Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Miyama Kayabuki no Sato – Kyoto’s Hidden Quaint Village

Nowadays, when we talk about traditional Japanese villages filled with traditional thatched roof houses, most people will think of the Shirakawa-go. But there is actually a spot just in Kyoto that shares a similar but less touristy atmosphere with the famous World Heritage-listed village!

Miyama Kayabuki no Sato (美山 かやぶきの里) is a hamlet that is almost in the middle of Kyoto Prefecture and close to Fukui Prefecture. Although it takes around 2 hours by public transportation to get there from Kyoto Station, it is still a great option for those who like to base themselves in one area when they travel. Plus, there are sightseeing buses you can book that will make brief stops at a few other attractions along the way (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Just note that, while not as famous as Shirakawa-go, you can expect crowds when visiting Kayabuki no Sato, especially in autumn.

Here is a list of attractions in or around Miyama Kayabuki no Sato.

HERE is the map of the area in English and refer to HERE for a map of the village. Unfortunately, it is only available in Japanese so please try to match the Japanese characters with the names of the facilities.

If you would like to join one of the village’s guided tours, please make a booking in advance HERE.

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

How to Get to Miyama Kayabuki no Sato

The Kyoto Miyama official website HERE provides a really good summary of the best transportation method to Miyama Kayabuki no Sato. Getting to Kayabuki no Sato (かやぶきの里) will take approximately 2 hours (around 90 minutes to Miyama Town).

Another thing about the information on the English official website is the Kyoto Miyama Direct Bus will take around 3 hours and 40 minutes to get to Kayabuki no Sato (かやぶきの里) from Kyoto Station (京都駅八条口). The 100 minutes mentioned on the website is only to the Roadside Station, which isn’t close to the village. For more information, please refer to the Japanese website HERE or enquire at the below ticket sales office.

Tip: Come as early as possible because from 10 am onwards, the village may be packed with sightseeing tours and other individual tourists.

So What Exactly is Miyama Kayabuki no Sato?

Kayabuki no Sato is a small village in the middle of Miyama Town, which is in the Kyoto Tamba Kōgen Quasi-National Park (京都丹波高原国定公園). This charming little hamlet is buried deep in the mountain and has a densely packed cluster of 38 thatched roof houses.

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

After the country’s modernization, sites like Kayabuki no Sato are now so valuable that in 1993, it was selected as an Important Traditional Building Preservation Area of Japan.

The houses here are mostly 150 to 200 years old, with the oldest built around 220 years ago. Many of them are still owned and occupied by the descendants of the occupants since the Edo period!

Tip: That red postbox in the middle of the photo above is one of the best photo spots in the village.

The Maintenance Required for the Thatched Roofs

The thatched roofs are built with natural materials. As time passes, light green moss grows and covers the dark brown roofs, as you may have seen in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

While it creates lovely scenery for us tourists, it is actually one of the main causes of roof damage. This is why the lifespan of these roofs is only around 20 years.

So every once in a while, the re-roofing craftsmen are called to re-roof these time capsule houses that have existed since the Edo period (1603 – 1867).

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Because the natural materials used for the thatched roof are procured locally from a couple of places close to the village, you would expect it not to be too costly. However, replacing the entire roof isn’t an easy job that can be finished just over a weekend. So apparently, it can cost as much as 200,000 US dollars just to replace a single roof Σ(゚Д゚).

While the maintenance cost will deter most people who might be interested in owning a thatched roof house, it is the ultimate environmentally friendly house. It has superior humidity control and insulation abilities when compared to modern houses. It is cool in summer and warm in winter, which makes air conditioners and heaters unnecessary.

For those interested in learning how to thatch a roof, please refer to HERE!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Kyoto Tamba Kōgen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center (京都丹波高原国定公園 ビジターセンター)

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

For those who aren’t running a tight schedule, instead of getting off at Kayabuki no Sato, you can choose to get off the bus one stop before the village at Agake (安掛) or Roadside Station Miyama Fureaihiroba (道の駅 美山ふれあい広場) if you are taking Keihan’s bus.

You can source all sorts of sightseeing information about the village and the surrounding areas.

