Leave the urban life behind for an escape into the Japanese countryside. In an over 100-year-old house passed down through generations and renovated for sustainable living, learn to live in harmony with nature from your hosts in Yamagata City, Gifu.
Take a breather from the city and experience a slower-paced life in the Japanese countryside. In this experience, you’ll visit a traditional guesthouse — a refurbished old farmhouse — in the mountains of northern Yamagata City in Gifu Prefecture (not to be confused with Yamagata City in Yamagata Prefecture) and learn the ways of the land from local elders. Get an authentic introduction to countryside living by cooking, dining, and spending a day with the friendly locals of Yamagata. Your hosts will take you on walks in the mountains to pick fruits. They’ll teach you traditional bamboo crafts, as well as how to harvest vegetables in the fields and pickle food. You’ll also learn to cook rice in a kiln, prepare meals with freshly-harvested seasonal ingredients, and make soba from scratch using buckwheat flour produced in Yamagata. Depending on when you visit, you may also get to experience harvesting bamboo shoots (March and April), tea leaf picking (May and June), or picking herbs in the mountains (March to August). In fall and winter, stunning fall foliage awaits, and seasonal activities to try include mochi pounding and dyeing with 'kakishibu,' a traditional dye made from persimmons. Choose from a half-day option, or go for the full experience with the overnight option. Both experiences begin at 10:15 and are available year-round. The overnight option includes more opportunities to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. You will either visit a temple in the mountains to speak with a monk and try matcha and sweets, or see an old cherry blossom tree — a National Monument — at Chigo-no-mori Park. After dinner, you’ll get to see the starry night skies of Yamagata, then enjoy a homemade breakfast the next morning.