Samurai Traditions in Yunogo Onsen Mimasaka, OKAYAMA 4 Days 3 Nights
  • Day 1
  • Arrive at Okayama/Himeji station
Board a shinkansen bullet train at Kyoto station and arrive in 1 hour at Okayama. At Okayama station, you will be met by your driver and transfer to Kifu No Sato by private car.

You might drop by Korakuen Garden and enjoy the beautiful Japanese garden there.

*You could also arrive at Himeji station, also 1 hour from Kyoto by shinkansen. Himeji Castle which finished five-year renovation in March, 2015. Himeji Castle a.k.a. Shirasagijo/Hakurojo is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. It is known as unbreakable castle as it was never destroyed. One of the three great unifiers of Japan, shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi once resides this castle.

Check in at Kifu No Sato.

The rest of the day is free time.
  • Day 2
  • Mimasaka
After breakfast, you can start to explore the surroundings with your guide.

In the Mimasaka area, many historical lodging towns have been preserved, and are fascinating places to explore. This is also a popular resort area all year round, with beautiful nature and abundant snow for skiers.

Ohara-juku served as an important post-town in the Edo period (1603-1868). Today the whole district, and many of its historical buildings, have been carefully preserved, and provide a fascinating glimpse into historical Japan.

Continue to Nambatei, a renovated old Japanese house which is now a complex of craftsmen’s workshops, stores and restaurants. You may experience traditional dying at the atelier of Nanako Suzuki, who dyes organic cotton cloth with vegetable dyes. At her shop Someya Suzuki, you can try your hand at this traditional art – it’s fascinating to see clothes take on the colors from a variety of vegetable sources. There is an arts and crafts gallery in a kura, an old Japanese-style warehouse, and many other interesting things to see.

*Advance booking is required for the cloth dying experience.

Experience Iaido, the traditional art of swordsmanship. You will visit Iaido master Trevor Jones and learn about Iaido, a martial art that originated in Japan. You will have a chance to learn the movements of drawing the sword from Jones sensei. This is a great opportunity to see and experience samurai culture. It’s also the perfect place -- Mimasaka is the birthplace of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

Lunch at Mitakien, a teahouse located in the middle of a pretty forest glade. Enjoy delicious natural cuisine cooked with fresh local ingredients. Their main dish is “sansai ryori,” cuisine made from wild plants that grow in the area.

The last stop for today is the Ishitani Residence where used to be a temporary residence for upper class Samurai when they traveled to Edo (now Tokyo) for sankin kottai that every daimyo was required to spend every second year in Edo. The beautiful garden here is especially worth a look.

This area is called Chizu-shuku once prospered as a post-town in Edo era. Today you can still find the houses and buildings which are important in terms of history.

If time permits, drop by the sake brewery which is only a few minutes away by walk and sample a variety of delicious local sake.

Return to Kifu No Sato and relax.
  • Day 3
  • Yunogo Onsen
Today Kifu No Sato has made several special activies for you to choose from.

Option 1 – Ikebana flower arrangement
*Monday and Friday only
You may notice that Kifu No Sato boasts a lot of beautiful flower arrangements placed throughout the ryokan. The flowers are renewed every Monday and Friday so that they are always lovely and fresh. On these days, you can join our ikebana master and learn how to make Japanese flower arrangements. Your work will then be exhibited somewhere inside Kifu No Sato. Otherwise it can be also set in your room.

Option 2 – Japanese cooking class

*Available around lunch time
This is a great opportunity to get a peek inside the mysteries of Japanese cuisine. The chef at Kifu No Sato will explain the essential ingredients and techniques of Japanese cooking. The key to Japanese cuisine is dashi, soup and cooking stock, which is made from kelp, fish, mushrooms and so on. You will have a chance to learn how dashi is made and used for Japanese dishes.

The menu might include sushi, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard with vegetables), miso soup, Yellowtail tuna teriyaki, and others.

Otherwise, enjoy your day to explore the environs.

Your first stop today is a tea farm and processor. This area is renowned for its high-grade tea, and you will see why when you taste some. The area of Kaita has been the land of production of tea for 150 years since Edo era. You may experience tea leaf picking or making your original tea pack.
*Availability depends on the season.

Continue on to see the famous tanada rice terraces. This area is known as Ueyama, and the residents here have been working on a variety of projects as a nonprofit organization (NPO). One of their projects is renewing the tanada, which have fallen into disuse over the years as modern agriculture has taken over. The NPO, along with an army of volunteers, are regenerating the rice terraces which once numbered in the thousands but are now overgrown and disappearing, along with the way of life they supported.

Next stop is Bizen pottery studio. A pottery making experience is available if booked in advance.

Bizen Province is also well known for the famous and distinctive Bizen-yaki pottery, which is unglazed, instead taking its sublime beauty from the natural ingredients of the clay, the heat of the kiln, and the potter’s touch.

Visit the Kawashima swordsmith studio. Swordmaking in this area, still known by its ancient name Bizen Osafune, began 800 years ago, and it is still a famous brand. In the 12th century, during the Sengoku, or “warring states” period, this was a center of sword production.

After the studio, drop by Osafune Token Gallery.

Return to the ryokan.

*If you do not return to ryokan you can take a train from Kagato station or Inbe station to Okayama.
  • Day 4
  • Departure
Check out from Kifu No Sato and transfer to Okayama / Himeji station by private car.