Nagano Prefecture has its share of ‘shukuba’ post towns along the various ‘kaido’ roads that led to feudal Edo. Tsumago in southern Nagano and Unno-juku in eastern Nagano are two of the most well-restored, and hence popular with tourists.
Today I visited a lesser-known post town, Omi-juku, which lies on the old Zenkoji Kaido that connects Matsumoto and Nagano City. It is located in the village that bears its name, tiny, sleepy Omi village, population of a tad over 3,000 souls. Just up from Hijiri Kogen Station (JR Shinonoi Line) which is located pretty much in the center of the village is Omi-juku, a stretch of road with many buildings dating to the Edo period.
You won’t find Omi-juku on many tourist maps. But it is just that sense of non-touristy-ness that makes it so appealing. It isn’t a well-preserved history museum — it’s real houses lived in by real people, peole that put up with the lack of modern conveniences and lovingly use and maintain the original buildings.
It’s also surprisingly convenient by either car (just 2-3 minutes from the Omi IC on the Nagano Expressway) or a simple 5-6 minute walk up from Hijiri Kogen station. So if you have the time and inkling to explore one of Nagano’s lesser-known ‘kaido’ treasures, Omi-juku would make an excellent choice.