Essential Travel Guide for Japan: Navigating Rail and Car Rentals for Foreign Visitors

Discover the ultimate travel solutions in Japan with our comprehensive guide on the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) and car rental options for foreign tourists. Learn how to traverse Japan efficiently using the JR Pass, providing unlimited access to trains, buses, and ferries, and explore the flexibility of car rentals to uncover hidden gems beyond the typical tourist trails. Perfect for international visitors planning their Japanese adventure, this guide ensures a seamless and cost-effective journey.

Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass, often abbreviated as JR Pass, is a cost-effective travel pass exclusively available to foreign tourists visiting Japan. It offers unlimited travel on most services operated by the Japan Railways Group (JR Group) for a fixed period, typically 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days. This includes access to the majority of JR trains, including the high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains (with some exceptions), local and express trains, as well as JR buses and ferries. The pass is designed to encourage and facilitate tourism, making it easier and more affordable for visitors to explore the diverse regions of Japan.

https://japanrailpass.net/en/

Rental Car

Car rental for international travelers offers flexibility, with a variety of vehicles available at airports and urban centers, and often requires a valid driver’s license and possibly an international driving permit. Rental costs vary and include options like GPS and additional insurance, facilitating exploration beyond public transport routes. The convenience of picking up and returning the car at different locations enhances travel flexibility, making it easier to navigate and explore various regions.

https://rent.toyota.co.jp/eng/

Yuki Nyudo 雪入道のお話

“Yuki Nyudo(Snow Monster) ” is a creative craft made by Okui Mokkosha, based on the traditional oral stories of the Hida region.

It is made using wood scraps from the production of wooden ladles during the winter.

The wood’s grain and shape, revealed when split with a hatchet, serve as the base model. Tools like hatchets, deba knives, and saws are boldly used to shape it, finishing with minimal color to preserve the wood’s texture.

Each piece uniquely showcases the wood’s natural expression, resulting in a craft that embodies a natural form and a simple atmosphere, with a quaint charm resembling a lovable yokai.

Rice and Roots: Exploring the Cultural Essence of Hida

お米炊き動画

Cooking Rice

At SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro, we want you to enjoy the core part of this culture. The rice might taste better or worse than you expect, and your view of the rice paddies surrounding the town of Hida Furukawa might change a bit.

We used to share the homemade rice produced by our family with the guests at SUEHIRO. However, as my children grew and our rice consumption increased, the amount available to share decreased. Therefore, we now share or buy rice from local farmers in Hida. Please forgive us!

Characteristics of Japanese Rice

Japanese rice is characterized by its strong stickiness and chewy texture. It has a subtle flavor, allowing one to taste the original flavor of the rice. Japanese rice grains are short and round, resulting in a fluffy cooked rice.

Rice is commonly cultivated in paddy fields utilizing the cool climate and abundant water resources, and the milling technology is advanced. This leads to the production of high-quality rice. In other countries, differences in climate, soil, and cultivation techniques seem to affect the characteristics of rice.

Rice Cultivation and Japanese Culture

Unlike the double cropping of rice in other parts of Asia, Japan’s rice cultivation aims for one harvest per year, reflecting the very essence of Japan’s natural landscape.

Being an agrarian nation, especially in rural areas, much of Japan’s culture and values have been influenced by rice cultivation. It seems like the diligence, concept of time, and customs, even seen in Tokyo, carry the DNA of influences from rice cultivation.

Setting aside the complexities, try cooking and tasting the rice for yourself.

今日は、特に私たちの生活に深く根ざす食文化に焦点を当て、地元飛騨で愛情を込めて育てられたお米についてお話しします。

日本米の特徴

日本のお米は、粘りが強く、もちもちとした食感が特徴です。日本の米は味が淡白で、米本来の風味を感じることができます。日本の米は粒が短くて丸みを帯びており、炊き上がりがふっくらとしています。

冷涼な気候と豊富な水資源を利用した水田での栽培が一般的で、精米技術も高度です。これにより、品質の高い米が生産されます。他の国々では、気候や土壌の違い、栽培技術の差が米の特性に影響を与え得るようです。

稲作と日本の文化

アジアの他地域の二毛作の稲作と異なり、1度の収穫を目指し1年間かけて生産をおこなう日本の稲作は日本の原風景そのもの。

農耕民族であった日本、特に地方の文化や価値観は、稲作から影響を受けていると言える部分が多くあります。勤勉さや時間への観念、風習など東京に行っても行動様式のDNAには稲作からの影響があるような気がします。

難しいことは、おいておいて一度ご自身で炊いて、食べてみてください。

お米を炊く

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroでは、そんな文化のコアの部分を楽しく体験して欲しくご提供しています。思ったより美味しかったり、不味かったり・・・飛騨古川の街を降り囲む田んぼの見え方が少し変わるかもしれませんね。

かつて、私たちの家族でつくった自家製のお米をSUEHIROのお客様と分かち合っていました。しかし、私の子どもたちが成長し、お米の消費量が増えるにつれ、分ける量が少なくなってしまいました。そこで、今は地元飛騨の農家からお米を分けてもらうか購入するお裾分けしています。許してね!

