The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan

Japan is a country of contrasts, where modern skyscrapers coexist with ancient temples, and bustling cities give way to serene countryside. Among the many attractions that Japan has to offer, some of the most charming and picturesque are its villages. These small communities preserve the traditional culture, architecture, and lifestyle of Japan, and offer a glimpse into a different side of the country. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most beautiful villages in Japan that you should visit on your next trip. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway, a cultural immersion, or an adventure, you will find something to suit your taste in these villages.


Here is a list of the most beautiful villages in Japan that will offer a unique opportunity for you to experience the rich and diverse culture, nature, and history of Japan.


1. Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the mountainous region of Gifu Prefecture. It is famous for its gassho-zukuri houses, which have steep thatched roofs that resemble hands clasped in prayer. These houses are designed to withstand the heavy snowfall that covers the village in winter, and create a fairy-tale-like scenery. Shirakawa-go is also known for its seasonal festivals, such as the Doburoku Festival in October, where villagers brew and share their own sake, and the Light-up Festival in January and February, where the houses are illuminated at night.



The snow-covered village of Shirakawa-go


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2. Ouchi-juku

Ouchi-juku is a former post town that served travelers along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route during the Edo period (1603-1868). It is located in Fukushima Prefecture, and retains its original appearance with over 30 thatched-roof buildings lining the main street. Visitors can enjoy walking along the cobblestone path, browsing the shops selling local crafts and delicacies, and staying at one of the traditional inns. Ouchi-juku is also famous for its negi soba, a dish of buckwheat noodles topped with a large green onion that serves as a chopstick.





3. Tsurui

Tsurui is a village in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. It is home to the Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary, a wetland area that hosts thousands of red-crowned cranes, one of the rarest and most elegant birds in the world. The cranes are considered a symbol of longevity and happiness in Japan, and can be seen dancing and courting each other in the snow-covered fields. The best time to visit Tsurui is from December to March, when the cranes gather near the feeding stations and roosting sites.



Red-crowned Cranes in Tsurui


4. Biei

Biei is a village in Hokkaido that is renowned for its scenic landscape of rolling hills and colorful fields. The village is surrounded by nature, and offers stunning views of Mount Tokachi and Mount Asahi, two active volcanoes. Biei is also known for its flower farms, where visitors can admire various blooms such as lavender, sunflower, poppy, and cosmos. One of the most popular spots in Biei is Shikisai-no-oka, a flower park that covers 15 hectares and features a panoramic flower garden.





5. Furano

Furano is another village in Hokkaido that is famous for its flowers, especially lavender. Furano has been cultivating lavender since the 1960s, and attracts millions of visitors every year who come to see the purple fields in full bloom. The best time to visit Furano is from late June to early August, when the lavender festival is held and various events and activities are organized. Furano is also known for its cheese factory, wine factory, and melon farms.



A field of lavender in Furano with a blue sky


6. Yoshino

Yoshino is a village in Nara Prefecture that is regarded as one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan. Yoshino has over 30,000 cherry trees of different varieties that cover the slopes of Mount Yoshino, creating a spectacular sight of pink and white petals. The cherry blossom season in Yoshino lasts from late March to late April, and attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy hanami (flower viewing) parties and picnics under the trees.



cherry blossoms in Mt. Yoshino


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7. Ine

Ine is a fishing village located on the coast of Kyoto Prefecture. It is unique for its funaya, or boat houses, which are wooden buildings that have a garage for boats on the first floor and a living space on the second floor. There are about 230 funaya in Ine, which form a distinctive waterfront scenery along the bay. Visitors can experience the funaya culture by staying at one of them as a guesthouse or taking a boat tour around the bay.


ine village

Boat houses of Ine


8. Magome

Magome is an old post town that was part of the Nakasendo route that linked Kyoto and Tokyo during the feudal era. It is located in Gifu Prefecture, and preserves the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603-1868) with its stone-paved street, wooden buildings, and waterwheels. Magome is also the birthplace of Shimazaki Toson, a famous novelist who wrote about the history and culture of the region. Visitors can enjoy hiking from Magome to Tsumago, another post town that is 8 kilometers away, and experience the rural scenery and hospitality of Japan.



Street view of Magome


9. Takayama

Takayama is a city in Gifu Prefecture that is known for its well-preserved old town, which dates back to the 17th century. Takayama was a prosperous merchant town that developed a distinctive culture and craftsmanship. The old town is divided into three areas: Sannomachi, where visitors can find many sake breweries, shops, and museums; Kami-Sannomachi, where visitors can see the former residences of wealthy merchants; and Higashiyama, where visitors can visit temples and shrines. Takayama is also famous for its festivals, which are held in spring and autumn and feature elaborate floats and puppets.





10. Oshino Hakkai

Oshino Hakkai is a village in Yamanashi Prefecture that is known for its eight ponds of clear spring water. The water comes from the melted snow of Mount Fuji, which filters through the lava for over 80 years before reaching the surface. The ponds have different shapes, sizes, and depths, and are home to various aquatic plants and animals. Visitors can enjoy the view of Mount Fuji from the village, as well as taste the fresh water and local delicacies such as soba noodles and pickles.



Oshino-hakkai traditional houses



These are some of the most beautiful villages in Japan that you should not miss on your next trip. They offer a unique opportunity to experience the rich and diverse culture, nature, and history of Japan. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway, a cultural immersion, or an adventure, you will find something to suit your taste in these villages.

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