We offer unique experiences for travelers looking to get away from busy cities and tourist attractions in favor of simple, yet authentic, local communities.
Ordinary towns and villages, where traditional culture is still present in modern life, offer a more unique and memorable experience for visitors who want to go beyond the typical tourist destinations.
Language and culture barriers make it hard for visitors to explore such communities on their own, so our guides serve not only as tour conductors, but also as interpreters and local community members, facilitating interactions for a unique connection to the past and present of life and culture in rural Japan.
Lake Biwa, or Biwako (琵琶湖), is among the world's oldest freshwater lakes and is Japan's largest. Located in Shiga, just north of Kyoto, the lake is essential to the region's abundant ecosystem and is at the heart of the local farming communities, reflected in a unique yet modest local culture.
Historical routes around Lake Biwa also include the famous "Nakasendo" road, as well as a junction point between this historic route and another northbound route, which resulted in a major JR and bullet train station in Maibara City despite the small local population. Maibara is also home base for Biwako Backroads, and the station offers a great starting point for our tours exploring the surrounding Hikone, Maibara, and Nagahama areas of Northern Lake Biwa.
Modern life now relies on newer and larger routes here, but our tours explore the smaller, less traveled historic routes which are still serving the local communities and bridging the gap between past and present.
A refreshing ride for all ages. Explore the backroads of Maibara on a half day course with a local guide to lead the way.
Local agriculture up close. Rice planting begins in May, and a good section of the course covers a relaxing ride through local rice, wheat, and vegetable fields.
Hidden treasures of local culture. Almost every Japanese village has a Temple and Shrine, which often house relics, wonders, and a great place to stop for a rest or for photos.
Roads with stories. This small local street is also a lesser-known section of the historic Nakasendo route through central Japan.
A peaceful riverside village. The historic main street of Samegai sits alongside a relaxing river which also attracts domestic tourists to see the rare aquatic flower known as baikamo.
A Sacred source of water. Clear water flows into Samegai from nearby mountain springs. The local temple and shrine were both built at the end of the village nearest the river head.
A community of craftsmanship. The butsudan is a Buddhist altar traditionally kept in family homes. View these hand-crafted treasures and explore the village where the local artisans live and work.
A long tradition of local craft. Many of the Kaminyu Village residents are artisans specializing in various traditional handcrafts which are often combined to produce finished handmade goods.
Visit a crafting studio. Talk with a local woodworking master in his studio about the traditional Japanese methods of wood carving. Private workshops also available to come back and try for yourself!
Over a thousand years of history. After a 2 hour hike to the summit, Kanzanji Temple holds a rich 1,300 year old history to explore for those who make the trek.
A refreshing hike through vibrant wilderness. With access tucked away in a small village, few visit this mountain but those who do are treated by the serene and majestic mountain forest.
Where culture meets nature. The temple structures here are in physical decline without a modern caretaker, and yet are still very much alive as part of the natural and sacred environment.
Japanese nature up close. With few visitors, the nature here remains relatively untouched. Explore a world of rich flora and fauna deep in the mountain forests!
Who Will It Be?If our main guides are unavailable for any reason, we also have a network of trusted guides and backup support members on call who also provide quality guidance for all of our tours!
Want to learn more or have questions about our tours? We'd love to hear from you. Use the e-mail form here, and we'll get back to you within a business day. Talk to you soon!