Breakfast at Aoki was much less intimidating, but still very good.
They even played with Gus while we got our backpacks re-packed.
Seeing us off.
We went for a walk through Narai (with daylight) before starting on the next leg of our journey.
The main drag in Narai has several of these little wells. I don't know whether they've really been slaking the thirst of weary travelers for centuries, but they're still nice.
Not a real insect.
From Narai, we hiked over something called the Torii Pass to Yabuhara (薮原). The Smithsonian article refers to it as the "dreaded Torii Pass." He actually uses that same adjective in two different places, just to emphasize its dreadedness, I suppose. We had it built up in our minds to be a really big deal.
Craig shows his dread.
The eponymous Torii.
Gus, also filled with dread.
Gus knows how to hike in style.
The hike really wasn't all that difficult. By the time we reached Yabuhara, though, I was tired of carrying the blue backpack, and I figured Craig wouldn't notice the extra weight. He claimed not to.
We caught the train from Yabuhara to Kiso-Fukushima, which is apparently the biggest town in the area. Lots of nice views of the river.
More guilt-inducing horse art.
In Kiso-Fukushima, we stayed at a minshuku called Murachiya (むらちや). In this region of Japan, doors were traditionally manufactured by hobbits. (That's where they were all going when they got on those boats at the end of the third movie.)
Dinner at Murachiya featured carp, among other things.