Miyama-cho, Nantan City, Kyoto Prefecture, is a “country town” where one can encounter good old Japanese scenery. Although the town is located close to the city center of Kyoto, it still retains a peaceful rural landscape and traditional old houses with kayabuki roofs. Here is a different kind of sightseeing in Kyoto, where you can be healed by the rich natural scenery and get in touch with local people!
Miyama-cho, Kyoto, a town where you can experience traditional country life
Miyama-cho, Nantan City, is famous as a nostalgic spot where approximately 250 houses with kayabuki roofs, once Japanese farm dwellings, still exist. It is located about an hour and a half to two hours drive from downtown Kyoto. Because of its proximity to the Sea of Japan, the area is cooler than urban areas, with abundant rainfall throughout the year and snowfall of around 1 meter every winter.
Kayabuki roofing is a traditional Japanese building technique in which layers of the kaya plant are built on top of each other. Today, kayabuki roofs can be found only in a limited number of areas in Japan. Miyama-cho is a very rare place in the Kansai region where kayabuki roofs still remain.
Blessed with clear streams such as the Yura River (Miyama River) and the Sakuno River, and surrounded by mountains at an altitude of about 800 meters, the people of this town live in harmony with nature. Time passes at a leisurely pace, and there are no crowds as in urban areas. This is the perfect spot for those who want to experience the traditional Japanese country life. The locals are always warm and welcoming to visitors, and you will feel at home as if you have returned to your hometown!
English is OK! Kyoto Miyama-cho welcomes foreign visitors!
Miyama-cho is easily accessible from the city center, and one of the reasons for its popularity is that it can be visited on a day trip. At the Kyoto Tamba Kogen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center, which serves as a general sightseeing window, you can learn about the best spots recommended by the locals, recommended tours, and other useful information. English speaking staff is available, so please feel free to consult with them about anything.
Enjoy the beauty of the four seasons in Miyama-cho, Kyoto, with seasonal events
About 90% of the Miyama-cho is covered with forests, making it a town rich in nature. If you are planning to visit Miyama, enjoy the seasonal scenery and events that only the “countryside” can offer!
Cherry blossom viewing is one of the most popular springtime traditions. Ono Dam Park, a famous cherry blossom viewing spot, is home to more than 1,000 cherry trees of various kinds in full bloom. The “Ono Dam Cherry Blossom Festival,” featuring sales of local specialties and stage events, is also a popular event every year!
In May and December, water spurts out from everywhere in Miyama Kayabuki no Sato, a national Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, creating a unique sight. In fact, this is a traditional disaster drill held in Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato to check the hose system. Since it is not usually seen in the village, the powerful spray of water is sure to draw cheers from the crowd.
Summer is the time to enjoy rafting on the Miyama River that runs through the town. The thrill of going down the rapids in a rubber boat and the exhilaration of splashing water will surely bring you back to your childhood! The water is so clear that fish can be seen with the naked eye, so be sure to keep your eyes on the surface of the river when you pass through calm watersheds along the course.
Around September, a whole field of soba blooms with pretty white flowers in “Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato”. There are several soba restaurants in the town, so it is recommended to try and compare the famous soba.
Autumn is also the season for autumnal foliage! Around November, the mountains turn red, orange, and yellow, and the fantastic scenery is definitely worth photographing.
In winter, Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato is illuminated with lanterns and LED lanterns when the village is covered with snow, warmly illuminating the entire area.
The changing scenery as the seasons change is something that can only be seen in the countryside surrounded by nature. Experience a different way of appreciating the four seasons than in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.
Miyama-cho, Kyoto, is rich in activities that allow visitors to experience traditional culture!
Throughout the year, there are many outdoor experiences to enjoy nature and tours to learn about traditional Japanese culture. Here are some of the most popular activities.
If you are planning to visit Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato, take an English-speaking guided tour led by a local staff member. In addition to viewing the kayabuki roofs from the outside, you can actually see the attics and hearths at the “Miyama Folklore Museum”, which is a 200-year-old house that has been used as is. Visitors can get an easy-to-understand explanation of geography and history from the residents’ perspective, making them feel even closer to the lives of the local people. If you are interested in learning more about traditional Japanese architectural techniques and rural culture, this is a must-see!
At the Miyama Nature & Culture Village Kajikaso, a popular plan is to experience the traditional Japanese culture of rice cake pounding. The glutinous rice (stickier than white rice) is placed in a container called a mortar and pounded into a paste with a large hammer-like instrument called a pestle. The rice cake is then rolled by hand and dipped in soybean flour. The freshly pounded rice cake is a delicacy!
The Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato offers a winter-only “medicinal herb tea making experience” in which visitors can make their own herbal tea from a blend of six kinds of wild herbs, which have long been enjoyed as a healthy drink in this region. After making your own original medicinal herb tea by mixing your favorite wild herbs from the prepared herbs in any quantity you like, you can taste it with famous sweets on the spot. You can take the rest home as a memento of your trip.
For those who want to experience country life in earnest, we recommend the “Half-day Home Visit Experience”. You can spend a heartwarming time with local people at their homes, cooking home-cooked meals together and having meals around a hearth… and experience the actual lifestyle.
With few traffic lights and few ups and downs, Miyama Town is ideal for cycling. There are two bicycle rental stores in the town. If you want to use Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato as a base for sightseeing, you can rent bicycles at “Dokonato Cycle” located about 10 minutes by bicycle from the village. For those who want to enjoy long hours of cycling while visiting multiple sightseeing spots, there is “Rent-a-cycle E-bike”. Those who want to tour the town at their leisure should definitely take advantage of this service.
There are also various other seasonal experiences and limited tours, so please check the Kyoto Tamba Plateau National Park Visitor Center or the Miyama-cho Tourist Information website.
How can I get to Miyama-cho, Kyoto?
(1) By direct bus from JR Kyoto Station (about 140 minutes)
From JR Kyoto Station, take the Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus “Kyoto Miyama Line” and get off at the “Kayabuki-no-Sato” stop.
(2) By direct bus from JR Sonobe Station (about 60 minutes)
From JR Sonobe Station, take the Sonobe-Miyama Shuttle Bus on the Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus and get off at the “Kayabuki-no-Sato” stop.
*Both (1) and (2) will be in operation for 8 days only, from January 27 (Sat.) to February 3 (Sat.), 2024. For timetables and other details, please visit the official page.
*Other direct buses operate for limited periods depending on the season. Please check the official page for details.
*The “Kosoku Nagaokakyo” stop is directly connected to the Hankyu “Nishiyama-tennozan” station, so it is also possible to board the bus from this station.
(3) By train and bus from JR Kyoto Station (about 120 minutes)
From JR Kyoto Station, take the JR San-in Line (bound for Fukuchiyama), change at JR Hiyoshi Station to the Nantan City Bus (Miyama Sonobe Line) and get off at the “Kita (Kayabuki-no-Sato)” stop.
*The “Miyama-Keihoku Bus Tabi Ticket,” which allows unlimited rides for two days on Nantan City buses and buses of two other companies, is also recommended. For details, please check the official page.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Miyama-cho offers a relaxing countryside living experience. People still live there and there are many private properties in the area. Please be sure to behave properly so as not to disturb the locals or destroy the local lifestyle and nature, and create enjoyable memories.
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Miyama-cho Tourist Information Website