Visit the historical castle town known as “Little Kyoto” and take in the stunning World Heritage coastline of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
- Visit the site of banished Christian Martyrs in the historical ‘Little Kyoto’ area.
- Experience a traditional tea ceremony during a tour of a local tea farm.
- Watch a performance of Kagura, Japan’s oldest traditional dance.
- Try your hand at pottery making and enjoy a visit to the Hagi Glass Factory.
- Enjoy a dip in a hot spring after exploring the beautiful Yamaguchi countryside.
Fitness: ★★ Skill: ●
The historical castle and world heritage coastal towns tour is a fully guided tour, suitable for anyone who can walk for more than 5 to 10km in comfort. This 3 day, 2 night tour is suitable for groups of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 people.
This three day guided tour includes visits to the small historical castle town of Tsuwano and the World Heritage listed coastal town of Hagi.
The first day will feature a guided tour of Tsuwano, otherwise known as ‘Little Kyoto’, allowing you to explore the historical town, its castle area and also what was once the site of banished Christian Martyrs. Visit a tea farm to see the tea production process, take part in a traditional tea ceremony and enjoy some tea tasting before heading to the grounds of the Taikodano Inari Shrine to take in a traditional Japanese performance of Kagura dance.
The second day starts with a guided tour of the World Heritage listed town of Hagi, with visits to the Hagi glass factory and a chance to try your hand at pottery making. We will then take a walk to the summit of Mt Kasayama and through a camellia forest before strolling through downtown Hagi’s traditional Edo Period streets.
The final day will take us to Hagi-Okan, a roadway which was once used by Samurai to travel between Hagi and Mitajiri (now known as Hofu). Visit the World Heritage Site of Shoka Sonjuku, the school that was once home to many of the individuals who would play an active role in the Meiji Restoration, before strolling around the beautiful Yamaguchi countryside and visiting Buddhist temples such as Rurikoji, the site of a 600 year old, five-storey pagoda.
The tour will end with a trip to Yudan Onsen, where you can enjoy a relaxing dip in one of their many hot springs.
Day 1 – Small Historical Castle Town (“Little Kyoto”) Tour
On the first day of the tour we will head to Tsuwano, a small castle town commonly known as ‘Little Kyoto’ due to its rich history and cultural significance. The day will begin at Taikodani Inari Shrine for a chance to take in its one thousand vermilion torii gates, before taking the chair-lift to explore the ruins of Tsuwano Castle. From there, we will go on to visit the Tsuwano Catholic Church and Otome Pass, which was once the place of banished Christian Martyrs.
After lunch in a local restaurant we will visit a local tea farm to see how tea is made and take part in a traditional tea ceremony. From there, it will be time to return to Taikodani Inari Shrine for a dinner of the local speciality, udon or soba noodles, before taking in a performance of Iwami Kagura – a vibrant and traditional Japanese theatrical dance popular with locals.
Meals: Lunch and Dinner Included
Day 2 – Culture, Crafts and Nature Tour
The second day of the tour will start with a visit to the Hagi glass factory, followed by a trip to Tsubaki Gunseirin, a camilla grove of some 25,000 camilla trees that covers an area of nearly 10 hectares. From there we will trek to the summit of Mount Kasayama in the center of the Kita-Nagato Kaigan Quasi-National Park.
Our next stop will be the Hagi Seaside Market, known as the oceanfront “Kitchen of Hagi” where local producers supply on the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. Here, we will visit a local restaurant that specialises in using the fresh delicacies of seafood caught off the coast and stop for lunch.
After lunch we will visit Kosaian Hagi Pottery, where we will try our hands at creating our own pieces of pottery and there will be a chance to buy souvenirs. Following this, we will take a walking tour through downtown Hagi – an incredibly well-preserved World Heritage Site where you can experience what life was like during the Edo Period in a typical Samurai town.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included.
Day 3 – Yamaguchi’s Historical and Natural Sites Tour
The final day of the tour will be a guided tour of Hagi-Okan, a roadway which Samurai once used to travel between Hagi and Mitajiri (present day Hofu). We will visit the World Heritage Site of Shoka Sonjuku, the school that was once home to many of the individuals who played an active part in the Meiji Restoration, as well as enjoy a walking tour from Saasanami to Kunizakai no Ishibumi.
