history culture nature

Tokamachi Satoyama Walk -Gimyo & Kamo Rice Terraces Course-

Walking only: 6,000 yen/person; With packed lunch: 8,000 yen/person Iincl. tax

This walking tour takes you from the Gimyo rice terraces to the Kamo rice terraces throughout the villages.

You can visit two of the most popular terraced rice paddies scattered around Tokamachi City.
Take a look at life in a ‘satoyama’ (a place where nature and human life intersect) as you walk through the villages and satoyama with a guide.

The approximately 1.5-hour course is mostly on paved paths, making it easy to walk, and anyone can participate, regardless of age.

 

The landscape of the satoyama with its terraced rice paddies, a symbol of Japanese culture.

Beautiful terraced rice paddies have been cultivated and passed down from generation to generation since ancient times. In Tokamachi, the satoyama lifestyle centred on terraced rice paddies is still alive today.

Tokamachi City in Niigata Prefecture is dotted with beautiful terraced rice paddies, of which the Gimyo Rice Terraces and Kamo no tanada

This walking tour takes you from the Gimyo rice terraces to the Kamo rice terraces throughout the villages.

You can visit two of the most popular terraced rice paddies scattered around Tokamachi City.
Take a look at life in a ‘satoyama’ (a place where nature and human life intersect) as you walk through the villages and satoyama with a guide.

The approximately 1.5-hour course is mostly on paved paths, making it easy to walk, and anyone can participate, regardless of age.

 

The landscape of the satoyama with its terraced rice paddies, a symbol of Japanese culture.

Beautiful terraced rice paddies have been cultivated and passed down from generation to generation since ancient times. In Tokamachi, the satoyama lifestyle centred on terraced rice paddies is still alive today.

Tokamachi City in Niigata Prefecture is dotted with beautiful terraced rice paddies, of which the Gimyo Rice Terraces and Kamo Rice Terraces in the Matsudai area are popular spots visited by many tourists and photographers. The Gimyo Rice Terraces offer a spectacular view of lingering snow and mountain cherry blossoms all at once in early spring, while the Kamo Rice Terraces are known for their fantastic morning misty scenery.

The terraced rice paddies in this region, which is also famous for its heavy snowfall, are the crystallisation of our ancestors’ efforts to remain strong and flexible in the face of nature’s fury.

 


Challenges behind the beauty of the terraced rice paddies

While outsiders consume the beautiful scenery of the terraced rice paddies free of charge, the people living in the villages have been making steady efforts to protect this scenery by cultivating the terraced rice paddies on a daily basis, weeding and sometimes removing rubbish dropped by visitors to the area.

However, this area, like other rural villages in Japan, has an ageing population and the challenge is to continue to produce energy to cover the enormous amount of work required to maintain the terraced rice paddies and surroundings.

We hope that by learning about the thoughts of the villagers who protect these terraced rice paddies and the environment surrounding them, you will have the opportunity to think a little about the universal issues facing Japan today.

Snow WInter Daycamp

Application Closed | [Experience] Day camp in the snow! Maple syrup harvest and rice flour pancake making

JPY 13,100/person Tax included

Reservations for 2024 have been closed. The schedule for next year will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.
The “Rice Terraces Snowshoe Walking with Tea Time on the snow” is still being held, so please consider this option as well.

 

How does collecting and tasting maple syrup in the snowy Japanese forest, sound?

In this program, you will snowshoe through the snowy forest with your guide to collect the sap from a maple tree. Once the sap has been collected, the group returns to the designated place to camp for the day with bonfire on the snow.

The original maple syrup collected is boiled and drizzled on pancakes that use pesticide-free locally harvested Uonuma Koshihikari rice flour.

A dedicated guide will accompany, so anyone can enjoy the snowy mountains in winter with peace of mind.

Experience a new way to enjoy the winter forest while warming up to a bonfire at the day camp.

Snow boots are available to rent. Please let us know your shoe size in the remarks column of the application. (The rental fee is included in the tour fee.)

Winter Snow Nature

Application Closed | [Experience] Snowshoe trekking & Day camp -Beautiful mountain sceneries for everyone!

JPY 6200/person No Day Camp: JPY 5500/person

Reservations for 2024 have been closed. The schedule for next year will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.
The “Rice Terraces Snowshoe Walking with Tea Time on the snow” is still being held, so please consider this option as well.

