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Tour details - Izumo Steel, Blades & History


  • Probe deeply into the fascinating world of traditional Japanese steelmaking and its historic, cultural and environmental context in the Izumo region of western Japan, the home of legendary Samurai swords and the Yasuki Speciality Steel

  • Visit village blacksmithing workshops that continue to apply the time-honoured Izumo swordsmithing tradition to produce handcrafted knives of legendary cutting quality, farming and gardening tools, and objects of beauty for contemporary living—with opportunities for purchases

  • Get to know the ins and outs of the Tatara method of traditional Japanese steel production at regional museums, and the science behind the formidable quality of Samurai swords

  • Explore a former steelmaking village, walk the countryside and visit ancient shrines to relive the history of Tatara steelmaking, and discover the surprising links with the region’s food culture, tradition in environmental sustainability, and ancient Japanese mythology

  • Watch a Japanese sword forging demonstration by a master swordsmith (subject to scheduling)

  • Admire one of the best collections of Samurai swords in Japan at a private museum

  • Visit two of the only twelve castles remaining in Japan preserving the original main structure (including the famous Matsue Castle), Samurai residences, ruins of a gigantic hilltop castle, and former Samurai residences, and discover the historic context behind the development of the Tatara steelmaking industry during the Medieval to Edo periods

  • Experience pre-industrial rural life in Japan through a truly precious opportunity to stay in a private 18th-century country house with organic farmers

  • Rejuvenate yourself at a traditional ryokan featuring a private outdoor bath with a framed view of a Japanese courtyard garden

An itinerary that would particularly appeal to those interested in Japanese swords and handcrafted knives, focusing on the renowned traditional steel-making and bladesmithing history of the Izumo region in western Japan. Your experiences include visits to small blacksmithing workshops, historic sites including castles, and regional museums, and easy-grade country walks, all of which will fit together to provide you with a ‘big-picture’ view of the Japanese steel-making tradition. Enjoy a variety of accommodation styles including traditional ryokans (one with onsen bath), and a private stay with farmers in a 18th-century country house who largely live a pre-industrial life—a truly precious experience not offered by any other tour operators. Through your participation in this tour, you will be directly supporting artisans dedicated to preserving the Izumo blacksmithing tradition—one of many traditions in Japan facing the threat of extinction due to aging and economic hardships—and farmers practising environmentally sustainable agriculture and continuing farming traditions into the future.


MAIN DESTINATIONS COVERED: Yasugi, Matsue, Izumo-Taisha, rural Izumo region, Takahashi, Kurashiki


TOUR LENGTH: 9 days (8 nights)




SEASON: mid-May to mid-June, late October to early December, late February to late March


BOOKINGS CLOSE: 120 days before agreed departure date


START LOCATION: JR Okayama Station [MAP]


END LOCATION: JR Okayama Station [MAP]




CULTURAL TOLERANCE: high (must be able to sleep on traditional futon bedding on at least 5 nights; must be able to tolerate sleeping in traditional rooms with no locks or sound-proofing on 4 nights; on 2 nights, must be able to tolerate accommodation in a traditional house nearly three centuries old with simple facilities, shared open-plan sleeping quarters for all participants including the tour leader, a small washbasin for all washing needs, bathing at set times at a nearby onsen facility, and smoky indoor conditions from open fires)


COST: from AUD $4400/person (4 persons) to $5800/person (2 persons), including ALL ground transport, accommodation, meals, tour guiding, fees and charges

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