Satoyama library ~Japan Village Experience~

Seasoning Journey to living Satoyama - meet the ingredients, taste their stories!

Featured Tour

Village Life



Monday, 16 April 2018

[1Day Nara] Eat & Walk Food Tour in Nara, foraging & medicinal plant garden

The history of harvesting medicinal plants dates back to early 7th century, when the first empress Suiko hunted wild herbs in today's uda city, Nara prefecture. This is written in the Chronicle of Japan in 611 AD.

Afterwords, during the ara of Yoshimune Tokugawa, 8th generation of Shogunate government in Edo period, one of the oldest medicinal plant garden was established in O-Uda.

At that time there were 35 traditional pharmacies and 12 medicinal liqor shops in the town. In Uda, since ancient times, traditional knowledge to utilize natural resources had been passed down from generations to generations. Many notable pharmaceutical companies are also initiated in this town. 

How about visiting the birthplace of medicinal plant culture in Japan, and going for harvesting wild edibles?

Japan's oldest medicinal plant garden "Morino herbal garden"

Morino Kudzu honpo, is a kudzu starch maker, also maintaining the Japan's oldest medicinal plant garden. There are 250 kinds of herbal plants, and 6 plants which was originally provided by Tokugawa Shogunate Government are still there. 

Mr. Harano, a garden master explains the highlights of the herbal garden

Foraging on the hill of Matsuyama castle town

Going through forest from Kasuga shrine led us to fantastic view of Matsuyama castle town. 

After 30 minutes walk, you can see awesome scenery from the top of the mountain. 

Here is the wild plant hunting site. 

Warabi, bracken plant

dokudami, (Houttuynia cordata)fish mint
fuki,  (Petasites japonicus) butterbur
mitsuba, (Cryptotaenia japonica); Japanese honewort
uba yuri, Cardiocrinum cordatum), Heartleaf lily

<Foraging tour in Uda>
Visitng Japan's oldest plant garden, foraging on the hill, sansai lunch, tasting medicinal herb liquor.

9:30 -      Meeting at Ouda bus stop
10:00-11:00    Medicinal Plant Garden
11:00-12:00     Foraging
12:30-14:00     Cooking and Lunch time

<min-max participants>    5-20 persons 
<Fee> 5000JPY(including lunch and entrance fee of medicinal plant garden)


Saturday, 7 April 2018

visit bamboo crafts atelier in Yamazoe village

"I wish to continue to make till the end of my life"

Said a bamboo craftman in Yamazoe village, who has dedicated himself to bamboo for more than 60 years.

A young bamboo craftman from Oita prefecture visited Mr. Tanioku, and once they met each other at the atelier in Yamazoe village, they sat down on the floor and started to work for bamboo. Their thoughts and wills can be conveyed through the handiwork beyond generation.

The craft by the craftman in Yamazoe village is called "shoke", bamboo basket.
This is especially for rinsing rice in the past time when people used earth oven.

First, cut bamboo along with bamboo fibre in preparation for "higo" bamboo sticks. This process is especially time consuming.

In Yamazoe village, which once flourished as tea production area, also boasted about its production of "shoke", half of the village population was engaged in making shoke baskets in winter season after finishing tea processing.

After processing tea, water content of bamboo plant will be reduced, which is a suitable season for preserving bamboo.

Cutting bamboo from October to Spring sustain farmer's income during off-season of farming. Once, it is said that shoke basket production was a big industry, which enables farmers to construct big houses, called "shoke gotten (villa)"

Nowadays, the basket price is only 2500JPY, although it takes one full day to produce.
He continues to make basket not for earning income, but for just keeping his life unchanged from the past until the end of his life.

Even in the rain or wind, just keep producing everyday until he dies, this is his way of living. 

On the other hand, a yound artist, Mr. Mappon from Oita prefecture, makes refind items such as kitchen tools and accessories. It is a bit different from the crafts made by the old craftsman. 

The common problem of these two artisans is that there are decreasing bamboo which is suitable for making crafts From the abandoned bamboo forest without human control, people cannot  harvest good bamboos.

