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Relax and rejuvenate in the remote countryside of Mie Prefecture

Relax and rejuvenate in the remote countryside of Mie Prefecture

As Japan’s rural population continues to decline, villages and towns across the country are turning to tourism as a means to sustain their local region. The village of Misugi (美杉村 Misugi-mura) in Mie Prefecture (三重県 Mie-ken) showcases its abundant forests and mountainside temples while offering personal guides and lessons on traditional culture and artisanship. Located approximately two hours from Osaka (大阪) and Kyoto (京都), this remote village is the perfect destination for those looking to wind down and relax in the countryside.


Start with a walking tour of the village’s historic sites

Upon arriving, consider starting with a guided tour along the Ise Honkaido (伊勢本海道) road. This ancient pathway snakes through Misugi, running from Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine (玉造稲荷神社 Tamatsukuri Inari-jinja) in Osaka to Mie Prefecture’s famous Ise Jingu Shrine (伊勢神宮). The section of the road in Misugi is home to charming old homes and shops with centuries of history behind them.


(Image credit: Mie Prefecture Tourism Federation)


To get the best view of the village, hike up 1.5km to Shinpukuin Temple (真福院), which is perched upon a nearby peak dotted with cherry trees. The panoramic view of the village below makes for a great photo opportunity. Every April, the pink cherry blossoms further compliment the scenery, contrasting beautifully with the surrounding foliage and rice paddies.


Shinpukuin Temple (真福院)
Address: 204 Misugicho Mitake, Tsu, Mie 515-3535
Nearest station: Ise-Okitsu Station (伊勢奥津駅)
Access: From Ise-Okitsu Station on the JR Meisho Line (名松線), take the bus to Sugihara Bus Stop. Shinpukuin Temple is a 25-minute walk from the bus stop.
Tel: +81-59-274-0716


Take a relaxing retreat deep in the forest

(Image credit: Mie Prefecture Tourism Federation)


With much of Japan covered in trees, rural towns and villages are beginning to the charms and allure of the forest. In recent years, this has led to the promotion of “forest bathing” and “forest therapy” (森林浴 Shinrin-yoku). Studies suggest that spending time relaxing in the forest has positive effects on mental health, and a called the Forest Therapy Society now certifies forests across Japan for their ability to improve visitors’ state of mind. Misugi is home to twelve designated forest therapy courses, and a number of local guides specialise in tours of these secluded sites. After a two-hour journey in the forest, you are sure to emerge feeling rejuvenated.


Guided forest therapy tours can be booked through Inaka Tourism.


Journey to the gardens of Kitabatake Shrine

(Image credit: Mie Prefecture Tourism Federation)


For a similarly relaxing experience, take a trip to nearby Kitabatake Shrine (北畠神社 Kitabatake Jinja), which is home to a sprawling, immaculate garden. Nestled within the mountains approximately 10km outside of central Misugi, this remote shrine offers gorgeous views and a look into the region’s bloody past. Despite the peaceful surroundings, the shrine is named after the once prominent Kitabake clan, who met a violent demise after a struggle for power with the prominent warlord Oda Nobunaga.


Kitabatake Shrine (北畠神社)
Address: 1148 Misugicho Kamitage, Tsu, Mie 515-3312
Nearest station: Ise-Okitsu Station (伊勢奥津駅)
Access: From Ise-Okitsu Station, take a 10-minute taxi ride to Kitabatake Shrine. A 10km drive from central Misugi
Tel: +81-59-275-0615


Artisanal workshops

(Image credit: Unsplash)


The local residents of Misugi proudly offer a range of workshops and lessons on traditional crafts and artisanry. During your time in the region, consider taking a woodworking lesson, trying your hand at farming, or learning about the intricacies of Zen meditation.


Workshops can be booked through Inaka Tourism.


Where to stay

(Image credit: Mie Prefecture Tourism Federation)


The most prominent hotel in the area is the Hinotani Onsen Misugi Resort (火の谷温泉 美杉リゾート). This 76-room, three-star hotel includes access to an outdoor hot spring and kaiseki (懐石) dining options showcasing local Matsuzaka wagyu (松坂和牛) beef. Its convenient location near the town centre allows for easy access to nearby restaurants and shops.


Hinotani Onsen Misugi Resort (火の谷温泉 美杉リゾート)
Address: 5990 Misugicho Yachi, Tsu, Mie 515-3421
Nearest station: Ise-Yachi Station (伊勢八知駅)
Access: Reserve a free shuttle bus from Sakakibara-Onsenguchi Station (榊原温泉口駅) through the hotel
Admission fee: ¥1,000¥1,600 (onsen day-visit)
Tel: +81-59-272-1155


Getting there

Misugi is located deep in the mountains approximately 40km outside of Mie’s capital city Tsu (津市 Tsu-shi). To reach the Misugi area, the closest stations are Ise-Okitsu and Ise-Yachi stations on the JR Meisho Line. From Osaka, take the Kintetsu Limited Express train departing at Tsuruhashi Station (鶴橋駅 Tsuruhashi-eki) for approximately 90 minutes and transfer at Matsusaka Station to the JR Meisho Line. Ise-Okitsu and Ise-Yachi stations are about an hour and ten minutes from JR Matsusaka Station. Take care as this local line has only one train running every two hours.


Alternatively, visitors using the Misugi Resort can reserve a free and convenient 20-minute shuttle bus, which runs from on the Kintetsu Line to the Misugi town centre. Given its remote location, it is advisable to reserve accommodations and guides in advance or rent a car to ensure easy access to your desired destinations.


Header image credit: Mie Photo Gallery 


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