Nihon Minka-en Thatch-Roofed Farmhouses

One of the best-kept secrets in Tokyo

You don’t have to go to Okayama to see traditional Japanese houses – the Nihon Minka-en is a beautiful natural park set up like a village, with 23 traditional thatch-roofed farmhouses that have been lovingly moved here from all over Japan. They’re all built without nails, using carpentry and thatching methods that have been used for hundreds of years. The best part is, you can go inside!

You can see the old wooden machinery inside this thatch-roofed flour mill.
Houses from different regions have special features, depending on the weather. The upper story windows of this one became doors when winter snow piled up as high as the second floor.
Daruma interior
The interiors are as lovingly restored as the structures.
Volunteers rotate through the houses, tending fires in the hearths. The rising smoke fumigates the thatch and keeps bug infestation down.
Look at the beams in this place!

If you have children along, ask for the special stamp page when you buy your tickets – at each house, there is a little wooden “shrine” where kids can stamp a picture of that house on their sheet.

You can eat lunch at the restaurant in House #10. They serve good buckwheat noodles, tea and beer, with a nice view of the park.
I love this hallway! It reminds me of the house in Totoro.

Note: This is an all-day trip to really do it right, and quite a bit of hilly walking. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the entrance (flat ground), then a good 2 hours of walking (up hills) inside if you stop and  read about each house. There are rest stops with benches and sometimes picnic tables every few houses, and halfway through (around House #10) there is a vending machine for drinks and a restaurant that sells lunch (noodles, etc.)

Hours: 9:30 – 16:00

Open: Six days a week, closed Mondays, the day after a holiday, and from Dec 29 – Jan3. Open on all other holidays.

Admission: Adults:¥500, Children: ¥300


The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

 For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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