Tour details - Snow Country Village Stay

Highlights:

  • Discover the unique culture and landscapes of the ‘Snow Country’ in the heart of central Japan—one of the snowiest areas of the world—and understand how they relate to the region’s extreme climate

  • Stay 4 to 5 nights in private and community-run accommodation in traditional country houses (renovated for modern comforts) in picturesque villages and towns—these are NOT tourist villages that you find on most tour itineraries—including thatched houses and a classic 19th-century farmhouse restored to its original glory

  • Learn about the region’s great fermented food tradition—including premium-quality sake, naturally fermented soy sauce and miso, and health-giving natto and doburoku (farmer’s cloudy sake)—by visiting artisan workshops, local food experts, and the renowned Yoshinogawa Sake Brewery

  • Visit a traditional handmade paper workshop—one of the last remaining in the region—to watch the artisans skilfully crafting beautifully textured paper, try your own hand at papermaking, and learn how paper mulberry bushes are grown, harvested and processed to make the paper

  • Experience everyday life in a hill village, take a country walk through the photogenic terraced fields, and spectate a village bull-wrestling tournament—an ancient tradition celebrating the god-like status of cattle in the local culture, involving a fight between two trained bulls strictly controlled by attendants to avoid injuries to the bulls

  • Contemplate a serene landscaped moss and woodland garden at an 18th-century country estate, rated among the best moss gardens in Japan

  • Learn about the region’s history, natural environment, traditional life and contemporary art at local museums and galleries

  • Enjoy authentic Japanese country cuisine and learn about wide range of traditional ingredients used including sansai (Japanese ‘bushfoods’)

  • Absorb the spiritual atmosphere at an ancient country Zen temple set among towering trees (for itineraries of 8 days or longer)

  • Discover the Snow Country’s renowned textile traditions, watch weavers in action at a Tsumugi textile workshop and admire exquisite Kimono textiles at a local showroom (for itineraries of 8 days or longer)

A shorter version of the ‘Snow Country Life & Traditions’ itinerary that focuses on staying in private and community-run traditional accommodation in non-tourist village and country town settings. During the tour, you will be based at 3 to 5 different locations, allowing you ample opportunity for an authentic experience of contemporary everyday rural life in the ‘Snow Country’ and genuine interactions with locals. Accommodation on most nights are in traditional farmhouses (with modern comforts) that will allow you to feel the old life in the ‘Snow Country’. (Two nights will be spent in a family-run ryokan of a more contemporary architecture.) The wide range of experiences cover themes including food, traditional crafts, spirituality, village life, history and prehistory, which will all ‘fit together’ as you gain, through the course of the tour, an understanding of the region’s unique natural environment—particularly its extreme snowfalls—and its effects on everyday life. Activities include easy-grade walking in villages, towns and the countryside, visiting food and craft artisans’ workshops and small regional museums, ‘hands on’ experiences such as traditional bull-wresting spectating, paper making, and country cooking demonstration. Through your participation in this tour, you will be directly supporting community-based initiatives aimed at revitalising declining regional areas and preserving architectural heritage, artisans dedicated to preserving craft traditions into the future, farmers supporting sustainable agriculture and continuing farming traditions into the future, and environmentally and health-conscious family-run businesses that uphold regional food traditions.

MAIN DESTINATIONS COVERED: Uonuma and Kubiki regions (Niigata Prefecture), Nagaoka, Tokamachi

 

TOUR LENGTH: 7–8 days (6–7 nights); length can be customised for your needs (minimum 5 days)

 

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PERSONS: 6

 

SEASON: mid-May to late July, mid-October to late November (SET DATES APPLY IF ATTENDING THE BULL-WRESTLING TOURNAMENT, PLEASE ENQUIRE FOR DETAILS)

 

BOOKINGS CLOSE: 120 days before agreed departure date

 

START LOCATION: JR Shinjuku Station, Tokyo [MAP]

 

END LOCATION: JR Tokyo Station [MAP]

 

FITNESS LEVEL: moderate

 

CULTURAL TOLERANCE: high (must be able to sleep on traditional futon bedding every night of the tour; must be able to tolerate traditional country-style food frequently; those with particular views on animal welfare may find the village bull-wrestling tournament concerning)

 

COST: from AUD $2900/person (6 persons) to $4800/person (2 persons) for 7 days; from AUD $3200/person (6 persons) to $5200/person (2 persons) for 8 days; including ALL ground transport, accommodation, meals, tour guiding, fees and charges

Takehiko Hashimoto trading as

Deeply Regional Japan Tours ABN 17594801316

Postal address:

PO Box 238, Mawson ACT 2607 AUSTRALIA

E-mail:

hashimoto@grapevine.com.au

Web:

www.deeplyregionaljapan.com

www.deeplyregionaljapan.com.au

© 2019 by Takehiko Hashimoto

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