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It’s not something you typically see: a South Indian Masters graduate and former architectural designer assisting with freeze-drying traditional food items in a remote village in mountainous Yamagata Prefecture. But for Priya Mu, that’s just part of the job.

Mu is a community intern for the village of Nakatsugawa (not to be confused with the town of the same name in Gifu Prefecture), named one of the 100 most beautiful villages in Japan for its unique landscape, fronting a dramatic mountain range, and well-preserved customs and culture, including snow festivals in both winter and summer. Working closely with local village leaders, Mu assists farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts to develop their nōhaku Eigo — service-industry language skills that help improve communication with foreign visitors — and documents the stories and experiences of locals in audio and video.

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