If you ever wanted to visit a place off the beaten tracks, you are at the right place. In the middle of the mountains, this place almost never sees tourists and live from what nature provides them. The biggest economy beeing wood manufacturing and rice and tea cultivation.
Nature and Shintoism
Here you will learn all the secrets of rice cultivation, the basis of japanese cuisine and understand how much japanese people care for nature.
We will also explain to you how the way japanse people sees nature is strongly linked with the Japanese ancient believes, or religion.
Although it is extremely common in Japan to find Buddhist temples along with Shinto shrines, Higashi Shirakwa is one of the few places in Japan where the only religion is Shinto. But more than a religion, it would be more correct to define Shinto as a way of life.
Over the millennia the settlements of the Earth's crust have given life to the Shirakawa river and its big brother, the Hida River, into which it flows. The steep rocks and the untouched nature represent one of the treasures of the prefecture of Gifu.
In Spring the landscape is enriched by beautiful Cherry Trees, the symbol of spring In Japan.
The “Kami” (divinity) possesses everything that exists in nature. Man living in nature himself must respect this Kami and protect the place where he resides. In return the divinity will return to him the products of the earth, in the case of natural divinities, or protection, good luck and so on. It is from Shinto that the concept of respect, so strong here in Japan, derives.
Organic and hand exploit rice fields
As you may know, Japanese food is based on rice, and as soon as you reach rural areas the landscapes are full of rice fields. Higashi-Shirakawa makes no exception and has a big part of it’s economy relying on rice plantation. We will enable you to get a deep understanding of this culture by introducing you our 100% organic rice fields and explain you the secrets of traditional rice cultivation in Japan. Depending on the season you will also be able to experience work in the rice fields, on voluntary basis of course.
In the beginning of Japanese civilization it was no other than the emperor who originate the tradition of rice cultivation. Everyone, not only the peasants was required to cultivate it. According to the myth, the emperors thought was that if each of us cultivates rice everyone will be able to eat and there will be no conflict. In this way it will be possible to build a solid nation.
Traditional rice fields of Higashi-Shirakawa
Hand rice planting, a few weeks before the rainy season.
July : The rice plants are still small and weak, we need to weed the fields to ensure a good growth!
ハザがけ (Hazagake), or traditional way of drying the rice after harvesting
From sowing to harvesting everything is done without using any machinery or chemical fertilizers, following the traditional cultivation methods and making these fields one of the most iconics of Japan!
Japanese traditional tea : the fields
Maybe you already tasted the Japanese traditional tea? Maybe you just tasted it before in our tour?
I any case, this is the origin of this particular drink : the tea fiels. Everything always tastes better when you see where it somes from!
Tea fields of Higashi-Shirakawa : discover the tea tradition from the very beginning
See the green tea leaves before they get into your cup!
And... finished product !
Discover our tours going to Higashi-Shirakawa
Back To The Past : 3-Days Tour To Takayama, Higashi-Shirakawa And Inuyama
Visit some of the most fascinating places in the heart of Gifu Prefecture, by alternating between going to touristic monuments, staying in a remote village and trying local traditional activities.
Higashi-Shirakawa One-Day Tour : Rice, Tea, Shintoism, And Local Legends
Experience the life of a small mountain village, untouched by any foreign influence. This unique tour will allow you to spend one day as a local, between work in the fields, relaxing around a good cup of tea and visit to a temple.
Or discover other wonderful places in Gifu prefecture
Takayama One-Day Tour : Old Town, Shodo, Tea And Much More!
Get to understand the Japanese culture by trying out the most traditional arts and visiting one of the rare cities that has kept the spirit of ancient Japan.
Shirakawa GO And Satoyama Culture One-Day Tour : UNESCO World Heritage, Shodo, Tea And Much More!
Spend one day discovering the tradition of the japanese “Satoyama (里山)“, or mountain village. On the program : UNESCO Site of Shirakawa GO, calligraphy and tea in the beautiful village of Takayama.