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Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, an oasis on the "Saba Kaido" (mackerel road) connecting Kyoto and Obama, is a retro-modern, active lodging town!

Publication date:2024.04.30 / Update Date:2024.04.30

Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, an oasis on the "Saba Kaido" (mackerel road) connecting Kyoto and Obama, is a retro-modern, active lodging town!

Obama, facing Wakasa Bay, has supported the imperial court's food culture since ancient times, and for more than 1,500 years, the road connecting Obama and Kyoto was known as the Saba Kaido, or "mackerel road. Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, an oasis for travelers on the  "Saba Kaido" (mackerel road) , continues to offer comfort to travelers today through town planning that makes the most of its old-fashioned atmosphere.

We spoke to ......

Hisao Nagae (curator), Wakasa Town History and Culture Department
He is also the director of the Wakasa Mikata Jomon Museum and the director of the Wakasa Town History and Culture Museum. He has also participated in the town planning of Wakasa together with local residents.

Wakasa in Miketsukuni, the Land of Gourmet Foods

MIKETSU-KUNI" refers to the country that offered specialty foods as ingredients to the Imperial Court from the Asuka and Nara periods to the Heian period (794-1185). The term was coined in the Manyoshu, a collection of classical Japanese poetry. In addition to Awaji (Hyogo Prefecture) and Shima (Mie Prefecture), Wakasa (Fukui Prefecture) is also presumed to be a miketsukuni.

Excavations in the vicinity of Heijo-kyo, the capital of Nara, have revealed many wooden plaques (mokkan; wooden tags with writing on them) that indicate that this was the case. Wakasa Bay and Obama Bay have a rias coastline and a favorable fishing environment where warm and cold currents also mix. Because of the sea, Wakasa was a gourmet country that produced salt and rice.

In addition to salt, many kinds of seafood such as sea bream, barracuda, sea urchin, abalone, and ascidians were offered as gifts. Wooden records also show that fish was transported to the region as preserved food, either made into sushi or dried. (Nagae)

Saba Kaido leading from Wakasa to Kyoto - Kyoto is 18 ri, even though it is far away.

Saba Kaido is the generic name for a group of roads that begin in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture, and continue all the way to Kyoto. The Saba Kaido is a road that runs from Obama City, Fukui Prefecture, to Kyoto, a distance of at most 18 ri (about 72 km)," said one of the most famous travelers in Japan. Salt and marine products from the Wakasa Sea were presented to the Imperial Court via the Saba Kaido.

Eventually, mackerel from Wakasa was prized as a popular fish, and large quantities of mackerel were transported to Kyoto. Saba-zushi (mackerel sushi) made from fresh "Wakasa-mono" brought to Kyoto, sprinkled with salt, became an indispensable feast for festivals in Kyoto.

The sea is also connected to the continent, right? The Saba Kaido was also a route of exchange, bringing people and culture from the continent to the capital. For these reasons, in 2015, the "Cultural Heritage of Wakasa, Linking the Sea and the Capital: Miketsukuni Wakasa and the Saba Kaido" was recognized as a Japan Heritage site in the first phase.

The Saba Kaido, the road connecting Obama and Kyoto, has been a series of routes over mountains since ancient times, and each road or pass has its own name. The mountain roads, however, are quite steep, and the Wakasa Kaido, the flattest of the roads, was developed to transport large quantities of goods. (Nagae)

Take a break at Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, an inn town on the "Saba Kaido" lined with old private homes

Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town is located on the Wakasa Kaido, the main route of the Saba Kaido. The townscape, about 1.1 km long, has been selected as an important traditional building preservation district. The townscape of the old inn town, including large wholesale merchant houses and inns, has been preserved and is lined with historical buildings.

You can enjoy a meal such as "Saba-zushi" (mackerel sushi) or "Wakasa beef" at a restaurant renovated from an old private house, or relax at a café using an earthen storehouse. Kumagawa's specialty,  "Kuzu Manju Red Bean Dumplings" , is also a must-try.
The Kumagawa kuzu used in kuzu manju is reputed to be of higher quality than Nara's Yoshino kuzu, and has been sent to confectioners in Kyoto since the early Edo period," says Nagae.

