Contact with Affluent Nature and Tradition: Mountain Life Experience in Maze, One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan

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View the wild landscape of Japan that should be handed down to future generations, or experience traditional practices and customs. If that is the kind of trip you are looking for, the Maze area in Gero City, Gifu Prefecture is definitely the place to go. On the map, you can see that this area, virtually located at the center of Japan, is a village covered almost 95% by mountain forests, with a population of only 1,200.

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Trip to Experience Nature in Nishi-Awa: Outdoor Activities on the Yoshino River and Mountains in Iya

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Iya in Miyoshi city, Tokushima prefecture is one of the hidden treasures of Japan. The Iya region is richly endowed with nature, such as the Yoshino River in the Oboke Gorge as well as Mt. Tsurugi, and is attracting much attention for outdoor activities. Here are the activities you should try when in Nishi-Awa.

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Experience the Spiritual Culture of Japan through Strolling Monk Training in the Three Mountains of Dewa

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Climbing the approach to a shrine step by step, you hear the solemn sound of a shell horn coming from nowhere. You stop to look for the source of the sound, and find a strolling monk coming down the stairs blowing the shell horn – a stately scene that makes you lose track of time. For people in ancient times, mountains were holy sanctuaries of the gods, where ancestors’ spirits rested in peace. Strolling monks are practitioners of Shugen-do, a religion merging traditional Japanese beliefs, including the worship of mountains, Jingi Worship and Onmyodo. Shugen-do, which requires its practitioners to go out into the middle of a vast wilderness and reflect on themselves through ritual purification (misogi) and training, reminds one of the meaning of soul-searching, a practice forgotten by many Japanese today. Mt. Haguro, still home to many Shugen-do practitioners, is one of the “power spots” where you can actually experience the strolling monk training that started in 593. Here are some tips when you decide to go through this traditional training.

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Mochitsuki and Mochi Honzen Experiences to Immerse Yourself in Mochi Gastronomy

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Thump, thump, thump… This is the sound of steamed sticky rice pounded in a large mortar with a wooden mallet. With this pleasant sound, the rice rapidly turns into rice cakes, or mochi. It is fun to watch this visually-entertaining traditional Japanese practice of mochitsuki, but you can also experience it in the Ichinoseki-Hiraizumi area of the Tohoku district. Dubbed the “leading mochi producer in Japan” due to its wide variety of rice cake dishes, the area boasts a Rice Cake Gastronomy that dates back to the Edo period. Here, you can savor a broad range of rice cake dishes, as presented in the traditional mochi honzen, or a full-course ritual meal. Here is how you can obtain first-hand experience in Rice Cake Gastronomy typical of the Ichinoseki-Hiraizumi area.

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Guided Picnic Tour at a Farm! Harvest Seasonal Local Vegetables of Tokachi and Taste Them Outside in the Fields

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"Itadakimasu!" This is a very common phrase to say in Japan before starting to eat, to express one’s appreciation for the foods received. However, it is unusual to say “Itadakimasu” in the middle of a farming field. The “Tokachi Farm Picnic” tour offers you such an extraordinary experience. Would you like to pick your own vegetables and eat them fresh while still outside?

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