Soni is registered as one of the most beautiful countryside villages in Japan and here are 5 reasons why it’s worth a visit:
Soni Kogen Highland Area
The Soni Kogen is an open mountain meadow and wetland area spread across the partially destroyed volcanic crater of Kuroso and Kameyama Mountains. The meadow and the Japanese pampas grass (“susuki”) that grows there were once the source of thatching for the roofs of homes and buildings in Soni Village.
The people of Soni used “yamayaki” (mountain burning) and other farming methods to maintain and expand the meadow and preserve its pampas grass. Despite ceramic “kawara” roof tiles and other modern materials replacing grass as the preferred roofing material, the people of Soni continue to maintain Soni Kogen for hiking and the scenery that the open meadow presents.
The Soni Kogen is especially beautiful in the fall when the pampas grass turns a silvery-gold.
Byobu-iwa, Kabuto and Yoroi-dake Mountains
The entirety of the Soni Village area is mountainous and, after the Soni Kogen, the Byobu-iwa Cliffs, and Kabuto and Yoroi-dake Mountains are the village's number 2 must see natural wonders. The Byobu-iwa is a 2km long, 200m tall volcanic cliff that looks like a Japanese “byobu” folding paper screen. A large concentration of mountain sakura, rhododendron, and deciduous trees add a colorful and spectacular contrast to the area in all seasons.
Yoroi-dake (Armor Peak) and it’s neighbor Kabuto-dake (Helmet Peak) are the most prominent mountains in Soni Village. Yoroi-dake bears a striking resemblance to the Matterhorn and both mountains can be hiked in a day.
Kotaro-iwa and the Oku-Kochi Gorge
The Kotaro-iwa lion’s face rock and the Oku-Kochi Gorge it sits in were once considered to be among the top 100 natural beauty sites in Japan.
The rugged mountain gorge is especially beautiful in the fall when the myriad of deciduous trees produce a riotous display of color.
Okame no Yu Hot Springs
The Okame no Yu is a hot spring at the base of the Soni Kogen. Its indoor and outdoor pools offer views of the aforementioned Kabuto-dake and Yoroi-dake mountains and the surrounding countryside, and the minerals in the water will help speed the healing process of any cuts or burns one may have and leave bathers’ skin feeling clean and smooth. The Okame no Yu’s restaurant serves up some organic and delicious countryside cuisine and plenty of the last item on this list:
Soni Kogen Beer
Microbrewery aficionados and beer lovers everywhere are in for a treat when they venture into Soni Village. Soni Kogen Beer is the only craft beer in Nara. It’s brewed in the German brewmeister style, and the clarity and purity of the Soni Kogen water used in the brewing process eliminates the need for pasteurization giving Soni Kogen Beer a delicious fresh taste.
Soni Village isn’t along any train lines and is best accessed by car. All of the locations on this list are, however, accessible by bus from Kintetsu Nabari Station., or even drop by the center and we'll be more than happy to point you in the right direction!