Visit Tsuwano, known as the “Little Kyoto” of Shimane Prefecture, and head to Yamaguchi Prefecture to enjoy its coastal life.
- Trip Outline
Situated within the stunning and historic Shimane Prefecture lies the town of Tsuwano, a quiet and unassuming destination surrounded by a beautiful rural landscape.
Often referred to as ‘Little Kyoto’, Tsuwano and its surrounding areas are home to a wealth of preserved treasures, such as an old Samurai district, monuments, ruins and even one of Japan’s five greatest Inari Shrines.
Join us on our special Tsuwano tour and experience Japan’s history and traditions first-hand as you visit important monuments and locations, walk in the footsteps of Samurai along the Hagi-Okan Highway and meet the genuine fishermen, performers and residents of this beautiful, rural retreat.
- Witness a private performance of Kagura, a traditional form of dance-worship dating back over 1300 years
- Take a tour around a tea field, learn about how tea is produced and enjoy tasting the locally-made products
- Get to know local fishermen as you enjoy a special trip on their real, working boat
- Give back to the local community and enjoy a special ‘dinner party’, cooking meals created with local produce bought fresh from resident farmers and fishermen
- Immerse yourself in the beauty of the area on carefully-selected hikes, treks and walking tours
- Try your hand at traditional crafts such as glass-making and pottery under the watchful eye of professional craftsmen and instructors
Your adventure begins at Hiroshima Station, where you and your group will meet at the Shinkansen ticket barriers for introductions and a short tour briefing. When everyone is ready, you’ll then travel to Tsuwano via Shinkansen and local train, where you can drop your bags off at your accommodation and take a short walk to explore the area before the day’s activities get underway.
Starting with a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, your afternoon will consist of a visit to Yomeiji Temple, where you will have time to explore the grounds and even take part in a guided meditation experience. The session will be guided by a temple priest, who will teach you the buddist techniques of training and quieting the mind - the perfect preparation for what is sure to be a hectic and busy week!
Returning to your accommodation after your temple experience, dinner will be served early. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy a private performance of Kagura - an ancient form of dance-based worship - before the day comes to an end.
After breakfast, the group will walk to the Taikodani Inari Shrine and spend some time exploring it and its grounds before moving on to the Tsuwano Castle Ruins via chairlift and a short trek. Other historically significant sites that you’ll be visiting this morning include the Tsuwano Catholic Church, Otome Pass and St Mary’s Church. As you walk, your guide will share the sad history of these sites, and the stories of the Christian martyrs associated with them.
After a quick stop at a restaurant for lunch, you will then travel to Shusuien Tea Farm for a tour of the fields, a fascinating lecture on tea production, and a wonderful opportunity to taste (and even buy!) some fresh, local teas to take back home with you.
Returning to your accommodation in the afternoon, you’ll have some time to relax and enjoy the facilities before dinner is served at the nearby ‘Pino Rosso’ restaurant.
The first activity on the third day of your tour will be a short trip to Yadomi, a settlement town, to check out a peculiar geological formation that can be found there. Known as ‘Tatamigafuchi’, this phenomenon consists of several hexagonal columns of turtle-shell shaped rocks running parallel to the river bank. Peer through the cracks and you’ll see crystal-clear water streaming underneath.
From Tatamigafuchi, you’ll then travel by private bus to Saidoji Temple for a tour, and a visit to the Itsukushima Shrine. This will be followed by lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, the group will travel to Susa Fishing Port. Here, you’ll have the chance to not only meet and interact with local fishermen, but also to board their real, working fishing boat and explore the sea of Japan and the surrounding beauty from an unforgettable and special perspective.
Stopping briefly to check in to your night’s accommodation, you and your group will then travel to Ogawara to visit Sumikawa Sake Brewery. Here you can enjoy a tour of the brewery and an explanation of how Sake is made, followed by everyone’s favourite activity - tasting! There will also be a chance to purchase some sake during your visit, which makes for a great souvenir to take home.
