Magome (馬籠) is a post town in the Kiso Valley, which served travelers of the Nakasendo, a major route connecting Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period.
The town has been beautifully restored with a broad stone walkway lined with carefully tended foliage. Magome’s embellished preservation contrasts with the rugged authenticity of neighboring Tsumago. The two towns are connected by the Magome-Tsumago Trail, a route which was part of the Nakasendo.
Magome’s most famous son is the novelist Toson Shimazaki (1872-1943), whose works include Yoake Mae (Before The Dawn) and Ie (The Family), novels that chart the history of people in the Kiso region as the area’s importance and wealth declined in the Meiji Period.
The Toson Kinenkan is a small museum in the center of Magome dedicated to Shimazaki and his life, whose grave can be visited just off the main street along with Eishoji Temple, which is mentioned in the author’s novels. The Toson Kinenkan is within the former Honjin of Magome – the Honjin being the principal inn in a post-town used by major feudal lords and Shogunate officials.
Follow the signs in the graveyard of Eishoji Temple to find the author Shimazaki’s grave. Eishoji also offers accommodation with an evening meal of shojin ryori – a vegetarian dinner with no animal protein. Guests can also experience Zen meditation at Eihoji. Bookings must be made at least three days in advance.
The Magome Wakihonjin Museum – the Wakihonjin was the secondary inn in a post town and used for accommodating minor feudal lords and rich merchants. A small museum on the history of the Nakasendo and Magome can be viewed inside.
Two other small museums are the Tsuchimaya Shiryokan and Shimizuya Shiryokan.
The main street in Magome has a number of souvenir shops selling baskets, wicker ware, straw farmer’s hats, chopsticks, locally-produced sake and beer and other regional crafts. Small food stalls offer roasted chestnuts and other local delicacies.