From Shiojiri, 2.5 hrs by train from Tokyo, we'll ride the 400-year-old Nakasendo highway that linked Edo and Kyoto. After meeting a traditional comb artisan in the post station of Naraijuku, we try green tofu in the village of Achi, and amid the rice fields of the Ina Basin, discover a tradition of crafting rice straw for use in everything from sumo rings to Shinto rituals. Climbing into the mountains, we see salt made from hot spring water, and at the southern tip of Nagano Prefecture, we scale the steep slopes of a tea plantation.
A sleepy post station, serving travelers on the old highway for 400 years
The pinnacle of the comb artisan's skill: 90 teeth in just 10cm
Green tofu made with pure local water and special soybeans
River mist and gentle sunlight make these slopes ideal for tea growing