18 October, 2010

South Awaji Tour

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to South Awaji with Hyogo volunteer guides on a training tour. About 60 people came on this overnight tour, and it was a huge success.

On the first day, we climbed Mt. Mikuma and visited Onokoro Shrine, but the highlight of the day was going to Miyako-bijin sake brewery to learn about and taste their sake, as well as to see the Umibotaru for the first time.

                                      Mikuma Mountain tour with the volunteer guide members

Miyako-bijin Brewery started in South Awaji. It’s been a popular brand for many years, and it has received a number of awards. They use the traditional method Tenbin-shibori, to create sake. As you can see from the picture, they use the large log as a balance to squeeze the sake out. Their tradition is to focus on the quality and not the quantity. After getting a tour of the entire brewery, we were able to taste the local sake. Needless to say, everyone was VERY happy.

                                      Miyako-bijin Brewery                     Local sake tasting

After enjoying delicious pike eel dinner, we headed down to the beach to see the Umihotaru. Umihotaru’s literal translation is ocean firefly, and it’s a type of small crustacean that live in the ocean, like shrimps and shellfish, that illuminates a bright blue color. Everyone was in awe by the beauty of these tiny creatures. The hotel that we stayed in even had a large outside bath, and I had a perfect day.

                                              Umihotaru                             Pike eel dinner

On the second day, we hopped on a boat and went to an island called Nushima.
It was a very peaceful island with lots of nature.
Nushima is famous for its Kuniumi Legend, and it goes like this:
A god and a goddess named Izanagi and Izanami used a special sword to stir the ocean. When they lifted the sword, the single drop from it hardened and became Nushima. This mystic island was filled with many interesting histories and legends.

                                 Arriving at Nushima Island            One of the many shrines in Nushima

After taking a guided tour of the island, we had the opportunity to catch a boat and circle the island. There were many unique geological features and unspoiled nature. It was nice to see such a beautiful sight, especially since I now live in a big city and this kind of view is hard to find.

                                             Kamitategami Rock        Landscape called “Earth’s wrinkle”
South Awaji and Nushima maybe a bit out of the way, but that’s what allows this place to have so many things that you can’t see in a big city. If you want to experience the traditional Japan, I think South Awaji is a perfect place.

\  Shark (Hyogo Tourism Association)