traditional villages in japan
Many interesting Japanese villages are on the chain of the Japanese Alps, isolated in forgotten valleys of urbanization. These villages have been abandoned by most of their inhabitants but have become tourist attractions, monuments to the memory of rural Japan. The complete list would count nearly 50 villages, listed on this website.
Shirakawa-go (Gifu Prefecture)
It is the most famous and most beautiful, with the traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses scattered around the valley. Shirakawago and its neighbor, Gokayama, are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and can be visited as a day trip from Nagoya and Kanazawa. Nearly 70 gassho-zukuri (houses with steep thatched roofs ) are kept authentic, some converted into museums or hostels for a night. The set is very popular: more than 1.5 million tourists a year visit, especially in winter when a thick blanket of snow gives the place an unreal beauty.
Takayama (Gifu Prefecture)
Not far from Shirakawa-go, the ancient village of Takayama is now a small town, but has kept its old centre, consisting of small houses, intact. There are also some rural houses with thatched roofs in the district of Hida. Takayama has thus received the nickname of "Little Kyoto" for its old charm. The city also has temples, the ruins of a castle and a morning market.
Ine (Kyoto Prefecture)
Far from the mountain villages, Ine is an ancient village of fishermen famous for its funaya. The houses at the water's edge were also used as sheds for fishing boats. The village lies on a narrow strip of land nearly 20 meters wide. The funaya are now dwelling houses and restaurants overlooking the bay waters. This is one of the last fishing villages in Japan.
Tsumago (Nagano Prefecture)
Tsumago is in the Kiso Valley, a place renowned for hiking. This is one of the last stage cities that lined along the Nakasendo road. This road linked Kyoto to Edo by the interior (the Tokaido, most famous, followed the shoreline). The official or private travelers stopped in many hostels and relays met along the way. Tsumago was one of those villages born to accommodate travelers. The place is preserved, cars are banned and modern cables are hidden to maintain the best aspect of the Edo period.
Taketomi (Okinawa Prefecture)
This village is much more isolated than many others, on the small island south of the archipelago of Okinawa, but its landscape is known to all Japanese. The small Taketomi paths are lined with dry stone walls and low houses covered with tiles. A typical landscape of the villages of Okinawa where you only travel on foot or by buffalo-led cart. A small wonder tropical island near Iriomote-reserve.