off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

by Chisato

Seya shuraku集落 (Seya settlement) is located in the northern part of Kyoto prefecture, 3 hrs away from kyoto city by bus or train.

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledgeVarieties of millet, such as awa 粟 (foxtail millet) and takakibi 高黍(sorghum) are inherited from ancestors of the lands in Seya 世屋. yakihata 焼畑(slush-and-burn farming) was customary conducted for the cultivation of millets. Now, it is banned, and the crops are almost forgotten. Less and less villagers grow millet in Japan.

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

Granmmas in the village make millet cake by using different varieties of millets, called awa mochi 粟餅 (foxtail millet cake), or kibi mochi 黍餅 (sorghum millet cake).

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

These are seeds of millets handed down from generations to generations in seya shuraku. Mothers gifted seeds to their daughters when they got married, so that the dauters would not forget the tastes inherited in their home.

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

In the shuraku (settlement), old folk houses thatched by bamboo grass are sparsely located along the hill.
Konnyaku (glutinous food made from devils tongue), Adzuki beans, soba (buckweat) , tororo aoi (sunset hibiscus), kouzo (paper mulbery) are cultivated in the backyard farms.

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

varieties of indigenous crops are only inherited for subsistence throughout a year. Fiber crops and grains for shinto offering are also among them.
Kumazasa (a kind of bamboo grass) is indispensable for roofing.

off-the-beaten kyoto (1) cultivation of millets and traditional knowledge

Well remained traditional livelihood and knowledge at such level is quite unusual nationwide in Japan and very unique to Seya shuraku.


access: 2 hrs from kyoto station to Miyazu station or Amanohashidate station. take tankai bus from the station to Kamiseya.



Experience Rural Japan 

 Satoyama Library
further stories of off-the-beaten track in Japan

06 Mar 2015

Licensed Guide

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Contact Chisato

Hello. I am Chisato originally from Kyoto.

I completed master degree of organic agriculture in the Netherlands in 2011.
Especially, my specialization is agriculture, anthropology and food culture.
I often travel around rural villages in japan for my research on traditional knowledge, ethnobotany and local cuisine, "kyodo ryori".

My style of guiding is "experience the local communities"; visiting the ingredients where it grows, listening to the stories of local life, where generations have lived.

I try my best to organize a trip with unique experience for you in the off-the-beaten rural villages, especially in Kyoto and Nara. Please let me know your special interests, and I will suggest your trip schedule, such as cooking with locals, visit farmers, or stay at a farmhouse.

Example Theme:
- tea tour (harvesting and processing tea, tea house, matcha poder making, tea museum in Kyoto)
- traditional handicrafts (visit workshops, pottery making experience, kiln in hidden valley)
- culinary experience (food processing workshop such as tofu, soba, yuba, somen noodle, traditional knowledge of food preservation)
- fermented food products (learning how to make sake, shoyu, miso, amazake, pickle, nattou, umeboshi by yourself)
- plant and ethno-ecology (sansai wild plant harvesting and cooking)
- learning rural livelihood (charcoal making, weaving trees, paper making from mulberry plant, silk worm, visit to temple of plant medicine)
- temple stay (meditation, shojin ryori at mount koya)

Please inquire at least 1 month before the tour departure date, when it is totally customized tour.
Please note that spring (March-April) and autumn (Septenmer-October) are peak travelling season in Japan, and it may not possible to offer special interest tours.
I recommend to reserve accommodations at least 2 months before your travel (half year before during peak travelling season).

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