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Transition Areas: Building a Unique Culture in a Harsh Environment and Preserving it for the Future

The people that live at the foothills of the Minami Alps have skillfully used the surrounding environment as part of their lifestyles. While these lifestyles have changed with modernization, the symbiotic relationship between Man and Nature, which might be a defining characteristic of Japanese culture, still remains a strong tradition to this day in the settlements along the foot of the mountains.

Ikawa Kagura (Shinto dance)

Yamame Festival

Sumpu Ochatsubo Procession

Slash-and-burn agriculture

Making containers

Nakano Kannon Hall

View of central Ikawa Village

Ikawa Great Buddha Statue

Oku-ōi, the Gate to the Minami Alps

The Ikawa area, which lies the headwaters of the Oi River flowing down from the Minami Alps, is a quiet settlement nestled between the mountains, where a lifestyle in harmony with the natural environment of the Minami Alps still remains. Nearby are the Akaishi Onsen and Tashiro Onsen spa health resorts, as well as ski areas, campsites, and other leisure facilities where people can enjoy tourism in harmony with the surrounding nature throughout all four seasons. This is also one of the first areas in Japan to be developed for electrical power generation, and the hydroelectric dams and lakes dotted around the area provide pleasant views for tourists as secondary natural landscapes. The Oigawa Railway’s Ikawa Line, famous for its steam locomotives, takes tourists along a railroad which was once used to transport materials during the construction of the Ikawa Dam.

Oigawa Railway Tram

Ikawa Ferry

Abandoned railroad walk

Soba-making experience

Trying the local cuisine

Traditional foods

Riverwell Ski Area

Tea-picking activities