During the weekend of October 3-4, Yabu City hosted its first-ever promotional tour with native English speaking participants residing in Hyogo Prefecture. The tour hosted this time was designed to accommodate women in their early 20-30’s and was held to receive feedback from foreigners residing in Japan as part of the ongoing initiative to promote inbound tourism in Yabu.
The first day of the tour consisted of a short presentation introducing Yabu City, followed by a lunch course served at Katashima, a long-established western sweets shop/cafe in Yabu. The course consisted of a homemade mushroom potage, a crispy baked Asakura sansho meat pie (inspired by the British cornish pasty), a lovely fall dessert plate followed by some petit fours showcasing their award-winning Tendaki yuzu marmalade. The ingredients used were all seasonal and freshly grown in Yabu, which made for a divine and delicious lunch.
After lunch, the participants were escorted into the Kanko taxi, a taxi rental service that can be used to get around in Yabu - and headed off to hike Tendaki Falls, a stunning waterfall ranked in the top 100 waterfalls of Japan. The participants enjoyed the mid-distance hike and snapped some photos along the way. They especially enjoyed being able to get close to the actual waterfall itself and feeling the misty breeze.
Following the hike, the participants took a relaxing soak at Mando no Yu Onsen located in Sekinomiya, and then were dropped off at the Kominka (old Japanese-style house) Cottage in Oya to check-in and then enjoy an extravagant dinner consisting of local specialties of game cuisine (deer and boar), sashimi, Asakura sansho tamagoyaki, and more.
The next morning started with a hearty traditional Japanese-style breakfast. The participants then had an exciting morning where they experienced hand capturing rainbow trout at Ayu Park, located in the area below the cottage. Afterward, the participants learned to grill and salt the fish on skewers. A unique experience and style of eating fish, that may not be as accustomed to westerners, but the participants gave it a try and enjoyed the overall experience.
After Ayu Park, the participants were driven to Kaiko no Sato in Oya to enjoy mochi-tsuki or mochi pounding. A traditional activity that is enjoyed during New Years in Japan. After pounding the mochi rice, they were taught by the kind staff, on how to roll the mochi into individual portions, then enjoyed the fresh mochi with kinako (roasted soybean powder) and mulberry-leaf tea.
After a morning of fish capturing and mochi-pounding, the participants enjoyed a healthy and local lunch at 村ん中 (Murannaka). The lunch course consisted of many small portion-sized dishes of yuba (tofu skin), harmoniously paired together with local vegetables and ingredients. The restaurant itself utilizes the special regulatory reforms that were developed for Yabu which is designated as a National Strategic Special Zone. This allowed for the restaurant to be built on farmland since it fulfilled the requirements which include that the owner must be a farmer, and the restaurant must utilize either their own or locally grown produce.
After lunch, the participants were brought to Michi-no-Eki Tajima-no-Kura in Yoka to have a meet and greet with the local mascot Yappu - a forest fairy with Mt. Hyonosen shaped hair, and a Tendaki Falls scarf. They enjoyed snapping photos with him, gift shopping then tried our local specialty soft serve with Asakura sansho. The tour was then wrapped up with an opinion exchange where we overviewed the entire tour and then sent our participants off to the station as they caught their train home.
Although this was the first time that Yabu has hosted a promotional tour targeted towards native English-speaking participants we hope to possibly host another in the future to receive more feedback and encourage our local businesses to become more open towards accommodating English speaking visitors in preparation for the World Master’s Games in 2021.