Sometimes the best way to find something new and discover something about yourself and the place where you are traveling is by getting a bit lost. Deep in the mountains of Hyogo the Ojiro was named one of the 100 most beautiful villages of Japan. With gorgeous scenery at any time of year you can visit this mountain village for camping in the spring and summer, skiing in the winter and for gorgeous sightseeing in the Autumn.
What set’s Ojiro apart from other spots in Japan? Beautiful terraced rice fields and free-range Tajima Cattle. Ojiro lies entirely in the San’in Kaigan Geopark, this area was named a Japanese Geopark in 2008, and had the honor of becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2010.
Exploring Terraced Rice Fields
Ojiro is best explored by rental car, there are many good rental car services across Japan but the discount service NicoNico has a shop in Wadayama. Trains are frequent to the town and from there for less than 5000 yen for the day you can drive up into the mountains around Ojiro and take in the terraced fields used for growing rice. (The drive from Wadayama to Ojiro will take about an hour.)
In the spring these terraces are filled with water for the rice planting and the view of the sun reflects off each level. Summer you can see tall green rice stalks. During the fall the golden fields are warm green and brown.
The Grazing Lands of Tajima Cattle — the Original Wagyu
In addition to beautiful nature and the pride the community takes in the hard-work in cultivating rice on the steep slopes, Ojiro has another claim to fame. This mountain region deep in the heart of Hyogo is home to the original black cattle Tajima Gyu (cattle) – the founding breed that has made Wagyu beef famous around the world.
As you drive on the tiny mountain roads, keep a close watch and you will catch a glimpse of these free-range, handsome, black cattle.
Mr. Matsuzo Tajiri started the line of cattle, his first famous steer- named “Tajiri-go”, is rumored to be the ancestor of all modern Tajima cattle and his descendants have been raised as stock for famous beef such as Kobe beef and Sanda beef.
Take a turn off of small roads and mixed in among the rice terraces you will see grazing hillsides with electric fences. With a bit of patience and an adventurous spirit you can even get a close up view of these impressive, large and a bit fierce looking animals.
My new friends the Tajima Cattle seem to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings as much as I did grazing on natural grasses and wheat stalks.
A day in the hidden valleys and countryside around the beautiful village of Ojiro can bring you closer to the land and the heart of Japan. Travelers can get rare glimpse into the lives of local Japanese who plant, and cultivate rice and raise impressive cattle to contribute to the world class cuisine of Japan.
Long term resident of Japan, from the East coast of the USA. I love art, design, books, writing, food, film and I am a bit addicted to stationary! I love telling and hearing great stories. Everyday can be an adventure if you are open minded and curious.
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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