里山文庫 satoyama library

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

Featured Tour

Village Life




[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.


[27th-29th April 2018] 3-Day Fermentation Workshop in Kyoto

3 Day Fermentation Workshop in Kyoto

We are happy to announce our Koji (a kind of mold grown on produce such as boiled rice) making workshop on this coming April by Mr.Sukeno, the owner of 360 year old Hishiroku-Moyashi ,the only active Moyashi (koji starter) company in Kyoto.

Kyoto is said to be a birthplace of koji malt . Kitano koji za (a guild in Kitano for producers of koji malt) controlled production of koji malt in Kyoto. "Hishiroku moyashi" is the only one koji starter producer in Kyoto, which has more than 360 years history of producing koji mold starter, called "moyashi" in Japanese. We will learn how to make Koji from the very beginning,steaming rice and seeding Moyashi starter to steamed rice. 

We will not only the process but also history of fermented foods in Japan, classification of microbes and so on in detail. After taking this course,you will be able to make rice Koji by yourself in your own kitchen. Koji is key ingredient for Japanese cuisine,such as miso, sake, soy sauce and rice vinegar. It must be a very good opportunity to lean Japanese food culture.English is available on this course.Please feel free to ask translator charge and details.We look forward to having you join us.

The venue is historical "koji muro", a room for brewing "moyashi" starter in the machiya style traditional residence in Kyoto. 

We look forward to welcoming you and learning koji making from steaming rice together!



27th April - 29th April
日程 4月27日(金)~29日(月)


Kyoto moyashi machiya
(268 Nishi-Wakamatsucho  Aburakoji Rokujo Kudaru, Shimogyo-ku Kyoto city.)
場所 京都もやし町家 京都市下京区油小路六条下る西若松町268


27th April 10:00-17:00
Process 1:  draining and steaming rice
Lecture 1:  History of fermentation, classification of microbes, and aspergillus oryzae.

28th April 10:00-17:00
Process 2:  kneading rice, piling, mixing operation, final step
Lecture 2 : moyashi
Lecture3:  enzyme, tasting fermented soy bean by using koji powder

29th April 10:00-13:00
Process 3 : finishing, introduction of Hishiroku Koji, QA time




Participation fee

38,000 JPY
including 3 days lecture, koji mold for suvenior


Lunch on 27th and 28th April 1,500 JPY
Dinner party at Nakanoko-an soba noodle, fermented food with 2 drinks: 6,000JPY

4月27日ランチ ヒトテマランチBOX 1,500円
4月28日ランチ (内容未定)    1,500円

4月27日懇親会 中之光庵 そばと発酵食 2ドリンク付き 

Cancellation Charge

1 month prior to the workshop 10%
2 weeks prior to the workshop 20%
1 week prior to the workshop 30%
2 days prior to the workshop 50%
1 day prior to the workshop or no show 100%

お振込みから一か月前までお振込み金額の 10%


+81 (0)75-708-3442 (week days 10:00-1700)

Please send following information 
1 Name
2 Adress
3 Phone number
4 27th Lunch, 28th Lunch reservation needed or not
5 Diet restrictions if any

Please let us know should you have any questions.



4月27日 ランチの要否・懇親会参加の有無
4月28日 ランチの要否



misodama, the natural art of fermentation without using koji malt

How did old villagers make miso without using koji malt before? We interviewed 90 years old grand-fathers in the village to investigate traditional knowledge on living with nature. 

Making miso without using koji malt

Speaking of miso, generally, steamed beans, rice, and wheat malts are mixed with soy beans. In the mountainous regions, however, rice is difficult to grow, and too precious to make koji malt (mold inoculated with asperguillus oryzae).  So, traditionally, village people do not use koji to make miso in these villages.

Instead of koji, they make "misodama (miso ball)" to harvest natural fungi in the room. This method can be seen Tohoku, or Shinshu areas, with heavy snow and earth oven in their houses.

Fist of all, boil soy beans. Granmas are cultivating their own beans, which are different varieties for miso, shoyu, and tofu. Some told blue beans are suitable for making miso, and in Tanba regions, black beans are mainly used for miso.  Each household has each recipe, and their own bean varieties.

