Just about four years ago I visited the Village of Ahiru, a full region themed along Japanese lines with the About Land description indicating the inspiration for the build is the Edo period – although as I noted at the time of my original visit, whilst the core inspiration for the region – home to the Blue Lotus Okiya geisha group – might well be Edo, it is not actually set within that period, as the modern touches to the public areas of the region tend to reveal. Given that four years have passed, I decided to jump back and see what might have changed.
A mixed public / private setting, the landing point for the village is located in the sky, where general information can be found together with free male and female kimono outfits for those who want to dress more the part for a visit. A map of the region just across the landing garden provides both an overview of the region’s layout – including the locations of the 15 private residences to be found within the village – and click-to-TP labels to the major public areas.
While 15 private residences may sound like a lot for a region, they are all located on the east and southern sides of the region and away from the majority – but not all – of the public spaces.
The parcels for the private homes come in a number of sizes, allowing them to be grouped together without feeling crowded, with the positioning of a couple of public spaces between the main groupings helping to give a further sense of space around them. Most of the houses sit behind hedges and fences, the entrances to them marked by green rental boxes, making them easy to identify (and avoid) – although some of the smaller units are directly approachable along the public paths, so keep an eye out for their green rental boxes on their walls.
The majority of the public areas for the region are located on the north and west side, where a large island is home to the Blue Lotus Okiya theatre, a garden area, the Osen / Oden and the Ochaya tea house, which still commands part of the high grounds in the region. The latter is a custom build for the region, and offers a classic Edo take on these traditional tea houses with their strong ties to geisha. It also looks down to where the Osen and Oden sit.
The main building of the latter appeared to me to be larger this time around than with my original visit, but this could just be my imagination. Certainly the familiar indoor and outdoor pools remain ready for guests. The grounds of the Osen form one of the areas where confusion between public and private areas within the region can occur: an open gate and path lead from the pools at the back of the facility and around a shoulder of rock to one of the smaller rental units – although it is hard to appreciate it is a private abode at first glance.
Reached via bridges, the major residential spaces are mixed with a pair of little eateries and are dominated by the Ahiru temple and shrine. This is located straddling the crown of the highest hill within the region. It is separated in part from the private homes by a finger of water curling around the base of the hill, helping to form it into a headland with water on three sides in part fed from the falls dropping from the hill’s cliffs. A single bridge provides the means to reach the temple.
On the west side of the region sits a largely artificial island nestled between the public spaces to the north and the residences to the south. It is connected to both via bridges, and I refer to it as “largely artificial”, as the larger potion of it forms stone terraces, one just above the waters and the other raised on arches which hide a small dock below them.
The terrace above is set aside for dancing, while the more natural part of the island forms a series of stepped flowerbeds down to the water that are mirrored across the water on the northern island as the land here also steps down to the region’s inner waterways. Facing the terrace island to the south and well clear of the private homes is a small commercial area sitting over stone quays and paths that end in more wooden wharves.
Camming around, I noted that at least one of hidden areas of the region remains, but appears to have been cut off from access. Whether by accident or design, I’ve no idea. However, whilst somewhat redressed since my original visit, Village of Ahiru retains its natural beauty and appeal, making it a worthwhile visit.
- Village of Ahiru (Ahiru, rated: Moderate)