Spiritual, Physical and Historical Journey in Fukui
You will go on a journey around Eihei-ji, which is the head temple of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, and an old washi paper making village that is nurtured by pure waters.
●In the place of origin of the Echizen washi paper, you will have the opportunity to observe the papermaking of Ichibei Iwano, who is the ninth inheritor of the tradition that accompanies his family name and an official living national treasure of Japan.
●Enjoy a private tea ceremony at the famous Yokokan Garden, which sits at the very top of American rankings of Japanese gardens.
●Take part in the morning “Gongyo” (religious service) and “Zazen” (seated meditation) training at Eihei-ji, the head temple of the Soto school, where many monks devout themselves to their practices.
Day 1: Learn about the origins of Japanese food and hospitality through the experience of chopsticks and the tea ceremony
【HYOZAEMON chopsticks, Kehi Shrine】
“HYOZAEMON chopsticks” is a long-established store that has been in business for over 100 years, dealing with crafts and kitchen utensils, including Wakasa lacquered chopsticks.
Working under the motto of “chopsticks are food”, they use carefully selected materials that are safe even if you put all the wood and lacquer in your mouth. Additionally, they have been promoting environmentally friendly initiatives in recent years, such as recycling bats that have been broken in professional baseball camps and games, and donating part of the proceeds to planting Japanese ash trees, which are an official material for baseball bats. At this workshop, you will get the opportunity to observe the vibrant lacquering and “Raden-Zaiku” mother-of-pearl craftsmanship of the artisans, as well as experience the chopstick shaving process that will allow you to create a pair of chopsticks suited for your grip. After shaving chopsticks, you will visit the Kehi Shrine in Obama, a place that inspired the poet Matsuo Basho. Please enjoy the stunning view of the vermilion lacquered torii, which is considered to be one of the three great wooden torii gates of Japan.
【Toki-no-Kura and the beautiful sight of Yokokan Garden】
For lunch, you will enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients such as plentiful fresh fish from the Sea of Japan and Wakasa beef at “Toki-no-Kura”, an izakaya pub in Sabae that was selected as a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide 2021.
Afterward, please enjoy the beautiful sight of the Yokokan Garden, which once served as a villa of the Matsudaira family, former feudal lords of Fukui. The building, constructed in “Sukiya-Zukuri” style (Japanese architectural style inspired by tea house aesthetics), and which floats on a vast pond, gives place to a stunning view. After visiting the garden, a private tea ceremony with Kayo Shioya, a tea master who has been awarded the Fukui City Culture Encouragement Award and is committed to the development of tea ceremony culture in Fukui, will be prepared for you. The contrast between the shadows that fall in the room and the garden overflowing with light that can be seen beyond the shoji window is a truly otherworldly view. After spending a relaxing time with Shioya’s elaborate tea ceremony and the fragrant matcha tea under the beautiful scenery, you will head to Hakujukan, an inn located in front of Eihei-ji Temple, where you will stay for the night.
Day 2: Experience the state of “Shikantaza” meditation at the head temple of the Soto school, the largest sect of Zen Buddhism in Japan
【Hakujukan and Eihei-ji】
Hakujukan is located in front of the gate of Eihei-ji and used to serve as a place of sojourn for the large number of nuns who traveled to worship at the temple. After spending the night in a room themed after Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows,” you will leave the inn early in the morning, at 4:10 a.m., and head for Eihei-ji. Once there, you will participate in the morning Gongyo service. The force of over 100 voices emitted by the monks who read sutras in unison, and the powerful reverberation of their sound, will make you feel the solemnity of a Zen temple that serves as a place for ascetic practices, and not just a tourist destination.
After the morning Gongyo, you will return to Hakujukan where you will be served a gentle vegetarian breakfast prepared by the head chef who studied under the Tenza Goroshi (an important position within the temple in charge of meals) of Eihei-ji.
After breakfast, you will head once again to Eihei-ji, where you will have the opportunity, this time, to participate in the Zazen meditation practice. The peaceful interior of the hall constitutes the perfect space for meditation. Please enjoy the moment when both your body and mind can achieve an uninterrupted clean feeling.
