Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adventures in Old Japan: A Surprise

As I was hiking along, a bit over halfway, I came to some buildings. 
A sign on the door said to come in, so I headed in. A few other folks were in there. About half seemed to have come from other countries. 

A lovely elderly gentleman in a traditional costume gave everyone tea, candies, and a delicious pickled local vegetable. It was great!
It was a delightful break somewhere high in the mountain pass. 

Adventures in Old Japan: Magome

There are times when a girl just has to say goodbye to the city and get out to some nature. 
If I look sleepy, it's because I was up early to make my escape. I wound up leaving a little later than I originally planned (but it worked out really well - the cash machine in the subway station wouldn't have been open if I had left earlier). 

Rode the subway for 5 minutes, and then transferred to the train (above ground!). 

The ride was about 1 hour. As cities faded out and in, I started to feel refreshed. 
Hello, mountains!

The train ended at Nakatsugawa in Gifu Prefecture (one over from Aichi, where I live). I thought I had to wait a long time for the next bus, but I got a pleasant surprise. The bus was ready to go. I hopped on, and it headed up, up, up into the mountains. 

I considered leading a bus cheer, but didn't think it would go over too well. 

After about 20 minutes or so, the bus arrived at...let me go look. I forgot. Magome! Of course. Magome was a post town on the old Nakasendo route. It was used from the 8th century on. Take a second and think about how old that is. 

I'll wait. 

Magome was so cute. The old buildings were great, and there were tons of tourists.
Here, you can only see 2, but there were a lot. Really. 
They're somewhere. 
Here they are. I just loved this view and the way the light was shining. 

I strolled up and up through shops until I came to a free wifi hut. It was an odd juxtaposition. Old Japan and a hut with wifi. Inside the hut, I found a hat!
It really is a hat! Not just a large mixing bowl. 

My old smartphone addiction was pretty excited about the wifi hut. I had a hard time leaving. 
From the hut. 

Eventually, I did leave. I kept on going through Magome until I came out the other side. 
Oooooooooooooh! Hello!
And hello to you, too!

I sat on a bench and enjoyed this view for a while. But, I still had over 6K to complete, so I eventually headed down the trail. 

This post was written on my trip home. I'm in Chayagasaka station now!


Adventures in Old Japan: Going Up

Eventually, I left the beautiful viewpoint at the edge of Magome. I headed out and saw this sign. 
I followed a group who stood near this sign and didn't do anything. Eventually, I decided to follow the path and see what happened. 

It was the right path! But after a few minutes, I was surrounded by the sound of bells. Then I found out why - bear bells set around the forest. 
Had a nice chat with a bicyclist, and then headed on down the path. 

Did I say down? Because suddenly I was going up. 
And up. 
And up! 

I think it was close to a mile of climbing. Augh! 

Although Magome was crowded, the trail was pretty empty. I saw a German lady along the way. We were both surprised at the lack of people!
As I continued climbing, I had a nice chat along the way. It was a good opportunity to take a break. 
Eventually, I realized that I wasn't going up anymore. There was much rejoicing in the land. 

Then I saw an interesting sign. 
I don't know if you can see it or not, but I crossed into Nagano Prefecture during the hike. That's the second time I've walked into another prefecture since I've been here!