Nonogawa River Valley National Forest

The Nonogawa River Valley is one of the least populated areas in Japan. Foliage thickly covers the steep mountainsides. Some areas are so dense you could climb straight up the hills with no fear of falling, because trees and bushes will catch you. Some may move to do so, for all life is valuable here.

Fauna & Flora

Have your camera ready because the wildlife here is unrivaled. You may encounter deer, kitsune, rabbits, tanuki, black bears, boar, cranes, momonga, all manner of small birds, pheasants, weasels, and many types of yokai.  
The yokai and larger animals can be dangerous, so please do not try to get close to take a picture. Also, please do not feed the wildlife. They are well provided for by the forest and resident yokai. The area requires balance, so all industry is strictly regulated and the kami and yokai appeased when a business must trespass on the forest. Kodama are plentiful and every tree is checked to see if it has a spirit and cataloged, before small swaths of logging can be done in the area. Each area must be replanted with the same species that was removed.   Plants you may find here include cedar, oak, camphor, bamboo, pine, wasabi, irises, maple, wysteria, cherry trees, azaleas, cypress, snowbell, sakaki, holly, and parsely.   For the most complete listing see Flora and Fauna of the Nonogawa River Valley - Where Spirits Keep the Balance.

Natural Resources

Mountain streams, the Nonogawa River, hotsprings, the forest.


The lush forest is a popular area for forest bathing to unplug from technology and the hectic side of life. Though if your mind went to taking a bath in the forest, there are a few quiet wild onsens that are warm enough in the summer and pour into the river. Picnicking, hiking, and camping are allowed in specified areas. Please do not wander off the trails, for your safety and that of the forest residents.
Nonogawa River Valley Forest in Fog by David Edelstein on Unsplash
Nonogawa River Valley Forest Hiking Trail by Ana Briard on Unsplash
Momonga Flying Squirrels by virgil perez
Kodama by Amy Winters-Voss

Cover image: River Valley by Kumiko SHIMIZU


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