Village of Ahiru – click any image for full size
Village of Ahiru is a full region themed along Japanese / Edo period lines (although the time frame for the region isn’t specifically the Edo period, as evidenced by things like the bicycles to be found scattered along the extensive paths and walks within the region).
The main landing point, located in the sky above the region offers an introduction to the setting, noting it is a mixed public / private location with a number of rental properties to be found within it. However, providing the privacy of those renting is respected, visitors and photography are both welcome, and for those wanting to get a little more in character, two vendors at the landing point offer free female and male kimonos.
Ground level is reached via a map teleport board. This lists all of the public areas, and denotes the rental properties – the majority of which are located to the east of the region, with a few more located on the southern coastline. At ground level, the large rentals are surrounded by walls guarding their inner gardens / courtyards, and smaller properties can be identified by the “mailbox” rent boxes on their walls.
At ground level, the region is split into two land masses by a narrow river. Public areas straddle both of these islands, so decided on where to start a visit is open to choice. However, having spent time wandering through the village, I’d recommend the shrine on the south island or the Onsen or theatre on the north island as being good starting points; they are all public places, and offer good map reference points when making your way around the region.
Richly wooded, Village of Ahiru also has a veritable web of paths and trails running around and through it. Climbing and descending over stairs and steps, winding around hills, passing under the arched canopies of trees, some of these paths are paved, some form grass tracks and others are marked by stepping-stones or look like cinder tracks. The thing that the have most in common is that they form a complete network which, as you follow it as paths cross and divide, serves to make Village of Ahiru feel a lot larger than the usual 256 metres on a side region.
From the grand bulk of the Theatre, visitors can head south along an arrow-straight avenue to one of the bridges spanning the river. Branching from this to the right (west) and east (left) are paths leading to other points of interest: a wild garden with standing stones, a more formal garden area with pavilions, a little waterfall spanned by another little bridge and opportunities to relax.
To the left from the theatre avenue, stone steps offers a way to the ochaya (tea house) located on one of the region’s two high points. Or if you prefer, you can follow the path around the hill on which the tea house sits and find your way to the impressive Osen, with heated and cold water pools for bathing. With waters following past its entrance from water falls, this is perhaps the centrepiece of the region, and another point at which a teleport map board can be found for those wishing to hop between locations. The second high point for the region is located on the southern island. It is home to the region’s shrine and overlooks the rental properties to the east and south, the base of the hill again surrounded by paths.
Other highlights within the region include a small commercial shopping area, a children’s playground nestled under the trees, and several lookout points such as the waterside hangout – and perhaps one or more places to discover. “As usual, my areas have a couple places hidden away,” principal designer Hatsumomo (Yasyn Azemus) informed me during our visit. I’m not going to give these all away, but I did enjoy discovering the Café Grotto.
Surrounded by mountains, rich in flora and trees, and laid out in such a way to give the impression of far more space than the region might otherwise suggest, Village of Ahiru makes for an engaging visit with plenty to see and discover while exploring.
- Village of Ahiru (Ahiru, rated: Moderate)