Our third stop on September 15, 2012 was a quaint mountain village after a drive along typical Japanese confusing back country roads. Although now many of the roofs in the village consisted of blue or red metal roofs, not that long ago these were thatched roofs. These roofs are simply to expensive to maintain and replace, requiring a large expanse planted with the specific grass used for thatching. I suspect that since "tatami" or rice straw mats used in special rooms in traditional Japanese homes are also very expensive, they soon will also be 'extinct'.
The "tanbo" or rice fields being on land near the mountains were significantly terraced to permit flat surfaces for water retention. Many fields in the vicinity were also growing white flowered "soba" or buckwheat, which must have triggered a bell as our next stop was going to be a "soba" or buckwheat noodle restaurant.
Click on Aizu Mountain Village to see photographs on Picasa.