Itako (Ibaraki Prefecture) is approached from the west via a huge, flat expanse of paddy fields, punctuated only by walkways, irrigation trenches and white, pecking herons. As you cross the Maekawa River, the purple, blooming iris gardens of Itako Town come into view.
Until the 1950s, when a major land reclamation project transformed the area, there were no roads and almost everybody in Itako journeyed in their own punt through the waterways between their homes and the rice fields.
These days, the town is home to roads and four-wheeled traffic, but the rivers and canals are still used for transportation of commercial goods, as well as for tourist boats and punts.
One of the 100 hidden towns in Japan chosen for this publication.