If you're looking for a more hands-on experience of Japanese culture and crafts, look no farther than Takumi no Sato in the foothills of the Minakami mountains. Access to this small village of traditional buildings and apple orchards is free but the real prize lies in the many workshops scattered through the town.
Visit any of some two dozen workshops and experience traditional crafts either by watching the masters at work or by participating in a workshop of your own. Prices vary from shop to shop with most of the workshops costing between 500 to one thousand yen.
You'll find so many wonderful workshops that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, especially in such close quarters and a serene location. The buildings are all within walking distance of each other and make for a popular day with families and couples. Try your hands at making washi paper, soba, bamboo weaving, indigo dyeing, or any other relaxing crafts. If you're feeling a little peckish, visit the apple orchards for a fruit-picking experience and taste the flavor of the crisp mountain air via the fruit.
Arrive at Takumi no Sato via the Kan-etsu Kotsu Bus (platform 3) in front of Jomo-Kogen Station. It takes about 20 minutes.