 

Why not try walking with snowshoes?

Not confident of your fitness? Bad at sports? Worried about being in the snow for too long? –No problem, it’s a short tour for everyone!

On a sunny day, you will be mesmerized by Echigo’s mountains and scenery on this short tour.

 

You might also be able to catch glimpses of fox and rabbit tracks, mantis eggs, pupae, etc.

You may even be able to experience natures strength during a blizzard.

The guide will tailor the course based on weather and participants physical conditions so just enjoy the tour worry free!

 

At the end of the tour, you will have a warm drink and sweets with campfire on the snow. 

winter snow culture

Application Closed | [2D1N WINTER TOUR] Discover Authentic Japan

FROM 28,500 yen per person *If you apply as a group of 4 people

The Tokamachi/Uonuma area of Niigata Prefecture is a snowy region, with several meters of snow in the winter. Immerse yourself into the beauty of authentic “snow country” life through this tour!

  1. Snowshoe through the beautiful scenery created bythe snow-covered terraced rice fields. Also enjoy a special tea time on the snow.
  2. Dinner with ‘local moms’ to cook traditional dishes and spend an enjoyable evening socializing.
  3. Stay in a renovated traditional house all to yourselves.
  4. Visit the Tunnel of Light (Kiyotsu Gorge), a must-seeartwork of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale.

Snow nature

[Experience] Rice Terraces "Kanjiki" Snowshoe Walking with Tea Time on the snow

6,100yen per person (Incl. tax)

In this experience, you will walk through the snow-covered terraced rice paddies wearing “kanjiki”, traditional snowshoes.

The beautiful terraced rice paddies have been cultivated and passed down from generation to generation since ancient times. In Tokamachi, the rural lifestyle centered on terraced rice paddies is still alive and well. Wearing traditional kanjiki, you will be reminded of the traditional winter life.

Under the guidance of a guide, put on your kanjiki and walk on the snow, becoming a part of such a landscape. The view of the terraced rice paddies in winter, covered with pure white snow, is truly spectacular!

After walking for a while, you will have a special tea time on the snow. Enjoy warm local natural herbal tea and sweets.

Experience the winter pleasures that only a snow country can offer.

Nature Art

[Day Trip] Private Taxi Tour -Spectacular Scenery and Art-

5 seater taxi (max. 4 people; 5.5h): JPY 56,909- ; 9 seater taxi (max. 8 people; 5.5h): From JPY 85,284- Tax is included. Fees are subject to change depending on the itinerary.

This tour takes you around the must-see sightseeing spots in Tokamachi, Niigata by a chartered taxi.
The itinerary is decided in advance, so all you have to do on the day of the tour is to get in the car at the meeting point. There is no need to go through troublesome procedures or communication in Japanese.

You can choose the pick-up and drop-off locations in Tokamachi City or around Echigo-Yuzawa Station. Please let us know your preference at the time of application. (Fees are subject to change depending on the route.)

Please contact us if you need an English speaking guide. (Fees will be quoted separately.)

[Experience] Making original hand woven accessories at a Kimono town

Half day tour: JPY 11,000 / 1 person; 1 day tour: JPY 16,000 / 1 person Tax included

This tour offers a unique experience where you can make original placemats or a scarf using a traditional loom or weaving machine.

Tokamachi City in Niigata Prefecture is a known kimono town.
Weaving has been popular since the ancient times and it is still famous as a production center for high-class textiles. In the past, weaving was a part of life for the local people, especially during the snow covered winter months when women from the village gathered to spin and weave.

Let’s experience weaving in Tokamachi under the guidance of local textile craftsmen!
In this experience, we will use hand-woven loom that is easy to handle, a fine thread for the warp and a finely torn cloth for the weft.
Choose your favorite from the colorful threads and design your own color scheme!
How about making an original handwoven craft to remember your trip?

nature culture food

[2D1N SPRING TOUR] "Sea of Clouds" Hunting

FROM 28,500 yen per person *If you apply as a group of 4 people

Let’s go see the terraced rice fields covered with a sea of clouds, a spectacular view that can only be seen at the specific times of year!

  1. Come with our local guide to seek for fantastic views of terraced rice fields covered by a sea of clouds! Also have
    breakfast outdoors while enjoying the view.
  2. Experience the traditional craft of chinkoro making.
  3. Stay in a renovated traditional house all to yourselves.
  4. Visit the Tunnel of Light (Kiyotsu Gorge), a must-see artwork of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale.

