I chanced upon this charming little Ghibli-like village in Hamamatsu while I was looking for an interesting stopover between Kyoto and Hakone during my September 2017 Japan Trip. Nukumori no Mori (which means Forest of Warmth) is a small village of shops and cafes/restaurants housed in cute buildings, cottages, and huts designed and built by architect Shigeyoshi Sasaki.
As you can see from the map, the village is rather small, with a cluster of buildings around a courtyard and a few stand-alone structures. Some shops or cafes/restaurants may be closed when you visit as they each have different operating hours. So it is best to check these out on their website before coming.
On the day of my visit, the weather was great. It was a perfect afternoon for a cup of coffee and cake in the courtyard and imagine that I was in some fairy tale. But there was a long queue to the cakes and the restaurant was not open outside of lunch and dinner hours. In the end, I settled for a strawberry shaved ice from the kiosk outside the owl cafe. I would have stayed longer than the hour that I spent here if I was not short of time. I really enjoyed strolling around and admiring the little touches that contribute to the picturesque Ghibli village theme.
The Cottage of Warmth or Nukumori Cottage, was the architect/owner’s residential home before he opened it to the public as a showcase of his architectural design studio’s residential construction work. Now, the first floor has an architecture gallery and a pottery shop while the second floor sells clothing.
Around the Courtyard
More Shops and Cafes
Leather goods shop. This is the first cottage you see as you enter the Nukumori Forest
Art Gallery Sora. The mushroom structure on the top left is a toilet.
Fukkura Owl Cafe, cover charge payable.
If you are someone who enjoys looking at pretty things or you are a Studio Ghibli fan, you will feel as if you have entered some kind of magical world here. Otherwise, you are likely to be disappointed and think it is not worth the journey. If you decide to visit, it is probably a good idea to come in the early morning. Take your photos before the crowd arrives and then have your lunch or cakes when the cafe/restaurant opens.
Shops are narrow and can accommodate only a few people at a time. Even though there are many little unique items on display for sale, I felt bad holding up others from entering the limited space when I didn’t have the intention to buy any. And do note that no photo and video taking are allowed in the shops.
Looking at the latest update on their website, it seems that new shops and cafes have been added since my visit. If possible, I want to visit again on my next Japan trip and this time, I’d make sure to get hold of those delicious looking cakes!
Entry to Nukumori Forest is free but if you are driving, the car park fee will set you back by JPY 500 (per entry), double during weekends and holidays. There is a short (3 minutes) easy up-slope walk from the main road (car park or bus stop) through a residential area before you reach the village. Please follow the walking route as shown above.
Mapcode: Car Park P1 – 26 334 188*06 or Car Park P2 – 26 334 281*74
Only left turn into the car park is allowed. If you arrive from the opposite side of the road, you will need to make a u-turn further up.
Bus : From JR Hamamatsu Station North Exit Bus Terminal, take the “Entetsu Bus” no. 1 bound for Kanzanji Onsen (about 40 minutes ride) and get off at Sujikai-bashi bus stop.