Bike Rental at Kyoto Tamba Kōgen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center

Bike rental is common across Japan. At Kyoto Tamba Kōgen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center, they offer electric-assisted bikes that will make your sightseeing a lot easier. And they aren’t expensive to rent!

For more information, please refer to their website HERE.

Tip: You can also book an E-bike Picnic HERE, where a basket of delicious food will be prepared for you!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Kyoto Tamba Kōgen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The visitor center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesdays and from the end of the year to the beginning of January
  • If you are taking Nantan Municipal Bus (南丹市営バス), please get off at Agake (安掛)
  • If you are taking Keihan Kyoto’s (京阪京都) Bus, please get off at Roadside Station Miyama Fureaihiroba (道の駅 美山ふれあい広場)

Roadside Station Miyama Fureaihiroba (道の駅 美山ふれあい広場)

One of Miyama’s specialties is the local Miyama Milk and related dairy products. The milk produced by the cows that are raised in Miyama’s lush environment is just richer and creamier in taste!

Roadside Station Miyama Fureaihiroba, just next to the visitor center, is the perfect place for you to source Miyama’s dairy products as well as processed products such as handmade miso, pickles, and freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, all thanks to the blessings of Miyama’s nature (*´ω`).

Ⓒ 森の京都DMO
Ⓒ 森の京都DMO

Apart from the cheese sold in the shop, the ice cream and gelato made from Miyama’s milk at Miyama no Megumi Milk Studio (美山のめぐみ 牛乳工房) is a must-try when you come to Miyama (=゚ω゚)ノ.

And if you visit the town during colder seasons, get a cup of Cafe au lait to warm you up!

Roadside Station Miyama Fureaihiroba’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The local specialty shop – Furatto Miyama (ふらっと美山), is open from
    • 8:30 am to 6 pm between April to September
    • 8:30 am to 5 pm between October to March
    • Closes on Wednesdays in January and February and from the 31st of December to the 2nd of January
  • Miyama no Megumi Milk Studio is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily except
    • Mondays from December to mid-March. If Monday is a public holiday, it will close on Tuesday instead
    • The 3rd Monday of the month from mid-March to the end of November
    • From the end of December to the beginning of January

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Kayabuki no Sato’s Soba Field

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

If you visit Kayabuki no Sato in September, as soon as you get off the bus at Kita Kayabuki no Sato (北 かやぶきの里), you will be welcomed by a large field of white buckwheat flowers. The soba flowers that usually reach full bloom in mid-September are another reason why many people choose to visit the village at this time of the year!

And in late October, when the golden buckwheat is ready to be harvested, the color of the natural surroundings will start to change.

Soba Restaurant Kitamura (お食事処 きたむら)

When you come to Miyama in November for the stunning fall foliage, you will no doubt be wondering – where can you taste the newly harvested buckwheat?

Close to the bus stop and at the bank of the river that flows quietly on one side of the village, you will find Kitamura, Kayabuki no Sato’s soba restaurant!

One special thing about their mixed vegetable tempura is the added black beans. The black beans from neighboring Tanba (丹波) are famous across the country so when you come to Miayama, you are on your way to taste the most delicious black beans in Japan (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

Important: If you are strict with your diet, you will want to bring your own vegan soba dipping sauce.

Soba Restaurant Kitamura’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Due to COVID-19, Kitamura is operating on shorter business hours from 10 am to 3 pm
  • The restaurant closes on Wednesdays, and from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Nagayoke Bridge (長除橋)

At the right of the bus stop – Kita Kayabuki no Sato (北 かやぶきの里), the Nagayoke Bridge is crossing the gorgeous Yura River (由良川).

From the bridge, you can overlook the entire Kayabuki no Sato. It is no wonder you are likely to find a queue of tourists all lined up to take a selfie with the quaint little town (´▽`*).

Across the bridge, as you pass the magnificent forest, there is a hayfield which is another rural landscape that isn’t commonly found in the country.

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Although it says Nagajoo Bridge on Google Map, the bridge is definitely called Nagayoke Bridge, according to the Hiragana written on one side of it. The bridge is also known as Aka Bridge (赤橋) because of its red body.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Cafe&Gallery Saika (カフェギャラリー彩花)

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

When you get a bit tired, come to Cafe & Gallery Saika for a brief rest (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The Japanese-style cafe has a really friendly owner who serves delicious homemade traditional sweets and black bean tea. In summer, have a soft-serve ice cream made from Miayama’s high-quality milk on the veranda with seats overlooking the village. It will make your visit an even better experience!