Green Tea

Let’s dive right into introducing a delicious and enjoyable way to brew green tea.

  • With green tea, you can savor four different tastes: umami (savory), aroma, astringency, and bitterness.
  • The lower the temperature of the water, the easier it is to extract umami, while hotter water tends to bring out astringency and bitterness.
  • Tea leaves can be enjoyed multiple times, not just once.

For the first brew:
t’s recommended to put the tea leaves in a teapot and brew with relatively low-temperature water for the first extraction, to enjoy the umami flavor of the tea leaves.

  • Green tea leaves: 4g (per person)
  • Water: About 150cc (per person)

Pouring Method:

  1. Add the tea leaves to the teapot.
  2. Pour water heated to 50-60°C into the teapot.
  3. After about 1 minute and 30 seconds, pour the tea into the cups to drink.

Quantities:

  • Green tea: 4g per person
  • Water: 150cc per person

For the Second Brew and Beyond:

Use hotter water (around 90°C) than for the first brew, and steep for about 30 seconds to also enjoy a suitable level of astringency and bitterness. Please adjust the temperature to explore and find your preferred taste.

さっそく、美味しくも楽しい緑茶の淹れ方を紹介します。

・緑茶では「旨味」「香り」「渋み」「苦味」の4つの味覚を楽しめる
・お湯の温度が低いほど「旨味」が抽出されやすく、熱いほど「渋み」や「苦味」が抽出される
・茶葉は、1度だけでなく数回楽しめる

【1回目】

茶葉を急須に入れ、1回目の抽出は温度を比較的低めにして、茶葉の持つ「旨味」を楽しむのがおすすめです。

・緑茶 4g(1人当たり)
・お湯:150ccくらい(1人当たり)

【注ぎ方】

(1)茶葉を急須に注ぐ
(2)50〜60°のお湯を急須に注ぐ
(3)約1分30秒ほどで湯呑みの注ぎ飲む

【量】

・緑茶 4g/ 1人当り
・お湯:150cc/ 1人当り

【2回目 以降】
1回目より熱いお湯(約90°)、抽出時間30秒ほどで、程より「渋み」や「苦味」をも楽しむ。
ぜひ、温度の調整をしてお好みの味を追求してみてください。

Tea plants in Nitta Seicha’s field

Savoring the Unique Delights of Shirakawa Tea at SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro

I would like to talk about a special tea we offer at our inn, Shirakawa tea.

Shirakawa tea is a type of tea leaf produced in Shirakawa Village and Higashi-Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture, although Shirakawa is not Shirakwa-go. These villages are located on the route that heads south from Hida through the Southern Alps.

This unique regional tea is rare in Japan, with its production accounting for less than 1% of the national total. The reason for this rarity is that Shirakawa is one of the few tea cultivation areas in Japan and is known for being one of the highest altitude production areas.

Shirakawa tea is cultivated in the misty mountain regions. The mist serves as a “natural ultraviolet shielding veil” protecting the tea leaves from direct sunlight, thus uniquely influencing the flavor of the tea. This environment is ideal for tea cultivation. The mist increases the catechin content, creating a clean fragrance and a wild astringency, making its taste truly exquisite.

Moreover, because it is grown in high-altitude mountain areas, the significant temperature differences between day and night contribute to Shirakawa tea’s refreshing taste and rich aroma.

Among the Shirakawa teas, those from Nitta Seicha are particularly noteworthy. Nitta Seicha’s tea fields are situated at an altitude of 300 to 500 meters, which contributes to the high aroma and deep flavor of Shirakawa tea. Additionally, Nitta Seicha, with its integrated production system from cultivation to manufacturing, maintains the quality and passion in their tea-making process, tailored to the state of the tea.

At SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro, you can enjoy this wonderful Shirakawa tea.

Whether starting your day or during a relaxed moment, please enjoy the unique taste of this regional tea.

