Nestled between the Suzuka and Yoro mountain ranges in Mie Prefecture, Inabe city seems like something out of a dream. Rolling hills, rice fields and dense clusters of woodland unfurl before the striking alpine backdrop, with tranquil woodland villages stretching across the base of each mountain. In spring, the view is particularly fantastical, as the area’s famous plum blossom forests line the surroundings in vibrant shades of pink. 

Located just an hour and a half from Kyoto and an hour from Nagoya by car, Inabe is a tranquil place with its own unique beauty. In contrast to heavily touristed areas, it doesn’t entice with flashy attractions or Instagram-famous sightseeing spots. Instead, it offers visitors a chance to slow down, to absorb and appreciate their natural surroundings. It’s a place where the everyday is sublimated into the extraordinary — a perfect location for engaging in noasobi, a practice that finds philosophical meaning in spending time in nature.

Noasobi: Finding Fulfillment in Nature

Translated literally, “noasobi” means “playing in the wild,” but its significance is much deeper than merely playing. It refers to the spirit with which one approaches the world: familiarizing oneself deeply with one’s surroundings, feeling the seasons as they pass and deriving a sense of peace and fulfillment from the earth’s beauty. Noasobi isn’t an action — it’s a mindset, one that extends beyond outdoor activities and into daily life and high culture. One can feel noasobi in quotidian life, and also in art, poetry and traditional practices. 

Inabe Bairin Park, in particular, stands out. It’s home to one of the largest plum groves in central Japan, spread across about 38 hectares with approximately 4,000 plum trees of various varieties. In early spring, they burst into technicolor bloom; year-round, though, the grove is serene and stunning.  

A Place To Rest Among the Trees

For those looking to forest-bathe to the fullest, Inabe offers stylish, futuristic and sustainable lodgings scattered among the trees. At Nordisk Hygge Circles – Ugakei, a newly built cabin complex, guests can become one with nature, trekking or relaxing by day and stargazing and enjoying the campfire by night. “Hygge” is a Nordic term that evokes a sense of coziness, contentment and conviviality; fittingly, the cabins are warm and airy, with windows that provide uninterrupted views of the ever-changing sky. The complex also has luxurious glamping tents, as well as dedicated sites for pitching your own tent. Nourishing meals made with carefully selected, seasonal and local ingredients are included for those staying in the cabins or glamping areas, and a dedicated on-site restaurant is currently under construction, to be completed in the near future.  

In Inabe, an excursion into the wild can be revelatory. It can provide a chance to unplug, recalibrate and appreciate the world around you in a new light. 

To plan your trip to Inabe, visit their website, or visit the Instagram account for Inabe’s official travel website, “Inabe – Journey into life”.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Inabe Bairin Park contains approximately 4,000 plum trees, not 4,500.