CLICKE the above to find out some of the photos and videos. Do click the videos!
Hiroko’s annual trip to Japan is coming up this November. This year Hiroko will take a small, exclusive group (9 participants) to Kyushu, the southernmost large island of Japan. Kyushu with Hiroko, 2018, will run from November 11 through November 22, 2018. The tour begins and ends in Japan allowing participants to make their own arrangements (with my help if you so request) for additional time in Japan or elsewhere in Asia. Please contact me if you are interested in joining the tour ASAP. 60% of the space is sold at this time.
To those who express interest in the tour I will send the detailed, final tour information toward the end of January, 2018. But, here is a little peak at what awaits you. Again, please click the link above to see some of the photos and videos.
The tour was created based on my nearly month long research trip to Kyushu just completed this past December. If you followed me on Instagram (@hirokoshimbo) you might have enjoyed the virtual tour of Kyushu with me. If you haven’t visited my Instagram, please do so. Kyushu is chockfull of incredible interests and revealing discoveries and here are some.
- Kyushu has a rich history of foreign influence. It sits close to China and Southeast Asia. It was the window for the introduction of Asian culture and religion in the earliest years of the first millennium. Kyushu also the closest sea access to Europe, and it became the window to European civilization, including Christianity, beginning in the early 16th The strong influences of these early international contacts remain present everywhere in the island to this day.
- Seafood (I mean wild, not farmed!), pork, wagyu beef and vegetables are fantastic in quality. We will find the reason behind it and enjoy eating a variety of unique local Kyushu products during our tour. And the early foreign influences on the cuisine are visible and present. We will continually encounter them.
- Japan is known as hot spring heaven. Because of its unique geography at the intersection of two tectonic plates, Kyushu’s hot springs are the best and most ubiquitous in Japan. By the end of the tour you will find your skin rejuvenated and your spirits high in the sky because of this….Well. that’s how I felt after my recent exploration.
- Active volcanos, Mt. Aso and Mt. Sakurajima tells us the history of the changing natural and geographic environment of Kyushu. Both the beneficial and the causes of disaster, these volcanos determine much of Kyushu’s human and natural history. A particular consequence of their presence is natural glory.
- Kyushu’s Christian history is a story of introduction, prosperity, suppression, persecution and rebirth. We will see this miracle first-hand and explore this complex story at many locations and from many perspectives. What happened in Kyushu is unique in world history.
- The Nagasaki Atomic Peace Park and Museum will remind us of the horror of atomic weapons and the need for maintaining world peace to preclude their use.
- You may know that for 250 years Japan was closed to the outside world with only the Dutch occupying a tiny man-made island, Dejima (“separated island”), just off of Nagasaki. That island compound has been faithfully recreated. It is not Disneyland, but is a living, fascinating and accessible historical site replete with Japanese and Dutch history.
- Kyushu is the land of shochu, the distilled liquor made variously from rice, barley, sweet potato, potato, brown sugar and more. During the tour we will taste different varieties of shochu as we move from one area to another; the tour will make you a shochu expert.
- Japanese cuisine cannot exist without katsuobushi, dried skipjacktuna flakes, used to make dashi stock. That stock is a foundation stone of Japanese cooking. A visit to a factory that produces this indispensable material will reveal the fascinating traditional, artisanal production of katsuobushi.
Here is a list of just some of the experiences we will enjoy, dining and otherwise:
- Once in-a-life-time Buddhist experience conducted at a venerable, 1300 year old mountain temple to pray for health and family happiness (and for good weather throughout of our tour)
- Chinese cooking class taught by a Taiwanese native
- Walking through a hot spring town where hundreds of vents of steam come from simple holes in the ground and even out of the town sewer drains
- Enjoy a seasonal and safe fugu blow fish dinner prepared by a certified chef
- Visiting the the No.1 onsen hot spring town in Japan, enjoy the hot springs and a local sake/shochu-tasting bar-hopping tour
- Visit to the Mt. Aso museum and enjoy a nature walk nearby
- A man-poled boat ride down the Kuma River in the historic town of Hitoyoshi; the same ride in the same kind of craft the local Daimyo lord took in feudal days to go down-river
- Hiking through beautiful woods to Onami Pond in Kirishima district
- Visit to katsuobushi, dried skipjack tuna, factory
- Visit to shochu, distilled alcohol, factory
- Soak in the famous natural hot sand bath at Ibutski on the black sandy beach to let the comforting warmth penetrate your body.
- Ride the Kyushu Shinkansen bullet train and enjoy a local ekiben, the famous style of box lunch of the kind sold at railway stations all over Japan
- Board a boat to transfer the Kysushu mainland to an island of Amakusa
- Visit churches and historical buildings to discover the amazing history of Japanese Christianity
- Visit one of the finest porcelain factories in Japan, and design and decorate your own coffee mug; a fantastic souvenir for you
- High speed passenger ferry ride to Nagasaki from the island of Amakusa
- Enjoy an exclusive vegetarian meal at Kofukuji temple, the most famous temple in Nagasaki, and have chat with the head priest who, by the way, has colleagues in the US and lived in the state for a few years as a high school student
- Spend a day with an expert guide in Nagasaki to learn the history of this great and rejuvenated international city: Atomic Bomb Park & Museum, Christian history in the city, Chinese and Dutch influences, more…
- Enjoy the yatai, street food stalls, in Fukuoka city, home of tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen
- And much more…
Again, to those who are interested in securing the remaining limited space, please send me an e-mail ASAP to receive the final information and pricing. If you have any questions about the tour, just pick up your phone and call me at 212-727-3085 (this landline is always the best) or my mobile 646-346-3991.