Tonomine Highlands – Kamikawa-chō, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Tonomine Highlands

Kamikawa-chō, Japan

A thick blanket of beautiful pampas grass cloaks this unique Japanese landscape. 


The rolling hills of the Tonomine Highlands, thickly covered with Japanese pampas grass, are a unique landscape for Japan. The glow created by the sun shining on the grass in autumn is magical.

The main attraction for most visitors to the highlands is the grass. Each spring, the local villagers set the hills ablaze to encourage new grass to grow. It’s a stunning fire show, where flames devour the silvery blades and leave a sea of blackened landscape in their wake.

In the summer, after the new grass grows, the hills transform into waves of greenery. In the autumn, the grass begins to die, causing the silver strands to glint and glitter in the fading sunlight.

Visitors can walk through the grass on several different trails, including one that loops around the highlands. There are several maze-like boardwalks that cross over iridescent marshes and weave through the head-high flora.

The highlands are also known within western Japan as the set for the movie adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood. Two prominent scenes were filmed here, showing the area in different seasons.

After exploring, you can enjoy a hot bowl of udon from the visitor center’s restaurant while gazing over the landscape.

Know Before You Go

The visitors center is open Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 5:00. It's closed from January through March due to heavy snow. Access by private car, or taxi (20 min) from Teramae train station. Shuttle buses are available in peak season (mid September to mid November)

In partnership with KAYAK

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