There are many beautiful villages in Japan. Each village has its own characteristic whether it be abundant in history or full in nature, but whatever it is all Japanese villages come fully loaded.
This article introduces you to 15 villages, selected from members of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.
You should definitely experience their beauty first-hand. Here are 15 to consider!
1. Biei-cho (美瑛町), Hokkaido
Biei is a village in Hokkaido that’s known for its beautiful nature. The people who live in the village call it “the town of hills.” As the name implies, the grand view from the hills in town has impact. Biei is mostly an agricultural town but please also enjoy their scenery.
https://www.town.biei.hokkaido.jp/index.php (Only in Japanese)
2. Tsurui (鶴居村), Hokkaido
The kanji characters for Tsurui mean “there are cranes.” As the name implies, it’s a town with a lot of wild cranes. TO be precise, it’s a town where many red-crowned cranes live. Outside of Tsurui, there’s nowhere else you can see red-crowned cranes interacting naturally.
3. Higashi-Naruse (東成瀬村), Akita
Higashi-Naruse is well-known throughout Japan for having the most beautiful night sky in the country. The air there is so clear that it’s a beautiful sight. There are also an abundant of waterfalls and groundwater in the area, so everything grows well. In the Suzukoya no Mori (a forest), there are closely packed Japanese beech trees that are over 200 years old, and you can breathe in the amazingly fresh air they give off.
4. Kitashiobara (北塩原村), Fukushima
Kitashiobara is comprised of 80% mountain forest, making it a town that truly coexists with nature. Because it has so much nature, it also has a superb view. Above all else, the completely natural (not manmade) lakes called Goshikinuma are impressive because they naturally change colors.
5. Kiso-cho (木曽町), Nagano
http://www.town-kiso.com/ (Only in Japanese)
6. Nagiso-cho (南木曽町), Naganoja.wikipedia.org
Nagiso, a town not far from Kiso, is a village where many buildings from the Edo Period remain. This place is also known as Tsumago-juku. There are many people who are moved by the sight of these ancient buildings through the seasons. If you manage to reach Nagano on your trip, you should try to see either Kiso or Nagiso if you can.
7. Nakanojo-cho Kuni (中之条町六合), Gunma
90% of this town is made up of mountain forest and wilderness. This town has been loved by literary people like poets thanks to the calming scenery it holds. If you get hungry, you can try the famous juuwari soba. It’s also famous for onsen, so why not warm yourself in the waters surrounded by nature?
http://www.town.nakanojo.gunma.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
8. Hayakawa-cho (早川町), Yamanashi
Hayakawa-cho is located in southwest of Yamanashi Prefecture, surrounded by the peaks of the Southern Alps with a vast area, also known as the least populated town in Japan. Rich with hot springs, it has many hot springs throughout the town, including Nishiyama Onsen.
The streets of Akasawa, about a settlement of 40 houses, consist of traditional buildings, hedges, hills, and stone steps etc., keeping a landscape harmonized with its surrounding mountains.
http://www.town.hayakawa.yamanashi.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
9. Totsukawa (十津川村), Nara
Totsukawa is Japan’s largest village in terms of size. 96% of it is mountain forest so it’s definitely another village where people and nature co-exist. There are 3 natural Onsen (hot springs) in the town of Totsukawa. Due to the abundance of natural hot spring waters, the town is famous as a “Hot-Spring Town”.
Part of the famous Sacred Sites and Pilgrimate Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, runs through here so it’s definitely a path to check out.
http://www.vill.totsukawa.lg.jp/www/toppage/0000000000000/APM03000.html (Only in Japanese)
10. Yoshino-cho (吉野町), Nara
Yoshino is famous for, above all, its cherry blossom trees. They’re grown on Mt. Yoshino, but there are about 30,000 trees. The only time to see them in full bloom is a short period in the beginning of April. Of course, there is a lot of other nature to take in outside of the cherry blossom trees.
11. Ine-cho (伊根町), Kyoto
Once thrived as a fishing village, Ine-cho is left with numerous resources such as folk performing art, tangible and intangible cultural heritages related to food, clothing and housing. Especially, approximately 230 fishermen houses lined along the Ine Bay are a famous landscape.
http://www.town.ine.kyoto.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
12．Kamikatsu-cho (上勝町), Tokushima
Mostly a mountainous district, Kamikatsu-cho has terraced fields on hillside slopes, with 55 settlements of various sizes located between altitude 100-700 m. This town is filled with beautiful terraced fields, and especially ones in Kashihara (1st photo) have been selected as the 100 best terraced fields in Japan.
http://www.kamikatsu.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
13. Minamioguni-cho (南小国町), Kumamoto
Minamioguni is a town at the foot of Mt. Aso. It’s also at the source of Kyushu’s longest river, the Chikugo River. Since it’s surrounded by mountains and water, it’s not only full of nature, but there are also many hot springs there. Out of all the attractions in this village, you should definitely try visiting the verdant Se no Motokougen tableau.
http://www.town.minamioguni.kumamoto.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
14. Takaharu-cho (高原町), Miyazaki
Takaharu is a village full of history because it’s where the very first emperor, Emperor Jimmu, was born. The Amano-sakahoko, a three-pronged spear that his descendents thrust into the earth when he died, is quite famous. The Kirishima Geopark, Japan’s first recognized national park, is also here.
http://www.town.takaharu.lg.jp/ (Only in Japanese)
15. Aya-cho (綾町), Miyazakiwww.town.aya.miyazaki.jp
Aya is famous not just for its evergreen forest but it’s also popular among people from urban areas who are looking for a slower lifestyle. In this area surrounded by evergreens exists the world-famous Teruha Suspension Bridge, so you can really feel the dynamism of nature.
http://www.town.aya.miyazaki.jp/ayatown/ (Only in Japanese)
All of these villages are so full of nature that no matter which one you visit you’ll definitely have a calming trip!