Ajimu in Oita Prefecture isn’t exactly a major tourist destination. Yes, it has luxuriant fields and picturesque farmhouses boasting unusual basque-relief paintings called kote-e, but most visitors spend a half-day at most in Ajimu, perusing its stone Buddhist carvings or the African Safari nature park, before heading to any of the fashionable hot-spring towns nearby. Although it has been dubbed the “Tibet of Oita Prefecture” for its remote location, there is nothing particularly exotic about this sleepy town.

So what’s the draw? Green tourism for harried city slickers, that’s what. Ajimu’s citizens clued into the fact that they did indeed have something to offer and since the early ’90s, Ajimu has actively promoted its natural assets.

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