白川の秘宝:新田製茶の白川茶の魅力

今日は、当宿で提供している特別なお茶、白川茶についてお話ししたいと思います。

白川茶は岐阜県の白川村・東白川村で生産される茶葉です。飛騨から南アルプスを抜けようと南下する集落にあたります。

この地域特有のお茶は、日本全国でも珍しく、その生産量は日本全体の1%未満に過ぎません。なぜなら、白川は数少ないお茶の栽培産地の一つで、最も標高の高い生産地として知られているからです。 白川茶は、霧が多い山間部で育ちます。この霧は、お茶の葉を直射日光から守る「天然の紫外線よけヴェール」の役割を果たし、茶の風味に独特の影響を与えます。この環境は、お茶の栽培にとって理想的です。霧によってカテキンが増加し、すっきりとした香りと野生的な渋みが生まれ、その味わいはまさに絶品です。 また、標高の高い山間部で育つため、昼夜の温度差が大きく、これが白川茶のさわやかな味と高い香りを生み出しています。

白川茶の中でも、特に新田製茶のお茶は注目に値します。新田製茶の茶畑は標高300メートルから500メートルの間に位置し、この標高が白川茶の高い香気と滋味深い味わいをもたらしています。さらに、栽培から製造まで一貫した生産体制を持つ新田製茶は、お茶の状態に合わせた製茶技術で品質と情熱を守り続けています。

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroでは、この素晴らしい白川茶をご堪能いただけます。

一日の始まりに、またはゆったりとした時間に、ぜひこの地域特有の味わいをお楽しみください。

SUKIYA-zukuri suehiro 数寄屋造り末広

Our accommodation

Stay traditional Japanese architecture, SUKIYA-style house built by “Hida No Takumi” as your vacation house.

The SUKIYA-zukuri style house stands out in art and craft technique. It’s in main part of the historical district in HidaFurukawa, where finding narrow streets aligned by “Machiya” townhouses with significant white walls and lattice.

伝統的な町家が並ぶ飛騨古川の古い街並に調和しつつも、ひときわ存在感を発揮する数寄屋建築の家屋です。飛騨地域は奈良時代より「飛騨の匠」の大工の里としてプライドを持つ土地柄です。そんな飛騨古川の地元大工や職人なら誰でも知っているマスターピースで、こだわり抜いてつくられた建物は、見応えは十分です。

完全プライベートな一棟貸しの宿です。飛騨古川の古い街並みにあり、暮らしの息遣いを感じられるロケーションです。朝昼晩と地元の営みの中にある一棟貸しの滞在ならではの醍醐味を感じられます。

・Staying in the historical district

・Relaxed from hectic travel in Authentic house

・Explore local life and culture

※SUKIYA-style house is one of Japanese residential architectural styles. “Suki means “refined”, “well cultivated taste” and “delight” in elegant pursuits and refers to enjoyment of the exquisitely performed tea ceremony.Historically and by tradition, sukiya-zukuri is characterised by a use of natural materials, especially wood. In contemporary architecture, its formal and spatial concepts are kept alive in modern materials such as steel, glass and concrete” according to wiki.

oncepts are kept alive in modern materials such as steel, glass and concrete” according to wiki.

完全プライベートな一棟貸しの宿です。飛騨古川の古い街並みにあり、暮らしの息遣いを感じられるロケーションです。朝昼晩と地元の営みの中にある一棟貸しの滞在ならではの醍醐味を感じられます。

ROOM ・FACILITIES

Style & Capacity

Whole house only you usage (vacation house)

2〜6Persons(Max8persons)

一日一組限定のプライベートゲストハウスです。

適正人数2〜6名(最大8名まで)にてご利用いただいております。

Check-in/out time

Checkin 15:00〜 | Checkout 〜12:00

Space

Living room(tatami style), kitchen&dinning

3 bed rooms (tatami style), bath, toilet and etc

リビング(和室)、キッチン&ダイニング、

寝室、バスルーム、洗面所、トイレなど

Facilities


■Kitchen キッチン備品

2gas stoves, Fridge, Plates, Cutlery, Cooking equipment, Toaster, Microwave, Kettle, Coffee mille& dripper etc

2口ガスコンロ、冷蔵庫、食器類、調理器具、レンジ、トースター 、ケトル、カセットコンロ、電動珈琲ミル、ドリッパーなど

■Linens リネン類

Towels, Tooth brush, Shampoo, Body soup, Hair dryers

バスタオル、フェイスタオル、歯ブラシ、シャンプー、ボディーソープ、ドライヤー

Laundry 洗濯備品

Washing machine& dryer, Organic detergent, Iron &Iron table

乾燥機付き洗濯機、洗剤、アイロン、アイロン台

Other その他

Wifi, Projector, Stereo, Card games, 3 E-bikes

Wifi、プロジェクター、ミニスピーカー、ゲーム類、Eバイク(宿泊前にご予約下さい)

