11 May, 2015

Ako Dantsu Rugs: Finest Creation by Power Women

Today’s discovery about Hyogo is Ako Dantsu Rugs which are hand-knotted cotton pile rugs created by women in Ako City. The origin of Ako Dantsu Rugs traced back to the 19th century and its beauty has handed down from generation to generation among the local women. It’s the best known hand-knotted luxury rugs in Japan and there’s something special about them. I paid a visit to one of a handful of weaving studios in Ako City, Hyogo.

Called ‘dantsu’ in Japanese, hand knotted rugs are works of art, and many taking several months to create. Creation of Ako Dantsu was invented by an inspirational woman named Naka Kojima who was born and raised in Ako. Inspired by Chinese rugs, she first produced Ako Dantsu Rug in 1874 after 26 years of working and developing. Using high quality 100% cotton, traditional weaving techniques and designs, it handed down for decades among the local women in Ako. Predominantly, men would work in salt field and their wives would weave rugs in the 19th century in the city

At the peak of its popularity, they adorned the Imperial House of Japan and other governmental buildings and exported to Australia, the UK, and the USA. However, the industry faced a drastic decline in 1930s and they were forced to close factories under the prohibition of cotton trade in the middle of the World War II. Some resumed weaving after the war, but they found it difficult to get back because machine-made rugs and carpets dominated the market. In 1991, Ako City decided to implement long-lasting succession plans that will preserve its legacy for future generations. They opened weaving classes for the younger women taught by Kirie Sakaguchi who was the only Ako Dantsu weaver left in the city at that time. Passion for the local produce won the survival and is embraced by the nation today.

The most unique about Ako Dantsu is its distinctive hand tufting process. Highly skilled artisans cut the long or uneven pile using three methods with special scissors to ensure equal height of the piles and polish the design. It is such a delicate touch and makes difference. Japanese people are so good at taking time and create quality that will last forever. You can visit their Kariya Stadio ,which is located only walking distances from JR Banshu-Ako sation, and see how they weave Ako Dantsu Rugs before your eyes. Hands-on workshops are available if you book in advance.

Ako City is known as a historical town with full of mouthwatering food such as ramen and oysters, and hot springs with a stunning view of the Seto Inland Sea. Not very far from Himeji.

Ako Dantsu Rugs Kariya Stadio
Tel 0791-45-0606
Location: 2073-4 Kariya, Ako City, Hyogo, 678-0239
Opening hours: 10:00 - 12:30/ 14:00 -16:00
(closed on national holidays, the second and fourth Sundays of the month)


17 April, 2014

Hyogo-grown Strawberry Picking

Blessed with beautiful nature and weather, Hyogo has pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farms around the area. Spring is a perfect season to pick fresh strawberries which are unobtainable from supermarkets. The season typically begins around late February and last until early June depending on the area and weather. Nothing compares to berries you pick on your own! Advance bookings are required.

List of strawberry farms in Hyogo

Owasa Farm
SeasonMarch 15 - early June
Price1,500 yen
Getting thereTake a bus bound for Fruit & Flower Park from Okaba Station on Kobe Railways
BookingCall 090-8212-6992
Niro Farm
SeasonMarch 15 – early June
Price1,500 yen
Getting thereWalk a minute northward from Kobe Railways (Sanda line)
BookingCall 078-981-1541
Takarazuka N's Farm
SeasonLate March - late May
Price1,500 yen
Getting there40 mins by bus from JR Takarazuka Station
BookingMail to takaraqueen@yahoo.co.jp
WellnessPark Goshiki(Awaji)
SeasonMarch – May
PriceEntry free. Cost if you take strawberries home.
Getting thereExpress Bus from Sannnomiya to Takataya Kahei Koen.
BookingCall 0799-33-0261

30 October, 2013

Kobe's little Europe: A walk in Kitano Ijinkan

Situated mere 15 minutes away from Sannomiya station, the Kitano Ijinkan, or Foreign Residences, are the beautifully-preserved houses of well-off foreign traders and diplomats who lived in Kobe city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are many stylish stores and restaurant in the area around those homes that makes the area one of the iconic attractions in the city today. 

16 July, 2013

Japanese baseball game experience at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium.

Baseball sounds very much American thing. However, I can assure you now that Japanese baseball game is more entertaining than that of the USA. The Hanshin Tigers baseball club in Hyogo, known as the Tigers, has Japan’s most passionate sporting supporters. Their famous home stadium Hanshin Koshien Stadium was built in 1924, where is also a famous ground of the National High School Baseball Championship. I’ll introduce some tips to enjoy baseball experience at the Hyogo’s most visited place with their biggest match of the season against the Yomiuri Giants.

26 June, 2013

Kobe Harborland: Umie

Big attraction in Kobe has opened last month. Kobe’s top tourist destination Kobe Haborland has added new tourist attractions into the area. New shopping mall Umie and Kobe Anpanman Children’s Museum has opened and become a new family day-out destination. I’d like to introduce a bit of it today, starting off at JR Sannomiya station.

30 April, 2013

Himeji: The Road to Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha.

Written by Yuka
Himeji Castle is undoubtedly the most iconic attraction of Himeji City, Hyogo. At present, the Japan’s greatest castle has been under five-year restoration process. Some of you, therefore, might hesitate to visit Himeji due to the construction. Well, Himeji is a gem and they have plenty to offer other than the castle. I’d like to introduce some of Himeji’s charms today. One place that is definitely worth a pilgrimage is Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha which is a film location of the Hollywood movie The Last Samurai. Here’s guide and some tips to enjoy a journey to the thousand-year old temple. 

Himeji can be easily reached by JR or Sanyo Railways from Kobe/Sannomiya or Osaka. When you get to JR Himeji Station, you’ll spot a nice tourist information center. Guides and maps of foreign languages, and Internet are available here. Friendly staff are on hand to offer you helpful advice and information to help you make the most of your trip.

Hungry in the morning?

05 March, 2013

Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Kobe Nankinmachi.

Hi readers! How did you celebrate the New Year's Day? China celebrates the Chinese New Year as the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, letting off firecrackers and performing lion dances and dragon dances. Nankinmachi in Kobe has been hosting the Spring Festival with their own twist for the last 27 years.

The Chinese New Year’s Day of 2013 was February 10 and Nankinmachi held the festival from February 2 to 17. One of the highlights of the festival a parade featuring Chinese historical figures, in which people dress up in clothes and makeup from Beijing Opera or the Chronicle of the Three Kingdom, was held on February 10. There are some other great performances each day during the celebration.

Jalan Besar Community Club who won the Shanghai 4th World Dragon & Lion Dance Championships were invited to perform this year. Their 30 minutes stage was tremendously exciting. Even though it was a cold winter day here, the crowds were mesmerized by that performance.

Look how lively it was!

It really was like the dragon was alive! I saw the performance for the first time, and didn’t know how hard they worked inside of the dragon. Their teamwork was amazing.

Yummy part...
Mouthwatering Chinese foods on the street are something you can’t miss. There are limited foods exclusively available during the New Year’s celebration. There was also the New Year’s calligraphy. It was like a beautiful painting.

The Spring Festival  takes place every year in Nankinmachi, Kobe. Why don’t you join next year? Nankinmachi itself is open all year round, so you can enjoy the Chinatown at any time of the year.
Happy March,