After not being very lucky with Mount Fuji we were a bit worried about our plans to visit the Japan Alps. We based ourselves in Nagoya, which is a perfect gateway for that region, just a 90 minutes train ride and you’ve travelled from a top-notch 21st century modern metropolis to a marvellous mountain scenery where time seems to have stopped 200 years ago.
Our worries regarding the weather were completely unfounded, the sun was shining during our whole stay. We spent one day in the Nagoya and visited the City Science Museum, which has the world’s largest dome-screen planetarium. The explanations were in Japanese only, but the projection technology makes it well worth a visit.
But the reason we came here were the mountains, and this time we weren’t disappointed. We took the train to Magome in the Kiso Valley and hiked around 8 kilometers to Tsumago. Both villages are so-called post towns, created to cater to the need of travellers on the Nakasendo, an old road built in the Edo period to connect Tokyo and Kyoto. It was a wonderful walk – once we were out of the village it wasn’t crowded at all, it was a clear day, so no mountain was hiding behind any clouds. Halfway on the road we stopped for tea in a cute little rest house where the host, who had just retired and moved there from Osaka, offered us green tea, plum wine, plums, sweets and even insisted on sharing his lunch with us and the other two guests.
We didn’t encounter any bears, although we didn’t ring all of the bells along the roadside…