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Rule

  • Rule
    1. Non smoking
    2. Please respect to use this house
    3. Not shout and loud music at night because of residential are.
  • Tips
    1. Say”Kon Ni Chi Wa ( means “hello”)”, “Kon ban wa (“hello at night”)” when meeting local person outside
  • お約束
    1. 家屋は禁煙です。お外で喫煙の際は、ご持参の携帯灰皿を必ずお使いください。
    2. 大切に家屋をお扱いください。
    3. 一般のお住まいがありますので、21:00以降は大きな声での会話や宴会はご遠慮ください。
  • おススメ
    1. 地元の方に会った時は「こんにちは」「こんばんわ」と挨拶すると良い事があるかもしれません。

Reservation

Japanese folk equipment Yukinyudo

Gallery of tradional local sprits, Snow one leg spirt “Yuki-Nyudo”②

Yukinyudo stay in SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro- Japanese traditional design and material

Hida no Takumi, which is local carpenter and craftman, worked with all their might for this house over 40 years ago. You can see their sprit and respect yet through staying here. Yuki-nyudo family also have interesting in these points.

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroは飛騨の匠が吟味した建築や内装を施した建物です。その技やデザインなど、一つ一つに工夫があります。滞在中の飛騨の雪入道と共にご紹介いたします。

cloud pattern behind door Hida Furukawa
cloud pattern behind door
uzukuri design pattern in hida art hotel Hida Furukawa
uzukuri wood
yukashi design pattern in hida art hotel Hida Furukawa
Black persimmon
rich yakusugi wood with folk equipment in art hotel Hida Furukawa
Yakusugi
yukashi design pattern in hida art hotel Hida Furukawa
Zelkova upsairs
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro Japan Hida Furukawa
art mixed with paper and soil
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro japan Hida Furukawa
art mixed with paper and soil
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro Hida Furukawa
washi
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro Hida Furukawa
on futon
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro japan Hida Furukawa
ichimatsu pattern
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro Hida Furukawa
ichimatu pattern
art with Mingei in hida art hotel Sukiya-zukuri suehiro tatami Hida Furukawa
on tatami

飛騨の民藝 雪入道の滞在記録集②

ただいま「飛騨の雪入道」が滞在中! -素材と柄編

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroは飛騨の匠が吟味した建築や内装を施した建物です。その技やデザインなど、一つ一つに工夫があります。滞在中の飛騨の雪入道と共にご紹介いたします。

デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道とふすま裏地・雲華紙
ふすま裏地 雲華紙
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と浮造り杉板
うずくり板
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と黒柿の棚
黒柿
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と屋久杉
屋久杉
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と欅階段
欅階段
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道とハタノワタル和紙
和紙と土
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道とハタノワタル和紙
和紙と土
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と和紙
和紙
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と布団
ふとんにて
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と市松模様
市松模様
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と市松模様
市松模様 裏
デザインホテル企画 飛騨の雪入道と畳

Sake Culture

Life with Sake

The life in Hida Furukawa and Sake are inseparable. There used to be more than 10 sake breweries in town wineries still  produce sake, using local underground water and locally produced rice. For every seasonal occasion, for celebrations or condolences, people give sake as gifts. It is not unusual to see people walking with a wrapping cloth with two shous (unit of old Japanese liquid measurement, 1.8L=1shou) of sake in it. Drinking sake in the meetings and parties play an important role in communication. All through the year in the small bars all over the town, locals sit and talk on the counter, drinking Atsukan(hot sake) at their hand,which is a typical traditional scene in this area. It might be fun to take a look, for these small bars welcome everyone. Sake has a meeting of purification in the divine service, therefore it will be sprayed not only to equipment for Okoshi Daiko, but also to the bodies of men facing to the drums. It is said that almost 80% of the winery’s total producing sake in consumed in local, and that tells how sake play significant roles in many scenes of the living in this area.