Cooking Culture Tradition

[Experience] Experience home cooking in Tokamachi with local moms!

JPY 6300 / 1 person (tax included)

Learn to cook traditional local dishes through the guidance of local moms!

Tokamachi and Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture are regarded as areas with heavy snowfall. Before the use of snow removal equipment and systems, the city is covered in snow and closed for nearly five months in a year. One of the distinct food culture of this region is the various effort to preserve the bounty of the mountains gathered from spring to autumn and stored as salted, dried and fermented, in order to survive the long winter when there is no harvest.

Moreover, the land is surrounded by the Shinano river (the longest river in Japan) and the mountains have abundant water and people had been receiving blessings from nature such as edible wild plants, nuts and fish every season since the Jomon period. The abundant water and the temperature difference during the seasons make this area suitable for rice production hence, the lands have been actively cultivated with rice and vegetables.

Many families who live here use the land near where they live to grow vegetables. Most of the time, their harvests are more than enough for them to consume!

Nowadays, most ingredients are available anywhere in Japan at any time but the ingredients used in this cooking session are seasonal ingredients such as freshly picked vegetables and edible wild plants, flavored with local seasonings and cooked in traditional methods that make it a special feast to be enjoyed in this area only and at a specific period.

Cooking Culture Tradition

[Experience] Learn how to make Sasadango, Niigata’s beloved traditional sweet

JPY 5400 / 1 Person (tax included)

Learn how to make Sasadango from local masters!

This tour is an experience program to learn how to make “Sasadango” Niigata Prefecture’s most beloved traditional food.

“Dango” are traditional sweet rice dumplings while “sasa” refers to broadleaf bamboo leaves. Therefore, “Sasadango” are sweet rice dumplings wrapped in broadleaf bamboo leaves.

Learn how to make Sasadango from local masters and take the freshly steamed sweets you made! No doubt, adults and kids alike will enjoy this experience.

What is “Sasadango”?

Sasadango – rice dumplings with sweet bean paste and wrapped in fragrant bamboo leaves, are said to have been developed in the Sengoku period (15-16th centuries) as a preserved food and thought to have been invented by the famous Echigo (Niigata) warlord, Kenshin Uesugi. These dumplings are wrapped in bamboo leaves as it has excellent antibacterial properties.
At that time, it seems that simmered bean paste which was a daily staple, has been used instead of the sweet bean paste as it is now.
Sasadango has been popular for a long time but now there are only a few people who make it and eating homemade Sasadango fresh out of the steam pan is a very valuable experience.

Taste the freshly steamed Sasadango you made!

In this tour, local masters will teach you how to make Sasadango from how to knead the dumplings, to wrapping in the red bean paste beautifully and finally, wrapping the dumplings with bamboo leaves and tying with a string called “igusa”. It’s truly a wonderful experience children and adults can enjoy.

This homemade steamed Sasadango will have a slightly different taste than the ones brought at the store!

Sasadango can be kept for a short period of time due to the antibacterial property of the bamboo grass, making them ideal as items to bring home after a trip to Niigata Prefecture.
So, how about joining a homemade Sasadango making class while here to enjoy this traditional local sweet?

History Nature Culture

[Experience] Tokamachi Tanada Treks -Hoshitoge Excellent Views Course-

JPY 9,250 / 1 person (tax included)

Trekking in an area that looks like a painting of the “real” Japan; experiencing the rich history, culture and beautiful scenery of this area.

The terraced rice fields in the mountains of Japan are a symbol of its history and culture. The records from the past show how people in this area of heavy snow built stair-like rice fields; they also show how hard-working these people were.

Walking on the paths between the terraced rice fields, with deep forests and unmistakable cedar trees standing alongside, you encounter some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Through experiences including visiting local farmers, wild vegetable picking, rice planting/harvesting, cycling, paddling and snowshoeing, explore the history and the culture firsthand.

 

Outline

1. The old samurai road

The trekking route from village to village runs along portions of the Uesugi Gundo (military road), also known as the Kodo Matsunoyama Kaido (the old Matsunoyama Road), that runs from Joetsu City to Tokamachi.

