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Narai-juku Japanese Heritage Post Town

01 Naraijuku Nagano Narai Post Town Japan Heritage featured

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.

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The Tokuriya
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.

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The Tokuriya restaurant and also serves as the Hara Family Residences.

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One of the local specialties of Narai: Goheimochi.

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a portrait of the kind Hara couple. amazing how only two people can run the whole place.

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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.

facade of the Nakamura Residences.

facade of the Nakamura Residences.

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Here are photos of more sceneries from Narai:

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the end of the 1 kilometer road of Naraijuku.

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souvenirs found in Narai include a variety of lacquer wares considered as a traditional craft in Japan.

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the Kiso Ohashi Big Bridge made of Kiso hinoki cypress.

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the gate to the Taiho-ji temple, one of the main temples at Narai.

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the Taiho-ji Temple

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the Sizume Shrine, Naraijuku’s village shrine. a grand festival is held during Agust 12, where young people in town get together and march along to festival music with Japanese flutes and drums throughout town.

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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.

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