Also, they might have small exhibitions in their gallery. So if something manages to catch your eye, you can most likely buy it and bring it home (^_-)-☆.

Cafe&Gallery Saika

  • The cafe is operating at reduced business hours from 11 am to 5 pm on Wednesday, the weekends, and public holidays due to COVID-19
  • The last order is at 4:30 pm
  • If you are taking Nantan Municipal Bus (南丹市営バス), please get off at Kita Kayabuki no Sato (北 かやぶきの里)

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Miyama Folk Museum (美山民俗資料館)

To explore the history of Kayabuki no Sato, come to the Miyama Folk Museum. It has more than 200 items on display, such as farm equipment and utensils used by people who lived here years ago.

The current museum was completely rebuilt in late 2002 as the original house suffered from a fire hazard in May 2000.

In the traditional house, you will also find the old stove in the kitchen and the old bathtub in the bathroom. You can almost see how people back then lived without the convenient utilities we take for granted and enjoy today.

Climbing up the steep staircases to the second floor, you can clearly see the structure of the thatched roof. The roof might seem like it doesn’t require much expertise to build from the outside. However, it is only when you see the intricacy from the attic that you realize that is not the case!

Tip: How about resting on the verandah outside the living room, which overlooks a small garden?

Miyama Folk Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from
    • 10 am to 4 pm daily except Mondays between Dec and Mar
    • 9 am to 5 pm between April to November
  • The admission fees are
    • 300 yen for high school students and above
    • Free otherwise
  • If you are taking Nantan Municipal Bus (南丹市営バス), please get off at Kita Kayabuki no Sato (北 かやぶきの里)

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

The Little Indigo Museum (ちいさな藍美術館)

Very close to the Miyama Folk Museum, you will find another museum of the village – the Little Indigo Museum, which is inside the oldest thatched roof house in Kayabuki no Sato that was built in 1796.

The first floor is the indigo workshop and the gallery of Shindō Hiroyuki’s (新道 弘之) work, the owner of the museum. On the second floor, there is a range of collections of traditional clothes and costumes on display.

Tip: If Mr. Shindō is around, you can check with him to see if he has time to go through the museum with you in English (^_-)-☆.

For more information about the museum, please refer to the official website HERE.

The Little Indigo Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily from April to November except Thursdays and Fridays. If Thursdays and Fridays are public holidays, the museum will open
  • The admission fee is 300 yen

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Kayabuki no Sato’s Water Cannon (放水銃)

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

As you stroll around the village, you might come across several little huts like the one in the photo on the left. If you don’t read Japanese, you might be wondering whether it is a dog house or a small portal shrine.

The huts are actually shelters to store the water cannons that are an essential part of fire hazard prevention measures. The wooden village is so highly flammable that even a tiny spark could mean total devastation.

There are currently a total of 62 of them scattered around Kayabuki no Sato. Tracking them all down can be an interesting pastime for some (^_-)-☆.

Luckily you don’t need to wait until something in the village is on fire to see the power of the water cannons.

Twice a year, on the 20th of May and the 1st of December, the water discharge training takes place from 1:30 pm for around 5 minutes. The training has become one of the big events in the village as it attracts many curious tourists keen to observe!

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Chii Hachiman Shrine (知井八幡神社)

It is around a 5-minute walk from the village bus stop to the staircases leading to the main shrine of the Chii District, where Kayabuki no Sato is located. You can get a panoramic view of the entire village from the top of the stairs at the shrine’s torii gate.

The origin of this shrine is said to be from the legend about the formation of the village. To cut a long story short, the shrine was built by Kōgasaburō Kaneie (甲賀三郎 兼家) after he defeated the eight-headed deer monster with the bow and arrows that had received the blessing from Kyoto’s Hachimangū Shrine (八幡宮) in 713.

The shrine’s main hall, which is renowned for its intricate carvings, is currently a Prefectural Cultural Property.