【Soin,Shisoshin-Okamoto and Shisoshin-Otaki Shrines, and Iwano Heizaburo Seishisho】
For lunch, and following the Zazen practice at Eihei-ji, you can enjoy a delicious meal at the French restaurant Soin in Fukui. Please look forward to the skills of Soin’s chef who will make best use of the qualities of the fish and vegetables sent directly from local fishing ports and producers.
After lunch, you will head to Echizen, the place of origin of the Echizen washi paper. You will then visit the Shisoshin-Okamoto and Shisoshin-Otaki shrines, which enshrine Kawakami Gozen, the goddess who is said to have transmitted the technique of papermaking to this area 1,500 years ago. You will be able to tour the precincts of the shrine, which have just recently been opened to tourists, while listening to the commentary of a local guide.
Located near the shrine, Iwano Heizaburo Seishisho is a workshop known for having produced the “Kumohadamashi” paper loved by famous Japanese-style painters such as Taikan Yokoyama and Ikuo Hirayama. Many women dedicate themselves to this craftsmanship, as per tradition, and in addition to demonstrations of papermaking, you will have the opportunity to listen to the papermaking songs that have been passed down in their workplaces by women who married in this area.
Special cultural experience: Visiting the workshop of the Living National Treasure and ninth successor to his family’s tradition, Ichibei Iwano.
【Ichibei Iwano’s paper making】
A simple workshop in a peaceful mountain village. Here you will find the workplace of the Living National Treasure and ninth successor to his family’s tradition, Ichibei Iwano, whose work has enamored many Japanese painters and who is also highly regarded for the washi paper he has crafted for the repair of precious prints from the Louvre Museum and other famous museums overseas.
The Echizen washi paper is made from the fiber of a tree called “kozo,” which carefully selected to remove even the smallest amount of garbage that could cloud the color, and then gently boiled. Due to this detailed and rigorous process, the elaboration of the paper itself can only be done for about two days each week. You will be able to closely observe the old papermaking tradition that has been handed down continuously, without mechanization, to this day.
Iwano Ichibei’s view of work has been cultivated by his daily dedication to papermaking; it suddenly touches the heart as it manifests itself through his work, speaking louder than any words would.
【Japanese paper souvenir shop Umeda】
To conclude the tour, you will be introduced to a souvenir shop in the Goka district of Echizen. Umeda, which currently displays a vast arrange of washi products, is a shop with a deep connection to a local area that once took part in the paper industry. In this precious shop, you will be able to purchase the “Kumohadamashi” from the Iwano Heizaburo paper workshop, and the “Kizuki-Hoshogami” from Iwano Ichibei. Echizen washi, which is white as if shining, delicate, and smooth, is a beauty that even those who are not interested in calligraphy and painting will want to take in their hands. You can purchase these sheets of Echizen washi paper to express your thoughts and feelings about this tour on them, and it is also fun to choose from within the over 2,000 washi products lined up in the shop, selecting the most suitable one for your travel memories.
Starts at JPY 358,000 per person
●Deadline for reservations:
Three month before the tour (based on demand, no guarantee)
Maximum one per month
●Minimum number of participants:
Obama Station/Takefu Station
・Please note that the programs provided by the individuals mentioned in the itinerary may be canceled or changed due to unavoidable circumstances including health concerns. Thank you for your understanding.
・If you wish to participate in the morning services and the Zazen practice, please refrain from including small children.
・ See here for our usage agreement for your application.
Please inquire for reservations for the individual lodgings or restaurants mentioned on this page.
【About this tour】
This tour has been planned as part of our efforts to help achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. A portion of tour fees paid by all participants will be used to maintain and pass on the tangible and intangible cultural assets of Kansai, the origin of Japanese culture, to the next generation. This aims to create a positive cycle of cultural tourism; we look forward to your participation.
【Sponsored Travel Agent】
AIR WORLD CO.,LTD.
Licensed by Ministry Transport Tourism Agency No.961