Welcome to Namane, a tiny Japanese village in the mountains of Akita Prefecture!
Namane has gone through many ups and downs over the last several years. For most of the 90's and early 00's its population shrank dramatically, but today the number of inhabitants is on the rebound. Over one hundred fifty people call this place home.
The central fixture of the village is the Ashikagawa monastery. A traditional Buddhist retreat, it has been used for hundreds of years to teach new students. While at one point the monastery was in danger of falling into disrepair, today Buddhism is undergoing a strong revival in Namane. The Ashikagawa monastery is the heart and soul of the village, and the place where most social gatherings occur.
During the 80's and the 90's, the majority of the men in Namane were employed at the cement production facility over at the town of Ugonagatoro, six kilometers down the road. Today however, the vast majority of the village works in either the security industry or in rice farming.
Namane is remarkably isolated. A single generator on the southern side provides electricity to most of the village. Since the power supply is limited, villagers use their lights and utilities sparingly...
...and the road that used to lead down the valley into Ugonagatoro is no longer traversable. Over the years it has fallen into disrepair, and the asphalt at one end has been ripped up and slowly overgrown by grasses.
Life in Namane is peaceful and slow. The air is clean, the summers hot and humid, and the winters cold and snowy. The locals spend most of their days tending to the surrounding rice fields. It is a calm and quiet place...
But, wait- what's this?!? Why is there a guard tower at the edge of the village? And what's with the cement walls?
What is going on here?