Along a curving road that cuts through a sleepy seaside town on the western tip of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture stands a bus stop sign that reads, “Amerika-mura.”

Across the road, a banner on the fence of an empty parking lot, featuring a maple leaf logo, declares: “A village of emigrants to Canada — Amerika-mura.”

The fact that this otherwise nondescript countryside district named Mio, dotted with old Japanese tile-roof houses, has historical ties to Canada and is nicknamed an “American village” would probably baffle any first-time visitors — and perhaps upset a number of Canadians.