Magome, Old Nakasendo Highway – 2

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We were earlier advised by our host that dinner is big. We limited our snacking habits. As dusk approached, visitor numbers’ thinned. It also became cooler. It was much more pleasant to walk. However, the shopkeepers were also closing down their shops to head home. I thought it was still early. This is typical. Dinner arrangements are best made with the inn for the night. We were already discussing what was in store at our place. Tour bus queued on the main trunk roads as visitors were ushered in. As the sun set over bamboo grooves, the surroundings became quiet. Then nearby mountains were now hazy. Sounds of gushing water and rustling leaves merged with bird songs and clacking of shopkeepers shutting the doors resonated in this old town. Roadside lanterns were lit. The sight was ambient.

“Ice cream in Japan was very standard….same price, same flavour…soft serve cones” – Navindd

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After a long warm shower, we headed to our restaurant across the inn. Dinner was already in progress and the wonderful aroma of herbs and sauces filled the still cool air. There was a hive of activity. The table was filling up with all sorts of mouth- watering delicacies. Salted local trout, an array of pickles, assorted vegetable tempuras, sweet bubbling soup with local mushrooms, soft tofu, miso and sweet “gohei-mochi”. It was indeed a big dinner. Earlier, our host suggested that we only took two orders instead of three. Even this, we barely managed to finish. It was, however, a delicious meal. Horse meat is also on the menu if desired.

In the quiet of the night, we strolled on the street. A nostalgic feeling of was inevitable. The thought that, once, horses trotted heavily on the stone paved roads; samurais’ with ornate apparels striding along these same roads; and locals trying to attract travellers to buy their wares, flooded through. I felt privileged to have walked the same places samurais and feudal lords had done so centuries ago. Magome is indeed a wonderfully restored living museum piece. We retired early in our comfortable room in preparation for the long walk the next day.

“After the dinner, we were well and truly stuffed, even though we shared two meals between the three of us. At night, Magome was a ghost town with not a soul in sight….” – Navindd

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