In Tsumago, Kiso Valley, there are 2 local attractions that are worth your time. Tsumago is one of the preserved post town along Kiso Valley area and you can reach this place via Nagiso Station and a short bus ride away. If you have your JR Flexible East Pass, then you will be able to easily do this without worrying about the cost because it covers it! Take a look for more information here JR East Pass. These are the Tsumago-Juku Honjin and Waki-Honjin. I will call them Honjin and Waki-Honjin respectively from now on.
In this post town on the Nakasendo Road, the Honjin was the principal inn and served high ranking government officials. The Waki-Honjin was used as a backup in case of emergency or when they simply require more rooms to accommodate everyone or just for travellers with a lower status. The hierarchy of status in Japan was really strict at that point of time.
By going to these two places, you will get a glimpse of what how it felt and looked like; from the interior, the materials used, how the tatami felt to even how the toilet worked! The tranquility of the area, the gardens and how quaint everything is will make you feel that you’ve been transported back in time.
The ticket to enter the Waki-Honjin, and the 2 museums inside it, will cost 600 yen and the Honjin ticket will cost 300 yen. However if you do decide that you want to see both of them, the ticket will cost you 700 yen.
In the Waki-Honjin, you will get a tour of the place. There will be a guide that will tell you the story and history of the place, such as the placement of the tatami, what was the inn used for and the kind of wood used to build it. The guide was able to communicate and convey the messages in English, so do not worry about the language! It is a really enriching experience. You will learn a little bit of Japan history and culture and why certain things are done in a certain way.
After you are done with the Waki-Honjin, you will also be able to explore two museums inside. Do take a look at all the amazing items that are on display. It will give you hindsight into the old Japan.
Once you are done, you can then continue towards the Honjin. The Honjin is basically a bigger place with all the same interior with the Waki-Honjin but in a grander style. Everything over here is bigger compared to the one in Waki-Honjin.