In order to harvest good ingredients, management of forest environment is indispensable. Not only successors of craftsman, but also good materials are also disappearing.

irori earth oven to make tea in frot of the entrance hall
The knowledge and skills of bamboo crafts are disappearing, however, the problem is decreasing value of bamboo products. How do we sell bamboo baskets at 10,000JPY, while there are 1000 JPY baskets imported from overseas?

Travelling and learning their stories can help them to support financially, and this could be a fair-trade for farmers.  Responsible travelling is to sustain handiworks and their rural life.


Hidden places of cherry viewing and secret sweets

Tour to visit hidden beauty spots for viewing cherry blossoms, visiting 8 temples and private residences and eating 3 tailor-made sweets

Cherry blossoms of Yoshino in Nara is famous for its thousands cherry blossoms in the mountain, however, in Yamato plateau there are also several unknown beauty spots as well.
In the tour, we explored 8 different cherry viewing points, along with 3 sweets, which are especially  custom-made by sweet chefs for the tour.

Shorenji temple

a local vegetable seller

Tenyakuji temple, also famous for  its camellia flower

katakuri, dogtooth violet

Custom-made sweets

Ananda's cream puff with cherry flower testes.

Kuzukiri made by a 70-year-old grandma, who were fascinated by kudzu starch produced in Uda and moved to Uda to make kudzukiri. 

Mitarashi dingo by Nishi-showado in Utano.

home visit to see cherry blossoms at a private residence

The highlight is illuminated cherry blossoms at Hozoji temple in Higashi Yoshino . The cherry tree is said to be 430-year-old, and designated as the natural treasure. 


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

[2-6th May] "5-Day Brewing Week" Fermentation School in Nara


■What is Fermentation School?

With the basic course of "5-day fermentation school" by the Food Expert Ms. Izumi Iguchi, there will be two optional courses; "koji malt studies" and ""ethnobotany.

You can choose the schedule by yourself based on your interests and convenience. 

The venue of Uda city in Nara has been known as historical town of plant medicine, which is recorded in the " Nihon-shoki" (the oldest chronicles of Japan). 

How about learning the art of fermentation and biodiversity of fungi and plants in Nara?


■Basic Class "5 day fermentation"

Lecturer : Food Expert  Ms. Izumi Iguchi 

You can learn "Do-It-Yourself wildcrafting" by using local daily ingredients, and enjoy living together with invisible microorganisms.  

You can get more than 100 of recipes, written by Izumi, after a lot of trials and efforts.  Once you learn from this lesson, you can use it in your lifetime! 

Duration of the Basic Class would be 5 days, however, you can come whenever you like based on your schedule. (The lesson fee will be same how many times you come)

What you can learn from this lesson:

* How to use fermented products
* Make fermented foods
* Make your own body to be fermented

What you make

✴Germinated Rice bran malts 
✴Fermented rice water and recipe 
✴Enzyme of Seasonal herbs and fruits  
✴Yogurt (soy milk yogurt by using plants), and mayonnaise by using soy yogurt
✴Naturally fermented water kimchi without using vinegar 
✴Cabbage Choucroute
✴How to use sake lee, and how to make aging lees 
✴Fermented seasonings (natto shoyu, vinegar onion)
✴15 minute miso  
✴Wild cidar by using fruits 


■Optional Class "koji malts" 

Lecturer:Malicafe Marika Groen 

You can learn whole process of making koji malts at your home; how to control temperature, formation of enzyme, with both lecture and practical lesson. It will need 3 days.

You can learn:

* Diversity of Koji malts in Asian countries
* What is koji, where is it from?
*Asperguillus Flavus
* How to make koji starter by using wild fungi (such as rice malt starter)
* History of koji and brewing in Japan
Bodaimoto, the older method of brewing in Japan
* How to make bean koji and wheat koji
* How to make soy sauce, etc

3rd May   Steaming, inoculating, Lecuture

4th May   Managing koji malts, Lecture
5th May   Finishing process

■Optional Course "Ethnobotany1: foraging and medicinal sake making"

Lecturer:  Satoyama Library and Mr. Plant Hunter

Fieldwork of plant medicine with a local plant hunter. You can learn how to distinguish medicinal plants and make your own medicinal sake. 

