～A hidden gem away from all the tourist hot spots of Japan～
On our tour, you can experience quality Japanese traditional life as well as a farm to table cooking experience while enjoying heartwarming exchanges with our local host families who welcome you with their natural hospitality.
We offer programs where you can enjoy the beautiful scenes of Lake Biwa or terraced rice fields either by bicycle or by foot at a leisurely pace while learning about the traditional local culture and art.
Led by our personable and knowledgeable local guides, the tours are either private or as part of a small group to ensure your utmost satisfaction.
Discover and join in the traditions of Shiga life amid uncrowded natural surroundings within just a short hop from Kyoto. It’s a great chance to encounter authentic local Japanese life amidst the stunningly beautiful countryside.
We believe that our tours offer a real heart to heart cross-cultural experience, which will remain as one of the highlights of your trip in Japan.
Tour du lac members all live near the shores of Lake Biwa, the largest and most unique lake in Japan, and are looking forward to sharing time with you in the hope that we can offer a bridge between the tour participants and the local people in a shared celebration of our collective humanity.
“Designers, architects, builders, and lovers of Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship will love this experience!”
This half-day tour was the keystone of my two-week visit to Japan, which focused on great gardens in Kyoto. The roofs of temples and shrines throughout Japan are often made using Hiwadabuki (Cypress bark) and Kokerabuki (Cedar board) roof-making techniques. Others are covered with silver-grey clay tiles and ornamented with Onigawara, or gargoyles, which are placed to keep away evil spirits and protect the buildings and their occupants. This tour provided a terrific introduction to these ancient building techniques and enhanced my understanding of Japanese architecture, aesthetics, and spirituality. I met and visited the workshops of MASTERS of these crafts, the skills, secrets, and traditions of which are currently practiced by 7th and 4th generation descendants, respectively. I happened to visit on one of the two days a year that the clay for the Onigawara was being pressed using ancient techniques by one family, and got to see the other family workshop where Cypress bark is prepared for roofing. It is an easy train trip, four-stops from Kyoto Station, and Keiko was an excellent tour conductor; she easily translated my questions to the roof masters, their answers back. Emi documented our experience. The artisans served tea, sweets and a light lunch, and we also visited an ancient Shinto shrine complex, Hiyoshi Taisha, where I saw roofs constructed as I had just learned. Truly a unique and wonderful experience. Highly recommended for people serious about Japanese culture, but any curious person will be amazed by the dedication and talent of these Japanese Master Roof Builders. Terrific value.
Review submitted November 2017
An excellent chance to interact with the locals - that's what travelling truly means!!!
Our great experience started when Misako-san welcomed us warmly at the train station. She brought us to a shrine and told us, among other things, the significance of the shrine to the Ogi village and its features. We also got our fortune told with a "mysterious" piece of paper.
We then walked leisurely uphill, admiring the peaceful village with a panoramic view of the paddy fields and the persimmons hanging to dry on the balcony of most homes. (The host family later gave us some dried persimmons to taste, and they tasted sweet and juicy)
After a brief 10 minutes' walk, we finally reached Kosaka-san's house. The Kosaka couple was charming, friendly and fun while Ms Hiromi was so humble and cheerful. First, we got to pound on the mochi with a heavy mallet. After that, Mrs Kosaka showed us how to fill the mochi with red bean paste. Kosaka-san showed us how to prepare sukiyaki-dish kansai-style. We were also shown his collection of "special wines and pets".
This is truly one of the highlights of our trip and a memorable experience that kept us talking about for days. We were grateful that Kosaka-san was willing to have us visit his home and to have the two charming ladies keeping us company.
P/S : We agreed that the mochi we made was the best we had tasted for the whole of our trip. Also I tried making sukiyaki at home today. Though it was well-received by the family, it was nothing compared to Kosaka-san's version, with everything freshly harvested from their backyard.
Review submitted November 2017
Landscape photos: ©Biwako Visitors Bureau