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Tour details - Izumo Legends, Road of Steel &

Mountain of Silver


  • Delve into the world of traditional Japanese steelmaking, and its connection with food and craft traditions, environmental sustainability and ancient Japanese mythology

  • 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

  • Explore a former steelmaking village, walk the countryside, and visit regional museums to learn about the Tatara traditional Japanese steel production method, why it resulted in the formidable quality of the Samurai swords, and the industry’s history  

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

  • Experience the region’s ‘real’ food culture including visits to small artisan soy sauce and sake breweries, sampling heirloom buckwheat soba, and a gourmet lunch at a pioneering organic winery, and discover the reasons behind the region’s long tradition of sustainable and safe food production

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

  • See the region’s world-renowned sights including the 17th-century Matsue Castle, Izumo-Taisha shrine and Adachi Museum of Art

  • Learn about Japanese indigo dyeing and Kasuri (Ikat) textile weaving at a family-run workshop and hunt for exquisite textile items that combine traditional methods with modern design

  • Rejuvenate yourself with four delightfully different onsen experiences—including a traditional ryokan with a private outdoor bath opening out to a Japanese courtyard garden, and a small, rustic village onsen 

  • Uncover the long history of mining in the San’in region at the UNESCO World Heritage Iwami-Ginzan Silver Mines and learn how one of the largest mining operations of the world of the day could harmoniously coexist with the environment

  • Take a day-walk along one of the historic trails connecting Iwami-Ginzan with the coast and imagine the hardships of manually hauling silver ore over the densely forested coastal ranges to port, or discover the intriguing mining history of the Iwami-Ginzan area through a day of easy cycling

  • Unwind in private traditional accommodation in a seaside village, enjoy local ocean-fresh seafood at dinner, and weather permitting, take a short morning cruise in a fisherman’s boat to admire the beautiful coastal scenery.

  • Be captivated by the drama of a sacred theatrical dance depicting scenes from the ancient Japanese mythology at a local shrine in a coastal town

An extended version of the ‘Izumo Legends & Road of Steel’ itinerary filled with a variety of authentic experiences that will appeal to many. On this tour, you will gain deep insights into how ancient mythology, natural environment, history, traditional industries, food and culture all relate to forge the unique character of the Izumo and Iwami regions in western Japan. This itinerary is constructed around the main themes of traditional Japanese steel-making and bladesmithing, mining history, environmental sustainability, and the ‘real’ food culture, and examine the surprising linkages between them—with their important messages for how humans may be able to live more sustainably with the environment into the future. Your experiences include visits to historic sites, regional museums, small artisan blacksmithing, craft and food workshops, and easy- to moderate-grade country walks, including an option to day-walk a historic trail over coastal ranges in the Iwami-Ginzan Silver Mine area. A range of local food experiences await you, from rustic traditional country and coastal village cuisine to gourmet Japanese-Western fusion courses. Enjoy a variety of accommodation styles from traditional ryokans (some with onsen baths) to private accommodation, including a 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 community-based initiatives aimed at revitalising declining regional areas and preserving cultural heritage, farmers practising environmentally sustainable agriculture and continuing farming traditions into the future, 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 environmentally and health-conscious family-run businesses that uphold regional craft and food traditions.

MAIN DESTINATIONS COVERED: Yasugi, Matsue, Izumo-Taisha, rural Izumo region, Iwami-Ginzan (Omori), Oda, Yunotsu-Onsen


TOUR LENGTH: 13 days (12 nights)




SEASON: mid-May to mid-June, late October to early December, late February to late March (weather and snow conditions permitting—cycling may not be available in winter)


BOOKINGS CLOSE: 120 days before agreed departure date


START LOCATION: JR Okayama Station [MAP]


END LOCATION: JR Hiroshima Station [MAP]


FITNESS LEVEL: moderate–high


CULTURAL TOLERANCE: high (must be able to sleep on traditional futon bedding on at least 4 nights; must be able to tolerate sleeping in traditional rooms with no locks or sound-proofing on 5 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; must be able to sleep in an open-plan room with up to 4 persons on 2 nights; must be able to tolerate a shared public onsen bath with public nudity on 1 night—private bathing arrangements available with itinerary modification)


COST: from AUD $5100 per person

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