1,000 years of traditions and techniques: Bizen ware pottery production and a trip to the Seto Inland Sea
Bizen ware pottery, fired at high temperatures of 1,200 to 1,300°C without any glaze, is also known as the art of "clay and flame," boasting a charming earthy quality. Under the guidance of renowned artists and traditional artisans, participants will create their own one-of-a-kind Bizen ware item. Deepen interactions with artists by strolling together around the town of Imbe, the home of Bizen ware, and dining featuring Bizen ware at the long-established Ebisu Araki Ryokan, where famous artists such as Rosanjin and Isamu Noguchi once stayed. The next day, spend time in an artist’s workshop, enjoying a meal and experience "apprenticeship" with the artist.
Bizen (Hinase) is a fishing port facing onto the Seto Inland Sea. It was admired by Western intellectuals visiting in the 19th century, such as Thomas Cook, the founder of modern tourism, who was astonished by the never-ending, ever-changing natural beauty of the landscape. Take a cruise on the adorable NORINAHALLRE ferry and enjoy the cuisine of Seto Inland Sea fishermen.
■ Enjoy the snow at a small ski resort with an exclusive private tours
Royal Valley Ski Resort, a small local ski resort, will be rented out exclusively for a limited period of time for a hands-on snow tour that goes beyond just skiing.
(1) Snow activities centered on experiencing Japanese snow culture
These activities allow visitors to enjoy snow to the fullest while experiencing Japanese snow culture such as Kamakura igloos, making snowmen, and sledding on the slopes. The Kamakura igloos will be lit up, with snacks and other Kushiro local specialties to be served inside. Enjoy Japanese snow culture alongside the mesmerizing beauty of the landscape!
(2) Enjoy Japanese drum bathing amid nature and snow
We have prepared drum baths to offer a liberating bathing experience very different from bathing in a natural, snow-covered hot spring.
(3) Experience robatayaki, an original cuisine of the Kushiro area
For dinner, we offer a robatayaki grilled foods, a special kind of grilling said to have originated in the city of Kushiro. Savor local specialties and enjoy seafood that are the pride of Kushiro!
The Tanabe family managed tatara ironworks, in which iron and high-quality steel called “tamahagane” were forged in traditional methods. The iron they produced was exhibited at the Chicago World Fair and Paris World Fair during the Meiji Period and highly appraised across the globe, and during the Taisho Period, the Tanabe family ironworks had the honor of smelting the tamahagane steel that was later smithed into a protective katana for the emperor. 100 years later, this valuable metal was brought back for modern use when the Tanabe family’s tatara furnace was revived, producing a new metal called “Shinpi Iron.”
- Tatara ironmaking requires a furnace made of clay, iron sand, and charcoal. One round of tatara ironworking requires 13 tons of iron sand and 13 tons of charcoal, which are slowly added and burned continuously. Bellows power air into the furnace, which heats it to around 1,500 degrees C. The melted clay of the furnace and the impurities of the iron sand are extracted as slag, while the high purity iron forms massive lumps of metal called “kera.” The portion of the kera with the highest purity steel is called “tamahagane,” a rare metal that is used in producing Japanese swords.
- This overnight plan allows guests to experience tatara ironmaking, which used to meet the pre-industrial metalmaking needs of Japan. This is a rare chance to pass on the technology and thought behind this craft to the next generation. The traditional methods of making iron also had a significant impact on the land and agriculture, so eating a meal from land directly influenced by the ironmaking traditions, even many generations later, gives a sense of core ironmaking culture.
Night Party of Atami Cherry Blossoms (winter cherry blossoms that bloom the earliest in Japan) ~Atami Onsen / Showa Nostalgia Journey~
Atami, famous for its hot springs and beautiful ocean views, is only around 40 minutes from Tokyo Station by bullet train. In addition to hot springs, Atami is replete with wonderful places rich in culture, nature, and food.
For this event, Atami's early-blooming cherry blossoms, its Showa retro town, and Kiunkaku/Atami Geigi Kenban have been packaged together to create a single event: Atami Cherry Blossoms: Night Party.
Enjoy a nighttime light-up display of Itogawa’s Atami cherry blossoms, which bloom the earliest in Japan and can only be viewed at this time. This display and a mystical lantern monument create
a view of cherry blossoms that can only be enjoyed in Atami during winter.
Also, at Kiunkaku (Tangible Cultural Property), which can usually only be observed and not entered, visitors can do a photo shoot wearing a yukata or Showa retro clothing at this limited-time event.
Although Atami is often thought of in Japan as a place for young people to gather during trips, it has the atmosphere of the Showa period and is a historic tourist site.
Please come enjoy this Showa retro world while gazing at the winter cherry blossoms.
Experience the history and charm of 400-year-old Arita porcelain culture through a hands-on premium tour
This premium tour, the theme of which is "Succession: Learning from Traditional Industries for Sustainable Business Management," allows visitors to experience the history and charm of authentic Arita porcelain with all five senses.
Arita porcelain involves as many as 26 steps to make a single plate—and to turn raw materials into finished Arita porcelain, more than 50 artisans are involved.
On this two-day tour, visitors learn about the 400-year history and various traditions of Arita porcelain while touring the historic quarry and potteries, and then enjoy dinner in an exclusive space that is otherwise impossible to visit normally. The creative cuisine is served on the finest Arita porcelain dishes produced by living national treasures and renowned potters.
