Hands-on cuisine and creativity in the Japanese Alps

05 May 2020 in Food Culture

Learn the art of making soba noodles, miso or washi paper under the guidance of local experts.

3000x2000X96DPI (COVER SLIDER)

The tiny city of Omachi (27,500 inhabitants) is just an hour’s drive from Nagano, host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics – but the two places are worlds apart in terms of atmosphere. While Nagano is a vibrant hub for the local area, rural Omachi has the feel of an authentic working town.

_0008_AdobeStock_110541932

_0007_AdobeStock_216405690

Situated at 700 metres altitude, its streets are filled with cottage industries and small businesses that excel in traditional Japanese arts and cuisine. Many of these local companies offer hands-on workshops to guests.

_0006_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps Irori2.jpg

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten track experience or you want genuine insights into Japanese cuisine and crafts, Omachi is the perfect destination.

Why not try your hand at making mountain food such as oyaki stuffed dumplings? Crafting your own miso from soybeans. Or exploring your artistic side under the guidance of local artisans.

_0007_ot1-1

_0008_ot00

As a bonus, you’ll have the mighty peaks of the Northern Japanese Alps as your backdrop – and plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors during your stay.

Alpine atmosphere

At Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps, Omachi’s craft and cuisine culture is on your doorstep. This recently-renovated ryokan in the city’s northern district is a 10-minute drive from the centre.

_0003_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps Sunset

Alps Resort booking banner EN

Inside the ryokan, contemporary design combines with classic Japanese hospitality. You’ll have access to indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, plus a communal room centred on the irori, a traditional Japanese wood-burning hearth. In winter, the ryokan provides free shuttle buses to the powder-snow haven of Hakuba.

_0002_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps Rural Japan Zone

_0000_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps Dinner1

And all year round, you can hone your culinary and creative skills at nearby restaurants and shops.

Celebrated soba noodles

Omachi has a long tradition of culinary expertise. Like much of Nagano Prefecture, it’s particularly well-known for buckwheat (soba) noodles. At Iroya Yasaka, the art of artisanal soba making has been passed down from generation to generation – and you can learn their secrets at a 90-minute workshop.

_0004_AdobeStock_177630230

You’ll be taught to knead dough of buckwheat flour and water, spread it thinly with a stick, and cut it into long thin noodles.

_0003_AdobeStock_315868859

_0002_AdobeStock_209221046

bouton site corpo experience EN

Alternatively, you can sign up for a 3-hour session to make oyaki, a speciality buckwheat dumpling baked on a hot plate. This is hearty mountain food, with the filling likely to include seasonal vegetables such as leafy nozawana, eggplant or onion.

_0009_AdobeStock_291079955

_0005_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps

After your hard work in the kitchen, you can enjoy your creation in the restaurant – along with other specialities like oysters and tempura.

Miso masterclass

Ever wondered how miso is made?

_0000_AdobeStock_32087689

At Marukome Co. Ltd., you can find out first hand. This miso specialist crafts and ages the Japanese speciality using a cold preparation method that deepens the taste.

During the workshop, you’ll crush Nagano soybeans by hand until you form a paste and then mix it with salt and koji, a fungal culture used to ferment the paste and transform it into miso.

_0002_ot3-1

_0001_AdobeStock_189223601

You’ll have to keep your creation a few months before you can eat it, but the company also offers a Miso Comparison Classroom, where you can taste different ingredients and products of various ages.

Ancient soup stock

Wachigai is a restaurant housed in a beautiful 130-year-old townhouse, lined with tatami mats. It serves local Omachi specialities such as frozen mochi and Wagai Nagadashi noodle soup. Every Wednesday, the chef reveals the secrets of his soup stock and invites visitors to make their own.

_0005_Wachigai-2

_0006_Wachigai

The experience lasts about 2-and-a-half hours, including eating your soup at the end. As a bonus, the restaurant will give you recipes for some of the other items on its menu, so you can try to recreate them back home.

Craft creation

If you prefer crafts over cuisine, Omachi has plenty to offer. At the Matsuzaki Washi company, you can make your own washi paper postcard. The four-person workshop has existed for over 100 years and specializes in mixing local flowers into their paper.

_0004_ot4-1

_0003_ot4-2

bouton site corpo experience EN

At their premises, you’ll learn how to sieve a solution of pounded bark and glue to achieve just the right thickness of paper – and then decorate it with wild flora. If you’re feeling ambitious, why not progress to make your own washi fan, coaster or candle holder?

_0001_Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps 1

Your final hands-on experience? A workshop to make your own scent at the Aroma Experience Studio. Choose from a dozen essential oils, then add ethanol and Alpine meltwater to create your own unique room spray.

_0000_ot2-3

_0001_ot2-2

What better souvenir to remember your creative stay in the heart of the Japanese Alps?

OTHER EXPERIENCES

Japanese tea ceremony

The secrets of the famous Japanese tea

25 Apr 2016 in Food Culture

Discover the secrets of the green tea ceremony, a symbol of the Japanese lifestyle. Read more

knife-japan-cuisine

Why are Japanese knives among the best in the world?

27 Jan 2017 in Food Culture

It’s no surprise that Japanese knives are prized by the world’s top chefs: they’re razor-sharp, pinpoint-precise – and, in the right hands, they can do some incredible things! Read more

terroir-menu-2

Gourmet island cuisine

08 Feb 2019 in Food Culture

Discover how a tiny Okinawan island has inspired a 10-course gourmet menu. Read more

OTHER EXPERIENCES

japanese-tempura

How to eat tempura

28 Dec 2018 in Food Culture

All you need to know about Japan’s famous fried food! Read more

sake

Kazari-daru: the decorative sake barrel

02 Feb 2018 in Food Culture

Enter this month’s contest for your chance to win a superbly-decorated barrel of sake! Read more

crab

Savouring the snow crab

25 Jan 2019 in Food Culture

Prized as one of winter’s choice treats, the Japanese snow crab is a must for seafood fans! Read more

most popular articles