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About Chino Tabi
We organize unique tours and activities in Chino, the area between the Yatsugatake Mountains and Lake Suwa. Through our programs you will be able to meet the locals and experience the authentic Japan. Follow us inside artisans’ labs, local farmers’ houses and producers’ workshops. Discover the natural beauty of this mountain area and experience local life as an insider. All our tours can be customized to meet each participant’s needs and interests
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Chino Tabi
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Brian T wrote a review Dec 2019
Perth, Australia22 contributions6 helpful votes
+1
Having visited Japan multiple times now (10th trip), it can be tricky to find something new to do that can offer a completely new and refreshing experience. Just when you think that you've seen and done quite a bit in Japan, something comes along that will completely blow you out of the water and reinvigorate your love for travelling to / in Japan. Visiting Chino and signing up for the tofu-making experience was definitely one of those special moments for me. The Chino area is truly something special to begin with - a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle that you can quite quickly get overwhelmed by in the big cities. The scenery is picture perfect; panoramic mountain ranges and beautiful lakes with great roads (Venus Line and Marchen Road just to name a couple) weave their way through Chino, greeting you with amazing views at every turn. Yearning for a hot spring to ease your weary body after a long day of adventuring? You'll be glad to hear that the area has an abundance of great "onsens" boasting some great waters! Looking to enjoy some local cuisine and sample the best that Chino has to offer? Be rest assured that your appetite will be whet by a stay at one of the local ryokans where you can enjoy some amazing "kaiseki" course meals. Cristina and the Chino Tabi team are amazing, period. Let me slay any concerns you may have about organising a trip to Chino / booking accommodation with Chino Tabi - the communication is top notch, let alone the attention to detail that the team provides in ensuring you get the most out of your visit! From my very first enquiry (4 months earlier) to the day before I was due to arrive, Chino Tabi were exemplary in assisting me with planning and finalising my visit. What really did blow me away was the "heads-up" email the day prior to advise me that I should have winter tyres fitted to my rental car if I was driving into the area - such a great team of people! If you are fence sitting at the moment about visiting Chino and are unsure about what to do, get in touch with Chino Tabi and you will be convinced to visit immediately. The team provides you with a suggested itinerary as well as makes all the bookings (accommmodation + tours) for you as well as handles payment. An easy one-stop-shop! I'm proud to also be the first reviewer of the tofu-making experience! Kobayashi-san who owns and operates Sennen Tofu is a true master of the art of tofu-making and is one of the most down-to-earth people you'll meet in the country! Cristina from the Chino Tabi team joined us during our session and is a fantastic translator, but more importantly, made us feel extremely welcome and comfortable. What truly stood out was not just her command of the language, but more so her love for the area and its people + culture. This combined with the great relationship that she's built with the people of Chino ensures that you will be able to experience something I've found almost impossible to come by even having visited Japan multiple times now - genuine participation in everyday life in Japan. Kobayashi-san was fantastic; such a warm individual and very proud of the work that he does. You'll be amazed by the amount of variables and conditions that affect the tofu making process and how tricky it actually is to make great tofu. I guarantee that you will be hard pressed to taste better hand-made tofu as well particularly as you will be given the opportunity to make your own! My only regret is not spending more time in the area and signing up for some of the other experiences! I will definitely be back to Chino!
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Date of experience: December 2019
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Miriam wrote a review Dec 2019
Zurich8 contributions3 helpful votes
On our second trip to Japan, we were lucky enough to find Chino-Tabi organization, who was exceptionally friendly, responsive and efficient in organizing our activities within the local communities. We booked three experiences: cooking with the grannies, guided village walk and farming. We had a wonderful time in all of them and met incredibly warm and congenial people. Having ingredients explained and being able to use them in the cooking process was a great help in chosing what we wanted to take back home for our experiments in the kitchen. At the end of our stay in Chino, we wished we had even more time to spend in the area (and book all the other activities, as well!!). Thank you for your hospitality and all the best.
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Date of experience: November 2019
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Nealson S wrote a review Oct 2019
Honolulu, Hawaii4 contributions4 helpful votes
We booked two experiences with chino-tabi: soba making and cooking with the grannies. Both were excellent. I won't go into the details other than to say that both experiences provided a lot of interaction with some locals of chino. Our hosts were welcoming and warm. We had such a good time with the soba master and with the grannies. Cristina, our guide from chino-tabi, was just great. Thanks, Cristina! If you're looking for more than just sightseeing and want to get a taste of the culture and daily life in Japan, try looking into the experiences offered by chino-tabi.
