Magome on the Nakasendo

Click on any photo to see a larger version
Magome is an old station on the Nakasendo, the mountainous road that connected Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto.  It has preserved much of its heritage from the Tokugawa Period.  This signboard stands guard at the upper entrance to the village. On the signboard are posted the names of the families who lived in the village around 1860.  There were also notices declaring government regulations about travel from one station to the next.  Many neighborhoods in Japan still have signboards like these at their entrances and include a map showing the locations of businesses and where each family lives. It rained all day, but everyone was a good sport about it.  Kanako Shibata and Hiroko Takagi paused along the main street in one of the few relatively flat places. The townspeople keep a display of the old-fashioned fire buckets next to the roadway.  Each household was required to have these in front of their home with the barrel below filled with water. We visited a museum dedicated to Shimazaki Toson who wrote a famous novel about life in this village of Magome.  "Before The Dawn" was based on his family's experiences as inn keepers here.  They have restored a well that would have served the visitors. The tenuki (a type of racoon dog) is a favorite good luck charm to display in front of a business, especially one that serves liquor.  Legend says that tenukis are very fond of their rice wine.  This one is all dressed for travel, complete with tiny traditional straw sandals. In good weather the view out to the mountains must be spectacular.  This day it was obscured by rain and mist.  We forged on, tasting samples of senbei and sweets as we went.