local culture, cuisine, and craft

Traditional Villages Walking Tour

Explore two neighboring villages and enjoy a locally-sourced ryotei lunch. Private half-day course with options to extend and customize.

Course Details - Traditional Villages

First explore Samegai, a village along the historic Nakasendo Road where a clear stream is at the center of local culture.

Next visit Kaminyu a little further up the mountain, this village has long been home to a community of traditional artisans.

Samegai Natural Clear Stream Village

This scenic village has been in harmony with nature since developing centuries ago as a resting spot for Kyoto-bound travelers. Now, summer visitors come to see a rare aquatic flower called baikamo (梅花藻 or water buttercup), which lives only in cool clear waters such as the mountain stream running through this village.

Our walking tour also makes a stop here in Samegai for a locally-sourced lunch at a ryotei restaurant, featuring a traditional kabata which allows the mountain stream water into the kitchen for cooking use and for keeping live fish. Meals may be vegetarian or gluten free by request, and while lunch cost is already covered in the tour fee, you may opt to extend the lunch to a full kaiseki course meal (see options below for more details).

Kaminyu Artisanal Woodcarving Community

A remote community of craftspeople who have continued upholding a long local tradition of skilled handcraft. Many of the area’s craftspeople assist in the local production of butsudan, or household Buddhist altars, which you’ll see the local butsudan showroom.

Working together with the village community, we’ve arranged for a local representative to accompany us, allowing free access drop in on artisans at work in their home studios and enjoy chatting with local residents.

Itinerary - Traditional Villages

Standard course half-day itinerary, and below, an second example of a full day itinerary which adds the Hikone Castle Tour option.

Standard Itinerary
Traditional Villages / Half-Day Course

Meet Pt: Maibara Sta.
Time: 4.5 - 5 hrs.
Walk Distance: Approx. 3.5km
Group: 2-6 People
Active Level: ?
Price: see pricing below
  • Itinerary Details
  • Meet at Maibara Station
  • Take local train to Samegai (5 min)
  • Leisurely tour of Samegai natural stream village
  • Locally-sourced lunch at ryotei restaurant. Meal incl. fish and/or meat. Vegetarian or special diet by request.
  • Taxi ride to neighboring Kaminyu artisan village
  • Stroll through village, visiting residents and artisans’ home studios
  • Taxi ride back to Samegai Station
  • Take train back to Maibara
  • What's Included
  • Professional Guide
  • Locally-sourced lunch
  • Kaminyu village representative excort fee
  • Taxi fare
  • Insurance
  • Not Included
  • All train fares
  • Souvenirs, snacks, etc.

Course Options - Traditional Villages

Options to extend and customize your experience. Our standard itinerary is about 3.5 hrs, so there's plenty of time to customize up to a full day of activities if you'd like to add any of the following:

Kaiseki Course Meal
¥3000/person

The Traditional Villages Tour features a locally-sourced bento lunch at a ryotei restaurant in Samegai.

But food lovers may wish to upgrade to the restaurant's kaiseki course meal, giving us more time to focus on traditional local cuisine, enjoying more dishes and the overall experience of traditional kaiseki course dining. Seasonal specialties often highlight local freshwater fishes.

For ¥1000 more (¥4000 total), the course menu will also include a dish of our local premiere wagyu brand, Omi Beef.

Vegetarian and special diet orders possible by request for both standard and kaiseki lunches.

Woodcarving Workshop
¥4500/person

Our standard course features introductions and visits to the studios of local professional artisans of Kaminyu Village. Optionally, we will adjust the itinerary, adding about 30 min. to the overall tour to make time for this 1.5 hr workshop to try your own hand at the craft and learn from the best! One of the local artisans conducts a beginner-friendly workshop of woodcarving in the traditional Japanese style.

Carve a decorative piece from one of several shaped starter blocks. Either follow from a template or simply use your own imagination to craft something you can take home as a memory of this experience!

Hikone Castle Tour
adds 3.5 hrs

Your guide can also take you on a tour of our area’s most famous historical landmark.

One of only four Japanese Castles that have maintained their original keep! Includes tour of the Genkyuen garden. By request (and additional fee) we can also include a boat tour of the Castle moat.

This 3+ hour optional activity usually extends a half-day course into a one day course, but we also offer an extended 5-hour version of this Castle Tour as a standalone custom half-day course on its own, which pairs nicely with the Zen Temple Visit option!

Zen Temple Visit
¥2500/person

Seigan-ji, a local Zen Buddhist temple, is a hidden gem with an amazing moss garden.

Fortunately, it’s just a short walk from Maibara Station, so we’re able to offer this optional stop to any of our courses.

Relax with tea and traditional sweets while enjoying beatiful views of the garden. And if we’re lucky enough to catch the head monk, he also offers free zen meditation sessions!

Pricing - Traditional Villages

Pricing for this private tour is determined by the size of your group, and any optional activities. Basic pricing is as follows:

Standard Private Courseincl. lunch, guide, taxi, and escort fees
Attendees Price per Person
2 people ¥16,500 per person
3 people ¥15,000 per person
4 people ¥14,000 per person
5 - 6 people ¥12,500 per person
* Solo tours also available by request for additional fee
Option Price added to course price above
Option Price
Kaiseki Course Meal
lunch upgrade
¥3,000 /person. Or with Omi Beef dish ¥4,000 /person (details above)
Woodcarving Workshop ¥4,500 per person (details above)
Zen Temple Visit ¥2,500 per person (details above)
Hikone Castle Visit 2 people:
¥7,200 / person
3-4 people:
¥6,500 / person
5 people:
¥6,000 / person
note: adds 3.5 hrs, includes Castle and garden fees (details above)

Booking - Traditional Villages

Request bookings through the form on our Booking Page. Please include any relevant details in the comments, and we'll get back to you within 1-2 business days to confirm availibity, details, and price.

Before booking, please also read through our Terms and Conditions for complete details about payment, cancellations, etc.

Frequent Booking Questions
We allow, and recommend, payment in person at tour start time. We accept in-person payments by cash (Japanese yen), or major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover). Alternately, we can arrange for advance payment via secure online invoice in Japanese yen, payable by Paypal or credit card. Note: while we don't require early deposit payment, you may be invoiced to pay any applicable cancellation fee in the event of late cancellation.
We may cancel if at least 60% chance of rain or snow is forecasted 1 day before the tour start. For weather cancellations, you will be fully refunded any advance payment. Walking tours will still be conducted in rain or snow (unless severe conditions). Cyclying tours may be conducted in light precipitation (we have rain ponchos for you to use). In cases of moderate or heavy rain, cycling tours will be cancelled, but you will have the option to exchange for our Traditional Villages Walking Tour at no extra cost, but excluding the lunch section of the tour. See our Terms and Conditions for more details about weather cancellation.
See our Terms & Conditions for complete details. Regarding cancellation fees, here's our basic timeline for fees applying to cancellations made by the customer:
  • 15 days or more before tour: No charge
  • 8-14 days before tour: 15% of total tour cost
  • 4-7 days before tour: 30% of total tour cost
  • 2-3 days before tour: 50% of total tour cost
  • 24 hrs or less before tour: 100% of total tour cost