This time, we used 3 varieties of soy beans: black beans, yellow soy, and blue beans. It is said that blended beans could be more tasty.

Boiling water, so called "ame" shoud be preserved with salt until misodama is ready.

Miso pounding by stone mill

The highlight of misodama making is pounding.

The traditional stone mill is called "karausu". It has wooden pedal on the other side, and before, children had to step on karausu to grind beans. The other side has a stone ball, and one person should be there to stir bean stuffs.

It sounds like as if the mill is singing a song. villagers used to step on the mill, while singing song.

Making misodama

After boiled soy beans, we made balls of soy beans. 

In old recipe books, there are no discriptions on quantity. It is always said "suitable portion" in Japanese we call it "anbai", which is literally means salted plum. The quantity of salt on plum should be different dependent on the temperature, moisture of the plum itself, varieties, and so on. 

"In fact, there should be no fixed quantity. These should be learned by doing it by yourself, and create your own taste. " said a ground-father of the village.

After making misodama, next step is binding. 

Important thing is to hang misodama above the earth oven. Misodama will be dried by the smoke. Some farmers keep misodama for 4 months during winter, some for 1 year. Then, ame (boild water with salt) will be added to the grinded misodama. 

We look forward to the next step: grinding misodama and add ame so that miso will be fermented further.


"Hishio no sato" a home of soy sauce, Shodo shima island

Home of Soy Sauce "Hishio no Sato"

100 minutes away from Himeji port, 3 hours from Kobe by ferry, Shodoshima island, the second biggest island next to Awaji island,  is located in the Setouchi Inland Sea. 

The nostalgic island is dotted with olive trees around seaside hills, and 1000 soy sauce barrels. In its peak period, it is said that there were 400 soy sauce makers in the island.

Approximately 2000 to 3000 soy sauce barrels throughhout Japan, of which 1000 are found in Shodoshima. Less than 1 % of Japanese soy sauce are produced in the wooden barrels, and 1/3 of wooden barrels are indeed located in Shodo shima island.

"Hishio (醤)" stands for salted foods, Koku bishio (穀醤) is fermented beans or rice, and said to be an origin of soy sauce. Now, the island try to promote the island's food culture and soy sauce production as "Hishio no Sato".

scenery from ferry

Fukuda port

Food Ingredients production in the island

The origin of soy sauce production is actually dates back to sea salt production started on the island during the mid-3rd century BC to late 3rd century AD. Since then salt production had been an important industry for the islands. During Edo period (1603-1868), the new industries were developed with abundant availability of salt, such as the production of soy sauce and tsukudani (seafood, meat or seaweed simmered in soy sauce and miring). Somen noodle production also flourished during Edo period.  Today, the island is also known as the first successful olive production area in Japan. These abundant food ingredients developed the island’s unique food culture.

olive tree plantations can be seen everywhere along the coast

Yamaroku shoyu

The climate of Shodo shima island is similar to Mediterranean climate, temperate, dried and long hours of sunshine. This is the favorable environment for growing kobo yiest and lactic acid bacteria.
The origin of Yamaroku shoyu is also reported to be a salt producer,  and soy sauce production was started approximately 150 years ago.

A 100-year old wooden warehouse is designated as an important national heritage, and you can see the bacterias actually living in the ware house. In the 60 wood barrels, earth wall, sealing, there might be millions of bacterias!

wood barrels are home of living bacterias

Yamaroku offers a tour to visit the warehouse with free admission fee. There is also a small cafe, "Yamaroku chaya", where you can taste different meals with soy sauce, i.e.) soy sauce ice-cream, mochi with soy sauce, and soy sauce sweets. The café is open from 9:00 to 17:00.


Marukin is a leading soy sauce producer on the island. There is a good soy sauce museum on its factory sites. The museum explains the production process, and also exhibits traditional tools and materials. The museum has English displays and a gift shop that sells many different varieties of soy sauce.

koji muro, a room to produce koji malt

Except Summer vacation period (from 20th July to 31th August) and (16th October to 30th November), they close at 16:00. From 4th January to the end of February it is only opened for appointment.

