A Day Trip to Kayabuki Village

What surprises non-Japan residents the most is the abundance of wilderness here. The touristy neon lights and bustling cities might be the trademark of Japan, but this country is full of wonders for those who enjoy lush green fields, isolated mountains, and beautiful landscapes. It also harbors some of the prettiest villages I have ever seen, such as Kayabuki Village in Miyama Town. 

We decided to visit Miyama Town in Kyoto a while ago, and finally, we had the chance to make this plan come true last week! It had been a long time since we visited a beautiful village like Shinjo in Okayama. Life has been hectic since school started, and on top of that, I have been juggling my diploma studies which take more time (and energy) than I thought. I honestly didn’t know if I could spare time to travel. As usual, the nomad within me won the argument. 

The drive from Hyogo to Kyoto was scenic. We passed Tamba-Sasayama and Nantan cities to go to Kayabuki Village (Kayabuki no Sato – かやぶきの里) in Miyama Town. Since we travel often and want to immerse ourselves in the scenery, we opt out of highways. As a result, we drive on windy and narrow roads that allow us to immerse ourselves in the smells and sounds of nature more.

Satoyama culture in Kayabuki Village

Kayabuki Village is an exemplary Japanese satoyama. Satoyama (里山) means a village between mountain foothills and flat land. Sato (里) means village, and yama (山) means mountain. Such villages are usually surrounded by paddy fields and forests, which add an extra layer of beauty to the scenery. 

Satoyama dwellers are part of an ecosystem where everyone has aspired to live a sustainable lifestyle for centuries, long before sustainability has become “trendy.” For instance, following the cultivation of rice fields, post-harvest straw was used to create essentials like thatched roofs, raincoats, and sandals. They would use any leftover straw to feed cattle or make fertilizer to replenish the soil, demonstrating how resources could be used in a sustainable cycle. 

There used to be an identical culture in Turkey, which we called “imece.” It meant “collective work,” where people recycled straw or cow manure and helped one another plow and harvest fields. I don’t know what life in the countryside is like in Turkey right now, but from what I understand, wherever we go, we need one another to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. 

Strolling in Kayabuki no Sato

Unlike many villages threatened by the depopulation problem in Japan, Kayabuki seemed to thrive. If there is a silver lining to this problem, it is that more and more people who are fed up with cities appreciate the satoyama culture and want to sustain it. We came across many local and foreign visitors while strolling around the tiny alleys of the village.

The old, thatched houses of Kayabuki Village also seem to play a part in this popularity. Because this is a cultural heritage site, they are well taken care of—we even saw workers on the roofs of the houses, fixing the thatched roofing! I was surprised to see their dexterous hands on the job! Takashi asked them if he could take their photos, and they kindly agreed to it. 

We walked the whole village in two hours and enjoyed our little escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Nothing soothes a tired soul more than the sounds of birds or pure silence in the countryside. Since it is a small village, there were only a couple of cafés, and we chose the one at the heart of the village for delicious ice cream. After that, we hiked a hill to take photos despite the gray sky. From our vantage point atop the hill, we could see the whole village below.

Keep dreaming

We finalized our day trip by taking another break at a biker’s café, and I pondered the importance of savoring each moment, knowing there was no guarantee that there would be a next one. The breathtaking view from that place revived the dream I had long forgotten: living in the countryside. 

I have been yearning to live in the countryside since the pandemic, and I wonder if that would be a good move unless I work remotely. I’m sure there are many things to consider before making such a life-changing decision, but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming! And what are we, really, if we stop dreaming? 

Would you like to live in the countryside? 

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  1. Shahbaz Ashraf

    Worth reading travelogue once again. You’ve beautifully captured the serene and breathtaking beauty of Kayabuki Village in this post. The minute details of your exploring the village like strolling through narrow alleys, appreciating the well-preserved thatched houses & savoring ice cream in the cafe are sufficient to transport us to this picturesque destination.

    I can relate to your dream of living in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of city. 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahanur

      Thank you, Shahbaz! I’m glad I’m not the only person who is fed up with cities 😌

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pooja G

    Wow what a lovely place. I’ve always wanted to live in the countryside too but alas I’m stuck in the city 😞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahanur

      Thank you for dropping by 😊 I hope you get to live in the countryside one day. Fingers crossed 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pooja G

        Hope so too and my pleasure 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. kagould17

    A beautiful village to be sure. Japan has so much hustle and bustle, it is nice to know that there are oases of calm remaining. Happy Monday. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahanur

      Ohh, I would dare say there are more oases of calm than hustle and bustle in Japan for those who know where to look 😊 Thanks for dropping by, Allan!

      Liked by 1 person

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