Another attraction of Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town is that visitors can stay in a retro-modern inn renovated from a cultural asset-class old private house. YAO-KUMAGAWA " operates an inn in an old private house that is limited to four guests per day. The inn is attracting attention as a stylish yet relaxing place to stay in a nostalgic and relaxing atmosphere.
街道シェアオフィス & スペース菱屋
The YAO-KUMAGAWA accommodation lounge is located at the "Kaido Shared Office & Space Hishiya. Originally a wholesale store, this 140-year-old house, one of the largest in Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, has been reborn as a complex that includes a café.

Visitors can enjoy kayaking and other river activities and trail hikes in the mountains and rivers from Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town. Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town is a great base for activities and is still an active "shukuba-machi" (lodging town).

Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town flourished as a relay station for transporting goods, called "jinba tsugitate. People rested at the inn while changing horses and cargo. The road was considerably wider than in other inn towns, and it is recorded that 1,000 head of cattle and horses came and went each day. Waterways were essential to provide water for these oxen and horses.

Nagamasa Asano, who ruled the area, was the man who triggered the planned development of the area as an inn and its major growth. In Tensho 17, he issued a warning to Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town that it was exempt from taxes, and the area was dramatically revitalized. (Nagae)

The wide road provides a clear view of the mountains beyond the building, which still soothes the hearts of visitors. Fresh greenery in spring, blue sky in summer, autumn leaves in fall, and snow in winter are all wonderful views.

Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town

Address Kumagawa, Wakasa Town, Mikata-Kaminaka-gun, Fukui Prefecture
Access Approximately 15 minutes by car from the Wakasa-Kaminaka IC of the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
Parking lot Yes
Telephone number Wakasa Town Tourism and Future Creation Division 0770-45-9111
URL https://kumagawa-juku.com/

Nobunaga and Ieyasu both passed through! Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town is a historical crossroads

The Shukubakan, located almost in the center of Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town, is a Western-style building that used to be the village office. It is now a museum.

This area has been a strategic point of transportation since ancient times. Because of its easy access to Wakasa Bay, the gateway to navigation, and its location on the shortest route to Yamato (Nara Prefecture), there are ancient tombs of the kings of Wakasa. Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Ieyasu, and Mitsuhide also came to the area during the Warring States Period at the end of the Middle Ages. (Nagae)

The museum exhibits materials related to these famous warlords, as well as gorgeous "farewell curtains" such as those hung on floats during the Gion Festival. It is evident that people and culture from Kyoto also passed through here and influenced the area.

Wakasa Saba-kaido Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town Museum (Shukubakan)

Address 30-4-2, Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakami-Kaminaka-gun, Fukui
Business hours 9:00-17:00 (April-October)
9:00-16:00 (November-March)
Closed Mondays, Year-end and New Year holidays
Admission Adults 200 yen, Free for junior high school students and younger
Telephone number 0770-62-0330

New winds welcome! Neo Kumagawa Inn is also popular

Besides along the old Wakasa Kaido Road, which preserves the old townscape, Route 303 runs parallel to the road. Along here, there are retro-modern inns and "Roadside Station Wakasa Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town" where you can enjoy another face of Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town.

Kumagawa is not only preserving its buildings, but is also developing a town where residents can live comfortably while respecting the old appearance. We hope that visitors will like the warmth of the people and the tranquility of the town. (Nagae)

Saba*Cafe, located across the street from the roadside station, is a new landmark of Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town. It is a place where you can enjoy mackerel sandwiches, which have become a specialty of the Saba Kaido Road. It also has a bike store, making it a convenient place to stop by on the way to activities.
A hearty mackerel sandwich! Half a large mackerel and fresh local vegetables are sandwiched together with homemade French bread baked every business morning. The mackerel goes perfectly with the special mayonnaise sauce made with Wakasa's specialty citrus namba (spicy yuzu miso). It is also available for takeout and is popular among locals as well as tourists.


Address 12-16-2 Kumagawa, Wakasa Town, Mikata-Kaminaka-gun, Fukui Prefecture
Business hours 11:00-16:00
(Last order 15:30)
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Parking lot Yes
Access Approximately 12 minutes by car from the Wakasa-Kaminaka IC of the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
URL https://saba-cafe.com/

Enjoy culture and nature at Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town on the Wakasa Saba Kaido Road!

The Saba Kaido (mackerel road) carried the "Wakasa things" that were loved by the Kyoto people and built Kyoto's culture. Traveling along the road, you will realize the proximity of Wakasa and Kyoto, and enjoy its charms that go beyond just the sea. Why not take a break at Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town and enjoy the peaceful mountain air to the fullest?