Ten Landscapes of Maze: Appreciate the Mountain Scenery in One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan
Region： Maze, Gero
The Maze area of Gero City, boasting excellent local resources and beautiful landscapes, is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan. Here you can find expansive mountain scenery typical of Japan, with a rich natural environment created by mountains and rivers. Also, this tiny mountain area features scattered scenic spots called “The Ten Landscapes of Maze.” It’s fun to take a walk around it. Here is a brief description of the landscapes in the Maze area of Gero City and how to enjoy them.
The Ten Landscapes of Maze slow down the passage of time
The Maze area, located in Gifu Prefecture at the center of Japan, is about 30 minutes’ drive from Gero Onsen, one of the three best hot springs in Japan. Although Gero Onsen is a sightseeing destination frequented by many hot spring tourists, the Maze area, which lies on the other side of a mountain, will impress you with its idyllic landscapes and slower passage of time.
Against the backdrop of imposing mountains, the limpid stream of Maze River flows through the middle of the village, with farmlands and some 400 households scattered in 10 hamlets along the river. Urban dwellers and international tourists gain inspiration from the scenic landscapes from every angle. Above all, you should definitely visit the Ten Landscapes of Maze, which are the most beautiful scenic spots selected by local residents.
The Ten Landscapes of Maze also include the Sugo district and the vicinity of Hachiman Shrine in Sojima. You can appreciate the dramatic mountain views with forests, paddy fields, shrines and temples. This area also offers other impressive places, such as Takinose, where the river threads through huge rocks, and Akaiwa, where wild cherry trees blossom. You can also enjoy how the landscape changes with the season: blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in summer, fallen leaves in autumn and heavy snow in winter.
Maze River, home to the most appreciated ayu in Japan
The Maze area in Gero City is a mountain village. About 95% of the area is covered by forests, more than a quarter of which is designated as Conservation Forests with Mountain Stream Fishes.
This is a forest development project to protect fishes in the river. The most appreciated sweetfish (ayu) in Japan grow in this environment which is blessed with rich nature and pure water. (Sweetfish are said to grow in clean rivers. Sweetfish from Maze have won the Grand Prize in the Sweetfish Tasting Competition.)
Careful protection of nature is one of the unique selling points of the Maze area, as demonstrated by the fact that it has been selected as one of the 100 Water Sources in Japan (National Land Agency), 100 Water Source Forests in Japan (Forestry Agency), 100 Best Spring Waters in the Heisei period (Ministry of Environment), and Treasures of Rural Villages Discovered (2nd edition) (Cabinet Office and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries).
Wild landscape of Japan viewed from Miki-no-sato
The landscapes in Maze are beautiful not only because of the mountains and rivers. From Miki-no-sato, located on higher ground in the Nishimura hamlet, you can also appreciate a wild Japanese landscape.
This is a model district of the Maze area and a member of the non-profit Association of the Most Beautiful Villages. Its attractiveness comes from the landscape featuring well-maintained cultivated forests and farmlands, private houses, shrines and temples, among others. Community-building initiatives in the Maze area are modeled on the French system of parc naturel régional (PNR); indeed, the whole Maze area is referred to as “Maze PNR.” This is also why the area showcases the Ten Landscapes of Maze, as selected by its residents. When you visit the Maze area in Gero City, it is recommended that you stroll around the Ten Landscapes of Maze. Heart-warming conversations with local residents whom you will encounter along the way will surely leave wonderful memories.