Contact with Affluent Nature and Tradition: Mountain Life Experience in Maze, One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan
Region： Maze, Gero
View the wild landscape of Japan that should be handed down to future generations, or experience traditional practices and customs. If that is the kind of trip you are looking for, the Maze area in Gero City, Gifu Prefecture is definitely the place to go. On the map, you can see that this area, virtually located at the center of Japan, is a village covered almost 95% by mountain forests, with a population of only 1,200.
Although located near sightseeing spots, including Gero Onsen, one of the three best hot springs in Japan, the Maze area, which lies on the other side of a mountain, will impress you with its greenery and slower passage of time. Here is a brief description of the experiences that you can enjoy in this area.
Making of hanamochi at recreational centers in the Nishimura hamlet
Miki-no-sato is a recreational center in the hamlet of Nishimura, surrounded by beautiful rice terraces.
The local rice brand “Maze Hikari” is cultivated with quality water from the limpid stream of Maze River, one of the 100 Best Spring Waters in the Heisei period, and in keeping with the reduced pesticide standards.
This rice brand is the main ingredient of hanamochi, an essential item on celebratory occasions including New Year. It is a traditional garnish passed down from ancient times in the whole Hida area including Maze. Branches of maple or other trees are decorated with the blossoms of these small red-and-white rice cakes. It looks as though the trees are really in full bloom.
You can actually make those decorations at Fishing Center “Mizube no Yakata,” the hub for activities in the Maze area, as well as Hikochan House or other facilities located in the hamlet of Nishimura. Depending on the season, other activities include a rice-growing experience with Maze Hikari, tomato cropping and other agricultural experiences. They will help you feel the natural blessings of the Maze area first-hand.
Experience the practices and customs of the Maze area, Gero City
One of the attractions of Maze is the opportunity to enjoy rural landscapes and rich nature, and to experience the livelihood of people who cherish their traditions. Various experience programs are held in the Satoyama Museum. Travelers from urban areas and overseas particularly appreciate the chance to learn about the practices and customs of this Japanese mountain village, such as eating meals and chatting with local residents in their homes, and splitting firewood with an ax.
Time to relax in a hot spring with a view of the Satoyama Museum
After experiencing various practices and customs in the Maze area, it is time to relax in a hot spring. Spa Miki, a hot spring facility attached to Hotel Miki, boasts one of the largest baths in Hida. You can enjoy 15 different baths, including an open-air bath, various steam baths, air bubble bath and mist sauna.
The whole Maze area in Gero City is considered to be like a gigantic open-air museum called “Satoyama Museum.” From the open-air bath on higher ground, you can view the splendid landscape as well as the star-filled night sky. It is definitely worth taking the time to experience this area which is unlike any city, thinking about how people lead their traditional life in a mountain village.