In between our stays in Kyoto and Tokyo, Maggie and I decided to spend a night each in the mountain towns of Magome and Tsumago. If you're not sure where these towns are, they're located in the southwest corner of the Nagano Prefecture, which is where the glorious 1998 Winter Olympics took place. If you still don't know where Magome and Tsumago are, I don't blame you. Even the Japanese people we talked to didn't know where they were, but after a few train trips and a bus ride, we got there!
In Magome, we stayed the night in a temple, and were the only guests, which added a fun and eery quality to it. We actually forgot to latch one of the swinging doors to the outside, so it swung open and banged closed all night long as the wind picked up. We didn't figure out what the noise was until the morning, and so we half assumed (and by "half," I mean the Maggie half) the temple was haunted. We didn't sleep well.
Luckily, the rain and wind subsided the next day for our five-mile hike from Magome to Tsumago. The hike itself was gorgeous; dotted with magnolias, persimmon trees, bamboo and waterfalls. We also saw the occasional warning sign about bears, but as I type this, rest assured that we were not attacked by bears.
Once we reached Tsumago, Maggie and I promptly walked past the town to the ruins of Tsumago Castle. They were very ruined. So ruined that they really didn't exist at all, but there were some nice views, and the extra walk actually got me to my highest steps count (22,009) and flights count (121) for the entire trip.
Side step: Maggie couldn't count her steps because she left her phone on a train in Nagoya before we arrived in the mountain towns. Luckily enough, the phone was recovered and turned into the Tokyo Station lost and found, which is where we were headed anyway!
Our stay in Tsumago was at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) that served an eight-course dinner (delicious) and a strict 10pm curfew. I didn't really mind the curfew since we were bushed and had some saki to finish off in our room.
After a long day of travel, we're now in Tokyo, which is the last city we're visiting in Japan and the last city we'll be in before returning to the states.
Enjoy the photos below, and as always, thank you for reading.