If you’ve been to Japan several times and are now wondering what next on your next trip to the land of the rising sun, then fret not. Avid traveler Isabelle Marchand has just the right answer. She recently stayed at a beautiful, traditional Minpaku in Japan and has some very useful tips for our Japan-loving readers.

During the last couple of years I have been an occasional visitor to Japan and loved exploring the big cities in this beautiful country. From Tokyo to Osaka, and Nagoya to Kyoto, the colorful bustling city life in Japan is second to none.  But this time around I wanted to get away from the crowds and experience the REAL Japan. With HomeAway, I was able to see a completely different side of the country. In partnership with NOTE Assoc., HomeAway offers beautifully renovated traditional houses “minpaku” in Sasayama and surrounding villages and I was able to explore countryside living at a 150 year old house in Maruyama Village.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should book yourself and friends/family into a HomeAway property in the Japanese countryside for your next trip to Japan!

1. Become a master of the Japanese rail system

Minpaku in Japan

A picturesque journey aboard a Japanese train

At first, I was quite worried about getting from Osaka Airport to the countryside. But upon booking via HomeAway’s site, you’ll get a detailed description on how to get to the house, so all you have to do is approach the JR staff at the airport and they’ll sort you out! Travelling the country by train is a great way to experience “Omotenashi”, Japanese spirit of warm hospitality, first hand. If you are lost or need help, they will go out of their way to help you and make sure you are on your way to your destination safely. And who knows, you may make a couple of new friends along the way!

2. Travel unconventionally and sleep in a historic Minpaku

Minpaku in Japan

Beautifully restored traditional Minpaku in Sasayama

The highlight of the trip was definitely staying in a 150 year old traditional Japanese house. The house in Maruyama Village is located on a hill with an excellent view of the surroundings. I was transported back in time and felt as if Tom Cruise was going to drop by any time to say hi in his Samurai uniform. The place is conveniently located close to the village but is also isolated from noise and crowds. There’s nothing better than enjoying some quiet time with a book by the fire stove. But not to worry – WiFi is available in the fully renovated house (which is important so you can post all those gorgeous pics of the house on Instagram!!).

3. Enjoy exquisite authentic cuisine and have breakfast Japanese style

Minpaku in Japan

Traditional breakfast at a Japanese Minpaku

Anyone who travels to Japan and doesn’t indulge in local delicacies is likely missing out on a true Japanese experience! When you book the HomeAway property in Murayama Village, you can also make a reservation to have a traditional Japanese breakfast freshly prepared in your kitchen. A local villager will come by with the freshest local produce and cook up a storm of authentic cuisine right in front of you. Never thought I’d enjoy fish for breakfast but it’s such a nice change from the conventional breakfast buffet that you get in standard hotels!

4. Wear your Yukata around the village with pride

Minpaku in Japan

Isabelle and friends in traditional Japanese Yukata

Another memorable experience for me was dressing and touring the village in a traditional Japanese dress – the Yukata. There are a few little shops which let you select your favorite one from many colorful choices. They will then help you to put it on the right way (it’s more complicated than you would think) and off you go, dressed appropriately to explore the historic village!

5. Be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Japanese countryside’s nature

Minpaku in Japan

The stunning Japanese countryside

Another highlight you would definitely not get in the bigger cities is the beautiful surrounding of the countryside. From cooling streams, rice paddy fields to beautiful flowers – you can wander around for hours and explore nature with friends and family.

There’s more to Japan than bright lights and big cities so get off the beaten path and explore the charm of rural Japan! Gather your friends and family and book a HomeAway minpaku today to discover the countryside lifestyle, local culture and delicious authentic cuisine!

“Originally from Germany, but born in The Philippines and raised in South America, Isabelle has a knack for travelling and exploring different cultures – mostly food culture. Now based in Singapore and having eaten her way from Laksa to Stingray, it’s only natural she continues to explore Asia with an appetite for more.”

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HomeAway is the world leader in vacation rentals. The HomeAway network of sites represent more than 1.2 million listings of vacation rental homes in 190 countries and is part of the Expedia group family of brands. Visit www.homeaway.com.sg  or download the HomeAway Asia app to choose the ideal holiday homes and homestays for your next holiday.