Ubuyama Village is a special place. It rests on the world’s largest caldera, and is home to some of the world’s kindest people. Though it is less than 24 square miles it has natural beauty of many kinds. It is a small place, a remote place and an inspirational place.
The census of 2010 tallied the population of Ubuyama Village at around 1,600 people. The focal point of the village contains the elementary and junior high schools as well as the village office and board of education. However, travelling on the network of local roads will show you landscapes and nature that have an emotional effect that is undeniable.
The power of these scenes is largely do to the vast range of beauty that Ubuyama holds. Standing at the immense wind turbine at Ubuyama Farm, you can look out upon vast rolling hills flanked by mountains. The size and feeling conveyed by this view is often the first treat to visitors to Ubuyama as they stop to enjoy the restaurant and its menu of food with local ingredients, many of which are produced on the premises.
Moving past Ubuyama Farm, you can move into the center of the village, and you will likely be greeted with a smile. The sunlit valleys and stoic forests have much to offer. There are two natural fountainheads in the area, and both offer tranquil pools and rolling waters underneath a canopy of beautiful trees. The clean and delicious water is a point of pride for the village and its residents.
There are many reasons for pride here. The motto of the elementary and junior high schools is “We have a dream.” The board of education displays its slogan “All for one, and one for all”, and it is known and respected throughout the entire village. The many spas, restaurants, and traditional Japanese inns are operated by the people living here, and each one shares a love for this place. Ubuyama provides a very different look at Japan and its people
This perspective is important. Hearing “Japan” most often conjures images of Shibuya’s thriving streets or the beautiful wooden gates of Kyoto. In between each of the larger dots on the map of Japan is where the people and the heart of Japan reside. Beauty on the grand scale as well as the small provides a myriad of experiences and inspirations. Places like Ubuyama allow you to see deeper into what makes this nation great, and that is what makes it special.
Roston Willis is an assistant language teacher for the Ubuyama Board of Education. Since August of 2012 he has lived in Ubuyama Village. Roston studied at the University of Tennessee and Nihon Daigaku, and he has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. He spends most of his free time in or around Ubuyama Village or teaching judo in nearby Aso City.