After lunch, we will then travel to the Buddhist Rurikoji Temple (home to the 10th oldest pagoda in Japan, considered to be one of the three most famous Japanese pagodas and one of the greatest architectural feats of the Muromachi Period), Kouzan Park and the Japanese garden ‘Sesshu’ at Joueiji Temple.
Finally, we will head to Yuda Onsen for a gentle stroll around the hot spring town before taking a relaxing dip in a hot bath. The trip will then end when we return to Higashi-Hagi Station at around 7pm.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch Included.
Facing the azure Sea of Japan to the north, the city of Hagi is surrounded by green mountains and is located in the north central region of Yamaguchi.
Its history is rich, having been recorded in the Kojiki as Abu, one of the five districts of Nagato Province.
Home to Ogawa district, Shouka Sonjuku academy and the historic Sasanami, as well as the Hagi O-Kan highway.
Iwami kagura is a traditional Japanese performance art originating in the Shimane Prefecture’s western Iwami region.
It was originally intended as a means to show gratitude for a successful and bountiful harvest of the five grains, with dedication to the deities enshrined at a shrine.
Its choreography is lively, accented by distinctive sublime poetry and prose
It is now a popular folk art, and many people come to enjoy it.
Located on the border of Shimane and Yamaguchi Prefectures is Tsuwano.
In Japanese, it is characterized as a jokamachi, the term referring urban developments in which a city surrounds a feudal lord’s castle.
It is a town that appears to be frozen in time, as the Tsuwanogawa River flows through its center.
It has a tragic history of Japanese Christians, who were persecuted throughout the Edo and Meiji eras due to their faith.
The first extant record of Yadomi is of a Shinto shrine priest, who attended a festival at Abu Oi Hachimangu Shrine in 1352.
Yadomi Village itself was once known as a place where dragons once walked and several myths persist to this day.
It is said that dragons bestowed upon the villagers 83 treasures, one of which is soba, or buckwheat.
Susa Fishing Village
Formerly known as Susa-cho in the Abu District, This beautiful fishing village lies on the northeastern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Susa was first inhabited around 400-300 BCE by maritime people from the Chinese mainland.
Its name is derived from the Japanese myth of Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the brother of the revered sun goddess Amaterasu. Susanoo-no-Mikoto was banished from heaven and descended to the province of Izumo, located in modern day Shimane Prefecture.
Located near Shimane Prefecture in the far northeastern reaches of Yamaguchi Prefecture we find Esaki, a town on the Sea of Japan.
Esaki is remarkably different than its neighbors Hagi and Masuda in Shimane Prefecture. Those two cities served as the pivotal fulcrum of development for the San’you region. It is perhaps as a result of underdeveloped ties with its neighbors that Esaki has been able to evade the tide of modernization, resulting in perfectly preserved rows of houses, enveloped in the picturesque scenery of a fishing village.
The mountainous terrain of Hagi’s Ogawa district borders on Shimane Prefecture. The origins of Ogawa as a station house on the Nagato by-pass, that linked San’in and San’you in feudal times, can be traced back to the Engishiki . The Engishiki is a 50 volume tome about Japanese laws and customs compiled in the early 10th century.
In the present day, Ogawa has faced depopulation and changes in its the economic structure and distribution mechanisms. Most recently the area was devastated by a deluge in July of 2013. Still, traces of its economic past remain thanks to the sake (Japanese rice wine) production at Sumikawa Brewery, and its famed premium drink “Toyo Bijin” (Beautiful Lady of the Orient).
Sasanami is a farming village located in the southern part of Hagi city. As post-town on the Hagi O-kan Highway, Sasami was home to many teahouses and other rest stops that served traveling daimyo. Its townscape was formed in the 17th century and is rooted in agriculture, taking on its current layout as it developed into a post- town. Since then Sasami remains largely unchanged, with a notable number of buildings and its environment well-preserved.
In 2011, Sasanami joined the districts of Horiuchi, Hiyakomachi and Hamasaki as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings. It is worth mentioning that this is a distinguishing honor that can only be matched by the old capital of Kyoto.