The prime incentive to venture into the forgotten Iya Valley is the chance to stay in a painstakingly restored 300-year-old farmstead called Chiiori (‘House of the Flute’). After a visit to the area in the 1990s, American author Alex Kerr decided to renovate a typical local dwelling, with traditional kayabuki thatch roof. Inside, paper lanterns dangle from soot-blackened cedar rafters and exquisite calligraphy adorns the hand-made washi screen walls. Meals are served on tatami mats around a sunken hearth, set amid fragrant polished wood floors.
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