Because of some of Studio Ghibli’s movies, both of us really wanted to see the Japanese countryside. Unfortunately, nothing close to us was what we were looking for (you could find houses but not the fields), so we decided to make the drive across Japan. It was worth it! We went to Shirakawa-Go after staying the night in the mountains near Matsumoto.
Starting off our day with an open-air private hot spring.
We started with the museum so we could go into houses without having to pay for each one individually (more info on details here).
Closer to Tokyo you can find places like Nihon Minka-En, Iyashi No Sato at Lake Saiko by Fuji, and this place in Tokyo. This is a little closer to Tokyo, being in Takayama instead of Shirakawa (about 45 minutes away). But in our opinion the drive is gorgeous – full of mountains, forests, and rice fields – and well worth it!