During the meal, guests can learn the history and process of Arita porcelain production through a spectacular video that uses projection-mapping technology.
The tour includes commentary on Arita porcelain from living national treasures and Arita potters whom most people never have the opportunity to meet.
Enjoy the ultimate Arita porcelain experience through this premium tour.
For two days on November 4 (Saturday) and 5 (Sunday), the FUSHIMI YOKAI SAKE FESTIVAL will be held in Fushimi, Kyoto. Just as the name suggests, this event is themed around sake and “yokai” (monsters).
Fushimi is one of the top sake producing towns in Japan. The charming and nostalgic town streets are lined with historic sake breweries. Just like Japanese sake, yokai are an aspect of Japanese culture that has gained international attention.
Now, the FUSHIMI YOKAI SAKE FESTIVAL is being held to encourage people to learn more about Japanese culture through Japanese sake and yokai.
Various activities will be prepared, such as the “Fushimi Night Parade of 100 Demons,” where yokai will walk through the town, sake tasting by yokai, and a bar-crawl style event that involves enjoying sake from various bars. The general public can also wear yokai costumes, adding an extra element of fun to this spooky event.
“Traditional performance x light x experience”
MPLUSPLUS, which charmed the world with an innovative light performance, is casting a spell of light on traditional arts!
“Maiko dance” “OSK Nippon Revue Company” and “Kagura” are Japan’s top tier dance and performance groups,
and they have come together to deliver the most impressive and newest entertainment.
With a special ticket to enjoy the show even more, your experience starts before the show.
You gather at a secret location, put on a special outfit that puts light on Japan’s traditional clothes, called “happi,”
and walk through Kyoto at night to the theater.
Fully enjoy the show while wearing the happi that lights up in time to the performance!
A new type of show begins, featuring a fusion of tradition and innovation!
The spirit and culture of the "Kumamoto Samurai" still lives on in Kumamoto, where Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's leading swordsman, spent his later years. Miyamoto Musashi was a guest of Hosokawa Tadatoshi, the first lord of the Kumamoto domain, and spent five years in Kumamoto towards the end of his life. While there, he established the Niten Ichi-ryu style of swordsmanship and wrote The Book of Five Rings, which describes the spirit of the samurai and is loved worldwide today.
Now, 380 years later, the spirit of Niten Ichi-ryu is highly valued as a “cultural property symbolizing Japan's spiritual culture” and has been inherited by the 18th generation head of the school, a modern samurai who is working to spread that spirit. This is a unique opportunity to spend time with him and experience the special worldview and spirit of the Kumamoto samurai.
Furthermore, various cultural arts have been fostered in Kumamoto by the Hosokawa clan that ruled Higo Kumamoto. Among them, “Higo Zogan” metalworking was loved by samurai as ornaments and accessories, and the technique has developed into one of the representative crafts of Kumamoto Prefecture. The artisans who have inherited the techniques, which have been passed down for 400 years, create works that appeal to the sensibilities of a new era. Their expansion into new fields makes them like modern-day samurai! You can join them in making a “Higo Tsuba” sword hilt, and this chance to work with an artisan that has inherited the Higo Zogan techniques is certain to become a special memory.
Kumamoto is carrying on the samurai spirit of Miyamoto Musashi and the Hosokawa clan, as well as the art they loved. Why not take a trip to experience the aesthetics of the ancient Kumamoto samurai, who loved art and peace as much as battle, and then meet the modern Kumamoto samurai upholding their traditions?
On par with Matsue Castle (designated National Treasure) and considered the heart of Matsue City’s tourism is the MATSUE WATER TERRACE. For a limited period of three months between September and November 2023, visitors to Matsue can enjoy views of the Horikawa Pleasure Boats drifting leisurely down Hori River, various shops, such as Karakoro Plaza, and cafes and bars from the comfort of “waterside terrace seat” located in the Katahara/Kyoten water embankment area. During the day, you can relax while gazing at the boats that drift down the historic Hori River; during evenings, delight in the beauty of the area lit-up spectacularly thanks to the designs by lighting designer Shiho Nagamachi. What’s more, various restaurants and bars in the area have decided to come together to create an area of communication and social exchange, with a special take-out menu and plenty of opportunity to interact with the people around you. We hope that this limited-time MATSUE WATER TERRACE becomes a hub of both interaction as well as water tourism in Matsue City. MATSUE WATER DINING (an evening outdoor restaurant) will also be held for a two-day period.
The Kondo, a National Treasure and the heart of World Heritage Site Ninnaji Temple’s religious architecture, will be surrounded by a sea of clouds created with a special mist device, transforming the area into an ethereal and captivating space. In addition to showcasing the beauty of Ninnaji Temple at night, this event will give visitors the chance to enjoy the illumination of Niomon Gate and the five-story pagoda (both Important Cultural Properties), the Chokushimon Gate (a Registered Tangible Cultural Property), and other culturally significant structures.
Furthermore, the Kondo’s Godai Myoo (the Five Great Wisdom Kings) Wall Paintings – religious paintings that are usually not open to the public – will be available to view for the first time in five years. Visitors will be able to appreciate both the serene atmosphere of the temple grounds and the intricate esoteric Buddhist paintings of the Godai Myoo at the same time.