After our Mt. Fuji climb we headed for the Japanese Alps to experience rural Japanese life and do some less intense hiking. Our first stop was Tsumago, known for its scenic Tsumago-Magome hiking trail. Tsumago is a quaint and remote town along the historic Nakasendo "route" which used to connect Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto. Telephone poles and other modern developments are not allowed and the townspeople have preserved the beautiful traditional buildings.
A local village festival began right as we got into town (initially we thought it was for us but apparently it's an annual tradition). ;)
Local girls and boys playing carnival games in the streets
Men in the village posting prayers written by townspeople
Drinking the free Tsumago saki from a cubic wooden cup. Any carnival-goer could wander up for a free drink or two.
Pictured above and to the right are young men carrying a large, heavy shrine on a palisade. This was the main event of the festival. They do this every year as a way to chase out evil spirits from local businesses and houses.
The next day we headed out on our hike. Above is one of the many signs along the trail - entirely in Japanese and no help to us.
There were many small fish farms along the hiking trail.
A Shinto cemetery along the hiking trail. Shinto is the most prominent religion in Japan.
The countryside is filled with beautiful gardens of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Nearly every household had their own plot for gardening and many had their own greenhouses!