Hyogo Prefecture covers a large area and, as such, its rich culture and heritage have benefitted from this geographical advantage. On this tour, spend time in the little-known pottery village of Tamba and the castle town of Sasayama, discover local food culture through the fishing port at Akashi and the kitchen knives of Miki, and visit Awaji Island, a land long associated with Japan’s creation myth. During your journey, discover how the workings of nature have been shaped by both the climate and the soil of Hyogo Prefecture.
Leave the hustle and bustle of Kyoto behind and head to the village of Tambayaki no Sato, one of Japan's six old pottery centers. Visit one of the approximately 60 kilns that can be found along this three-kilometer (approx. 2 miles) stretch. Chat with the potter, who is happy to show you the kiln, and spend time in the gallery learning about the pottery. Feel free to participate in a tea ceremony or visit a nearby museum with the potter.
Next, drop by a sake brewery where the heirloom craft of Tamba Toji sake-making still flourishes. In a privately reserved space that was once similar to a cultural salon and is now a designated tangible cultural property, enjoy a lunch inspired by the nutritional makanai meals once served to the brewery workers. Rich in locally sourced vegetables and koji, a malted rice culture widely used in fermented foods, the lunch is paired with a number of sake styles. Discover the sake that best suits your palate.
After lunch, head to Sasayama, a castle town from the early modern period that retains its fortifications and historical features. Settle in for the night at a traditional-style house in an old neighborhood unspoiled by overhead electrical cables.
In the morning, take a leisurely stroll around this castle town before departing a little later.
Your destination is Akashi, a thriving commercial fishery on the Seto Inland Sea. The port is known for its “live fish,” meaning fish caught in the morning are delivered to fishmongers and restaurants by noon the same day. Visit a fish auction and, from the same vantage point as that of the brokers, observe the live fish being bought and sold. After the auction, head to a nearby sushi restaurant and take your pick of fish swimming in the restaurant’s fish tank. At the restaurant counter, the chef prepares sushi from the fish you have chosen.
After eating your fill of sushi, visit a workshop where fish knives are forged. Try your hand at the work of a blacksmith, such as hammering red-hot iron.
Later, travel to Awajishima, an island associated with Japan’s creation myth. Here, soothe away your troubles at one of the island’s many hot spring spas.
At this stunning property designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winner Ban Shigeru, hone your five senses through Zen Wellness activities while surrounded by the rich nature of Awaji Island. Once fully refreshed, savor innovative cuisine that contains no sugar, oil, dairy, flour or animal products.
In the afternoon, appreciate art up close and boost your physical and mental wellbeing with a visit to an immense building complex and a temple that were both designed by world-famous architect Ando Tadao.