A Trip to Beautify Both the Body and Mind in Okumikawa
In the mountainous region of northeastern Aichi Prefecture is the Okumikawa area, a place for sightseeing that you may yet be unfamiliar with. Here you can encounter spectacular scenery in each season, ancient buildings, and kind, rustic people. This is a special place where even Japanese people feel a sense of nostalgia.
In choosing what’s best for yourself, independent people in particular take a liking to this place. The reason for this is that Okumikawa is the setting for life-changing trips where you can reflect on your own health and beauty within the abundant natural surroundings.
Okumikawa became known as “a place of health and beauty” due to a project that started in Toei Town.
This is where sericite, the raw material commonly used in cosmetic foundation, is mined. The especially high-quality sericite from Toei Town is also called a “miracle powder” and boasts a top share in the global market.
Originally these mines weren’t open the public, and this valuable experience only became possible after a woman who liked Toei Town moved there and began promoting the surrounding area by starting naori and offering hands-on cosmetics experiences and mine visits.
Here you can become deeply familiar with the raw materials of everyday cosmetics and how they are produced. An extraordinarily rare opportunity in Japan, this experience continues to attract the attention of those interested in beauty.
In addition, naori also makes use of a former elementary school classroom (Nokiyama School). The classroom desks and chairs, drinking fountains, and playground equipment are all standard items found in Japan’s elementary schools. Experience the warm atmosphere of this traditional wooden school building.
Even for those traveling from far away, this is a place that is well worth seeing.
The extracted sericite is pure white in color and so delicate that it crumbles under your fingertips. It’s easy to verify with your own senses why this sericite is used by cosmetics makers around the world.
At naori, challenge yourself by making your own original cosmetics, working from a basic mixture to come up with a combination of your favorite colors and ingredients.
Using sericite mined in Toei Town to make your own silky soft foundation is an especially popular experience. Return to the feeling of being a child again, measuring and mixing the raw materials until you gradually achieve a deep feeling of satisfaction.
Within Nokiyama School where experiences are held, you’ll also find a cafe in what was originally the science classroom. The place where children once used to conduct science experiments has been charmingly renovated and is filled with delicious aromas. Enjoy an original menu which includes cakes made with blueberries harvested from the local blueberry farm or wakocha Japanese black tea and hojicha roasted green tea grown without the use of pesticides.
Within the cafe is a popular corner lined with special, one-of-a-kind souvenirs. One of the recommended items here is Simple+ soap. Using local ingredients such as Toei Town herbs, honey, or Japanese sake, the soaps are slowly and carefully made in small batches. Soap by Simple+ has a gentleness that seems to capture the feelings of the soap maker and produces a lather that’s good for your skin. Try out a new way of washing unlike anything you’ve experienced until now.
Rich in nature, Okumikawa has lots of wonderful places to refresh your spirit. Out of these, three recommended spots are introduced below.
In front of Toei Station on the JR Iida Line is maru-kai, a store that offers an outstanding mix of goods produced in Toei Town. Large numbers of charming handmade works are for sale such as a traditional flower handicraft called mayu-bana that uses silk cocoons, herb tea made with a blend of herbs grown in Toei Town, and chainsaw art sculptures carved with an actual chainsaw. Assistance is also available in English.
This 130-year-old ryokan is located along the Furikusa River, which is famous for “the best ayu sweetfish in Japan.” Surrounded by scenery of the beautiful clear stream, the ryokan is known for having been loved by Japan’s leading scholars of folklore. In an effort to retain the appearance of those days as much as possible, equipment and old tools rarely seen anymore remain to this day.
Make treasured memories as you brush against life in Japan from more than one hundred years ago. Highly recommended is the ayu sweetfish cuisine from summer to autumn and the healthy wild game cuisine from winter to spring that is low-calorie, high-protein, and rich in iron.
This experiential facility of nature and beauty was built in the middle of the forest beside a murmuring river. Here is where you’ll find equipment for distilling essential oils, tours for observing the process, and hands-on experiences to create your own aromatic products.
The sight of essential oils being extracted little by little from the leaves and branches of Japanese cypress or Japanese cedar right before your eyes is both amazing and fascinating. Spend a unique time enveloped in the fragrances of Okumikawa’s dense forests.
Original scented goods are also prepared here. Hand creams or air fresheners with Japanese scents such as the traditional herb of Japanese peppermint or a type of citrus fruit known as yuzu are available for purchase.