A modest hamlet that has sprung up to cater for the travellers who frequent this road.
Right now I am in Japan once more, exploring the country and expanding my visual library. This village is a slightly more fantastical version of some of the old farm houses I have encountered.
In my mind, it serves as a rest stop between two major cities, where weary travellers stop to drink sake and rest their oxen. First an inn was built to cater for them, then stables, an onsen / bath house, a mercantile shrine, a bell tower – before long there was a small economy bent on serving travellers (such as your party)!
As with any small town isolated in an RPG wilderness, the townsfolk are always in need of fighting men, whether to chase off yokai, track down an oni, or hunt the nearby man-eating nekomata.
Leave your ideas in the comments – Japanese folklore is especially welcome!
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