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

Important Information

• If this tour will be canceled due to inclement weather or other unforeseen conditions, we will contact you on your tour date (at the latest) to refund or reschedule • Two types of bikes are available for rent. 'Mamachari' bikes (2 available), which are a common type of bike in Japan with a front basket, are recommended for those who are at least 145cm tall. Flat-handle bikes (8 available) are recommended for those who are at least 149cm tall • Even if you will not cycle through Hinohara during the free-time portion of the tour, bike rental is included in the fee; we cannot issue any refunds or discounts for those who will not use their bike • We can also arrange for a French-speaking guide; please let us know if you would like the tour to be held in French Activity Rules - There is no minimum age for participating in this activity, but guests must be at least 145cm tall to rent a bike -We require a minimum of 2 participants for the tour to push through. Solo guests or groups with less than the minimum number of required participants may book, but if the minimum is not reached 6 days before the tour, we will contact you to refund or reschedule - You will walk along mountain trails for about 15 minutes, so please wear comfortable footwear such as sneakers - Please carefully read and agree to the terms and use for bike rental, as detailed below # Terms of Use for Bike Rental You, the guest, must agree to the following terms of use: # Basic Cycling Etiquette - Cyclists must stick to the left side of the road - Please wear a helmet for your own safety - Please follow traffic signals and comply with Japanese traffic laws - Please cycle on the road as much as possible; if you have no choice but to cycle on a sidewalk, please give priority to pedestrians - When a car approaches from behind, please move to the designated bike lane (separated by a guardrail) immediately; do not obstruct the car's path # Prohibited Acts Please do not engage in the following during the rental period: - Cycling while under the influence of alcohol - Riding in tandem - Parallel riding - Reckless cycling - Violating traffic rules - Obstructing pedestrians or cars - Cycling to or through locations that are dangerous or strictly prohibited - Inappropriate use of the bicycle - Remodeling the bike, e.g. adding parts, vandalizing it # Basic Terms for Rental - On your tour date, you will be asked to fill out a bike rental form. Only the guest who filled out the form will be allowed to use the bike; please do not lend it to others - If you cannot return the bike by the scheduled time for whatever reason, additional charges will apply. If the bike rental shop does not hear from you or if you are a no-show by the scheduled return time, they may contact you through the contact details that you filled out on the form. Please contact the bike rental shop immediately if you know that you will be unable to return the bike on time - If there is a guest waiting to rent the bike after you, and they are unable to use it due to your failure to return it on time, you will be required to compensate the next guest - If you are unable to directly return the bike to the shop for whatever reason, please contact them. Park the bike such that it does not obstruct foot traffic, lock it, then return to the shop via other means (e.g. public transport, taxi, or on foot) # Damages - If the bike is damaged or broken, please stop using it, and contact the shop immediately. We will not be held responsible for any accidents caused by continuing to use a bike that is broken, damaged, or breaking down - If the bike is damaged or broken for reasons attributable to yourself, you may be charged for damages # Theft or Loss - If the bike is stolen or lost, please contact the shop immediately - In the event of theft or loss of the bike for reasons attributable to yourself, you may be charged for damages # Accidents - In case of any accidents during the rental period, please contact the shop immediately - Neither the bike shop nor any of the staff involved in operating this tour shall take responsibility for any accidents, injuries, or damages to you or a third party - If you cause any damage to the bike shop and/or tour staff, you will be required to pay compensation - In the event that an accident will have to be settled out of court, the customer will be responsible for all fees incurred # Termination Due to Force Majeure - If you are suddenly unable to use the bike during the rental period due to a natural disaster or other force majeure not attributable to either the bike shop or yourself, please notify staff immediately; the rental agreement shall terminate. However, the rental fee will not be refunded

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!

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