Scenic Mountain Villages spread over a Height of 400 meters – an Ethereal World like the “Peach Blossom Spring”
Have you ever heard of "Peach Blossom Spring”? It refers to a peaceful and fertile land filled with blossoming peach trees like utopia, described in the Chinese fable "Peach Blossom Spring". Are there such places in Japan too? One such place can be found in Nishi-Awa in Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan. Let’s take a look at the ethereal world of Nishi-Awa where you can enjoy unique views of mountain villages spread over a height of some 400 meters.
Difficult to reach, but well worth visiting
Nishi-Awa is located deep in the mountains of Tokushima Prefecture. Even today with highly developed transportation systems, it still takes at least half a day by plane, train, and car to reach Nishi-Awa from major cities in Japan such as Tokyo and Osaka. The nature remains unspoiled, with traditional scenery of Japanese villages like a patchwork quilt of farmhouses and farmland clinging to steep mountainsides spread out before you.
These are also known as the “hidden villages” of the fleeing legendary Heike warriors, who are believed to have settled here after being defeated in battle at Kyoto. Imagine the Samurai living quietly in this mountain village. It may sound sentimental, but such historical background adds depth to your travel.
Photogenic hidden villages in Shikoku
When you first visit the Nishi-Awa region, you will be amazed by its dynamic landscape of mountains rising into the sky and rivers carving through the mountains.
Going deeper into the mountains, stunning landscape awaits you in villages such as Ochiai, Sarukai and Nishisho, consisting of steeply sloping farmland, old Japanese-style houses and stone walls on the mountainside. According to the Asian culture researcher, Mr. Alex Karr, it is a "paradise-like other world".
This area features many other exciting places, such as Kazura Bridge across the Iya valley which is designated by the government as an Important Tangible Folk Cultural Property,
and the Oboke and Koboke gorges formed over two hundred million years by the swirling rapids of the Yoshino River.
These magnificent landscapes make the region fun to explore by car or bus.
Stay at an old Japanese-style house in a mountain village, called “Sora” (meaning “sky” in Japanese)
After driving along mountain roads you will arrive at old-fashioned buildings with thatched roofs. Here, they offer private lodging at old Japanese-style houses (reservations required).
In addition, there is a guest house on a small hill, named “Iya Hakkei”, which is a traditional house over 300 years old, with a large irori fireplace in the center of the room. The experience of trying the local cuisine while chatting with residents of the village will leave lasting memories.
The glorious views from the hill behind Iya Hakkei will surely make a lasting impression.
Especially, the beautiful sunset across the mountains and thousands of stars in the night sky are an unforgettable experience. We highly recommend staying for a while at a traditional Japanese-style house to fully enjoy the best of Japanese "Peach Blossom Spring”.