30 July, 2010

City Filled with Traditional Japanese Culture

The other day, I had the chance to visit Tajima region in nothern Hyogo prefecture.
It was about a three hour drive from Sannomiya (Kobe), but the beautiful scenery made the trip feel very short.

First we visited the Hyogo Prefectural Tajima Ranch Park. There, we had the chance to learn the history of  Tajima beef as well as their management strategies. Tajima beef is known to be one of the best beef in the country, so their quality management is extremely strict. It was very interesting to hear the amount of effort they put into protecting the quality of their beef and their cattle. In fact, the best part of the Tajima beef that meet all the requirements is called the “Kobe beef” which is loved by many people around the world.

Hyogo Prefectural Tajima Ranch Park

That night, we stayed at the traditional Japanese farm-style inn called “Zen,” which was located in Tanto town, an hour drive from Toyooka city center. With 100 years of history, owners renovated just the necessary parts to use it as the nostalgic Japanese inn. Surround by the beautiful nature, it’s a great location for relaxing and experiencing the old Japan.

Traditional Japanese Farm-Style Inn “Zen”

My favorite part of the inn was the goemon-buro, or the Goemon-style bath. This type of bath is in circular form and uses the fire place just outside of the bath to heat it up. Made of iron, the temperature can get extremely hot, but it was the most memorable part of my trip.

 Goemon-buro, or Goemon-style bath tub

And of course, the food!
Yamame, one of the highly popular fresh water fish, was cooked in irori.
Back in the day, it was a Japanese tradition to sit and eat around the irori.
Old Japanese version of a kitchen, irori is where the owners build a small fire and cook fish, mochi rice-cake, and other delicious food.

Traditional Japanese irori used for cooking

The city of Toyooka was much different from the modernized city of Kobe. I was able to experience the old Japan, and I hope many visitors can have the opportunity to see and feel the amazing culture as I did.