Takumi Kaido – Ancient Highways that Forged Hokuriku’s Local Culture
Along the Sea of Japan, the “Hokuriku-kaido” and “Hokkoku-kaido” highways connect the western Sea of Japan region with the rest of the country. From antiquity into the present, people and supplies have traveled these busy highways and influenced the culture around it.
For hundreds of years, the traditions that blossomed along these historic roads nurtured the skills and craftmanship of local artisans and contributed to the development of the region. To this day, this history continues to shape the region and its culture. Connecting past to present, the historic “Takumi-kaido” route runs from east to west, linking the areas of Echizen (Echizen City), Ecchu (Takaoka City), and Echigo (Tsubame City / Sanjo City) along the Sea of Japan.
Travelers journeying down this road can experience the many cultural facets of the Hokuriku region and discover that, while each area is distinct, they all embrace a shared heritage. Through both traditional and contemporary experiences, visitors can gain each day a deeper understanding of the route’s rich heritage, as well as the significant cultural legacies that continue to live on today.
In this article, we share our recommended itinerary of gastronomy, art, and craft experiences along this great ancient highway, so as to provide a source of inspiration for your own Takumi Kaido journey.
Meet the experienced artisans creating knives, washi paper, cabinetry in Echizen
- YAMATSUGI SEISHI (Traditional paper factory)
- SUGIHARA WASHIPAPER, INC., Wholesaler of Echizen Washi paper
- kicoru OYANAGI-Tansu (Echizen Cabinet Factory)
Learn about the traditional craft of metal casting and design in Takaoka
- Latticework Brewing (Local craft brewery)
- Yamachosuji (Preservation district)
- Bed & Craft (Accommodation and craft experiences)
Discover the art of making copperware and metal tools in Tsubame Sanjo
- Tsubame Sanjo Italian BIT (Restaurant)
- Tsuiki Copperware GYOKUSENDO (Craft studio)
- SUWADA Open Factory (Metal tools factory)
Echizen in FUKUI
Yamatsugi Seishi Washi Paper
Yamatsugi Seishi was founded in 1872 as a paper mill producing Echizen washi handmade paper. Today, the company creates contemporary products like tea cans, card cases, or badges made from a special type of Japanese washi paper called ukiwashi . After visiting the mill and learning about its history, travelers can try their hand at making their own washi paper.
SUGIHARA WASHIPAPER, INC.
Established in 1871, Sugihara is a well-established wholesaler of Echizen Washi. In 2008, the company renovated and reopened a 100-year-old storehouse to display many valuable Japanese washi products that can only be purchased here.
kicoru OYANAGI-Tansu, Echizen Cabinetry
This soon to be third generation cabinet factory is the perfect example of artisans preserving traditions while refining their products to the needs for contemporary life. Despite the factory’s compact size, all of the main techniques and skills required to build these crafted cabinets are carried out under one roof. Kicoru’s owner Mr. Oyanagi takes travelers through all the processes used to make his cabinets while explaining the thoughtful and philosophical adjustments he has made to adapt his craft to 21st century lifestyles.
Takaoka in TOYAMA
Latticework Brewing Company
Located in the scenic district of Kanayamachi in a traditional townhouse, the Latticework Brewing Company offers the chance to sample some of the region’s best local beer. This establishment is in fact the brainchild of a former salary man who lived in the US and returned to Japan First time visitors are welcomed like regular local customers in a delightfully inviting and cozy atmosphere. Travelers can also enjoy an excellent food menu prepared by the owner himself to perfectly pairs with his brews.
During the early Edo period, Daimyo Maeda Toshinaga invited townspeople from neighboring castle towns to live in Takaoka in an effort to develop the city. This tradition still lives on today. In Yamachosuji you can stroll through a picturesque, traditional area of Western-style brick houses and dignified, delicately designed townhouses.
Bed & Craft
Located just outside of Takaoka, the historical town of Inami is home to 200 woodcarving artisans, an impressive number in a town of just 8,000 people. Bed & Craft offers travelers the chance to stay at one of its six high-end villa properties dotted around Inami. Each villa has been meticulously designed in collaboration with one of the town’s skilled artisans, so that each one showcases unique features and handiwork. Guests staying at one of the villas also have the exclusive opportunity to apprentice with a local craftsman for a few hours . They can choose from working with a woodcarver, a lacquerware artist, or a Buddhist sculptor
Tsubame Sanjo in NIIGATA
Tsubame Sanjo Italian BIT
Many surprises are to be found when dining at BIT. In addition to its excellent contemporary Italian fare with a very Japanese twist, one can have a truly’fusion dining experience’ in every sense. Without giving away too much, the connection of’craft For the full effect, one must reserve the private dining room experience!’,’Cooking’and’history’ are artfully woven together.
Tsuiki Copperware Gyokusendo
Gyokusendo has been making copperware in the snowy region of Niigata for over two hundred years. The art of hammered copperware has been passed down for generations in the land of Tsubame. This studio remains as it has been since its inception. A resident English-speaking staff member passionately explains the history, philosophy and process of their work.
SUWADA Open Factory
For more than 90 years, SUWADA has been specializing in the manufacturing of nipper-type knives that cut’blade to blade’. It is hard to imagine how specialized and exciting this work is unless you see it for yourself. From product development to material selection, the entire process is done in house by experienced craftsmen.
wondertunk & co. can tailor your custom Japan itinerary to include Takumi Kaido.
For more information about including this destination in your travel plans: