Nanmoku: Afterglow of the Silk Road *RERUN
Nanmoku is a village that lies deep in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, which blossomed during the period of Japan's modernization over a century ago. It grew and prospered thanks to sericulture -- raising the silkworms whose cocoons were the source of raw silk, an essential cornerstone of Japan's efforts to bring in foreign currency and new technology. However, the development of synthetic fibers led to a drop in demand for raw silk, and this led to the decline of Nanmoku as well. Its population has dropped from over 10,000 some 60 years ago to only about 1,700 residents now. But thanks to its remote setting, the village has been spared large-scale development, and its traditional culture and buildings have been preserved much like a time capsule. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Teodora Forgo from Hungary explores the beautiful natural setting and fascinating history of Nanmoku Village, deep in the mountains northwest of Tokyo.


More than 100 years ago, people in this district erected massive stone walls to create enough flat land to build their houses. The traditional features in this area of Nanmoku have been well preserved and this has drawn a number of people to move there from the city, and the natural hot spring has been reopened, with rebuilt bathing facilities.


This community in the furthest corner of Nanmoku has only a few households, and many of the houses have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. One of the residents, Ichikawa Tatsuharu, who is now in his 80's, meets Theodora and explains how life there has changed.

Oiwa Peak

There are many excellent hiking trails in the Nanmoku area. Teodora explores the route up to a peak known as Oiwa. This trail passes the Sandan-no-take waterfall, which is one of the 3 most famous falls in the Nanmoku district. The summit offers hikers a magnificent view of the entire village and the surrounding mountains.


To reach Nanmoku by train from Tokyo, you take the Joetsu Shinkansen bullet train to Takasaki. You then transfer to the Joshin Line, which will take you to the last stop, Shimonita. From there, it takes about an hour by bus to Nanmoku Village.