Nezame-no-toko means 'bed of awakening' and named after an old, famous legend. A fishermen, Urashima Taro, rescued a turtle from being bullied by little children and, in gratitude, was invited back to the turtle's home – the marine Palace of the Dragon God under the sea, where he meets the Emperor of the Sea, and his daughter again – the turtle, known as Princess Otohime.
When he returned to the shore, Princess Otohime presented him with a box as a souvenir, but warned him never to open it. When he arrived back home, he realized several hundred years had passed and all his acquaintances were long deceased. So he embarked on a journey. Upon arriving at the Kiso River, he remembered the submarine palace and opened the box. As a white smoke rose from the box, Urashima Taro was suddenly transformed into an old man.
Expecting a flat, relaxing and quiet river landscape and considering the hot summer's day, I chose open sandals and a dress as my outfit for this day – my choice couldn't have been worse! Visiting this amazing place requires pants and some comfortable sneakers to give you full mobility as you manoeuvre across the myriad rocks.
The entrance to the river is at the top of the hillside, so you have to walk down a lovely little road to get there. This does enable you to take some perfect photos of the landscape from above. You can also see the Bijutsu Art Park located right next to Kiso River. But as soon as you have arrived at the first few rocks, the fun begins.
Plan around 2-3 hours to climb around the rocks. You will feel like a little monkey – but do be careful not to slip. Pants and comfortable sneakers come in handy because the rocks have different shapes and sizes. Sometimes you have to jump to get from one rock to another to reach your destination. In summer why not go for some cliff jumping and cool down a little in the Kiso River?
From Agematsu Station (1h30min from Matsumoto Station on the JR Shinonoi Line) it will take about 5 min by bus or taxi, but you can also walk – this will take another 30 minutes. Having Pocket Wi-Fi will come in handy to find this place because it's quite hidden and having access to Google Maps is a lifesaver.