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Clad in traditional Japanese clothing, Saran Sawatphudsa and his two Thai friends stroll through rice paddies in Gokayama, in the central Japanese prefecture of Toyama.

Tucked in the 'Alps,' the future of tourism in Japan

Southeast Asian travelers are flocking to rural retreats like Gokayama

MITSURU OBE, Nikkei staff writer | China

GOKAYAMA, Japan -- Saran Sawatphudsa and two female friends were walking up a dirt road on a hill rising out of the valley. The Thai tourists were staying in Gokayama, a picturesque hamlet tucked in the Japan Alps, and wanted a bird's-eye view of the scenery.

A rustic tableau of the famous thatched-roof farmhouses dotting the valley came into view, but Sawatphudsa's eyes were fixed on the snow atop the distant mountains.

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