Izumo Legends & the Road of Steel
Get deep inside the world of traditional Japanese steelmaking, and its connection with food and craft traditions, environmental sustainability and ancient mythology
Experience the region’s ‘real’ food culture including heirloom buckwheat soba, traditionally brewed soy sauce and sake, and organic wines
Stay in a 18th-century farmhouse and feel the pre-industrial rural life of Japan
Visit world-renowned sights including the 17th-century Matsue Castle and Adachi Museum of Art
The Izumo region of eastern Shimane and western Tottori prefectures is famous for the ancient Japanese mythology known as Izumo-Shinwa (the Izumo legends). Stories such as the 8th-century Kunibiki (the ‘land-pulling’) tale—in which a god resolves the shortage of flat land in the Izumo region by pulling together pieces of land from around the Sea of Japan with gigantic ropes—contain curious parallels with actual historic or natural events suggesting that the legends are, at least in part, an ancient Japanese chronicle. Izumo region’s history and culture are also intimately linked to its Tatara steel-making tradition dating back to the 5th century, which established the region’s reputation for high-quality steel and swords. A remarkable aspect of this industry is how the people of Izumo region, for centuries, managed the environmental impacts of steel making to maintain co-existence with a healthy, productive and sustainable agrarian ecosystem. Organic farmers and food artisans continue the region’s tradition in environmental sustainability, producing ‘real’ food with minimal impact on nature. This tour will provide you with a deep understanding of how the culture, history and environment, including its ancient legends, steel-making, food and craft traditions, and picturesque rural scenery, all relate to each other in the fascinating and timeless landscapes of the Izumo region.
Day 1: Travel Okayama–Izumo; Day 2: Izumo-Taisha shrine and Museum of Ancient Izumo, travel to Matsue; Day 3: Matsue historic sights and gardens (including the Matsue Castle, Shiominawate historic quarters); Day 4: Izumo ‘real’ food experience Part 1 (artisan soy sauce brewery tour); Day 5: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 1 (Japanese sword-making demonstration, rural landscape tour, organic farm inspection); Day 6: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 2 (heirloom buckwheat soba lunch, steel-baron estate and gardens, granite gorge walk); Day 7: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 3 (traditional abacus factory visit) and Izumo ‘real’ food experience Part 2 (organic winery lunch); village onsen experience; Day 8: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 4 (historic steel-making village visit); Days 9 and 10: Yasugi crafts and onsen indulgence (indigo-dyeing and blacksmithing workshops, sake brewery tour); Day 11: Adachi Museum of Art, travel Yasugi–Okayama then to your onward destination.
Accommodation: 3 nights mid-range city hotels; 2 nights upper-range ryokan (Japanese-style bedding; onsen bath); 2 nights private traditional Japanese farmhouse (minpaku; shared, basic facilities, Japanese-style bedding); 1 night upper mid-range ryokan (Western-style beds, onsen bath), 1 night upper mid-range boutique guesthouse (Western-style bedding for 2 people, Japanese-style bedding for 2 people, one large open-plan bedroom), 1 night mid-range ryokan (Japanese-style bedding, shared facilities).
Major themes: HISTORY, CRAFTS, FOOD, ENVIRONMENT, VILLAGES, GARDENS, NATURE
Physical fitness requirement: MODERATE
Cultural tolerance requirement: VERY HIGH
Departure date: 22 May 2018
Bookings before: 3 March 2018 [PLEASE NOTE REVISED DATE]
Cost: from AUD $5700 per person
Maximum group size: 4 persons