Stay in among the unique, 250-year-old heritage of a World Heritage Site
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History & culture | Mountains
Ogimachi and its outlying villages are best known for their distinctive, gassho ‘praying hands’ architecture. Triangular, moss-covered roofs are as much part of the environment as the pine tree forests and their winding rivers. Separated by the Japanese Alps from the capital, this is rural Japan at its authentic best complete with rice paddies and Shinto shrines. The villages are even watched over by snow-capped Haku, which is, along with Mount Fuji and Mount Tate, one of the nation’s three sacred mountains. Explore it all between open houses, onsen hot springs and Buddhist temples.
Thatched A-frames rise steeply for several stories supported by an intricate timber construction that – in some cases – has stood for over a quarter of a millennia. While whole villages of farmhouses, sheds and barns are built in this way, there are only a handful that are open for stays, each with their own unique character. However, in all expect a warm welcome, warmer blankets and basic amenities including futons and shared bathrooms. Tatami rice mats line the floors and crackling open fireplaces add to the intimate atmosphere.
Stays include home cooked breakfasts and dinners in the nightly tariff as meals are prepared on an irori. An open-hearth dug into the centre of a room, an irori is a typical feature in traditional, rural homes where families gather round to enjoy pothook feasts and smoked delicacies. Dishes reflect the seasons as you might tuck into hearty miso soups or enjoy salted Japanese char caught from a local stream and seasoned with wild herbs. You might also enjoy fried tofu, all washed down with green tea.
As you’d expect from such traditional lodging, facilities are basic. Beyond homely communal areas and shared bathrooms, the farmhouses are the perfect base to explore the area. Make sure you hike up to Shiroyama Viewpoint for a view past smoking chimneys over the entire village and the mountain beyond. Watch as locals work in the fields or busy themselves repairing roofs.
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