You don’t have to go to Okayama to see traditional Japanese thatch-roofed houses. The Nihon Minka-en is a beautiful natural park with a “village” of 23 buildings less than an hour from central Tokyo!
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
This is a beautiful natural park with a “village” of 23 traditional thatch-roofed farmhouses. Each house is from a different part of Japan, built without nails, using the intricate carpentry and thatching methods that have been used for hundreds of years. The visitor center at the park entrance where you buy your ticket has great displays about the building methods.
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.
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.)
Nearby destinations: Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yoyogi Park