Explore the breath-taking natural beauty of the region.
Hike in silent mossy forests immersed in a sacred atmosphere,
Trek to the summits of the Yatsugatake and enjoy the spectacular view of
Mt. Fuji and the three ranges of the Japanese Alps,
Cycle along the foothills of the mountains through lovely rural villages
and terraced rice fields.
Delve into the awe-inspiring and
characteristic local culture.
Cook with the village grannies and prepare unique dishes such as rustic
mochi with perilla sauce or elegant colorful agar cakes,
Spend a day with a famer helping with the harvest,
preparing preserves and eating delicious fresh vegetables,
Visit a producer’s or artisan’s workshop,
observe up-close the technique of a smith and make your own Japanese knife.
Yamaura means "in the mountain’s shadow". In the past it was used as a negative term to describe the villages in Chino, as they stand right under the mountains. Now the locals have made this word their own and they use it with pride to indicate that way of living in harmony with nature typical of this area.
Stretching out from the peaks of the Yatsugatake all the way down to where Suwa valley begins, the Chino area is perched on the foothills of a massive mountain range. The body of the Yatsugatake Mountains, a long-extinct volcano with dozens of peaks (the highest of which reaches a height of 2,899m) embraces the entire region, protecting it against calamities, offering blessings and challenges alike.
The Yatsugatake have shaped the lives of the locals for thousands of years. Numerous elegant artifacts, which date all the way back to the Jomon period (the Japanese stone-age), have been excavated throughout the region, and intangible assets such as the locals’ special relationship with the mountains even now speak of this long-lasting heritage.
At Suwa Grand Shrine, one of the oldest sanctuaries in Japan, people worship the spirit of nature and perpetuate the mysterious and primeval festival of Onbashira, when huge trees felled and dragged down the mountains by manpower alone are erected around the perimeter of the shrines.
In the rural villages the locals lead a life in harmony with nature, their gastronomy, farming and crafts attuned to the cycle of the seasons. In spring and autumn, they forage wild vegetables, mushrooms and nuts at the base of the mountains. In the summer, they gather the cool waters of mountain streams into waterways built by their ancestors to grow rice and vegetables. In winter, they make use of the cold mountain breeze to produce unique food and crafts.
And it is in winter, when frost covers the land and temperatures drop way below zero, that the local culture stands out the most.
The locals’ vitality and wisdom have allowed them to thrive even in the coldest weather. This they have achieved not by working against nature, but rather in consonance with it; not by fighting the frost, but by turning it into an ally. Unable to farm for half the year, they have conceived ingenious ways to use the natural cold dry climate. One of these is the production of freeze-dry preservation food such as kanten (“agar”), frozen tofu, frozen daikon and much more; a technique which improves the natural characteristics of each ingredient by exposing it to the ice-cold weather of the Yatsugatake.
But food is not the only product of the winter culture. The region is also famous for its top-quality blacksmithing, especially saw-making, and extensive sake production, two activities which greatly benefit from the distinctive climate. Humidity is an enemy of blades and sake fermentation is better controlled when cold. The Yatsugatake provides the perfect conditions for both of these productions and the locals have not failed to seize the chance to create jobs in the farming “off-season”.
We believe that there is more to travel than just sightseeing. This is why at Chino Tabi we make it our mission to design special journeys where, instead of hastily passing by a location, you have the chance to immerse yourself into local life.
Chino Tabi is a DMO -Destination Management Organization- for Chino City and surroundings. We organize activities and tailor-made tours in the area that connect you, the travelers, and the locals. Embarking on one of our adventures means getting beneath the surface, having exclusive access to places usually inaccessible to tourists and interacting with the local community.
For 10,000 years the locals have lived under the shadow of the Yatsugatake Mountains, in harmony with nature and attuned to all the seasons, even the coldest winters.
By making tourism into an instrument of social and economic development, we wish to protect and promote Chino area and what makes it unique.
Our objective is - to still be “one with the Mountains” 100 years from now -.