Tsumago, a small historic town nestled in the Kiso valley seemed the appropriate place to visit after a few exciting and frenetic days in Tokyo. This picture-postcard town was one of the ‘post’ towns along the Nakasendō route between Tokyo and Kyoto. These towns sprung up to cater to travellers with hotels, food etc.. though most of the towns have either gone or changed forever. In the late 60’s, Tsumago started a programme of restoration which continues to today.

Walking down the main street a few things seem to set it apart from other Japanese destinations – no visible power lines – no advertising or drink machines and very few if any vehicles. It makes for a movie-set experience, only this isn’t a theme park – people still live and work here though tourism is the number one employer.

A popular drawcard of the area is a walk from nearby Magome to Tsumago – nearly eight kilometres through forest, across rivers and along side fields of rice. At regular intervals are posts with bells to ward off native bears that have been known to scare walkers. We saw no bears today – probably a good thing.

A real highlight of visiting has been staying at Fujioto, a historic Ryokan (Japanese inn) in the centre of town. Sleeping on the floor, eating amazing Japanese food and being looked after in this superb location have made our time here very special.