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Magome and the Old Post Road

Our next aim was to wind our way along the Nakasendo or 'Old Post Road', the route the original mail service took by foot and horseback from Kyoto, which dates back to previous centuries and provides a route now a little-used backwater as a transport route but with intriguing little towns and relics of the past all along the way.

We drove East past Gifu to Yaotsu, where we finally managed to get some silicone and paint to repair a few scratches on the van caused by backing into parking signs at Cainz Do-it-yourself chain that had everything from art supplies to building materials. Trying to find a place to crash we wound up at a strange very opulent sect-like peace settlement called The Hill of Humanity, and managed to descend into a derelict side road with a panoramic view of the valley below the hill overlooking a tunnel.

The night stop below the Hill of Humanity

Next day we set off on the road from Yaotsu to Ena through the hills, but it rapidly degraded into a meandering local road that broke off into several directions with only signs in Japanese to the nearest villages, forcing us to navigate by compass, and to back track for kilometres when one of the choices descended a deep valley and turned through 180 degrees to go South-West rather than the North-East we intended.

Here we became completely lost on small village roads winding to nowhere

Finally on one of them we recognized the Kanji for Ena and then drove on a tortuous little hill road through the forest with a large number of cars commuting to work, finally emerging into Ena after two or three hours lost in the hills.

Coming out into an ever more precipitous gorge

Venus love hotel with drive-in anonymous portal automatic registration
and cheaper rates for resting than sleeping

We stopped in at the Hotel Venus on the outskirts, a discrete love hotel with a drive-in core and an automated room service, offering different prices for overnight or 'rest', that prevented anyone seeing who arrived and who left.

After failing to find Enakyo gorge and instead arriving at a hideous fun park on a flooded hydro-lake we then drove on to Magome and Tsumago, two old towns built on the Nakasendo (the old stone-paved medieval post road).

Panoramic views over Magome and surrounds

Magome one of the post road towns has become a chic tourst destination with a delicately paved walking street and many shops and cafes built into the traditional houses.

Scenes of Magome

Japanese dress style: Miniskirts and undressing atire, Magome

I spent some time photographing Japanese women's clothing styles and the way couples often dress in counterpoint to one another. While I was photographing the three girls above, a bunch of Japanese men below found me equally exotic and took a positive delight in snapping me.

Two kinds of sacred raccoon dogs

The flour mill house and its interiors

Three panoramas from above Magome

Heading on up the Old Post Road just before the top of the pass, we came to this smaller Post Road villade, more genuine and less developed.

The summit of the pass

The remains of the Old Post Road winding through the forest at the summit

Waterfalls on the way down

Looking down to the valley of Tsumago

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