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Tsumago Post Town preservation area

Important traditional building group preservation area

Tsumago Post Town preservation area

Terashita District, Tsumago Post Town

Nakasendo Road, which connects Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, was also called Kiso Road as it passes through the mountainous Kisoji (road). Tsumago Post Town is the 42nd of all the 69 Nakasendo post towns. It enjoyed its prosperity as a key traffic hub as it is located at the intersection of Nakasendo and Inado Roads.

In the Meiji Period, however, Tsumago Post Town lost its popularity and declined as it was taken over by the newly introduced railways and modern roads. Fast forward to the Showa Period, the town’s historic charm as an old post town from the mid to late Edo Period was reevaluated. The town has become the birthplace of the nation’s first townscape preservation movement.
Tsumago residents established three main principles for their land: “Don’t Sell,” “Don’t Lend,” and “Don’t Destroy.” They continue to live here while promoting this town’s precious historical assets.

Tsumago Post Town preservation area document
Name Tsumago Post Town preservation area
Type National Designation Important traditional building group
Designation date September 4, 1976
Preservation area 1,245.4 ha

Tsumago Post Office

This post office is arranged in a classic style – even its mail posts are painted black. You will see mailmen walking into the office in a traditional costume, wearing a happi (short kimono jacket) and an old-fashioned round hat.
Inside the building is a Postal Museum Japan.
Also, if you send a mail at the Tsumago Post Office counter, you can get your mail sent with a special postmark made by Tsumago Post Office upon request.

* Attention: Mails dropped into the outside mail post in front of the Tsumago Post Office will not receive the same special postmark as mentioned above.

Tsumago Post Office hours: (Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)
Weekdays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  

Original Tsumago post office postmark
Tsumago Post Office and a black mail post
Postal Museum Japan


This building is estimated to be built in the mid-18th century. It is one of the oldest buildings in Tsumago Post Town. The building has preserved the old Kichin’yado (affordable lodge) style very well. It is due to the effort to keep its original materials in its demolition and restoration project in 1969. As a result, the builders have succeeded in reproducing its original appearance (designated as the town’s tangible cultural property).

Kamisagaya floor plan
▲Kamisagaya floor plan
Kamisagaya exterior
▲Kamisagaya exterior
Kamisagaya interior
▲Kamisagaya interior

“Hayashis' Residence” in Tsumago Post Town is designated as an important cultural property.

On June 15, 2001, the main residence, library, storehouse, and the samurai gate of the "Hayashis' Residence," which is open to the public as a part of “Wakihonjin Okuya” in Nagiso Town Museum was designated as a national important cultural property.

About the Hayashis' Residence

The Hayashis' Residence is a modern machiya-style house built during the late Edo and Meiji Periods. In the Edo Period, precious wood materials such as hinoki cypress were forbidden under the strict forest management control. People in Kiso never were able to use hinoki woods, although they were right in front of them.
In the Meiji Period, Owari Domain’s control ended, allowing the Hayashi family to use an ample amount of the large trees such as hinoki and sawara cypresses for their residence construction. This is the current Hayashis' Residence with a yago (guild name) of “Okuya.” It is called “Wakihonjin Okuya” at the Nagiso Town Museum facility, as it was a wakihonjin (secondary honjin) where daimyos (feudal lords) and noblemen stayed during the Edo Period.

Hayashis Main Residence (Front)

Symbol of the townscape preservation

The town rented the Hayashis' Residence and made open to the public since 1967 as “Okuya Local Museum.” Since then, it has become a symbol of the town preservation movement.
In addition to the historical value of this building, it holds precious archival documents and numerous folkloric documents related to the history and tradition of this area, thanks to the Hayashi family who was the headman of Tsumago in the Edo Period.
This is the first post-Meiji Japanese-style architecture in Nagano designated as the National Important Cultural Property. The factors led to this designation include restoration of the machiya-style outside of the main building, modern-style interior decoration as seen in ranma (ventilation) and door puller, superior building technologies utilizing a rich amount of excellent quality wood materials such as hinoki cypress.

Upstairs Room

Hayashis' Residence Data

Owner Bunji Hayashi (Age: 72)
Structure Wooden two-story construction
(partially three-story)
Total floor space Approx. 506 m2
Year built 1877

Return to Wakihonjin Okuya


Hashiba Signpost

Tsumago prospered as the crossroad of Nakasendo Road and Iidamichi Road (Odaira Kaido). This is a large stone signpost (about 3 meters) standing at the crossroad point. It was built in 1881 by the merchants in Iida, Omi and the local area in celebration of the completion of the national road in the area.
On the front side of the signpost, it says "Nakasendo Road Kyoto: 54.5-ri (214 km) Tokyo: 78.5-ri (308 km)". The right side says “Iidamichi Road: To Motozenkoji Temple site: 7.5-ri (29.5 km), To Nagahime Stone Bridge Chuo: 8-ri (31.4 km). On the left side is the name of the person who built this sign post.

Hashiba Signpost

Terashita townscape

The Tsumago Post Town preservation movement was carried by the people actually living there. The Terashita district is the “origin” of Tsumago Post Town, as it was where the first preservation movement was born.
The houses are simple yet delicate – you can see a row of the dashibarizukuri-style houses with tateshigegoshi frames, just like the way it was in the old post towns.
Looking closer at each house, you can spot fine details reflecting the residents’ ideas and tastes, all subtly yet elegantly displayed.
Kamisagaya and Shimosagaya buildings are both open to the public.

Terashita townscape

Koi-iwa (Carp rock)

It was one of the three great rocks of Nakasendo Road, pictured in a book titled “Kisoji Great Sites Illustrated” issued in 1805. The rock was, however, damaged and lost its head part due to the Great Nobi Earthquake in 1891. (Designated as town’s scenic site)

Koi-iwa (from the Kisoji Meisho Zukai)
Koi-iwa (from the Kisoji Meisho Zukai)
View of Koi-iwa from Nakasendo Road


Originally, it was a sangen nagaya (three-house townhouse). However, only one house was dismantled and restored in 1968. It retains a relatively old style compared to other family residence houses in Tsumago Post Town. Its major characteristic is its usage of hinoki pillars, which is extremely rare as a family residence house in Kiso Valley.
It well retains parallel two-room style at its katadoma (dirt floor), representing a typical residence (designated as the town’s tangible cultural property).

Shimosagaya interior
Shimosagaya floor plan
▲Shimosagaya floor plan

Kosatsuba (Public announcement boards)

Kosatsuba is equivalent to today's “Official Gazette Board.” It is where the shogunate posted announcements to people such as Kinsei and Hatto (bans and prohibitions) The current board is the restoration of the kosatsuba from the Edo Period. It is raised high so that it will look down on people, reflecting the glory of the government elites.


Kumagais' Residence

This building is a part of nagaya (townhouse) built in the early 19th century. It was destroyed and then rebuilt, leaving its right half and left half parts. Since then it has been used as a single house.
Such an example is architecturally rare, so this is a valuable building. In 1973, the town purchased, demolished, and restored the building. It is now open to the public (designated as the town’s tangible cultural property).

Kumagais Residence floor plan
▲Kumagais' Residence floor plan
Kumagais Residence exterior
▲Kumagais' Residence exterior
Kumagais Residence interior
▲Kumagais' Residence interior
Kumagais Residence interior
▲Kumagais' Residence interior