Nestled on the outskirts of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (静岡県浜松市) is a town that looks straight out of a fairy tale or a Ghibli movie. Nukumori no Mori (ぬくもりの森) is the kind of place where it’s impossible not to feel like you’ve been transported to another world. Check it out!
Nukumori no Mori is the creation of architect Shigeyoshi Sasaki (佐々木茂良). The town dates back to 1991 when the first building, Shop Nukumori, was built, and it has gotten bigger since then. Its name literally translates to “the forest of warmth,” an appropriate name for a town with no shortage of charm. It might be tiny but the fantastic buildings are so cute! If you stand in the center and turn full circle, you can see everything.
One of the first things that will greet you is a signpost made of gnarled wood, and this rustic and sweet sign is a good indicator of what the town is about.
As you approach, you will find a small park area to one side and the shops and restaurants to your other. The elevated park offers lovely views of the whole area as well as small, cute acorn-like buildings and a Disney-esque water wheel. There’s also a small art gallery inside of a picturesque mini cottage. The shop facades on the opposite side are no doubt the most impressive part of the town, and they look like a European town seen through the eyes of Miyazaki or Disney.
The interiors, too, are quirky, charming, and undeniably warm. As I made my way through the narrow shops and stairs, the coziness reminded me of a hobbit hole. While the area can get crowded, it’s hard not to feel relaxed as the atmosphere is so soothing.
Although there is no official affiliation, the town capitalizes on the Ghibli resemblance. Many of the shops sell Ghibli goods and you can even find a large Totoro welcoming you into one of the shops. You can also find clothes, pottery, and assorted home goods. It may not be a shopaholic’s paradise but everything sold is appropriately cute and fits in well with the town’s aesthetic.
There is also a bakery with an adorable courtyard where you can sit and enjoy your cake while taking in the view. The lines can be long on weekends, but the desserts are delicious. There is also a restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner (reservations recommended). For a more romantic evening, the area is lit up at night though all the shops close at 6:30 PM.
Nukumori no Mori is best accessed by car and there are plenty of paid parking spaces across the street from the path that takes you to the town. For those without, take a bus from Hamamatsu Station (浜松駅) bound for Kazanji (舘山寺温泉) and get off at Sujikaibashi (すじかいばし) after 40 minutes. Hamamatsu is only an hour and a half from Tokyo by Shinkansen or 30 minutes from Nagoya (名古屋).
While it doesn’t take long to wander through this small town, Nukumori no Mori is still one of the most charming towns I’ve ever seen. It’s the perfect place for a girls’ afternoon or a romantic stroll.
Nukumori no Mori Website *Japanese only