There is so much pride in finding an unseen, untouched, off the beaten track destination and jealously hoping this could be your private getaway. Japan is naturally known for its temples, mountains, lakes and culture and there are about 24 million tourists visiting yearly to some of the popular destinations in Tokyo and Kyoto especially. For the past month I have visited popular destinations like Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kinkaku-ji temple, Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari-taisha, etc. These lovely edifices were immensely crowded not giving me enough opportunity to enjoy the view nor take amazing photos so I left with memories of all the things i couldn't do.
This experience has made me cherish places like Wazuka which is just about two hours away from Kyoto. The route to Wazuka is shaped beautifully in between mountains and the Wazuka river with gorgeous views of rice and green tea fields a long the way. There aren't popular tourist attractions in Wazuka like you would have it in bigger cities but its known as one of the beautiful Japanese mountain villages and there are definitely a lot of experiences to be enjoyed in such a traditional place. I created a list of the popular things to do from the best adventures I had here.
1. Experience green tea farming
Green tea is what Wazuka is generally known for. It has one of the oldest tea farms since tea farming started here 800 years ago. The 400 farmer families that live here cherish green tea farming and pass it on to younger generations as a traditional craft. There are several companies that organize tea farm and factory tours. Most popular activities for tourist are tea picking, tea tasting, matcha (powdered green tea) grinding, and tea ceremony.
2. Go hiking
Well its a mountain village, it will be sad to visit and not get a mountain view. The best view of Wazuka can be found on top of Mountain Jubu and it will probably take 45 mins to 1 hour in total to climb and descend. The route to Mt Jubu starts from the Harayama community and there are sign post on the way leading to the trail. My favorite part of the trail is the huge cedar forest covering about 2.1km of the route to the top of the mountain
3. Go Biking
Wazuka is well known for biking since it has got one of the best cycling routes. It also has a good mountain train for biking and hosts a lot of mountain bike competitions. There is a mountain bike camp that organizes annual tournaments about 40 mins away. You can rent an electric bike at the Wazuka-cha store for a very affordable price. There is also a tourist information center that you can speak to for additional details on electric bike renting.
4. Go fishing
In Yubune community, there is an artificial lake in the Yubune Forest Park which is made by blocking a feeder stream to the Wazuka river. The location has very good views of trees and mountains.
The management of the park have fishing equipment to be rented out to customers including kids.
Aside the activities you can do or the experiences liked to green tea farming, the town is also full of temples and significant traditional heritage.
5. Towering Kitayama cedar tree in Yasaka shrine
It is the only Kitayama cedar tree in the town and how it was planted is unknown. It is about 12.8 meters wide and 31 meters high and believed to be more than 1300 years old. It is designated as a prefectural natural treasure by the Kyoto prefecture.
6. Mirokumagai Buddha
This is a giant standing sculpture of Miroku-bosatsu on a rock right next to the Wazuka river. It can also be seen from across the road. At the entrance of this site is a bamboo forest and a nicely paved street with Wazuka river running through the rocks next to the pavement.
7. Wazuka Tenmangu Shrine
This shrine was founded in 983 and the main hall is designed with the architectural style of the Maromachi era in the 15th century. It is designated as an important culture treasure of the Wazuka township.
The shrine is connected by a bridge hanging over the road which leads to several shrines in the forest. The atmosphere is very serene, quite and peaceful here.
As my one month stay of Wazuka comes to an end, flowers are blossoming everywhere and autumn colors are appearing. Its sad to be unable to see the season change but its a good reason to come back.
Hope you also get to visit my irresistible lonely place.