Day 2 in the Japanese mountains: Experience Tour-Live

We had a leisurely morning to relax and get caught up on some pending items happening back home, before heading out on our tour.
Midori & Kei will customize a tour for you from any of the following options.
The entire day for the personal guided tour is only 6,000yen/pp = about US$60 for the whole experience…a great deal & well worth it!!
We decided to focus on three areas:
1) Temple … with gorgeous autumn colors, tranquility, and historic artifacts
2) Sake Brewery Tour… Watch sake production process and have sake tasting
3) Thatched Roof Village & Indigo Museum
IMG_2107 IMG_2108
1) We were very fortunate to experience this temple almost completely by ourselves.
20141112_112135 20141112_112803 IMG_1429 IMG_1432 IMG_1434 IMG_1437 IMG_1441 IMG_1486 IMG_1628 Lucky for us this late morning visit was the perfect time for taking great photos and reflecting on the power of zen.
20141112_112831 20141112_113617 20141112_114449  IMG_1471 20141112_121129 IMG_1473IMG_146120141112_120758 IMG_1463 IMG_1470   IMG_1478 IMG_1482 IMG_1491
For lunch we were introduced to one of the local speciality’s; venison at a very cool and great quality restaurant looking across a large field in to the mountains.
I had the venison meatball stew set meal and J had the venison cutlet stewed meal. The flavor was rich, but light, and slightly gamey. It reminded me of a countryside French meal, so nice!!
20141112_131624 20141112_131643 20141112_131653 20141112_134647
2) … the local sake brewery is a small, family-run operation applying different methods to creating refined sake at affordable, excellent quality. 
When we arrived, the process of washing the steamed rice was underway.
After being washed by hand, the rice went to begin the fermentation process.
In the distillery area;
We saw the chemistry specialist working on the right amount of mold and cultures for the process to be balanced just so.
Each brewery has a secret culture recipe that must be maintained in a hot room for replicating the distinct flavor for the different styles of sake.
IMG_1507IMG_1510IMG_1509 IMG_1512 20141112_14152820141112_14150420141112_140629     IMG_1518 IMG_1519 IMG_1520
The tasting room is full of natural light and cedar wood furniture.
We enjoyed 7 different tastings by our brewery host; a very polite and gracious lady.
20141112_141749 IMG_1541 IMG_1538 IMG_1537 IMG_1534 20141112_150818 20141112_150752
They also have one person only dedicated to beer!
Three different blends include Amber, Weiss and Klosch beer.
Rich in flavor, light and well-balanced, these beers have wine gold medal awards at the Yokohama beer festival two years in a row.
The hardest part was deciding which bottles would accompanying us back to Taipei…in the end we decided on two bottles and a three pack of the assorted beers, which were happily consumed in Osaka a few days later. 
3) With a slight buzz we hopped back into the Land Cruiser to go experience Miyama, a little mountain village where the craft of traditional thatched rood homes has been preserved. 
  IMG_1546 IMG_1547IMG_1543IMG_1544Each thatched roof house must re-made every 20 years at a cost of around US$300,000! Luckily the Japanese government recognizes the importance of keeping these articles of traditional culture alive, thus pays for this reconstruction when needed.
One roof was under repair during our visit;
I could easily picture my Papa sitting to a few hours with libation watching the process with great interest!
The village is very picturesque with residents in each the homes going about their daily lives, a folklore village, and hiking trails can be explored to.
IMG_1549 IMG_1552 IMG_1553 IMG_1556 IMG_1557 IMG_1558 IMG_1559
But, what I was most interested in was the Little Indigo Museum.
The house, the presentation, and the artisan we all uniquely inspiring!
Entrance fee to the museum (which is also the Artisan’s family home) costs 200yen (about US$2).
The artisan, a very learned older man has been perfecting his indigo dying craft for almost 50 years.
30 years ago he purchased the 150-year-old home and converted the traditional kitchen into a natural indigo dying artisan shop.
With vats of dye waiting for the next work, he winds woven cotton on a large tension system to create his signature look.
His look is rendered in the use of many kimonos, household items, and works of art.
The art room presentation has a beautiful feel to it making me want to create!

IMG_1560 IMG_1561 IMG_1562  IMG_1566IMG_1565 IMG_1568 IMG_1569 IMG_1570 IMG_1571 IMG_1573

Upstairs he showcases his mainly European collection of clothing and 18th-19th century textile prices he has collected over the years.
Having traveled extensively himself….-san has a great command of English, having shown in many exhibitions around the world and translating the book…

20141112_163919  IMG_1574 IMG_1575 IMG_1576 IMG_1579 IMG_1582 IMG_1596 IMG_1597 IMG_1599IMG_160120141112_165758IMG_1611IMG_1614IMG_1609

The first floor entrance is a small retail space of handwoven items by his wife, and hand dyed creations.
I wanted to buy everything, but limited myself to two silk pouches and two cotton coasters.
You can visit The Little Indigo Museum website:
Or, even better, make a personal visit yourself!!
It was dark by the time we left the thatched village with the temperature becoming chilly.
We drove back to Midori and Kei’s home for an evening potluck!
20141112_190102 20141112_202534 20141112_202545 IMG_1623 IMG_1624
Together we cooked with 4 of Midori’s friends.
Jason made chicken, wild mushroom, and veggie stir fry;
I made a semi-sweet bell pepper, onion, and ginger dish;
The retired Paichinko professional player made hot pot;
The two friends with little 10-month old fun baby made sweet potato tempura.
It was a great cultural sharing experience full of laughter and full bellies!
20141112_235414We slept VERY well that night!