If you are looking for a Japan countryside getaway, not too far from Kyoto or Hiroshima, then, Joge town is perfect for you.
From Kyoto or Hiroshima, take the Shinkansen to Fukuyama station before renting a car that will bring you in a 1h drive to the village. You can also drive directly from Hiroshima to Joge. It will take you around 1h45.
Joge-machi was located on the “Ginzan Kaido” or “Silver Highway” which, during the feudal era, delivered silver from the continent to Kyoto and Osaka. In Joge-machi, you can take a walk to admire the historical buildings, see a Kagura performance, a Shinto ritual ceremonial dance, buy some antiques, experience Japanese budô and also meet local producers. In addition, while walking the streets of the village, you can still feel the spirit of the Edo area. A real time-travel.
Day 1 – Traditional Japanese village
For the first day of this weekend away from the city, leave early in the morning to arrive near Joge just in time for lunch. Don’t go to the city center yet and aim for the mountains. A little road, stuck between a stream of water and the side of the mountain, will bring you to Shuroan, a delicious restaurant owned by a really nice couple. While the wife will show you around, the husband will cook for you a delicious lunch set with seasonal and local ingredients. The food is delicate, the seasoning subtitle.
After lunch, you can ask to take your tea in a pavilion overhanging the river. Calm and serenity surround you. If you have time, why not take a nap?
Later on, after lunch, head to Tenryo Joge, a traditional Japanese inn where you will be spending the night. There, the friendly staff will welcome you as well as advise you on what to do in this picturesque town. Our recommendation: rent an antique kimono for the afternoon. While walking around town, take amazing pictures in kimono in front of the city white walls, in the Okinaza, the only wooden theater left in the Chugoku region, or in the antique shop. Also, discover the story behind the thousand of dolls displayed there and get a taste of the old Japan.
Day 2 – Japan countryside getaway
For this second day of your Joge adventure, enjoy your morning in the machiya garden before heading to Bingo Yano station. This station is a veritable treasure and you will find there a lot of nicks-nacks, masks, figurines, and other unidentified objects. Also, on the platform, don’t miss the small jinja with the Hotei-san statue, the divinity of contentment and happiness, carved in a woodblock. In addition, if you are lucky enough, there are only 6 trains a day, you will see the one-car train passing through the station and on to the rice fields. An image that seems to be out of a Giblie movie.
Also, the station is themed around happiness and good fortune. Indeed, the train line name is Fukuensen 福塩線 and if you change the character in the middle while keeping the same pronunciation, Fukuensen becomes 福縁線 with means the good fortune line.
In addition, the station is taken care of by a really nice couple. And for lunch, they will make you a udon like no other: the fukuen udon (good fortune udon), named after the train line. In fact, the recipe has been carefully thought of by Sato-san, the station master. It consists of a udon soup with 3 mochi : a ume (plum) mochi, a kibi (millet) mochi and a yomogi (mugwort) mochi. In fact, the rond shape of the mochi symbolizes good fortune.
After lunch, have a drive in the rice fields around. The scenery are just breath taking!
What to bring as a souvenir?
Before leaving, what to get as a souvenir from Joge town? We recommend some Yoshu cake, Tsuchinoko Manju, Senbei, Fukuen lucky charm, antique plates,… Get all those souvenirs and exclusive interviews of Joge people by subscribing to our November box.
Also, if you are interested in a Japan countryside getaway, you can contact Cocolo Travel for a personalized travel plan.