The coastal communities of the Uetsu Region are blessed with a rich combination of rocky shoreline, expansive plains, and pristine mountains that have given rise to unique and diverse culinary arts. Travel along the coastline from Niigata up to the sacred mountains of Yamagata and down to the port city of Sakata while experiencing the culture of this region through the flavors and expertise of its cuisine.
Take the Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station (approx. 125 minutes). You will make a short transfer onto the Inaho Express and then cruise along the coastline to Murakami (approx. 45 minutes). This city is renown for having over 100 salmon recipes and is said to be the first area in the world where salmon were successfully propagated. Meet your guides at the station and move to Izutsuya, a restaurant specializing in traditional salmon dishes. Transfer to the Kikkawa Salmon Shop where you can see hundreds of salmon hanging to dry and learn about the over 1000 years of salmon culture of this city. Transfer to the Taiyo Sake Factory and enjoy a tour through its brewing facilities and taste Murakami’s famed Gin-Jo sake. End the day at the luxurious Senami Hot Springs with a refined kaiseki dinner course.
The second day of this trip will take guests up to Mt. Haguro, one of three holy mountains known as the Dewa Sanzan. Each of these mountains represent a different world; Mt. Haguro the world of the present, Mt. Gassan the world of the afterlife, and Mt. Yudono the world of rebirth and the future. Board the Inaho Express to Tsuruoka Station before riding to the base of Mt. Haguro. Hike along the 2,446 stone steps which have been awarded three stars by the Michelin Green Guide and see the Five Story Pagoda which is designated as a national treasure of Japan. This moderate hike will take us to a temple restaurant at the top of this mountain. Here guests will dine on shojin ryori, spiritual cuisine of buddhist monks with special influence by the Yamabushi of these mountains. Explore the main shrine of Mt. Haguro and ride to Gyokusenji Temple at the base of the mountain. Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony experience with tea masters of this temple and explore its splendid garden. Check into Atsumi Onsen, a picturesque hot spring village located deep in the mountains and finish your day with a lavish dinner.
Enjoy an eloquent Japanese breakfast in your hotel before heading outside to see the Atsumi morning market which features a large display of local produce and crafts. Take a chartered vehicle to the port city of Sakata where we will visit a beautifully restored maiko teahouse from the Edo Era. Explore its many rooms and enjoy a private performance by the maiko and a bento lunch. This teahouse also houses the private art collection of Takehisa Yumeji, a legendary painter and poet known as the Master of Japanese Modern Illustration. Walk to the Sanno Club, a historic Sakata building famous for its kasafuku ornaments, small charms of various objects that are hung from stark red umbrellas. There is a special display of these kasafuku ornaments in the main showroom here until December 27th of this year. This display is normally only viewable from March to the end of May during the hina doll exhibition. Work with local craftswomen to make your own Kasafuku charms in the accompanying craft room. Transfer to Sakata Station and take a train back to Tokyo. (approx. 4.5 hours).