Kayabuki no Sato
Gifu isn't the only one with a storybook thatched-roof village. Just wait til you see the water hose festival!
Located in Miyama, just north of Kyoto City, Kayabuki no Sato is a small hamlet of traditional thatched-roof houses surrounded by tall mountains and clear rivers. While there are more famous thatched-roof communities such as Gifu’s Shirakawa-go and Gokayama and Fukushima’s Ouchijuku, these Kansai-based farmhouses are unique for their innovative fire-safety system. Trust us, you’re going to want to see this.
The rural town of Miyama is a popular destination for travelers driving between Kyoto and Fukui Prefecture. While nearly 200 thatched-roof houses are located around the region, Kayabuki no Sato has the most significant cluster with more than 30 of these fairytale dwellings.
The village itself is more than 200 years old and the majority of the houses are residential. This means you won’t be able to actually enter most of them, unfortunately. The residents are mostly elderly farmers, carpenters, and thatch roof builders living humble lives. But that doesn’t mean tourists aren’t welcome. Several restaurants, inns, and gift shops are available for travelers.
A small few of the houses serve as bed and breakfasts where you can stay overnight for a quiet getaway. There are even more thatched-roof houses that double as ryokans (Japanese inns) throughout the city of Miyama if you can’t find a room in Kayabuki no Sato itself.
Beyond that, there are a few cafes with modern menus offering beautiful terrace views and a store that’s famous for its large chicken eggs. Be sure to check out the Miyama Folk Museum, which exhibits traditional farming tools and teaches how the houses are built, and the Little Indigo Museum which serves as an indigo dyeing studio and shop.
Surrounding the village are several shrines, including the centuries-old Tomoihachiman Shrine. Its main hall features carvings that depict a local folktale of heroes fighting a monstrous deer with eight heads. Talk about legendary.
Kayabuki no Sato Water Hose Festival
To preserve the rustic aesthetic and natural scenery, the town installed more than 60 sprinklers camouflaged as small huts. Once activated, the huts open to reveal powerful nozzles that spray water into arches over the houses. After a fire burned down the museum sometime in 2000, the town started testing the sprinkler system twice per year.
These tests became popular enough with tourists to eventually become a festival—the Kayabuki no Sato Water Hose Festival. Every May and December, tourists flood the small village to watch the water jets shoot into the sky. On sunny days, you can even view rainbows forming over the house adding to the fairytale feel of the place. The dates change yearly, so check the official website before your visit.
If you’re looking for cozy winter vibes, visit between late January and early February for the Kayabuki no Sato Snow Lantern Festival. The entire village becomes illuminated with lanterns at night over a blanket of snow. Can you say magical?