What to Expect
In the historical record, Akino, today’s Uda city in Nara, was the renowned village to harvest medicinal herbs. It is reported that Empress Suiko visited to hunt herbs (AD611). Akino is also a place to produce mercury, and people believe the power of medicinal plants is more strong around the location of mercury.
Developed as a castle town, Uda has many historic buildings that remain unchanged since the Edo Period (16th - 18th century). This retro landscape has been designated to be one of the Important Preservation Districts. The streets have some facilities associated with medicine and herbs, including Morino Kyuyakuen (medicinal herb garden) and Kusuri-no-Yakata (the museum of medicine). You can learn traditional knowledge of wild herbs, and taste different types of Japanese herbal tea at the herbal garden.
Also, you can visit several breweries, such as shoyu (soy source) and sake to learn the process of fermentation, which is the key ingredients of washoku - Japanese foods.
It is possible to visit Uda as a day trip from Nara, but If you have one more day time, I would recommend staying one more night in Uda, and further explore the chance to learn tofu or kudzukiri (dessert made of starch of tuber crop called kudzu) in Yoshino on the following day. Yoshino is also famous for its cherry blossoms and spiritual training temples of yamabushi. Please let me know should you have more interested in multi-dates customized tours.
Please also see my blog for further information:
9:40 departing from JR Nara station (9:00 from Kyoto station)
11:30 arriving in Uda city
12:00-13:30 herbal yakuso lunch at Daiganji temple / at a local restaurant
14:00-15:00 waking around Morino medicinal herb garden
15:00-16:00 visiting the important preservation district of historic buildings and some food makers
16:00-17:30 travelling from Uda to Nara (15:50 Kyoto station)
* If you will have time to stay in Uda, I would recommend visiting an indigo dyeing house, or experiencing foraging in the following day.