Furukawa Matsuri (Festival) -Okoshi Daiko


The Day of Furukawa Mautsuri

Furukawa Matruri & Residents

Needles to say, Okoshi Daiko (Rousing Drums) and street parade of festival floats are star attractions of “HidaFurukawa Masturi” to be held on April 19 and 20, but for Furukawa residents the Matsuri begins in early March, with what is called the “Chusen-sai”(drawing festival). A director of the Matsuri is assigned among 4 groups at the shrine, and all “Ujiko” (shrine parishioners) in 4 groups start preparation for the Matsuri. Men hold meetings everyday to decide roles and procedures of Matsuri in each groups divided by resident areas: Four groups named after Four-Guardian-Gods ( Azure Dragon”Sei-Ryuu”, Vermillion Bird”Suzaku”, White Tiger “Byakko” and Black Tortoise “Genbu”), and 11 groups of festival floats.

Each group has decorated yatai in Kura storage, you can see when walking around the town.

Decorated Yatais located at the bridge for exhibition

In April, every night you hear the sound of children’s practice of “Ohayashi”(musicla bands) leaking from assembly halls. On the festival day the God is led from Keta Wakamiya Shrine to the town center. The route to the town is drawn by the purifying salt, and it branches to individual houses, where “Chochin” (paper lantern), “Maku” and “Noren”(sign curtains) are prepared, to invite the God. The divine custom such as not seeing the God parade from the second floor of the house is succeeded over generations.Okoshi-Daiko is a symbol of “Furukawa Yancha”(mischievous man), this is the day once a year that blaze up the hearts of men of all ages.

Four seasons in Hida Furukawa

Living on Four Seasons

Spring

Late spring comes to Hida when pale yellow-green butterbur sprouts(Fukinotou) peek out from the melting snow. People remove the snow fence(Yukikakoi) around the house and start to prepare for farm crops such as rice plants. The carps returns in six months from the wintering spot to Seto River (First Sunday April in evry year), and bustling twon is coming back after the quiet winter season. Furukawa Festival is held as if it was waiting for the cherry blossoms, and people share the joy of the arrival of spring. Many small spring festivals are also held in surrounding villages. Japan Alps, Norikura and Ontake mountains seen from Furukawa remain to have snow on the top until May. Rural districts start to be irrigated, and farmers will be busy preparing for rice nursery (Naeshiro-Kaki).

hidafurukawa sakura

Summer

It can get rather hot during the day, but you can feel the pleasant breeze in mornings and evenings. If you walk the town in the early morning of summer, you see many people cleaning their front door of the house, taking spider’s web off from the lattice(Senbon-Koushi). This kind of daily routine of residents maintains the charm of the town, where you feel composed atmosphere along the houses built in the traditional method of Hida. In the fields around the town area, people take care of colorful vegetables that will  later be decorating their dining tables. In the evening we can see people watering the front street to invite night wind into the house, or chatting with neighbors sitting on the front porch, as the most typical scenes in summertime. Young people who went to the cities come back during Obon Festival, and the bustle comes back to the town. Festival with fireworks and Bon-Odori (festival dance) are held, and the marketplace behind Hida no Takumi Bunka Kan is lined with lots of fresh vegetables.

Autumn

Leaves of large ginko tree in Fukuzenji Alley colors and gold rice plants will be shinning and swaying in the wind in the autumn. It is time to get ready for snowy winter. Ripe persimmons are hanged on the eaves of the house to dry, also dried radish and cabbages are further stocked in the warehouse with a stable temperature until it beacomes. Tsukemono, which will be valuable ingredients during snow-bound winter period. Branches of pine tree in the garden are reinforced by ropes so that it should not break by the weight of snow, and wooden fences are put around the house to keep protected from the heavy snow.  Japan Alps start being covered with snow in the middle of October, a little earlier than the town. Morning Mist (Asagiri) in which the sky in the basin is covered with the fog is a proof of a rich natural circulation, and it can only be seen in this season when the temperature difference within the day is intense, (view point at Mt. Anbou A fresh blue sky after the morning mist clears up is exceptional. Peripheral villages hold autumn festivals one after another, to express the gratitude for the good harvest, It is also the time for the carp in Seto River to move to the wintering spot, Masujima Castle site, in the four the Sunday November every year.

Winter

The whole town will have been completely covered in snow by the end of the year. It snows silently and that creates monotones elegance in this quiet town. Shoveling snow in front of the house is a daily routine. When they have heavy snow, some exciting snow removal from the roof can be seen all over the town. Snow removal is done by all family members from children to grandparents and  this is essential for them to keep the good relationship with old wooden houses. Until 50 years ago when snow removal infrastructure was not in place, people created 10-step-snowstairs to the upper floor of the house to get out on to the street. “Sandera-Mairi” on Jan 15th is a unique event of winter, people dressed in Kimono and walk through snowy town to visit three temples in one night.