Sitting high in the mountains of the Iya Valley, you will find Chiiori. This 300-year old house sits in a fold of a meadow, looking across the valley. Chiiori was lovingly restored by Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan. This traditional farmhouse slumbers under a thatched roof, with burnished hardwood floors and doors that slide open to take in the valley below. The renovation kept the structure as true to history as possible—the wood floors, rice-paper doors, center-room firepit, and thatched roof stay, but a nod to modern comfort was made with underfloor heating, modern bathroom plumbing and a wooden bath to soak in.
Its remote location means the property is self-catering but, naturally, the kitchen is well-appointed. Chiiori is rented as an entire unit and sleeps up to ten—but feel free to take the whole thing just for yourself. Perhaps the best way to experience the beauty of the Iya Valley is to sit out to watch the stars on a cold night, move inside to warm up by the fire, enjoy some sake by the light of paper lanterns and fall asleep to the quiet sounds of the forest.