■Optional Course "Ethnobotany2: Natto by using wild plants"

Lecturer:  Satoyama Library 

Natto can be made from varieties of wild plants with conbination of varieties of beans and peas.  You can taste how it will be deferent depending on the types of beans and peas,



2nd May
13:00-17:00 Basic Course 「5 day fermentation 1 」
3rd May
10:00-13:00 Basic Course 「5 day fermentation 2」
14:00-17:00 Optional Course「Koji malt 1」
18:00-20:00 Fermentation Night (option)
4th May
10:00-13:00 Basic Course 「5 day fermentation 3 」
14:00-16:00 Medicinal plant2 How to make natto by natural plants
17:00-19:00 Optional Course「Koji malt 2」
5th May
10:00-13:00 Basic Course 「5 day fermentation 14」
14:00-16:00 Optional Course: Medicinal plant2 How to make natto by natural plants
17:00-19:00 Optional Course「Koji malt 1」
6th May
10:00-14:00 Basic Course 「5 day fermentation 5」


Inasa yuto 
1312 Nunobiki, Haibara, Uda city Nara

■Participation fee

【Basic Class】5 day fermentation workshop 32,000 JPY including recipes
【Optional Class】Koji malts 12,000JPY (for 3 days)
          Ethnobotany 2 Days 8,000JPY  1 Day 4,000JPY
【All Classes】 50,000 JPY
【Fermentation Night】One Fermented Food

*Schedule could be changed

*Not Included : Lunch of 2rd May (Included on the 3rd to 6th),Dinner, Accommodation

■Min.&Max. Participants

8-15 persons


Please Inquire (info[at]

■Profile of lecturers

Basic Class "5 Day Fermentation"| Izumi Iguchi
She learnt cooking at Fukuoka, Tokyo and France, and continues to explore food ingredients grown from the earth. In her cooking class, freshly picked herbs and vegetables from the garden are used, and theme of the lesson would be seasonal preserved food and enzyme. She also engages in developing products, working together with produces. 

Optional Class "Koji malts studies" |
Malicafe Organic Vegan Food, Marika Groen(茉莉花)
She lives in Amsterdam, teaching koji malts, miso, and fermentation in the Netherlands. When she is back to Japan, she travels all around Japan in seek for breweries, tradition, arts, and fermentation. Freelance photographer.  

Optional Class "Ethnobotany"|Satoyama Libarary, Chisato Maeda
After completed Master degree of Agroecology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, she travels around Asian villages to learn about traditional knowledge of farming and food preservation, seed saving from local elderly villagers. She moved to Uda city in seek for medicinal plants, and opened  a share house, "Commons Garden".

■Photos taken at the time of last 3 day workshop


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

[3rd & 10th Feb 2018] Ultimate Slow Food: hunting Kudzu and processing kudzu mochi

We organized an event to produce kudzu (vegan starch made from kudzu roots).

"Indeed, this is ultimate!", said everyone during the workshop.

First, we went to mountain to find and harvest kudzu roots.

Kudzu is very pervasive weeds in summer, which can be seen everywhere, however, in winter season, the sign to find their roots is just vine and beans.

It is said that roots grown in the sunny mountain contain good quality of starch.

We made effort to dig away such a big rock!

Finally, we did it!

Washing roots,

and breaking down its fiber.

filtering and precipitating impurities out of the water 5-6 times.

The following morning...

We made kudzu mochi.

This is not completely refined, and it will take another 5-10 days before refining completely, however, some said this crude kudzu tastes better, containing much more flavor, something like "full-body" kudzu.

The next kudzu processing tour will be held on the 10th February.

This article is about last event:

The art of Kudzu, cooking kudzu roots powder in Yoshino mountain

We can organize same kind of event if you can book with a group of more than 5 people. Please feel free to inquire if interested.