Preserving Traditional Handcrafts of the Ina Valley

4.5 hours

Late-April ~ Mid-November

Price: ¥ 14,200 above
(tax included)

Guided / Self-guided

Start / Finish
Nagano / Nagano

4.5 hours

Activity Level

Technical Level


  • Make your own “shimenawa rope” under the instruction of Mr. Sakai, a sumo ring craftsman. Write your wish in your rope and pray at a shrine for it to come true. Your rope will be burned during the annual “Donto-yaki” ritual, which can be watched via social media.
  • The building used for the activity is a recreation of a magistrate’s office of the Edo Period. You can feel the historical presence of samurais, magistrates using the study, criminals being sentenced in court, and daily life from the past.
  • Prepare your own meal, a traditional Japanese set lunch, cooked in a historical Japanese kitchen on an irori hearth, with local women. Try tasting traditional natto wrapped in straw!


Since ancient times, Japan has had a rice farming culture. The straw that comes from the rice after it has been cut is used in a wide variety of ways, including rituals to pray for good health, as well as in everyday life. Straw handcraft is one of Japan’s important traditions. Iijima Town, located between two of Japan’s alpine ranges, has a climate and water supply perfect for rice farming. During the Edo Period , the town was under direct shogunate government control, and was a collection site for taxing rice from surrounding areas. Local straw handcrafts have been passed down through the generations, but in recent years, with Japan’s aging society, less and less people are learning and passing these traditions on. Yuji Sakai, a straw craftsman who makes sumo rings for the national sport, is trying to ensure that these traditional crafts will not be forgotten. During this special activity, you can learn about the techniques of straw crafting while listening to stories from Mr. Sakai himself.

Activity Level

  • Activity includes about 30 minutes in total of walking on a flat, paved path.

Technical Level

  • Straw crafting requires some dexterity of the fingers, but the guide will help you with all the steps.

Clothing/What to Bring

  • Comfortable clothing (skirts not allowed)

Customer Review

The stories of Mr. Sakai, a top Sumo ring craftsman, are splendid!

Price Per Person

Adult (19yrs and above): 14,200 JPY
Children (6 to 18yrs): 13,700 JPY

Included in the fee

  • Straw craft activity
  • Translator fee
  • Facility usage fee
  • Lunch ingredients

Not included in the fee

  • Transportation to/from the meeting point.
  • Insurance (please purchase travel insurance in your own country).
  • Anything else not specified.
    (The bank transaction fee shall be covered by the customer.)



Event Duration

About 4.5 hours

Age / Height:

6 yrs and above

Meeting Point

JR Iijima Station (JR Iida Line)

Disbanding Point

JR Iijima Station (JR Iida Line)

Program Availability

Late-April ~ Mid-November
(The venue temperature may become too high for the irori cooking experience during the summer season – please consult in advance.)

Minimum Participants

4 – 15 people

Application Deadline

14 days in advance


10:40Meet and greet at Iijima Station
10:40~10:50Walk to the Iijima Town History and Folklore Museum, “Iijima Jinya”
10:50~11:00Lunch preparation: prepare rice and ingredients
11:00~11:20View the museum
11:20~11:40Lunch prep: start stove fire with flint
11:40~13:00Straw crafting with Mr. Sakai
13:00~13:20Lunch preparation: final steps
13:20~14:20Lunch around an irori hearth
14:20~14:25Walk to Umeto Shrine
14:25~14:45Shrine visit and praying for straw craft
14:45~15:10Walk to Iijima Station (visit sake shop)
15:10Arrive to Iijima Station

* Schedule may change depending on the number of participants.

Cancellation Policy

■ Cancelation by the participant

  • 2 ~ 7 days prior 25%
  • Day before 50%
  • Same day/No show 100%

■ Cancelation based on provider’s decisions

  • If stormy weather is forecasted, the activity may be canceled. In this case, contact will be made by the evening of the day before and there will be no cancelation fees.
  • If stormy weather occurs during the activity, the visit to the shrine may be canceled and your straw craft will be delivered by the provider to the shrine in the following days.


  • Participants with an allergy to gramineae may not participate in shimenawa rope making. Please inquire in advance.
  • The program content may be changed due to the situation of COVID-19.

Interested in our tour?
No second thoughts, contact us.

We have been having many requests from agents overseas, mentioning that they are trying to expand their destinations in/to Japan or they have already but need help creating the itineraries for their clients to keep up with the demand.

Heartland Japan has increased the number of staff to accommodate these requests. If you are hand-full and need some advice, we are here to help.

For more information about this experience program, We will coordinate with local suppliers on dates, prices, and details of the program. We will coordinate with local suppliers on dates, prices, and details of the program and provide the program to you.

Please contact us for more information. We look forward to providing you with a unique and immersive experience in the region!

For this experience program, please inquire with our company each time. We will coordinate with local suppliers to arrange the schedule, fees, and detailed content for you. Please start by contacting us.

Look forward to a unique, immersive local experience!

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