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Deep-dive into centuries-old Japanese Culture

Experience centuries-worth of history in modern Japan

Japan is abundant with tradition, culture and history dating back centuries ago. Tour around the Okitama area of Yamagata Prefecture and witness and experience it all for yourself. From shrines with 1600 years of history, to traditional childhood pastimes, festivals and cuisine, appreciate the longstanding culture and history that Okitama has to offer.

Tour at a glance


What this private tour includes



Please inquire

Minimum number of participants

2 people

Maximum number of participants

4 people

Tour Length

3 Days 2 Nights

Tour Availability

Between November 11th 2024 and March 30th 2024

Meeting Location

This private tour starts and ends at Akayu Station.

Important notes

It is recommended you make a reservation request one month in advance of your desired tour date. Experience availability may vary. Reserve to confirm availability.
Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking.

Day 1: Kumano Taisha Shrine's 1200 years of history and tradition

Start your private tour with a visit to one of the most revered shrines in all of northern Japan. Kumano Taisha enshrines the gods Izanagi and Izanami who, according to myth, were the first married couple in Japan. As such, the shrine is known as a power spot where those looking for love come to pray. Here, along with your English-speaking interpreter-guide, you can make a wish and view a Shinto ritual performed by the shrine’s Shinto priests, practiced throughout the 1200 years of history of the shrine. Then you can witness an awesome kagura dance performed by a miko shrine maiden, a rare sight which cannot be seen at any time of the day.

Afterwards, you will head to your accommodations, a top-ranked boutique onsen ryokan in Japan. The historic 400-year-old gate you pass through to enter the onsen ryokan leads to the 350 year old main wing of the building, previously a mountain protecting buildling created 350 years ago for the high-ranking Uesugi clan. Here, you are able to appreciate the architecture incorporating both historic and modern design elements while luxuriating in the rooms, enjoying the natural water hot springs from Akayu Onsen and tasting delicious modern kaiseki crafted by their in-house Michelin star chef. 

Day 2: Historic lifestyle, culture and cuisine

On the morning of the second day, you will meet with your English-speaking interpreter-guide and have the option to join in on an early morning hike to the neighboring mountains in the area. After having  breakfast you will be transported to Nagai City for the day. 

Nagai City is home to the largest producer of Kendama toys, creating around 70% of Japan’s cup-and-ball toys. Kendama is a traditional Japanese toy, generally believed to have originated during the 17th or 18th century and has continued to be enjoyed in modern times. Learn about kendama at SPIKE, a kendama school in Nagai City, and try it out for yourself. As a souvenir, you can even choose a kendama to take home with you.

Next, you will learn about the Kurojiishi Black Lion masks, originating from Nagai City from around years 1051 to 1062 , believed to dissuade disaster or misfortune if decorated in a household. See artisan lion head carvings, hear about the Kurojiishi Black Lion festival Nagai City holds annually and receive a mask of your own to protect you at home.

Afterwards, savor local cuisine passed down several generations at a farmhouse restaurant and converse with locals around the Japanese hearth. 

For your final experience for today, visit and tour around a sake brewery and conduct a sake tasting, taking in the century-old techiques and methods to create this quintessential alcoholic Japanese beverage.

You will then return back to your luxurious lodgings for another night of relaxation and spectacular food.

Day 3: Breakfast and continue your travels

On the third and final day, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your lodgings. After checking out, you will be transferred to Akayu Station. Tour dismisses at Akayu Station.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1
1:20 PM Arrive at Akayu Station
1:30 PM Drop off luggage at onsen ryokan
2:30 PM Arrive at Kumano Taisha Shrine and view the shrine grounds, Shinto prayer and kagura dance
4:00 PM Arrive and check in to your onsen ryokan
6:00 PM Have dinner at your onsen ryokan

Day 2
6:00 AM Hike (optional)
7:30 AM Arrive back at onsen ryokan to have breakfast
8:30 AM Depart onsen ryokan and go to Nagai City via private charter vehicle
9:30 AM Arrive at SPIKE, Kendama experience
11:00 AM Kurojiishi Black Lion viewing and lecture
12:30 PM Farmhouse restaurant
2:30 PM Sake tour and tasting
4:30 PM Arrive back to your onsen ryokan
6:00 PM Have another delicious dinner in your onsen ryokan

Day 3
8:00 AM Enjoy breakfast at your ryokan and relax 
10:00 AM Check out of your ryokan
10:10 AM Transfer to Akayu Station
Tour ends at Akayu Station


You can send a booking inquiry for your tour below. After we receive your inquiry, we will confirm if we can accommodate your group and tour dates and contact you. 

Cancelation Policy

Our general cancellation policy for our experiences is below. Cancellation fees may vary according to exceptional circumstances. Changes to your tour dates can generally be made up to 45 days before your tour.

21 business days or more before date of tour

No penalty

20 business days to 8 business days before date of tour

20% of total price

7 business days to 2 business days before date of tour

30% of total price

1 business day before date of tour

40% of total price

Date of tour before start time

50% of total price

Date of tour after start time or no show

100% of total price