The laid back village of Otaki lies in the Kiso region of central Japan’s mountainous Nagano prefecture.
Otaki is a traditional gateway to pilgrimage on sacred Mt. Ontake, and the mystical traditions that developed around the mountain are still alive today. Visitors can get a taste of them at one of the sacred waterfalls practitioners use for purification, or by hiking the Ontake Pilgrimage Trail, a historic route that mountain ascetics have climbed for centuries.
Otaki’s existence is inseparable from Mt. Ontake and the surrounding forests. The quiet landscape provides ample opportunity for shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), quiet hikes, and peaceful contemplation.
In fact, over 95% of the village area is covered in forest, and wildlife abounds, including bear, boar, fox, and serow (kamoshika). With a population of less than 750, Otaki is home to more monkeys than people and troupes of them roaming the countryside are a common site.
Otaki is most easily accessed from Nagoya to the south or Matsumoto to the north via the historic Nakasendo post town of Kiso-fukushima.
There are no highways in Otaki—there’s not even a stoplight. Even some villagers say there’s “nothing here,” and if “nothing” means no crime, traffic, pollution, or the frenzied stress of modern life, then it’s true.
Make the journey and experience Otaki for yourself.
About the site author ・本サイトについて
Chris W. Gladden is a Kiso based freelance translator and writer providing Japanese to English translation, editing and revision services, and Japan travel content creation.
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