The village of Otari, located between the Sea of Japan and the Northern Japanese Alps, can see accumulations of as much as 2 to 3 meters of snow during the peak of the winter season. These harsh environmental conditions make it nearly impossible for residents to work outdoors during the long, cold winters. As a result, since ancient times, the people of Otari have instead used this time to both pass on and sharpen their knowledge and skills in traditional craftsmanship. Some common local activities include crafting household items from straw and making traditional wooden snowshoes. Historically, the quality of craftsmanship displayed by local residents was known to have been particularly high, and those same techniques have been preserved, handed down and are still practiced here today.
However, in an age of machine-based mass production, where people value convenience above all, traditional, sustainable handmade products made from renewable materials are being overlooked in favor of cheaper, environmentally unfriendly items all too often. Furthermore, at the same time that the elders with the requisite knowledge and skills to produce traditional handiwork are slowly aging and passing away, the number of successors willing to carry on those traditions is also shrinking. It would be an unthinkable loss of culture to let them die out. With this in mind, Otari village is currently working hard to preserve these practices by holding workshops and training courses in various traditional disciplines, one of which is straw craft.
Your teachers for this workshop will be the elderly local residents who have grown up in the village, crafting a variety of daily-use items from straw as a way of life during the cold and snowy winters. This is a great opportunity to engage in a traditional craft in a traditional setting and to help these wonderful men and women preserve and pass on an important part of village culture. It is also one of the most authentic and rewarding forms of cultural exchange we offer!
IMAGE GALLERY (July, 2018)
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF WITHIN OTARI VILLAGE
We can pick you up and drop you off from any location within the village of Otari, such as your place of lodging, one of the three ski resorts located within the village (Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura & Hakuba Cortina) or Otari's main train station - Minami Otari (on the JR Oito Line).
All ground transportation (whether by private car, taxi, train and/or bus) during the hours of the tour is included in the price.
WORKSHOP / INSTRUCTION / MATERIALS FEES
The fee to participate in the workshop, all materials necessary to create your straw craft and personalized instruction and help when necessary, is included in the price.
The workshop will be conducted by local, elderly residents who don't speak English. We will translate the steps for making the straw craft when necessary, but also be there to help you interact, share about yourself, and ask any questions you would like of the lovely resident teachers so that you are able to delve deeper into a more rewarding cultural exchange, taking it beyond just a simple craft session.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
We will be happy to get some nice photos and videos of you at work, both with our camera and yours, and of course everything we take on our camera we will share with you immediately after the tour.
YOUR COMPLETED CRAFT
Not only will you be learning the techniques of straw craft, you'll be putting them into practice. Whatever you end up making, regardless of how proud or embarrassed you are of it, is yours to keep and take back home with you for your use and memories.
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF OUTSIDE OF OTARI VILLAGE
*If necessary or requested, it is possible to arrange pick-up and/or drop-off from several major hubs outside of Otari, specifically: Hakuba, Itoigawa, Omachi, Nagano & Matsumoto. However, please be aware that this will require extra time and incur additional fees. Please see our downloadable 'Extended Area Pick-Up & Drop-Off Policy' (PDF) for more details.
*This is a half-day tour, so lodging is typically not required or included. However, should you like to spend a night in Otari before or after your tour, we can help you arrange a stay at a local lodge or guesthouse.
LUNCH, DRINKS & SNACKS
*No lunch, drinks or snacks or drinks are provided, so you will need to bring your own for eating and drinking during the workshop if you feel it is necessary. It is also recommended that you eat lunch prior to the start of the tour because of the timing of the workshop.
This is a small group tour held in conjunction with the Otari Village Tourism Bureau.
To operate at this price Hike and Bike Japan requires a minimum of 2 persons to sign up through us.
Hike and Bike Japan will allow a maximum of 4 persons to sign up through us.
As stipulated by the tourism bureau, the total group size will be limited to a maximum of 10 persons.
If you are interested in booking as a private tour for one person, please contact us for a price quote.
WHAT TO BRING
WARM CLOTHING: The workshop will be held in an old, traditional home that may be a bit chilly
Online booking will be made available for this tour as soon as the workshop dates for the 2020-2021 winter season are confirmed.
If you would like to contact us to ask questions, receive more information, or inquire about booking this trip, please either connect with us directly using the chat feature located on the bottom right of your screen, or submit an inquiry through the contact form below. We are looking forward to hearing from you!