Onsens & Post Towns : A Wabi Sabi Escape | Japan | November 2017
Onsens & Post Towns : A Wabi Sabi Escape | Japan | November 2017
Join Beth & Matt of Local Milk along with our guide & co-host photographer Haruka Sakaguchi of The Denizen Co. on November 5-13 2017 for our fall L | M Escape: a 9 day, 8 night odyssey exploring rural Japan—through the hot springs of the volcanic Aso Mountains & the onsen village of Kurokawa on to the feudal era post towns of Tsumago & Magome and the forested path—complete with waterfalls & an ancient stone trail amidst the changing autumn leaves—that has connected the two for hundreds of years and ending up in the snowy, virgin birch forests of the Akita prefecture at the hidden village of Nyuto, a small cluster of natural hot springs that have been visited & largely unchanged for centuries.
The Escape will begin with a rejuvenating 3-night stay at Ryokan Sanga, a tranquil onsen hidden away in the mountains and fed by an ancient, healing hot spring visited for generations. You'll be greeted with green tea (or sake, whatever your poison be) and shown your room with your own personal hot spring bath in it before a short tour of the private and outdoor baths on the property, all nestled between mossy boulders and dappled streams. We'll spend our first few days exploring the local village of Kurokawa, enjoying the hot springs at Sanga, and taking a day trip to the nearby traditional ceramic making village where the waters of the river are used to power large wooden mallets to pound the clay and the same families have been making Onta pottery for generations. We'll pass the time discussing wabi-sabi, the perfection of imperfection, and visual storytelling while exploring the embodiment of it all in local cuisine from the village tofu restaurant to an elaborate kaiseki meal prepared by the ryokan to fish stew cooked over open coals in an iron kettle.
After our time in Kurokawa, we'll time travel by bus, a short plane ride, and a train through the countryside to end up in the ancient Kiso Valley at the Fujioto Inn just in time for a walk through the unchanged streets & an elaborate, multi-course dinner featuring seasonal delicacies & the specialty beef of the region. The owners take such pride in the dinner they will not alter it; it’s as much ritual as meal. The next morning we’ll take a short ride to Magome, the sister post town, where we’ll eat street food—steamed buns to steaming bowls of noodles—before hiking the ancient trail back to our inn in Tsumago. We’ll stop along the trail at a waterfall & at the house of an old man that welcomes hikers with tea, Japanese pickles, and sweets.
Finally we will be Shinkansen bound for the snowy mountains where the “hitou” (hidden hot springs) of the Nyuto Village are nestled. We’ll stay at Tsurunoyu where we can bathe in their milky waters, explore the hot springs of the area, and dine on fish stew seated on tatami mats each night.
Peruse the gallery to the left for glimpses of what's in store during the Escape; we will be going everywhere pictured.
Please Note: Due to logistics we will only be booking double rooms to provide the best experience for guests and to honor the requests of the small inns we will be lodging at. As such, this is the perfect escape for couples or friends traveling together but just as welcoming to single travelers as well, just note that all rooms will be shared with one other guest (of the same sex). We will be keeping the group to only 6 to provide ample one-on-one time with us to discuss your creative, professional, and personal goals in depth while we travel together.
This Escape will be hosted by nomadic photographers and as such is the ideal time to learn about photography should you want to. We’ll be there all day everyday to teach & give feed back to any guests that would like it, from the professional to aspiring professional to hobbyist. However, you do not need to be a photographer to join us, nor do you need to be interested in photography. Because of the small group size and long duration, you can make this escape what you want it to be:
• an immersive cultural & culinary experience to sate your wanderlust
• a chance to create and tell your own compelling visual story in an otherworldly setting
• a portfolio building & critique opportunity for advanced and aspiring photographers
• a chance to learn both the basic technical and creative sides of photography from changing camera settings & lens types to editing in Lightroom... all in a visually inspiring place
• a time to focus on slow living, balance, and the direction of your personal or professional life
• a chance to connect and build relationships with like-minded people
Your hosts can provide instruction in the following areas:
Visual Storytelling I - camera settings, composition, light & lens
Visual Storytelling II - finding your voice, evoking 5 senses with a 2D visual medium, and creating a shot list to tell a story
Post Processing - editing photographs in Adobe Lightroom or on your mobile phone
Photography Business - from portfolio building to legal & accounting to price setting and negotiation
Brand Building - creating an identity & path for your creative or business venture
Social Media + Online Platforms for Creative Businesses - how to maximize digital platforms to reach your goals, customers, and audience
Writing - how to show, not tell and communicate 5 senses through the written word
Slow Living - what this means & how to incorporate it into your life for more balance, breathing, and ultimately productivity coupled with contentedness
The Details :
How Much : Prices given in EURO. €6750 per person. To be paid in 3 installments: one now at registration, one on March 1st 2016, and one on August 1st 2017. Personalized payment plans are available if you would like to break it up differently, contact us for more information here. We have provided two couples tickets (for two people) and two single tickets so that you can easily book as either a couple or a single.
Included : Absolutely everything but airfare to and from the Escape, extra alcohol & personal snacks, and personal shopping.
- private van pick-up from the Kurokawa bus station to Ryokan Sanga upon arrival and a bus to the train station from Nyuto Village upon departure.
- all meals & events both in and out as well as refreshments. Please note again that we cannot accommodate dietary restrictions on this escape. The ryokans we are staying at will not accept restrictions; the products they use are all local and they take great pride in the food they produce.
- one-on-one sessions with your hosts & group discussions on slow living, photography, and social media
- all excursions and activities including all hot springs & the village of Kurokawa, visits to the ceramic village, tea house excursion, visiting the hot springs of Nyuto, a day out and hike from Magome to Tsumago, etc.
- all travel expenses during the escape including in-country plane tickets during the escape (not to and from) and rail & bus passes as well as a stipend for snacks & drinks on the road (Japanese conbini is a beautiful thing! Vending machine coffee to onigiri...we've got you covered!)
- a shared, premium room at all locations including a double room with a private bath at Ryokan Sanga
- a curated selection of gifts during your stay including a book on Wabi-Sabi, ceramics, palm brooms, Japanese paper and more
Where : Arrival Kurokawa; Departure Nyuto Village | Detailed travel information to be given upon reservation
When : November 5-13 2017
Who : Open to couples, singles, and friends traveling together. The escape is for guests from all walks of life who love food, beauty, and to travel. We can cater to everyone from the advance photographer to the beginner to the non-photographer who prefers to simply experience everything as opposed to document it. Again, please note that all rooms are shared with one other guest.
Cancellation Policy : Due to the involved logistics, we offer no cancellations or refunds. Please know you can make it before booking. We strongly encourage you to have travel insurance to cover the retreat in the event of strikes, natural disasters, health problems, and other unforeseen events. Please make note of this, and if you have an unforeseen event contact your insurance provider. We are happy to provide any documentation necessary.
Important : All rooms are shared. To book as a couple please purchase a two person ticket. We cannot accommodate any dietary restrictions: there is meat, soy, seafood, and gluten in potentially all meals. Some of the traditional inns will not change their menus & will not allow us to request it. They take great pride in the food. All Japanese hot spring bathing is nude. Some is mixed gender. On all properties there are single gender facilities for those wishing to avoid mixed. Two of the best experiences in Nyuto are mixed gender. For other questions, please read our FAQ! To only pay the 1/3 deposit use the code JAPANESCAPE2017 at check out. If you don't use the code, you will be charged in full.