The Shimo Suwa Stage: Shimo Suwa Town, Suwa County, Nagano Prefecture
The Shiojiri Stage: Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture
*** 219km from Nihonbashi, Tokyo / 313km to Sanjo Ohashi in Kyoto ***
National Highway 142 brings us down the slope from Wada Pass to Shimo Suwa. There we find the Akimiya Lower Shrine of Suwa Taisha, the premier shrine of Shinano country. A hot spring has been drawn inside the precincts. Purification in hot water warms the body chilled by this season. According to the Shrine Legend, the south side of Lake Suwa is served by the Upper Shrines, the north side by the Lower Shrines. It also states that the dedication of a shrine at “Suwa in the Land of Shinano” is mentioned in the Kojiki Ancient Chronicles, and that this is one of the oldest shrines in Japan. Near the approachway to the Suwa Taisha Shrine, the Koshu Road and the Kamakura Road merge with the Nakasendo Highway.
We leave the road, turn left and continue for a while to Nishiki-no-Yu, site of the official inn at Shimo Suwa. From here, we follow the Nakasendo road to the Harumiya Lower Shrine of Suwa Taisha. From the torii gate, the town can be seen, but not Lake Suwa. Following the road markers to Lake Suwa, we pass National Highway 20 to the right, then to the left, as we continue along the narrow Nakasendo road. Soon, we see a stone announcing “Left to Shiojiri”. From here, the road crosses Shiojiri Pass and continues to the Shiojiri post town.