Kurume is where the world-famous tire manufacturer Bridgestone got started and the city has long been a center for varied manufacturing. On this tour, we take a nature walk on the sacred Mt. Kora (aka. Korasan) with its abundant nature and history, and we explore why highly skilled craftsmanship developed in Kurume in many different fields.
Kurume is a major city in Fukuoka Prefecture, located about 3 hours by plane and train from Tokyo and about 3 hours by Shinkansen from Osaka. The Chikugo River, the largest in Kyushu, runs through the city from the northeastern part to the west, and on the south side, there’s a range of mountains such as Mino, Kora, and Myojo. Nurtured by this nature, manufacturing has flourished since old times, and in addition to traditional crafts such as Kurume Kasuri and lacquer ware, the region is renowned for its sake.
DAY1 The nature walk is about 7.3 km long centered on Mt. Kora, which has a long history, and the entire mountain is considered to be a sacred place in the area. You can feel the majestic atmosphere on the stone stairs leading to Kora Shrine, which has a history going back more than 1,600 years. Refresh yourself listening to the sounds of trees swaying in the wind and the chirping of birds. While looking down on the city and the magnificent Chikugo River from the hills above, we trace the origins of Kurume as a city of manufacturing.
After about 3 hours of walking, drive to the nature-rich Tanushimaru area. Learn about the history and technology of nursery trees, which is one of Kurume’s main industries. In the days when there was no electricity, people made wax candles, which were used as lights for daily life in Japan. You feel like you’ve traveled back in time to old Japan when you see the characteristic shimmering flames. Enjoy tasting while appreciating the aroma and color of Japanese sake from Kurume, which is said to be one of the three major sakes of Japan.
DAY2 Depart the accommodation and drive to the Tanushimaru area again with a guide. The second day starts with morning coffee, which you can enjoy while watching nishiki koi carp nurtured in the clear water swimming gracefully. We walk for about two hours with a guide with the Mino Mountain Range in sight, learning about the industry and history reflected in nurseries, farms, soy sauce and sake breweries, and shops.
Our destination is Beni Otome shochu distillery, which manufactures sesame shochu, a rarety in Japan. After learning how to make it and enjoying a tasting of sesame-scented shochu, we have lunch at an old thatched-roof house on the premises. We will have a delicious tofu meal made using underground water from the Mino Mountains.
To end the tour, we head to a workshop in a quiet forest. This is a workshop using techniques inherited from a master of Kurume Kasuri, a traditional Japanese textile craft. Here, you can try authentic indigo dyeing in the indigo jars that the craftsmen actually use, under the guidance of an expert. The pattern you create differs according to how you tie the fabric. You can devise elaborate designs using wood and twine. Your own “Japan Blue” T-shirt dyed in a unique pattern is a souvenir of the tour.
Experienced local guide accompanies guests on this tour. They will connect you with the locals!
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