During the Tokugawa period, Narai used to be a post town along the Nakasendo road where travelers and merchants wind down from their journey between Tokyo and Kyoto. It is one of the few preserved post towns located in the Kiso Valley along with Tsumago and Magome, which I would like to visit in the future. Along Narai-juku are rows of beautifully preserved houses, shops, restaurants, temples, and inns. Upon arriving, it made me feel like a merchant from the 1800’s.
I made my way to the Tokuriya run by the Hara couple. The building served as a tavern during the early Showa period. At present, they are a restaurant and is a city-designated tangible cultural asset. I had my lunch there and had their specialty Goheimochi, which are sticky rice cakes served in three sauces made from walnut, sesame, and sansho miso. After my meal, the Hara couple were very kind and showed me around the premises, shared stories, and welcomed me in to their kitchen.
The Nakamura Residences
After lunch, I went to the residences of the Nakamura family which now serves as a museum. It was formerly a shop selling lacquered combs. The interiors showcases a typical house style in Narai-juku during the Edo period.
Here are photos of more sceneries from Narai:
ACCESS: From Nagano Station, I made my way to Matsumoto via the JR LTD Express Shinano Line and spent a night there. The following day, I took the 10:20am train from Matsumoto to Narai station via the JR Chuo Line (50 mins). Note that trains departing to Narai only arrive once in a couple of hours, so make sure to check the schedule beforehand and don’t miss your train.