Returning to the accommodation, dinner will be served on-site just early enough to ensure that you have ample time for relaxing and making the most of the property’s facilities before bed.
You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors on day four of your tour, starting with a private bus ride to the Susa Hornfels area. From the two landmark boulders known as Kabuto (helmet) Iwa and Yoroi (Armour) Iwa, you will take a guided walking tour as far as the Hornfels, a designated natural monument considered to be one of the 100 top Geological features of Japan. Admiring the geological formation and how it contrasts with the surrounding Sea of Japan, it won’t be hard to see why this site has become so well-known.
From the hornfels, you’ll then travel by private bus once more to your next stop - Mt. Kouyama. Standing at 553 meters tall and jutting out into the Sea of Japan, this mountain is home to Koute-Sha, a shrine that you’ll discover as you walk your way to the summit. Also at the summit, you’ll come across a special boulder known for its magnetic properties. Make sure to bring a compass to see the boulder’s power for yourself!
After lunch at Ume no Ha and some free time to explore Susa, you’ll then take the train to Nago. Here, you can drop your luggage off at your accommodation before joining a walking tour around the fishing village with a local guide. As you walk, you’ll also have the opportunity to shop for fresh local ingredients to use for the night’s final activity - a special “dinner party” together at your guesthouse!
This morning, you’ll travel by train to Hagi and quickly drop your bags off at your accommodation before making your way to the Hagi Fish Market. Enjoy a tour of the market and learn about the fresh produce sold there, where it comes from and who buys it. After the tour, you can then sample some fresh seafood for yourself at a restaurant within the market.
After lunch, the group will enjoy a trek from the market to the Camellia Forest, ending up at the summit of Mt Kayasama. Here, you’ll have a short time to enjoy the beauty of Hagi’s natural scenery.
Walking back towards the town, your final stop of the day will be the Hagi Glass Art Studio. Enjoy a tour of the glass factory before getting hands-on and learning how to make some spectacular glass art by yourself, which you’ll be able to collect the next day and take home with you as a memento or souvenir!
In the evening, dinner will be served at your accommodation with plenty of time to relax and make use of the facilities.
You’ll be doing a lot of cycling on day six, so make sure to fill up on breakfast to ensure you have all the energy you need for exploring!
Collecting your bicycle from a nearby rental shop, you’ll start on a cycling tour of Hagi that will take you to various local landmarks such as the ruins of Hagi Castle, Kikugahama Beach and Castle Hagi Town before stopping at restaurant Don Don for lunch.
The final stop of the cycling tour will be Shoka Sonjuku Academy, where Torajiro Yoshida, a legendary Japanese fighter, taught Western military techniques and politics to young local boys in the mid 1850s until he was executed. After the visit, you will return your bicycle to the rental shop.
As part of a more relaxing afternoon, you’ll travel to the Hagiyaki Pottery Kiln by private bus. At the kiln, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at making your very own pottery in the Hagiyaki style (a famous style that originated in the Hagi area) and also enjoy time to look at the various items on sale, should you wish to take any home as a souvenir. When the experience is finished, you will then return to your accommodation for dinner.
The final full day of your tour will begin with a private bus ride to Akiragi. From there, you’ll start on a two hour walk to Chonogiri Toge, along part of what was once the Samurai Highway. After strolling in the footsteps of history, you’ll then take the bus to Sasanami, where lunch will be served at a local tofu restaurant.
Following a relaxing trip to Sasanami Kominka, an old teahouse, you will have time to explore the area by yourself before travelling on to the next destination - Joeiji Temple. Enjoy a guided tour of the temple and its gardens, then visit Rurikoji Temple and the nearby Kozan Park, where you can reflect on the past week and all that you have experienced and learned while surrounded by abundant natural beauty.
In the evening, you’ll have a chance to share your thoughts, memories and emotions with the rest of the group over a final, farewell dinner at your accommodation before bed.
The tour will end on day eight, following breakfast and check-out from the accommodation.
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