As Pierre and I were pondering the next stop on our week-long tour of Japan, I remembered a stunning picture I had seen in a special Brutus magazine issue on countryside minshukus a few years ago. I looked up what turned out to be the village of Ainokura (part of Gokayama town), in Toyama-ken.
Driving past the still-quite-urban town of Jōhana, the last few km of mountain roads and never-ending tunnels magically opened into some Lost Valley-like landscape, with a dozen thatched-roofed houses lying at the bottom. We spent the night there (half the village is minshuku, the other regular farmers) before resuming our trip south through the much more touristy but still very picturesque region of Shirakawa.
Definitely on par with Iya for surprisingly preserved piece of old-times Nipponia.