A Truly Beautiful Countryside Town in Tottori, Japan


Chizu-Cho - rivers and mountains.

Itaibara (板井原)

Itaibara is a very photogenic, charming and beautiful little village situated at the top of a mountain. It really looks like a glimpse of Japan from 50 years ago. It is a Japanese treasure that few tourists get to see.

A steep 4-km climb from the town centre, behind FamilyMart, winds up through gorgeous pine and cedar forests. The road stops at the village where there is a small car park. The village has footpaths only inside it.

The village has more than 110 traditional buildings from the Meiji era. Most are in various states of disrepair. There are several projects going on to rennovate them.

One gorgeous house remains in excellent condition. It has a beautiful thatched roof and a small river runs past its foundation walls. It looks like a scene from the Meiji Era and you can easily imagine images of samurai life.

In another historic house, there is the Hotori (歩とり) Cafe. It's a great place for a coffee and cake set, or a delicious mega-sandwich lunch (with bread baked on the premises).

See photos of Itaibara (and a Google Map).

Ashizu (芦津)

Ashizu is situated in a beautiful valley along which lush moutain forests cradle the sparkling Ashizu River (known for its healing properties).

It is a fantastic and beautiful place for those wishing to experience outdoor Japan.

You can take a walk / go hiking along the Chugoku Nature Trail, which follows the former tramcar roads that once were used in the Chizu forest industry. You will see trees such as cedar, maple, chestnut, cherry, ash, magnolia, Japanese oak and many others. The autumn / fall leaves along the valley are a must see.

Take part in a Forest Therapy course - a guided walk by local experts who will explain all about the nature, engage in some yoga, and other forms of natural therapy and healing. See website.

One of the most beautiful restaurants IN THE WHOLE WORLD (without exaggeration) is in Ashizu. The Mitaki-en restaurant is situated in a forest and has its own waterfall. Diners get their own thatched roof hut that overlooks babbling brooks, moss gardens and spectacular forests. Each hut is exquistely old-style Japan, with exposed ceiling beams and tatami floors. Mitaki-en serves vegetarian cuisine made from seasonal wild mountain plants that grow in the local mountains. The staff are extremely friendly and the wonderful manager speaks pretty good English. It closes between December and March because of the snow.

Check out the Mitaki-en website.

See photos of Mitaki-en Restaurant (and a Google Map).

Visit the Mitaki Dam, especially for the autumn / fall leaves. A truly peaceful and pretty stretch of water in the heart of pristine forest.

Photos of Ashizu coming soon

Ishitani (石谷)

The Ishitani Residence (石谷家住宅 Ishitanike Jūtaku) is a historic residence that provides a truly authentic glimpse of life and architecture in the Edo period (100 years ago). The Ishitani family, an upper-class family, built a residence in the area. The residence is spread across two floors and forty rooms, most of which you can wander around at your leisure looking at the cultural delights. Looking out of the upper-floor windows, you can imagine ninja running across the rooftops and courtyards. Ishitani Residence has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. Its gardens are a registered Place of Scenic Beauty. It's ¥500 to get in but people showing a non-Japanese passport get in for half price. There is a cafe that overlooks the beautiful garden).

The Ishitani Residence is situated along a charming, old street in the centre of Chizu. The street is full of oldy-worldy Japanese charm and is a focus of the towns many festivals. Also on the street is the Suwa Izumi Sake Brewery, Edo-era wooden houses, the The Katsumi Nishikawa Film Museum, anEdo-period fire station and the Suwa Shrine.

See photos of Ishitani House (and a Google Map).

Yamagata (山形)

Yamagata is a charming village nestled in a valley of pine and cedar mountains. It is a very photogenic area fully of pretty streams, the 100-year-old elementary school, the Ashizu River and the very pink and romantic Koi-Yamagata train station - a must visit for romance and fun. You can send a letter from a special post box at the station and get a lovely heart-shaped post mark from the local post office.

Yamasato (山郷)

Yamasato is a small village on the old road from Tottori to Osaka. It sits along the Sendai River and provides easy access to the mountains. The main site in Yamasato is the old elementary school, which has a loverly restaurant and offers craft workshops.

Photos coming soon.


Shinden is a small community on top of a mountain, just below the To-ge and Kai-ke mountain passes. There are panoramic views of the cascading rice paddies, lovely little shrines and temples and lovely walks through forests of towering pine and cedar trees. Stop for a drink and home-made cake at the Ai Bakery (パン工房アイ) - a "bread and jazz cafe" or have lunch at the delicious Seiryu-no Sato (清流の里) udon and soba restaurant.

Photos coming soon.

Nagi (那岐) and Haji (土師)

Nagi and Haji are two villages along the national route 53 between downtown Chizu and the climb to Kura Pass. The villages sit in a scenic, wide valley.

Nagi is the larger village and has several interesting temples and restaurants. It is also the starting point for the hike to tke top of the 1,255-metre Nagi-San (Mount Nagi) 那岐山. Take the smaller route 295 down towards Nagi Station to visit the Talmary restaurant (delicious homemade bread, pizza, beer and wild-boar burgers), the Buddhist temple Gokurakuji 極楽寺 (〒689-1451 鳥取県八頭郡智頭町大字大背860) and the Shinto Nagi Shrine 那岐神社 (〒689-1451 鳥取県八頭郡智頭町大背708). Haji is home to the fantastic French restaurant Brun (山ノブラン) - The car park is at the Haji Train Station traffic signal.

See photos of Nagi and Haji (and a Google Map).

Tomizawa (富沢)

Tomizawa is a collection of hamlets nestled in a valley dotted along the Niimi River. It is the starting point for the Kagoyama trecking course (start at the community center in Sakawara). Visit the Buddhist Bujo-ji Temple - 豊乗寺 (〒689-1463 鳥取県八頭郡智頭町新見73) and the Shinto Takemi Shrine - 竹美神社 (〒689-1462 鳥取県八頭郡智頭町中田249).

Photos coming soon.

Hata (波多)

A small mountain-top village surrounded by rice paddies, vegetable patches and forests.

Photos coming soon.

Unami (宇波)

A small mountain-top village with beautiful views down the valley.

Photos coming soon.

Chizu-Cho - rivers and mountains.

More About Chizu:

Things to See and Do


Places to Eat

Places to Stay

Chizu-Cho - rivers and mountains.

The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.

Chizu is officially one of Japan's most beautiful villages:

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