Except for the occasional buzzing of cars passing by and the gentle chirping of birds, route 172 — the main road that runs through Tokigawa — was quiet on a recent Wednesday morning.
The alleys were mostly empty and the mom-and-pop stores still closed. An older lady pushed a stroller across the street. From behind the steering wheel, the small town in Tokyo’s neighboring Saitama Prefecture appeared like any other sleepy community dotting Japan’s rural landscape.
Step outside and start exploring, however, and there’s more to this place than meets the eye. There’s an incubation center for local entrepreneurs and a riverside glamping resort complete with outdoor sauna cabins. A renovated Showa Era-themed hot spring greets locals and tourists alike, while traditional kominka homes have been transformed into cafes and inns.