Let’s explore the traditional village of Tsumago (妻籠宿), in the heart of Nagano Prefecture.
To travel around Shinshu area is always romantic, maybe because it is such a historical places with endless stories, or maybe it is because of the mysterious fog in the deep mountain, the old bridges in the valley or the crystal clear water that runs on and on. We drove all the way along the river, watching the sun rise, then arrived at the the village when it is still asleep. Everything was quiet besides the jumpy river on the stones.
The Kiso valley is famous for its craft. There were stone and ceramic potteries discovered here thousands years ago. And now, they produce beautiful wooden cutlery. Old grandmamas are still sitting on their tatami, chatting happily and making all sorts of things out of woods.
Water is highly regarded here. There are many little temples for the God of Water. But do not overlook the sign besides them, it says ‘not drinkable’.
The woody craft you can find in the shops, besides the ordinary bowls and chopsticks, there are also wooden umbrellas, even postcard! They use a special technique to combine the very soft kind of wood with a very thin piece of paper.
For an old village, this one is actually really popular for tourists. So an early visit is recommended, just so that the quiet atmosphere will match those beautiful woody old houses. But if you are not an early bird, the interesting shops that only opens until later will bring you a different type of surprise.