Misugi / MieDiscover tranquil forest paths, historic walks, and straw craft in a remote Japanese village

Visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of Misugi/Tsu

Located between Kyoto and Nagoya, the town of Misugi (recently merged with the city of Tsu) in Mie Prefecture has prospered since the fourteenth century. By the early twentieth century, the region had embraced forestry, planting swaths of cedar trees to support the country's rapid development. Today, that history of forestry has evolved into a new practice: forest bathing - walking through a forest and reveling in the tranquil atmosphere. Take a pleasant stroll through Misugi's quiet, verdant woodlands, and you'll feel both relaxed and rejuvenated. While here, you can also take a historic pilgrimage walk and learn about local straw craft.

Seasonal colors, forest therapy, and historical strolls - a special place in every season

The path to Shinpukuin Temple offers panoramic views

In the face of depopulation spurred by an aging demographic and urban relocation, the residents of Misugi are working together to embrace the charms of the countryside, while offering visitors the chance to experience a nature-rich, rural lifestyle. Book a stay in a traditional farmhouse and spend your days exploring serene forest paths, soothing streams, and majestic mountain views. After a break here, you'll return home with a renewed sense of vitality. The heavily wooded landscape changes with the seasons, and is particularly striking in the autumn, as red, green, and yellow leaves combine to blanket the land in striking combinations of color.

Other points of interest include the splendid Ise Honkaido Waterfall; Misugi Timber Market, which auctions lumber twice a month; Hotaru no Yado, where you can learn to catch fish with your bare hands; and Sanae Torii’s Doll Gallery and Tea House, which brims with an amazing variety of hand-made dolls.

Mitake-no-Sakura in Tsu figures among Japan's top 100 cherry blossom locations

In spring, the 1.5-kilometer trail to Shinpukuin Temple in Misugi offers the best views of the area. The path is surrounded by numerous terraced rice paddies and traditional homes. By April, the cherry trees planted alongside the road begin to bloom, bathing the trail in a gorgeous, light-pink hue that reflects in the water of the paddies and contrasts beautifully with the surrounding greenery. Visit during this period, and you'll see portions of the path illuminated at night - a stunning sight.

Forest bathing takes advantage of the relaxing atmosphere found in many woodlands

Misugi offers 12 different forest-therapy courses. Over approximately two hours, a Japanese guide will introduce you to some of the most beautiful locations in the forest, with the intention of improving your mental and physical health. The forests of Misugi are officially designated by the Forest Therapy Society. Designated forests are proven to decrease stress, improve blood pressure, and lower your pulse.

Kitabatake Ruins Park boasts gorgeous autumn views

Kitabatake Ruins Park is another must-visit destination, located deep within the mountains around Kitabake-jinja Shrine. Enjoy walking around peaceful ponds decorated with ancient stone lanterns and ornately manicured foliage. Despite its tranquil appearance, however, the site is known for its turbulent history. The fourteenth-century rulers (from whom the garden derives its name) were wiped out by military ruler Oda Nobunaga. The garden is the only lasting remnant of this once powerful samurai clan.

Unwind at a laid-back guesthouse in an idyllic woodland setting

The guesthouse's outdoor terrace offers great views

Misugi's calming forests have even been incorporated into the local accommodations. Stay at Forest Terrace "Kageyan no Ie" and experience the calming effect of soft foliage cascading through your bedroom window. Accommodating six guests in three bedrooms, the facility's biggest draw is its expansive wooden terrace, set amongst the trees. Enjoy a BBQ on the terrace as birds chirp and leaves rustle in the background. Meals comprise an assortment of foods, including deer meat and takoyaki (octopus dumplings). Alternatively, if you're keen to visit a nearby restaurant, your host will drive you there herself!

One of the rooms at Forest Terrace Kageyan no Ie

The interior features modern amenities mixed with traditional design, integrating tatami-mat floors and traditional sliding doors with modern bathing facilities and comfortable furniture. For an extra level of indulgence, visit the nearby hot spring. Furthermore, the owner is a keen masseuse and aromatherapist, adding a further degree of relaxation to your stay.

Book a guided walk and learn about Misugi's rich history of craftsmanship

A visitor dresses up in straw rain gown

To fully experience Misugi, take a one-day guided tour that explores the area's history and traditional culture. The English-supported trip includes a lesson in local straw craft, a pilgrimage walk that documents the region's feudal history, and a riverside meal at Daikichi, where you'll enjoy recently caught fish. Having a local guide provide context and back-stories for your activities helps illuminate the region's rich heritage, and you'll leave with a more intimate knowledge of how remote villages like Misugi have thrived throughout history.

Learn about the historic Ise Honkaido

The pilgrimage tour lasts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes lunch. Hearing about the history of the local area will transport you hundreds of years into the past, when a trip to Ise Grand Shrine was on the wish-list of many Japanese people. During the straw-craft lesson, meanwhile, you can learn how to make items such as a flower vase or rain gowns and sandals similar to those traditionally worn by visitors to the area in bygone days.

Access information

Getting to Misugi, Tsu, Mie Prefecture:

From Kansai International Airport or Chubu International Airport, take the train to Sakakibara Onsenguchi Station (about 2 hours and 20 minutes), from where a free shuttle bus will take you to Misugi Resort in about 25 minutes.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stays“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stays Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.

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