Learn about Hida-Furukawa's culture of cultivating medicinal herbs — a folk wisdom passed down through generations and an essential part of the locals' daily lives — on this herb-themed walking tour of this quaint town in northern Gifu Prefecture! Have a delicious lunch made with medicinal herbs, learn all about Japanese herbs from your guide and on a workshop, and make your own herbal tea blends.
Hida-Furukawa in northern Gifu Prefecture's Hida region is a small town that looks like it's been preserved in time. The old-school townscape at Hida-Furukawa is dotted with well-preserved traditional architecture: warehouses, homes, paved streets, and more. Additionally, some long-held cultural traditions and practices still live on at Hida-Furukawa to this day. Get acquainted with the area's culture of cultivating medicinal herbs — a folk wisdom that has been passed down through generations — on this herb-themed walking tour of Hida-Furukawa! This tour has a range of flexible options. Whichever you choose, lunch is included — just choose whether you want a regular herbal lunch or an upgraded one with fancier ingredients and dishes. Options offering round-trip transfer between nearby Takayama City and Hida-Furukawa are available, too — choose between taxi or bus transfer. Once you've arrived at Hida-Furukawa, you'll meet your guide, who will take you on a stroll downtown. As you weave through the town's picturesque streets, your guide will tell you how Hida's culture of medicinal herbs goes hand-in-hand with the locals' daily lives. Hida is blessed with abundant nature — approximately 93% of the area is covered in forests, and about 250 different kinds of medicinal herbs grow in the wild. Unlike 'kampo' (traditional Chinese medicine) or 'yakuzen' (cuisine based on Chinese medicinal herbs), which are considered remedies for illnesses and ailments, Hida's medicinal herbs are used to keep the body healthy. Hida's food culture of using medicinal herbs has been passed down from generation to generation. Many of these herbs might sound unfamiliar to you, but to the locals, they're a familiar part of their daily lives and cuisine. For example, 'menamomi' (St. Paul's wort) and 'umabudo' (porcelain berry) are commonly served as tea, while 'obako' (Asiatic plantain) and inokozuchi (ox-knee plant) are sprinkled on rice as 'furikake' rice toppings. Meanwhile, the bright-purple flowers of the kuzu (Japanese arrowroot) plant are usually ground into a powder. In the past, medicinal herbs were usually ingested as bitter teas, which led to the impression that anything herbal was unappealing. Nowadays, though, people have found new ways to incorporate herbs into dishes and drinks: infused as tea blends, added as flavorings and spices to meals, and more. At Hida-Furukawa, you can enjoy medicinal herbs in various ways: in soba noodles, coffee, tea, sweets, and more — look out for an assortment of herbal products as you walk the town with your guide! Listen to stories about medicinal herbs being part of your guide's life since childhood, and spot some herbs along the way. Those unfamiliar with herbs may mistake them for mere weeds, but your guide knows better, and will teach teach you how to look out for these herbs. Next, you'll have a delicious lunch at Busuitei Ohako, a quaint restaurant that specializes in dishes made with medicinal herbs. Then, you'll try making your own herbal tea blends in a workshop at Hida Mori no Megumi. This hands-on workshop will teach you all there is to know about Japanese medicinal herbs: their uses and health benefits their difference from Chinese herbs, and more. Before the tour ends, you'll have free time to stroll around Hida-Furukawa. Don't forget to shop for souvenirs to take home — sake, 'kumihimo' braided-cord accessories, handmade traditional Japanese candles, and more!