7 of the most beautiful villages in Japan

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An Association named The most beautiful villages in Japan has been active, since 2005, on enhancement and protection of Japanese rural heritage, promoting regionally, nationally and internationally its member villages and towns. Among their members list, we selected 7 locations for you.

Tarama village [Okinawa Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3802" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: www.flickr.com Credit: www.flickr.com[/caption]Located in Miyako District in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, Tarama village gathers two islands: Tarama & Minna. It is a 22 square kilometers of paradise, facing the Pacific Ocean to the south and the East China Sea to the north. The beauty of the place is astonishing, definitely a great destination to reconnect with mother nature.

Contact

Address:Tarama Village, Municipal Office, 99-2 Nakasuji, Tarama-son, Miyako-gun, Okinawa-ken 906-0602Access: Go to Miyako Airport by air then to Tarama Island by air or shipBy air: From Miyako Airport to Tarama Island RAC twice daily (about 25 min)By ship: Take a taxi from Miyako Airport to Hirara Marine Terminal (about 11 min) and a ferry to Tarama Port Futenma area (about 2 hours) / Round trip: 4,580 yen for adults and 2,300 yen for childrenRecommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeWithin Japan: 0980-79-2011

Tōhō village [Fukuoka Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3803" align="alignnone" width="814"]Credit: www.japanvillage.jp Credit: www.japanvillage.jp[/caption]In Fukuoka Prefecture, more precisely in Asakura District, there is a recently founded village, result of the merger of two others (Hōshuyama and Koishiwara) in 2005, named Toho village. Relaxing place due to its quiet environment surrounded by mountains, the village is famous for its pottery. There you will also enjoy the great view of layered rice fields, and their color-changing from green to gold when the harvest is coming up.

Contact

Address:Toho Village, 838-1692 941-9 Oaza-Koishiwara, Toho Village, Asakura-gunAccess: By public transport: From Tenjin Bus Center/Hakata Station/Fukuoka Airport, take Nishi-tetsu Express Bus going to Hita and get off at Haki (about 60 min). Take Nishi-testu bus from there to Koishiwara via Hojuzan (about 40 min)Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal Office - Regional Development SectionWithin Japan: 0946-74-2311

Umaji village [Kochi Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3804" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: www.flickr.com Credit: www.flickr.com[/caption]This village is mainly surrounded by trees, and you will not take long to realize it after only a few breaths of really fresh air. Well-known for its successful business of Yuzu products and, since 1997, for its yearly "arranged marriage tour" called Yu-yu tour, this village has definitely something special. Welcoming people and delicious food will make you want to stay there longer than expected.

Contact

Address:Umaji Village, 443 Umaji, Umaji-mura, Kōchi-ken 781-6201Access: 70 km from Kochi-city (about 1 hour and 40 minutes)By JR or Tosa Kuroshio Railway: From Kochi Station, take JR and Tosa Kuroshio Railway (Gomen-Nahari Line) and get off at Yasuda Station (about 1 hour and 25 minutes)
Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeWithin Japan: 0887-44-2111

Soni village [Nara Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3809" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: Wikimedia Commons Credit: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]In Uda District, northeastern portion of Nara Prefecture (Kansai region of Japan), there is a valley where stands Suni Village. There, the climate is cool and the spot is perfect for mountain climbing and hiking. There is no big factories, no ugly buildings, only large and peaceful lands.

Contact

Address:Soni Village, 495-1 Ōaza Imai, Soni-mura, Uda-gun, Nara-ken 633-1212Access:By bus: From Kintetsu Nabari Station get off at Taraji. A 50-minute walk from the bus stop - on Sundays and national holidays in fall, a bus service is available from Kintetsu Haibara Station to Soni Plateau.
Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeWithin Japan: 0745-94-2101

Shirakawa village [Gifu Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3811" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: www.flickr.com Credit: www.flickr.com[/caption]Shirakawa is a small traditional village in Ono District, located in a mountainous region near the geographic center of Japan. Became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, this village is famous for its particular farmhouses called gasshō zukuri - literally meaning "constructed like hands in prayer", due to the shape of their roof. This style of architecture exists since more than 250 years and was initially designed to support the large amount of snow falling there during winter. In addition, the roofs are used to cultivate silkworms.

Contact

Address:Shirakawa Village, #501-56 Hatotani-517 Shirakawa-Village Ohno-District Gifu Pref.Access:By railway and bus:From Tokyo take the railway to Nagoya (about 2 hours) and then change to go to Takayama (about 2 hours). Once arrived, take the Expressway shuttle bus to Shirakawa-go (about 50 minutes)
Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeInternational calls: +81-05769-6-1311

Akaigawa village [Hokkaido prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3813" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: Wikimedia Commons Credit: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]In Yoichi District, Akaigawa village is a great place for ski lovers during winter and for outdoor activities during summer (such as Kayaking, Canyoning or Night forest tour, trekking, etc.).

Contact

Address:Akaigawa Village, 74-2 Akaigawa, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido 046-0592Access:By car: From Sapporo about 90 minutes (70 km) - From Yoichi-cho about 20 minutes (13 km) - New Chitose Airport about 2 hours (120 km) - From Kutchan about 40 minutes (33 km)
Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeWithin Japan: 0135-34-6211

Higashinaruse village [Akita Prefecture]

[caption id="attachment_3815" align="alignnone" width="815"]Credit: www.murakara.com Credit: www.murakara.com[/caption]At the far southeast corner of Akita Prefecture, the area of present-day Higashinaruse was historically part of a larger province (Ugo Province) dominated during the Edo period by a powerful samourai clan, the Satake clan. Many species of birds and lots of native grasses can be seen in this village due to its humid continental climate with large seasonal temperature differences.

Contact

Address:Higashinaruse Village, Yubinbango 019-0801 Akita Prefecture ogachi district higashinaruseAccess:By train: From Jumonji Station it takes about 24 minutes to go there by train
Recommended period: AnytimeContact:Municipal OfficeWithin Japan: (0182) 47-3401