Narai-juku in Kiso Area
Narai-juku: A Hidden Gem in Nagano
Narai-juku is a small, picturesque village located in the Kiso area of Nagano, Japan. This historic post town was once an important stop on the Nakasendo, an ancient trade route connecting Tokyo and Kyoto. Today, it is a popular tourist destination known for its well-preserved Edo-era buildings and charming atmosphere.
Narai-juku is easily accessible by train from Tokyo or Nagoya. From Tokyo, take the JR Chuo Line to Nagoya and transfer to the JR Chuo Main Line to Narai Station. From Nagoya, take the JR Chuo Main Line directly to Narai Station. The journey takes approximately 3 hours.
Once you arrive at Narai Station, you can walk to Narai-juku in about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or bus.
As you wander through the village, you will be transported back in time to the Edo period. The streets are lined with traditional wooden buildings, many of which have been converted into shops and restaurants. Be sure to try the local specialty, soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat flour and served with flavorful broth.
One of the highlights of Narai-juku is the Narai-juku Honjin Museum. This former inn, which once housed important guests such as samurai and government officials, has been converted into a museum showcasing the history and culture of the Nakasendo. Admission is 500 yen for adults.
Another must-see attraction is the Narai-juku Koushoku-ji Temple. This beautiful temple, with its ornate carvings and colorful decorations, is a testament to the craftsmanship of the Edo period. Admission is free.
Where to Stay
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Narai-juku, consider staying at one of the traditional inns (ryokan) in the village. These inns offer tatami-mat rooms, hot springs, and delicious meals made with local ingredients. Some popular options include Naraijuku Koshino Yado, Naraijuku Shouhaku, and Naraijuku Yumejiro.
Narai-juku is a hidden gem in Nagano that is well worth a visit. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or simply want to experience the charm of a traditional Japanese village, Narai-juku has something for everyone.