Updated: Jul 21, 2022
Important Cultural Buildings Preservation District
During the Edo Period, Narai marked the mid-point between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) to travelers along a 534-km long route called the Nakasendo trail. It was the most wealthy post town of the Kiso Valley, and was sometimes referred to as ‘奈良井千軒 Narai of a thousand houses’.
Only a few minutes’ walk from JR Narai station, you can easily find the 1-km long Narai-juku with a series of old wooden dark brown houses.
Narai-juku offers a wide variety of shops that showcase some of Japan’s best intangible heritage today. Some houses have transformed into museums and Japanese inns. Stop by lacquerware shops that sell bowls, plates, cups, trays…etc. And stop by food stands selling local snacks such as ‘五平餅 gohei mochi’ rice cake and ‘おやき oyaki’ vegetable buns.
Do not miss the ‘木曽の大橋 Kiso no Ohashi’ bridge made of ‘Kiso Hinoki’ cypress trees, which is the largest wooden bridge in Japan that does not have piers. Kiso region is known for its countless towering ‘Hinoki’ cypress trees, some of them more than 300 years old.
Take the JR Chuo Main Line from Matsumoto or Nagoya and get off at the Narai Station.
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