In a small city in Japan, on a cold morning with no wind between October and April, you might experience an incredible sight if the weather conditions are right. As dawn breaks, the outline of a castle floating in the morning fog is visible in the valley, almost giving the impression of a castle among the clouds. This dream-like scenery is exceptionally rare and occurs only 10 times a year.

The location for this occurrence is Ōno City in Fukui Prefecture, in Central Japan. It is a small inland town surrounded by mountains. The population is barely 33,000 people.

As the fog disperses, the buildings of the wider city start appearing in the dew. You will see the outline of a city at the foot of a castle with more than 400 years of history, going back to the Sengoku Period.

The origins of the city lie in the castle itself. The city was built surrounding Hida Takayama by the famous samurai Kanamori Nagachika. Due to its long history, the city has preserved to this day the long strip city structure, just like Kyoto, the old capital of Japan.

People in Ōno lead a lifestyle which to some extent has continued for 400 years, including a morning market which takes place from March to New Year’s, where women and grannies share their harvest of seasonal vegetables.

Geographically isolated, with an incredible history and practices which have continued for centuries, this city shows Japan’s unspoiled nature and conveys a somewhat nostalgic feel.

Ōno is also famous for its spring water, as to this day 70% of the houses draw water for everyday use from the local springs. The snow and rain which falls on the mountains is absorbed by the soil, and then becomes drinkable spring water.

By - Ben K.