sauce, and grilled. They were unbelievably good. Sashoy, like all the Jamaicans I’ve met here, with the exception of Sharifa, hates Japanese food. She doesn’t like noodles so ordered two gohei mochi, and luckily (for me) didn’t like them either, so I had both. Sadly this meant she was hungry for what ended up being quite a long walk.

Tsumago is a picturesque little village, crammed with traditional wooden buildings housing mainly restaurants and souvenier shops. It is completely unblighted by eyesores like convenience stores, and even the post office looks like something from a postcard. Here is Sashoy posing with a life-size straw horse!

The walk ended up taking a while, in part because being accompanied by someone meant I couldn’t take my usual rocket-fuelled pace, and in part because we walked the route the other way round to most people, and so it was primarily up hill. Oh yeah, it was also about 35 degrees! Thankfully, though, there were some nice wooded sections:

There were also two waterfalls, in which you could paddle in the freezing water to cleanse your sweaty feet.

Not long to go now!

We were presented with this somewhat nonsensical sign towards the end of the walk. Luckily the detour just involved walking up some steps.

The view over the mountains from Magome:

The main street in Magome:

View over the rice paddies before heading home:

We ended up getting a bus at about 6pm. There was some stressing as to where Kim was, as her phone had died, but as we were hungry and exhausted, we bit the bullet and made our way home. It was a very productive day, all things considered, and was also good to spend some more time with Sashoy, which I haven’t done much of apart from chatting on train journeys to and from work.

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