Morikuni Shuzo sake brewery

Morikuni Shuzo, the only one sake brewery in the island, is a young sake brewery, established in 2005. It uses spring water of  “Hosigajo”, the highest peak on Shodo-shima island with its ideal rice harvested from the Seto Inland Sea’s coastal regions to brew Japanese sake.

There is also a cafe, and a ground mother "obaa-chan" cooks "makanai", which is literally stands for providing meals for workers, with using affluent sake lees. I really recommend to eat makanai. Miso soup with sake kasu lees, pickles and the island's rice, tsukudani, all are great.

The brewery also owns bakery in the next building, and it uses rice powder and sake.


Take train to Himeji, Kobe, Okayama or Takamatsu, then ferry ride to the island. 

Ferry time table can be seen in the link below


[1 Day Nara] Japan's oldest road, Yamanobe-no-michi ancient trail

Nara's charm is not only deers but also its traditional country lifestyle, which has been inherited from generations to generations.

Half a day off-the-beaten walk to an oldest road "Yamanobe no michi" will lead you to deep cultural understanding on satoyama villages. You will come across small farm stands and people's life.

It is also possible to have a full day experience, if you have time.

Yamanobe no michi, an oldest path

Yamanobe no michi is said to be an oldest road running north and south along the eastern edge of the Nara Basin, which connects between Nara city and Sakurai city, in the 15-kilometer long trail. It is first recorded in The Chronicles of Japan "Nihon Shoki" compiled in the 8th century. The ancient road is dotted with shrines, temples and ancient tombs "kofun", and also you will come across many cafes and small farm stands.

Yamanobe no michi is different from other hiking routes, it also goes through small villages. The local specialties of the village are fruits products such as dried kaki persimmon, mochi (sticky rice cake), processed daikon raddish, yuzu citrus, orange, tsukemono pickles, somen noodle, and so on. You will enjoy seasonal landscape, paddy in summer, orange and kaki in autumn, and dried vegetables and somen in winter season.

Walking Yamanobe trail

The hike starts from JR Tenri station. 30-minute walk through a lively shopping mall and Tenri shinto shrine leads you to mystic Isono kami jingu shrine, where unpaved path begins.

Along the trail, there are a lot of orchards, and farm stands, selling fruits and farm products. Most of them are 100 JPY, put one coin and take a product by yourself.

Chogakuji Temple is a historic temple located halfway along the trail, where you can also taste local delicacies in the temple.

Suggested Itinerary

You can also select a full day tour, if you have enough time.

For a full day tour, you can also have a lunch at Chogakuji temple, and also visit a sake brewery in Miwa.

[Half a day tour 4.5 hours]

13:00 Depart from JR Nara station
13:30 Arrive at JR Yanagimoto station
13:50 Trail starts from Tenri Trail center
14:00 Chogakuji temple
15:00 Hinohara shrine
15:40 O-Miwa shrine
17:00 Depart from JR Miwa station
17:30 Back to JR Nara station

[A full day tour 8 hours]

9:00 Depart from JR Nara station
10:00 Ishigami shrine
11:00 Yotogi shrine
12:00 Tenri trail center
13:00 Lunch at Chogaku ji temple (miwa somen) or local cafe
14:00 Hinohara shrine
15:00 O-Miwa shrine
15:30 Imanishi shuzo (sake brewery)
16:30 Depart from JR Miwa station
17:00 Back to JR Nara station

Tour price

half a day tour

1-5 persons 15000JPY
6 persons 18000JPY
7 persons 20000JPY
8 persons 22000JPY

1 day tour 

1-5 persons 25000JPY
6 persons  30000JPY
7 persons 33000JPY
8 persons 36000JPY


  • guide fee
  • hotel pick-up in Nara city

Not included:

  • transportation fee (you and guide 530 JPY per person)
  • lunch (approximately 1000JPY per person)
  • entrance fee (Chogakuji 350JPY per person)