I’m back and just recovering from throat infection/ cough/ stuffy nose! Not sure if I got sick from not getting enough sleep when I came back, or I went outdoor swimming in Vancouver, or the stress of being a bridesmaid – but all is well! In the midst of a busy Asia trip in the city, my boyfriend and I wanted to experience the quieter countryside of Japan. We made an overnight stop at Magome, in Nakatsugawa. Getting to Magome was more confusing than we planned for but the beauty of the town is worth it if you have time for a getaway within the business of Japan.
I looked a lot of information on the internet on how to get to Magome via Nakatsugawa but we ended up going from Kyoto -> Nagoya -> Magome which was one less train transfer. There wasn’t a lot of information but my boyfriend and I eventually made it through a combination of Google Maps and asking people and answering with “Arigato!!”
We left Kyoto around 11am and took the JR train to Nagoya. From Nagoya, we took a 1 hour 40-minute bus ride to Magome, and then walked ~2km to where we were staying.
The confusing part was finding the bus in Nagoya. We originally thought that it would be a regular bus stop that we can hop on and use our IC Cards (like Hong Kong Octopus cards, used for transit) to pay. Turns out, we had to pre-purchase bus tickets from Meitetsu Bus Center which costed around 1860 yen per person. You will get reserved seating on the next scheduled bus, and also have the option to purchase a ticket for the way back as well. The Meitetsu Bus Center is under the Meitetsu Department Store and we only found it by seeing a sign and decided to go inside to ask how to get our butts to Magome.
We hopped on a city bus around 5pm and it was a nice smooth ride, which I most definitely passed out on. The bus stops at a Toll Road Rest Stop/ base of a path that goes up to Magome. We were staying at Manpukuan Eisyouji Ryokan, which was around a 20-minute walk uphill from the rest stop. (Basically, to get to the town you have to walk this short portion. Our luggage was shipped to Tokyo so we didn’t have to worry about transporting it around.) We tried to find options to avoid this walk but there was no way around it so dress appropriately according to weather. It was very hot when we were arriving at Magome and rainy when we left.
There are a few ryokans to stay overnight at Magome. A few that we were looking online at were sold out and we ended up staying at Manpukuan Eisyouji Ryokan which was AMAZING; we found it via Agoda. Manpukuan Eisyouji Ryokan used to be a temple with a 200-year-old garden. As it is a very old place with a few renovations to be used for staying, it was very nice and cozy. We slept on a futon in a room with traditional Japanese walls and there was a heater – I can see this area getting very cold in the winter, so I’d definitely recommend visiting during spring or summer. The hostess is absolutely the loveliest and sweetest woman ever; she cooked us dinner and breakfast and gave us a pen that doubled as a mini flashlight for a gift. She made sure we had everything we did and gave us an extra kettle o hot water.
As pretty much everything in Magome closes at 4-5pm and we had no WiFi or TV, we slept pretty early and spent our next day walking around enjoying the scenery. The next day, when we left, it was pouring buckets and I assure youJ- it was not a nice walk downhill to the bus stop after that. My socks have never felt like soggy wet piles of crap before so I highly recommend an emergency umbrella!
PS – I also recommend not bringing any luggage here, but rather ship your luggage via KuraNeko (a luggage transport company,) as the roads aren’t paved well for your luggage to roll around. Bring enough clothes to keep you warm at night.
If you’re looking for a more zen experience in Japan, Magome is a beautiful stopover before heading back to the hustling cities. I personally wouldn’t spend more than one night, but it was definitely a memorable experience of Japanese culture.
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