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Date of experience: October 2019
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G F wrote a review Jul 2019
8 contributions10 helpful votes
For my fourth trip to Japan, I was determined to expose myself to something more than mere sightseeing. My grandfather emigrated from Yamaguchi Prefecture to the U.S. in 1900 and brought his carpentry tools and trade with him. I am now learning Japanese woodworking with his traditional chisels, planes and saws. To this day, these tools are each handmade by blacksmiths using centuries-old techniques. I also love cooking and purchased a beautiful Aritsugu kitchen knife in Kyoto last year. Until now, it was the star of our kitchen. I searched for opportunities to visit with Japanese toolmakers before this year’s trip. The Chino-Tabi experience seemed the most authentic by far. Plus, it was another reason to return to mountainous Nagano Prefecture of the Japan Alps. Chino-Tabi is an association that seeks to promote the local economy by bringing visitors into contact with the people of Chino for genuine and personal experiences. Working from the U.S. with Chino-Tabi to set up the visit was a breeze: my contact Cristina is a proficient guide and translator. Although Chino-Tabi offered to pick me up at the Chino JR Station, it was a pleasant 15 minute walk to Sadamasa Hardware, where the blacksmith’s shop was located. The shop is located behind the family hardware store and has been in operation for a century. The entire family was warm and welcoming. It is a working shop, so be prepared to get a bit dirty. Yusuke is the blacksmith of the family and, with Cristina’s help, explained every step of the process of making my knife and patiently answered all of my questions. We started with a small four inch piece of steel, and over two days transformed it into a beautiful and very high quality kitchen tool. Your hands-on experience includes heating the steel in the forge, forming the blade with the antiquated hammer forge, straightening the blade by hammer and anvil, polishing and tempering, and final sharpening with whetstones. This is not a tourist experience where you simply put the final touches on a ready-made item. You are working alongside the craftsman. The finished product is a laminated steel santoku knife that you will use every day in your kitchen. It is every bit the equal of the $150 Aritsugu knife I purchased last year in Nishiki Market in Kyoto. (Note however, that is not a stainless steel knife. But nor is the edge steel of any quality Japanese knife. So you must carefully wash and dry it after each use.) I highly recommend this opportunity to spend time with local folks and enjoy working with an artist and craftsman. I also enjoyed a visit with Kanehiro-san, the Shinshu Saw maker in Chino. He is the last maker of traditional Japanese carpenter’s and woodworker’s handsaws in Nagano Prefecture. Since most modern construction is performed with machines and power tools, his craft is truly a dying art. I particularly enjoyed listening to his thoughts and philosophy about his art, the place his tools occupy in a changing world, and the uncertain future of his of his craft. The most memorable gift that I received from Kanehiro-san was his gentle observation that change is inevitable and we should accept and be at peace with it. Kanehiro-san provided me a demonstration of his techniques in his spotless shop and concluded with a hands-on lesson on saw sharpening. I had brought with me one of my grandfather’s 120-year old carpenter’s saws that I use today, but needed some love and attention. He agreed to repair and sharpen it. Cristina offered to take care of its return to me in the U.S. I can’t recommend more highly my experiences in Chino and the Chino-Tabi organization. It was the best expenditure of my tourist dollars of the trip and I returned home with much more than my beautiful kitchen knife.
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Date of experience: June 2019
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Yotam K wrote a review Jan 2019
7 contributions1 helpful vote
+1
My wife and I attended the knife-making course through Chino Tabi. The Course is 2 days long, 3 hours each day. We met our amazing host, Cristina, at Chino's train station, and she took us to the blacksmith's workshop. This is a super authentic experience, that became possible only because Christina translated everything from Japanese to English. we've started from a raw peace of metal and through the course we shaped, hammered, heat-treated, grind, sharpened and installed the handle to complete our amazing knife. The blacksmith is very talented, and we felt super welcome in his workshop. definitely the most unique experience in our trip to Japan. A great collection of hand-made chefs knives is available in the workshop. on top of the knife we made and took home (and use it since on a daily basis). Recommended for everyone not only for chefs and knife enthusiastic.
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Date of experience: September 2018
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