Up to the mountains: Magome to Tsumago, Suhara and Matsumoto
We woke up really soon in preparation for our long day. After stopping at 7Eleven for breakfast on the go, we bought some tickets without double checking and all hyped got in the shinkansen to Nagano. From there, we needed to change to Nakatsugawa. There, we noticed... we payed way too much for the shinkansen. And we were not able to find how to buy our next ticket. We asked and they sent us to our platform, and there was a machine, but just in japanese. So we went back to the ticket place, to ask again, and they took our shinkansen tickets, and then made us pay way less for the next ticket. So we understood we got some kind of combination ticket. After it, we got into a bus and after an eventless ride we arrived to Magome.
It was a pretty street full of tourists, so we rushed through it (after trying a chestnut rice ball that wasn't even tasty) and began our hike. Easy hike with lots of road, toilets, and bells to ring to scare the bears (??) Around halfway to Tsumago, a beautiful and old tea house offered the travelers free tea, and a chance to talk with other people. After continuing for a bit, we took the small detour to the Otaki and Metaki (Male and Female) waterfalls and ate some of our snacks. Then, it was short way to Tsumago.
In Tsumago we checked a couple shops including a unique taylor and ate some ramen where some spanish we met at the tea house were just going out and recommended. It was nice, and they had a machine to play space invaders while waiting. Then we walked to Nagiso, being this a less famous/known part of the Nakasendo way. There were some "castle ruins", aka a memorial rock, and a bunch of road mixed in with some bamboo paths, overall nice.
When we arrived, 3 foreigners living in Nagano chitchated with us and pointed to the nearest shop with beer. And ice cream. They went back home and we made our way to Suhara. While walking towards our place, a man asked if we were going there. It was the owner, and came with us to explain everything with not a single English word, everything with the help of an iPad. It worked out surprisingly well! We asked him for a recommendation for dinner and took us to a japanese restaurant, where they didn't speak english either. Again, with patience and google translate, we ordered a Sashimi an Tonkatsu set, which were delicious and soooo much! Then we went back to the house to have fun exploring it, sip tea and make plans in our yukatas. And Alex even took a bath before sleeping.
Our small village had a 7Eleven, so for breakfast we bought something there and ate it in our place. We had a bit more fun exploring the house until the owner came to get the key, and walked to the station as it started to rain. We got a train to Matsumoto, and even if the views from it were amazing I was happy we were not hiking with that weather.
In Matsumoto we walked to the castle. Big, beautiful, and pitch black, it was clear to us why its nickname is the Crow caste. We took our time strolling around, snapping pictures and eating some snacks while looking at it. Then we spent some time in the shopping streets, and a mall while making time our bus to Tokyo.