Eisho-ji (Manpuku-an) is actually a temple, not a restaurant. However, they are happy to accommodate travelers who want to enjoy a home cooked meal of shojin ryori – traditional Buddhist cuisine that uses no animals or animal byproducts. It’s very simple, healthy, and delicious. Because there are no supermarkets in Magome-juku, some preparation is required on the part of the family, so you’ll need to make reservations at least one week in advance as they can’t handle walk ins. Dinner is served in a traditional tatami room at tables with other travelers and will cost exactly 3000 yen a head. It’s located off the main road (Nakasendo), near the Tourist Information Center and Post Office so it’s super easy to find.
Kagi no Te
Kagi no Te is a family owned store that is Narai-juku’s premiere soba shop. The name kagi no te literally means “right angled” and is a reference to the location which is on a corner. The shop is quite busy at lunchtime and will be quite crowded – there may be a line and it could take time to get your order. However, the noodles are hand made and the portions are generous. In addition to soba, they also sell the local specialty, gohei mochi, a kind of Japanese sweets. Expect to pay around 1000-1500 yen per person.
Kawai Shokudo is a small diner and souvenir shop located directly in front of JR Kiso-Fukushima Station near the Fukushima Tourist Information Center. You can drop off your bags at the Center, and then grab a quick bite to eat for under 1000 yen and then explore the town. The shop specializes in teishoku, Japanese combo platters which are served with rice, miso soup, and pickled veggies. The menu is written in English and Japanese and you use a coin operated machine to print out order and hand it to the staff, so you don’t need to say a word. They serve everything from sauted pork and cabbage to ramen and gohei mochi.
Ko no Hanaya is one of many small cafe-style sweets shops located in Tsumago-juku and they specialize in simple dishes that are grilled and skewered so you can relax in the shop or eat on the go as you check out the town. You can choose from locally sourced Shinshu Beef, gohei mochi, dango, or various flavors of o-yaki. Everything is delicious, but we highly recommend the gohei mochi – pounded white rice balls grilled and dipped in a sweet brown sauce. Most items on the menu go for around 200-350 yen, so you can eat a healthy snack for just a few coins.
The Ichikoku Tochi Tateba Chaya is a quaint traditional tea house and rest stop located at roughly halfway between Tsumago-juku and Magome-juku on the Magome Pass. To take a break here is completely free – and so is the wifi, so it’s a good chance to start uploading all the pictures you’ve been taking along the scenic Old Nakadsendo Highway between towns. But while you’re there, you might as well get some tea and mochi to power up for the remainder of the trek. As it’s just a light snack, don’t expect to pay more than whatever spare change you have in your pockets.