Thursday, 1 November 2007

Day 10: Magome - Nojiri

Distance covered: 20.6km
Weather: Fine, then cloudy, then rainy

I slept soundly at first, but woke ridiculously early again and found when I got up that I'd been bitten by insects of some kind (bedbugs?) during the night, leaving me with itchy red spots on my lower back. I applied Oronine ointment (which I always carry with me whenever there's a chance I'll be bitten by mosquitoes), and the spots disappeared after a few days.
We went down for breakfast together at 7.30am. It was a fairly standard Japanese breakfast of grilled salmon, egg roll, miso soup, and various side dishes. Once again we were seated next to the couple from Melbourne, who accepted our invitation to accompany us on the first leg of the day's walk to Tsumago. The four of us set off at 8.30am.

It was uphill right from the moment we left the ryokan. The initial climb to Magome Toge (801m) was a bit tough, especially after the previous day's marathon effort. Thankfully it was mainly downhill for the rest of the day.

We took it pretty slowly, reaching Tsumago at around 11am, when it started to rain. We left our Melbournian friends there and, after putting on our raingear, pressed on to Nagiso for lunch. We ate at a rather seedy looking restaurant by the busy main road in what we both agreed was a depressing little town. Strangely enough I had pleasant memories of the town from when I visited it a few years ago, although those were mainly due to the friendliness of the woman at the local tourist office. Plus the weather was a lot better then.

The food at the restaurant was actually OK (I had mushroom spaghetti plus an egg toast sandwich and coffee), but we were eager to leave as the atmosphere was getting us down. To make matters worse, Erik declared that he felt the worst he'd felt since leaving Kyoto.

We pushed on and eventually arrived in the town of Nojiri at around 3.30pm. Nojiri seemed an altogether more inviting place than Nagiso. As soon as we pulled up by the station a cleaner outside the tourist office greeted us in English. He showed us inside and introduced us to someone who could give us directions to our accommodation, a minshuku (family-run inn) called Koiji. We were impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the man who dealt with us. He told us it would take about half an hour to get to Koiji on foot. We rang them to let them know we were on our way, whereupon the woman who answered the phone offered to pick us up. We gladly accepted.

On arrival at Koiji we were shown into our rooms. Like at Masuya, we had two large rooms, one for relaxing and eating and one for sleeping. They looked quite new, and there was a large flat screen TV in the main room. We bathed and rested before having dinner. It was a feast, consisting of among other things sashimi, tempura, and oden. We felt spoilt, and were incredibly impressed with the kindness and energy of the woman who ran Koiji. Out of all the places we stayed it was probably the cheapest, yet the room, meal, and service were among the best we encountered.


AbbasJK said...

Valuable info. Thanks!

Abbas from Saudi Arabia

Walking fool said...

Thanks, Abbas!

Anonymous said...

Hi, am walking the kiso valley stretch next week? Am worried now as I have not booked any lodgings. How easy is it to reach the destinations and find rooms for the nights. And I do not have any maps.

Walking fool said...

Hi anonymous
It looks like your approach to walking is quite different from mine. Which is totally fine, but it means I may not be the best person to ask for advice. I like to plan everything in advance, including how far I'm going to walk each day, where I'm going to stay, and even where I'm going to have lunch. A lot of people find that over the top, but each to their own, I say!
Not having booked any lodgings may not be a problem. But it depends. I have no idea if you live in Japan, if you've visited Japan before, or if you speak any Japanese. If the answer to all those questions is "no," then you probably have a problem! Then again, if you're the adventurous type, then you might enjoy turning up in a strange town and trying to explain to locals who don't speak much English that you're looking for somewhere to stay, etc.
Same goes for maps. If you're just heading through the valley and are not concerned about following the exact route of the original Nakasendo, then you could probably get away with just following the main road (which runs beside the river). You could also just do a search on Google - there are lots of sites with maps of the route.
If you want more detailed advice, feel free to email me and I'll try to help as best as I can. OF you do, give me more info such as your experience and your start and finish points. My email address is walkingfool [at] gmail [dot] com.
All the best!