Nihon Minka-en



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.

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.)


Nearby destinations: Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yoyogi Park

Jonelle Patrick writes mysteries set in Tokyo. And her fourth book, Painted Doll, hits Detective Kenji Nakamura much too close to home…

It's been nine years since she didn't make it home, but now Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura's life is about to unravel... Read more
When Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death ten years ago wasn’t an accident, his world begins to unravel. New evidence links her to…Read more

PAINTED DOLL book trailer (1:08)




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