Samurai towns, Japanese oyster farmers and coastal art on the back roads of Honshu
A time-out-of-mind atmosphere pervades the mountain town of Magome, a centuries-old staging post on the eastern border of Gifu Prefecture. On the main street, stone steps ascend alongside a trickling stream, where a wooden waterwheel ticks around slowly like a sleepy clock, setting the town’s somnolent tempo as it has for some 300 years. Houses line the road, old but beautifully preserved, shuttered with wooden screens and hung with swaying lanterns. Gingko and maple leaves crown the street in a blaze of saffron and cardinal red.