Walking along these trails, you feel the history: the peasants who worked and lived here, the merchants carrying goods, the trails that were the roads, often to battle, for the local warlord’s troops.

Also, you will see the most beautiful and historic rice terraces in all of Japan.

2. Experienced, dedicated guides

This is a private tour, with a dedicated, local guide who can lead guests along the trails with explanations in English. Only on this tour will you be led to places that ordinary visitors could not access.

3.  Cultural programs*

Apart from the trekking, a variety of other programs are available to experience the life and culture of the people living in this mountainous rural area.

*Preparing

Tradition Craft

[Experience] Traditional Craft: Fortune Doll "Chinkoro" Making

JPY 5400/ 1 Person (tax included)

Have a go at “Chinkoro” making. A traditional craft that is passed down generations in Tokamachi.

What is “Chinkoro”?

“Chinkoro” is a famous traditional art form originating from Tokamachi. “Chinkoro” is the local term for “puppy”, and is a doll of a puppy made from rice flour.
It is made during the New Year celebrations, and if it cracks apart it is believed to bring good luck!

Try making your own “Chinkoro”!

In this program, you will make Chinkoro while being taught by local masters. Instead of sticking to traditional puppies and zodiac signs, you can make your own original dolls such as anime characters, mascots, and animals. It is an experience that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can enjoy. Perfect for a one and only souvenir.

Nature History Culture Gourmet

[3D2N] Tokamachi Tanada Treks

From JPY 102,000 / 1 person

Trekking in an area that looks like a painting of the “real” Japan; experiencing the rich history, culture and beautiful scenery of this area.

The terraced rice fields in the mountains of Japan are a symbol of its history and culture. The records from the past show how people in this area of heavy snow built stair-like rice fields; they also show how hard-working these people were.

Walking on the paths between the terraced rice fields, with deep forests and unmistakable cedar trees standing alongside, you encounter some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Experience history and culture first-hand through experiences such as cooking and crafts while interacting with local people. (Depending on the season/availability.)

Outstanding local cuisine, and unforgettably warm hospitality await our guests.

 

Outline

1. The old samurai road

The trekking route from village to village runs along portions of the Uesugi Gundo (military road), also known as the Kodo Matsunoyama Kaido (the old Matsunoyama Road), that runs from Joetsu City to Tokamachi.

Walking along these trails, you feel the history: the peasants who worked and lived here, the merchants carrying goods, the trails that were the roads, often to battle, for the local warlord’s troops.

Also, you will see the most beautiful and historic rice terraces in all of Japan.

2. Experienced, dedicated guides

This is a private tour, with a dedicated, local guide who can lead guests along the trails with explanations in English. Only on this tour will you be led to places that ordinary visitors could not access.

3. Sophisticated accommodations

Local accommodations are available for one to multiple nights. These high-end lodgings include sophisticated onsen (hot spring inns), and a holiday house tucked between the fields that provides an outstanding chance to interact with locals.

*Our basic plan is 3 days 2 nights, but you can arrange other itineraries according to your request.

4. Local cuisine

Fine dining is a key point of the tour, with gourmet meals featuring unique and delicious local specialties and the best ingredients of the season and the region.

5. Cultural programs

Apart from the trekking, a variety of other programs are available to experience the life and culture of the people living in this mountainous rural area. For example, 

[Experience] Traditional sandal craftwork (Making straw/cloth sandals)

Straw sandals: JPY 6200 / 1 person; Cloth sandals: JPY 6500 / 1 person (tax included)

This is a tour to experience making traditional sandals.

Cultivation of rice has been popular in Niigata Prefecture for a long time so various craftwork using straw as material is very common. Until seventy to eighty years ago, during the winter period, each family had been making income by making sandals or other items made out of rice straw.

Nowadays though, it is rare to see crafts made from straw and there are only a few people who makes them, so this craftwork have become very valuable. Craftwork experiences like making these straw sandals have become rare and looking at this handiwork as it is weaved little by little is like looking at a masterpiece.

In this experience, you will make straw sandals with the local craftsmen in the area. You will have an option to make sandals using rice straw or colorful cloths as materials. Please indicate your choice of material when you book the tour.
You will have a choice of cloth design and color for the slipper strap and sandal so you can create your own unique craft!

The finished sandal can be worn when you go to the beach or river during the summer or can also be used as a home slipper or as an interior décor. How about making an original sandal to remember your trip?