Sunlight filters through fresh young foliage, dappling mossy thatched roofs. On the hills above, the wind sighs through stands of pine. In the background, birdsong and the constant trickling of a mountain stream; outside our wood-framed window, blossom floats on the surface of a placid pond. Spring has arrived at the timeless rustic setting of Ukai Toriyama.

Tucked away along a narrow fold in the foothills of Mount Takao, to the far west of the metropolis, officially this is still Tokyo, but effectively you have escaped to the most remarkable of rural idylls.

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