Welcome back to Mogami's Japanese Wellness Tour
Through this virtual wellness tour around Japan, we hope to introduce to you a few wellness-related facts about each prefecture alongside traditional Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品 dentou-kougei-hin) that have been practised, mastered and treasured over decades, especially as incorporating creativity and hands-on arts is one of the wellness principles that we focus on at Mogami.
At Mogami, we appreciate that practising your creative self is essential to long-term wellbeing.
Our goal is to highlight each prefecture's wellness practices to empower you to take control of your holistic wellbeing in a way that works for you.
Come along to discover, learn, and experience each prefecture's beauty and speciality.
Onto our third destination of our tour: Hyōgo
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge at Kobe, Hyōgo
Did you know?
Hyōgo offers a captivating blend of culture, nature, and culinary delights.
One of its iconic symbols is Mount Rokko, located just outside of Kobe, the capital city of Hyōgo. This majestic mountain is famous for its breathtaking views and natural hot springs, providing visitors with a serene and rejuvenating experience.
A few of our top ryokan recommendations:
View of Kobe city from Mount Rokko
Kobe, in specific, also has a fascinating history tied to its international port, which played a crucial role in Japan's modernisation. It is also the birthplace of the world-famous Kobe beef, a type of high-quality wagyu beef. Raised in the Hyōgo region and renowned for its exceptional quality and tenderness, Kobe beef is highly sought after globally. Its exquisite marbling gives it a rich buttery flavour, making it a culinary delight for many.
Skyline of Kobe at the port
Hyōgo is home to the magnificent Himeji Castle, known as the "White Heron Castle." This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a stunning white exterior and intricate architectural design, including elaborate defensive structures. As one of Japan's best-preserved feudal castles, it stands as a testament to the region's historical significance.
Hyōgo Traditional Crafts
Hyōgo is known for its rich tradition of craftsmanship, and many of its unique products are exported worldwide. From the exquisite ceramics of 丹波立杭焼 Tamba Tachikki-yaki and 出石焼 Izushi ware to the masterful woodwork of 大阪唐木指物 Osaka Karaki Sashimono and 豊岡杞柳細工 Toyooka Kiryu-zaiku, and the impeccable metalwork of 播州三木打刃物 Banshu Miki Uchihamono, these unique products embody Hyōgo's enduring legacy of artistry. With their exceptional quality and allure, they continue to showcase the prefecture's unwavering commitment to craftsmanship.
Japanese Traditional Stationery: Soroban そろばん
Once an indispensable tool for companies and schools, the Soroban, or traditional Japanese abacus, holds a significant historical value. This ancient device allowed for numerical representation and calculations by manipulating beads threaded on a slender stick.
Originating in China during the 2nd century, bead-based abacuses gained widespread popularity from the 14th to 16th centuries. The Muromachi period (1336-1573) marked the introduction of the abacus to Japan.
During the flourishing commerce of the Edo period, Soroban became an essential skill for merchants. Alongside children from samurai families, students from common backgrounds attended "Terakoya" schools, where they diligently studied various subjects, including reading, writing, and Soroban.
A Soroban comprises beads, a frame, and a core. Durability, long-term usability, and smooth bead movement are crucial factors. While Soroban was once crafted across various regions in Japan, today, the production mainly centres around two areas: Hyōgo and Shimane prefecture, ensuring the continuation of this traditional craft.
Hyōgo Traditional Crafts: Banshu Soroban 播州そろばん
Banshu Soroban, located in Ono City, Hyōgo Prefecture, accounts for 70% of Soroban's production share and is the largest Soroban manufacturer in Japan.
With a rich history that traces back to the Warring States Period, the roots of the Banshu Soroban lie in the flight of Misagi-gun's inhabitants from Miki Castle, led by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Seeking refuge in Omi (Shiga Prefecture), they acquired the techniques of the Otsu Soroban, which they diligently continued to produce upon their return to their hometown.
Banshu Soroban is made with traditional techniques using birch, boxwood, bamboo and ebony materials. The government has recognised them as traditional crafts and continues to be highly respected.
The Soroban maintains its relevance today. While modern technology has brought about calculators and computers, the Soroban remains valued for its educational and cognitive benefits. In Japan, it is still taught in some schools as a part of mathematics education, fostering mental calculation skills, concentration, and logical thinking. Professionals in fields like finance also appreciate its accuracy.
The Soroban serves as a tool for mental agility and cultural preservation in an increasingly digital era.
Banshu Soroban Craftsmen & local businesses based in Hyōgo
At Mogami, we value the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship and like to shed light on local businesses that continue to practise these traditions with thoughtfulness and intention.
A few of our highlights of Banshu Soroban Craftsmen & local businesses based in Hyōgo
Hyōgo is a prefecture rich in history, culture, culinary delights and natural beauty. From its traditional crafts to its delicious cuisine and stunning landscapes, there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Why not add Hyōgo to your next Japan itinerary and discover what this incredible prefecture offers?
Comment below to share what sparked your interest in this feature!
We are thrilled to have you continue to join us on a journey of discovery and immerse yourself in Japan's vibrant yet harmonious culture.
Stay tuned for our next destination! 👋🏻