Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I took a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Motoyama-juku, a post town on the Nakasendo route in Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture. Motoyama-juku is famous as the birthplace of soba cutting, and many historic buildings and sites remain. This time, I would like to introduce its charm.
What is Motoyama-juku?
Motoyama-juku is the 32nd post station on Nakasendo, located 61 ri (approx. 244 km) from Edo and 71 ri (approx. 284 km) from Kyoto. In 1614, when the Nakasendo route was changed, it was newly established along with Shiojiri-juku and Seiba-juku. Until then, the shortest route was to go from Shimosuwa-juku to Takugawa-juku by crossing Ono Pass, but this route was changed in consideration of the difficulty of passage in the winter and the relationship with the various clans in Kiso Valley.
Motoyama-juku was the entrance to Kisoji and the exit from Matsumoto-daira. As a result, it flourished as a distribution center for supplies such as Kiso lumber and Kiso horses. It was also the border between the Owari and Kiso domains, so checkpoints such as Onnakai and Zaimokume were set up.
Motoyama-juku is lined with two-story houses with latticework, and still retains a strong vestige of those days. In particular, three houses, the Akiyama family (Wakamatsuya), the Tanaka family (Ikeda family), and the Kobayashi family (Kawaguchi family), have been designated as nationally registered tangible cultural properties, and you can see their splendid architectural styles. The Kobayashi family used to be the main shrine, and Emperor Ninko’s daughter Kazunomiya stayed there when she married Iemochi Tokugawa, and Emperor Meiji stayed there when he went on a pilgrimage.
Route to Motoyama-juku
This time, I entered the Chuo Expressway from central Tokyo via the Shuto Expressway Inner Loop Line. The Chuo Expressway is a fast route, and along the way you can enjoy beautiful scenery such as Mt. Fuji and Mt. Yatsugatake. From Okaya JCT, I transferred to the Nagano Expressway and got off at Shiojiri IC. From Shiojiri IC, head north on National Route 19 and enter the former Nakasendo via the Shinonome-no-Michi Alps Observation Road. The old Nakasendo road is narrow and has many curves, but you can enjoy the historical atmosphere.
Highlights of Motoyama-juku
When you arrive at Motoyama-juku, we recommend eating soba first. Motoyama-juku is said to be the birthplace of soba cutting, and there is a legend that a person named Unsu was the first to cut soba. Motoyama Soba no Sato is run by local residents and serves soba and other dishes made with local ingredients.
After enjoying soba, take a tour of the historical sites and cultural properties of Motoyama-juku. Motoyama-juku has historical remains such as the Honjin ruins, the Motoyama clan residence ruins, and the Motoyama castle ruins. You can also see objects of worship such as Ikebu Shrine, Dosojin, and Koshin Tower. Ikebu Shrine is said to have miraculous powers for praying for rain, raising sericulture, and curing eye diseases, and many votive tablets are dedicated there. Dosojin and Koshin Tower are designated cultural properties of Shiojiri City as a group of stone statues that line the old Nakasendo.
Motoyama-juku motorcycle parking lot
Motoyama-juku does not have a dedicated motorcycle parking lot, but there are several spaces where you can park on the street along the old Nakasendo. However, the road is narrow so please be careful not to disturb other vehicles or pedestrians.
This time, I went on a Harley tour from Tokyo to Motoyama-juku, Nagano Prefecture. Motoyama-juku is famous as the birthplace of soba cutting, and many historic buildings and sites remain. There are also specialty products such as Kiso lumber and Kiso horses. When you drive along the old Nakasendo and arrive at Motoyama-juku, you can feel the times. Please come and visit us at least once.
Nagano Prefecture Motoyama-juku: Nagano Prefecture Motoyama-juku