Yotsuya Senmaida Terraced Rice Fields in Shinshiro City is a spot where you can encounter the traditional landscapes of Japan all year round. Mt. Horaiji is another famous place, home to the mountaintop Horaiji Temple said to have been founded 1,300 years ago. After taking your time trekking along the mountain paths, take a leisurely bath at the well-known Yuya Onsen to soak away your everyday fatigue.
Visit Point No.1
- Historical Village Damine Castle
- Damine Castle is a castle of revenge. The two samurai who were ousted from the castle turned it into a sea of blood one year later. Alongside the reconstructed Damine Castle is a burial mound for severed heads to mourn the dead killed in the massacre, and the place of execution of a retainer who was sawn up alive. Even now, they tell the sorrowful history of this place. Damine Castle is a mountain castle, which was common in the age of samurai, and it has a watchtower from which soldiers back then would have watched out for enemies. From there, you can overlook the flow of a peaceful, beautiful river.
Visit Point No.2
- Damine Kannon
- This temple is the stage for the historic Damine Kannon Hono Kabuki and Damine Dengaku performances. There is a legend that snow was made to fall in midsummer in response to the villagers' prayers, and to this day kabuki performances are held to give thanks. The stage where the kabuki is held is wonderful, but the important thing to behold is the paintings on the ceiling of Emado Hall. Ancient as they are, the colors have faded with time, but the animals and plants are painted so vividly they look as though they will start moving at any moment. This is not to be missed.
Visit Point No.3
- Yagumoen in Kiyosaki
- When summer arrives, you should play in the Samusa River flowing nearby! Here, there's a fishing weir called a "yana" where you can catch sweetfish with your bare hands. Eat the freshly caught fish salt-grilled or fried. It'll taste like no other! In winter, you can eat specialty udon noodles made with boar meat.
Better yet, you can also try kinuhime salmon here, which was created using Japanese technology. With a texture that is fine, fatty, and soft, it's so delicious that the fish should be called the princess of all salmon. Come try the taste of the fish raised in a clean river here in Shitara Town.
Visit Point No.4
- Sekiya Brewery Co., Ltd.
- Have you ever come across the best cup of drink—Japanese sake? Japanese sake is manufactured from brewed ground rice. Ranging from sweet to dry tasting, with a well-rounded scent and flower-like fragrance, a variety of flavors is brought forth in this flawlessly perfect drink. Established in 1864, the popular Sekiya Brewery Co., Ltd. brews sake using the pure water that gushes forth from this land. "Houraisen" is their signature brand. With its fruity fragrance and smooth, mellow taste, it enjoys the endorsement of many Japanese sake fans. Although it is difficult to obtain, by all means stop by the direct outlet and try to get your hands on some. The brewery also sells undiluted sake that can only be tasted at the brewery site. Once you drink it, you will discover the charm of real Japanese sake.
Visit Point No.5
- Fureai no Yakata Green Message
- A lovely guest house found in Tsugu Kogen Green Park. A considerate couple with charming smiles will make sure you spend a wonderful time here. The meals served are raved about. With freshly baked bread in the morning, and delicious Western cuisine made with local ingredients at night, many people are head-over-heels for this place. There are family rooms and Western-style rooms with beds, which make the guest house very comfortable and easy to use.
Visit Point No.6
- Roadside Station Agri Station Nagura
- Cherry blossoms have a very important meaning to Japanese people. If you visit here, you will understand their meaning. Pink cherry blossoms line the Nagura River for as far as 2 kilometers. People wait for a beautiful spring day like this impatiently, welcome it, and try to take in as much as possible of their fleeting beauty. If, by chance you can visit this place at this time of the year, the cherry blossoms will without a doubt make your view of life a little richer.
Right next to this spot to see cherry blossoms is Agri Station Nagura. With a dining space and a space for selling vegetables, this is a fun place to look for souvenirs. Here, you must try the specialty gohei-mochi made by a local mom. Gohei-mochi are oval-shaped, skewered rice dumplings grilled with a savory sauce. They have been frequently eaten in the Okumikawa area since long ago. The rural landscape you can see here and gohei-mochi are marked remains of the charm of old Japan.