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I have been looking forward to writing about this place for a long time but wanted to ensure that I had just the right pictures. I had never seen another non-Japanese in this area until I met Clive, an English gentleman who moved to Jikkoku (Jukkoku) about a year ago. He shares my passion for going off the beaten path, so we quickly struck up a friendship. We first met in the spring.
The village of Jikkoku has a lot of Character. Clive’s neighbour said he gives tours of his traditional Japanese farmhouse for a nominal fee. In addition, he occasionally can be convinced to prepare a classic Japanese open-hearth meal.
We proceeded to tour around the village for an entire afternoon and managed to get this shot of Mount Fuji with beautiful pink blossoms in the foreground.
I returned to Jikkoku in the summer to get a picture of the hydrangeas around Jikkoku’s central shrine. The shrine is simple, but that is what attracted me to it in the first place.
The peak season to visit Jikkoku has to be the autumn when Oyanagawa Gorge is filled with vibrant red and golden leaves. Of course the gorge is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year, but nothing beats the colours of mid-November.
If the scenery isn’t enough to make you want to visit Jikkoku there is still another great reason to visit, and that is to try your hand at some traditional local cuisine. The staff at Tsukutabekan will teach you how to make a delicious local miso stew containing seasonal vegetables and mimi, a type of local dumpling. Although they admittedly speak very little English, they are more than willing to show you how to make their local delicacies. If you are willing to rent a car and make the trip to Jikkoku, why not write the staff at the Fujikawa roadside produce centre, michinoeki, to make a reservation. The email address is:
If you do decide to write, please keep your communication as simple as possible, i.e. give your name, the number of people that would like to participate, and your preferred date/time. If you get a reply in Japanese, just use Google Translate to verify the reservation has been made. One more thing, please definitely attend the cooking class if you have made a reservation. If too many people don’t show, we may lose this fantastic opportunity to learn about traditional Japanese cuisine. I believe Tsukutabekan is closed on Thursdays. Enjoy your meal.
If you want a better idea of what a walk around Jikkoku (Oyanagawa Gorge) is like, just search for it on Google Maps. You can even follow some of the trails through the forest.
UPDATE: I have made 3 maps for you to follow if you plan to cycle to Jikkoku. The first map shows where to get off the train, JR Ochii Station, along the JR Minobu Line. It should take 30 minutes for a reasonably fit cyclist (on a high-end bike) to get to Jikkoku from the entrance to road 407.
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