Chii Hachiman Shrine’s festival, which is held in October each year, is one of the main events in the village. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Staying Overnight at the Thatched Houses

If walking around the Kayabuki no Sato, visiting the museums, and dining at one of the village’s restaurants isn’t enough for you, then book to stay overnight at Kayabuki no Sato!

Matabe (またべ) is a Bed and Breakfast style accommodation facility in the village. The interior of the thatched roof house has been renovated to be just like a comfortable ryokan with modern equipment, including air conditioners. So you are guaranteed a pleasant stay!

The best thing about staying at Matabe is you can choose to add the option of experiencing thatching the roof! For more information about this experience and to book, please refer HERE.

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会
Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

There are also other accommodation options available in other areas of Miyama Town. Some of them have kitchens for you to cook in. If you can’t be bothered to carry ingredients all the way from Kyoto City, accommodations such as Miyama Futon & Breakfast do have plans with ingredients selected and prepared for you to use.

For a list of the accommodations in Miayama Town, please refer to the official website HERE!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kayabuki no Sato.

Miyamachō Shizenbunka-mura Kajika-sō (美山町自然文化村 河鹿荘)

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会

Just one bus stop away from Kayabuki no Sato, Miyamachō Shizenbunka-mura Kajika-sō is another accommodation option for you to choose from.

Although you probably won’t be able to stay in their thatched roof house, which needs a minimum of at least 10 people to book, we have checked, and they can cater to a vegetarian diet.

Another reason that you will want to consider staying here is for the activities and tours that they hold. While staying overnight here isn’t a requirement to join, it is just handy that you can head straight to the cozy guest room after the tour/activity ends.

For more information about the activities/tours you can join, please refer to their website HERE.

They also have a couple of campsites, but you will have to bring all the necessary equipment.

Tip: You can rent a bike from them for 1,000 yen for up to 4 hours, which is more than enough to explore Kayabuki no Sato.

How to Get to Miyamachō Shizenbunka-mura Kajika-sō

Taking Nantan Municipal Bus (南丹市営バス), please get off at Chimiguchi (知見口). It is then just a 5 to 10-minute walk away.

The Cherry Blossom and the Fall Foliage Season at Kayabuki no Sato

Ⓒ 一般社団法人南丹市美山観光まちづくり協会
  • The cherry blossom season is usually from early to mid-April each year
  • The autumn foliage usually peaks around mid-November each year

Kayabuki no Sato Snow Lantern Festival (かやぶきの里 雪灯廊) and Miyama Snow Festival (美山 雪まつり)

In winter, when the mountain village is covered by thick snow, it will be illuminated by about 900 handmade snow lanterns and flower lanterns at night. F fireworks will color the winter night sky on the first and last days of the Snow Lantern Festival!

  • Kayabuki no Sato Snow Lantern Festival:
    • From the last Saturday of January to the 1st Saturday of February
    • At Kayabuki no Sato
    • For more information, please refer to the official website HERE
  • Miyama Snow Festival:
    • On the 11th of February
    • At Miyama Nature & Culture Village Kajikaso Inn, which is a 3-minute drive from Kayabuki no Sato
    • For more information, please refer to the official website HERE
Ⓒ 森の京都DMO

Tips:
☛ Although it is a nighttime event, arrive early, especially if you are going on a weekend and are planning to drive. The car park is most likely filled up by mid-afternoon
☛ Nighttime at Miyama in winter is really cold. Please come in warm clothes

For other events and festivals, please refer to the official website HERE.

Visit Amanohashidate for One of the Three Views of Japan

Mata-nozoki-Platform-Amanohashidate-View-Land-Miyazu-Kyoto
Click the photo to find out what the funny pose is for!

If you haven’t been to Amanohashidate for the celebrated view, then you definitely should when coming to Kyoto!

Check out our article on Amanohashidate to find out why people are bending down over the observatory and how the 5,000 pine trees can grow on the 3.6 km sandbar surrounded by seawater!

Discover Other Stunning off the Beaten Track in Nantan City

Tempted to go to Miyama Kayabuki no Sato in your next Japan trip? Find out more attractions in Nantan City, where the village is located, to find out the beauty of rural Kyoto all in one go!

For more information, please refer to our article on Nantan City (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ono-Dam-Cherry-Blossom-Nantan-Kyoto-Japan
Click the photo to find out more about this gorgeous spot!

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