28 February, 2011

Hyogo Industrial Tourism Excursion

   The other day, I visited Himeji city for the Himeji Industrial Forum, and I joined the excursion that they offered. The excursion took us around to popular industrial facilities in the area. Currently Hyogo is putting in a lot of effort into “Industrial Tourism” to revitalize the prefecture by using the industrial facilities as tourist attractions.

      Inside Himeji Castle                         Himeji Castle in Restoration

  The day started off with a tour of Himeji Castle. This popular castle is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it retains its original form. I joined the guided tour of the castle, and had the chance to learn about all the tricks and secrets that this castle holds. If you want to know these secrets, you have to go see it yourself! I was amazed by how much thought and effort was put into building this castle. The castle main keep is currently undergoing renovation, but they have built a structure called Tenku-no-Shirasagi (heron in the sky) that’s going to open on March 26, which allows visitors to see the roof area and the restoration efforts up-close and personal.

                              Kamaboko Factory                                  Variety of Kamaboko

   Next, we visited a company called Yamasa Kamaboko that makes fishcakes, or kamaboko. Kamaboko is a popular food in Japan, made from minced fish. We saw the process of creating Kamaboko, and learned about their system on how to maintain levels of quality and safety. When I visited the tasting section, I was surprised by the variety of kamaboko that were offered. My favorite was the Kamaboko with scallop.

         The Buddhist Alter                     Golden Rabbit made by Shark

  The last stop on the tour was Hamaya. It’s a company that builds and sells butsudan, Japanese Buddhist alters. Butsudan tend to be very expensive because of the tremendous amount of effort that is needed to create one, and also because they use a lot of gold dust and gold leaf.
They were offering a gold leaf decoration class, so I had the opportunity to try it out. Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it looks.

  You don’t have to go on the tour to visit all the places that I went on this excursion. Himeji has a lot to offer, and I truly had a great time. I think the things I saw and did can only be experienced in Japan, so on your next visit, trying out these activities might be one of great ways to spend your vacation.

Yamasa Kamaboko  http://www.e-yamasa.com/ (Japanese)
Hamaya                                http://www.hamaya.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Shark (Hyogo Tourism Association)