Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village

Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village

Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village
Explore the Woods of Hinohara, Mainland Tokyo's Only Village

Overview

Get a taste of the rural life as you explore nature-rich Hinohara, mainland Tokyo's last remaining village! Cook lunch with wild mountain vegetables called 'sansai' or local vegetables depending on the season, and cycle or stroll through the village.

Highlights

  • Visit Hinohara, mainland Tokyo's last true village, and immerse yourself in the local lifestyle
  • In spring, familiarize yourself with wild mountain vegetables called 'sansai,' and try picking some
  • From summer to winter, shop for fresh local vegetables, then enjoy vegetable hotpot for lunch
  • Whichever plan you choose, learn a time-honored method of cooking rice — said to be the best way to make it
  • After lunch, cycle or stroll around Hinohara, or try activities like chopping firewood or coffee by a bonfire

Key Information

Description

Tokyo isn't just an ultra-modern city; it also has rural landscapes and islands. In west Tokyo's Tama area, you'll find mainland Tokyo's last true village: Hinohara, where you can get a taste of the rural lifestyle! With a long history spanning over 100 years, Hinohara Village largely remains unchanged since its establishment in 1889. This quaint village is rich in natural resources: the Akigawa River flows through it, and over 90% of its area is covered in forests. Forestry is one of the village's main sources of livelihood, and many locals grow and cultivate crops — a tradition that started in ancient times and continues today. On this tour, you'll enjoy the best that Hinohara has to offer, from its fresh vegetables to its breathtaking nature. Your host, Fuji no Mori has plenty of experience organizing educational and environmentally conscious activities, as well as cultural exchange projects, so you're in good hands. Depending on when you visit, you will either pick wild but edible plants called 'sansai' (literally, "mountain vegetables"), or shop for local vegetables. In spring, you'll head for the woods of Hinohara, which are managed by Fuji no Mori, to pick wild but edible plants called 'sansai' (literally, "mountain vegetables"). This tradition goes back all the way to ancient times, but many villagers in rural Japan still practice this today. To keep things sustainable, however, sansai picking is usually held in small groups. It's said that there are over 280 varieties of sansai in Japan, and they're well-loved among health-conscious locals. Popular sansai include 'udo' (Aralia cordata sprouts), 'yomogi' (Japanese mugwort), 'itadori' (Asian knotweed), 'mitsuba' (East Asian wild parsley), 'sansho' (Japanese pepper), and 'warabi' (bracken shoots). Warabi can easily be found all year round, while the rest are a matter of luck and timing. Have fun picking sansai and learning all about these vegetables from your guide! You'll then cook lunch with these vegetables. Many types of sansai require special processing before they're ready to eat, but your host can conveniently arrange everything so that you can eat your freshly picked sansai immediately. Meanwhile, in other seasons, instead of picking sansai, you will shop for local produce at the village market. In Hinohara, vegetables are usually carefully grown in fields on steep mountain slopes, and they come into season slightly later than in central Tokyo. Hinohara vegetables also tend to be richer and fuller in flavor, and are said to be sweeter because of the drastic difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures. In autumn, Hinohara is especially abundant with produce from the mountains. You will head to a shop that sells fresh vegetables that are directly sourced from local farmers. Staff will teach you all about these vegetables; for example, they'll explain how to pick the best, freshest vegetables. You will then use these to make a hearty hotpot lunch, all cooked in a pot on a traditional firewood stove to bring out the flavor — a rare experience, even for Japanese people! No matter when you visit, you'll enjoy your hearty, delicious lunch at the deck of the Shiki-no-Sato restaurant, which will be reserved just for your group. Additionally, you'll learn to make rice, also in a firewood stove or pot. Your guide will teach you the best way to cook rice — a time-honored folk method dating back to the Edo period (1603–1867). In ancient Japan, villagers learned to determine whether rice was ready by the sound and appearance of the pot. An old saying about cooking rice goes: "Andante ('chorochoro') for the beginning, allegro ('poppo' for the middle), and moderato ('sukoshi yurumeyo') after steaming. Do not take off the lid even if the baby cries." After lunch, you'll have some free time to enjoy Hinohara Village's bountiful nature. Rent a bike — it's included in the price! — to cycle around Hinohara with your guide. This is a great way to explore Hinohara, especially if you want to see the village's various waterfalls, starting with Hossawa Falls (also known as Hossawa-no-taki). The only one in Tokyo to be selected as one of Japan's 100 best waterfalls, the 60-meter Hossawa Falls is broken into four steps, but only the 23.3-meter-high bottommost step can be seen from the trail. This mystical waterfall is the stuff of local legends — a giant snake is said to live in the depths of the bottommost step. Other locations you can cycle to are: Kanotoiwa Rock, the Hinohara Village Local Museum, Hinohara Toy Museum, and a shochu factory. Alternatively, you can also walk to Hossawa Falls, which is just around 300 meters away from Shiki-no-Sato. Or, if cycling and walking aren't your thing, try chopping firewood, or relax and enjoy some coffee by a bonfire. Book now for an escape from Tokyo's concrete jungle and a glimpse into a different side of Japan's capital!