For 10 years , a Japanese Professor of Green Tourism at Tokyo University & his party have been visiting Herefordshire B&B Lowe Farm run by Juliet Williams twice a year.
He wanted to demonstrate to Japan how a woman in farming was supporting farm diversity and actioning green tourism to a high standard. Following that visit, Juliet was hosted for a series of five symposiums across Japan where she spoke on the benefits and intricacies of creating a rural business to 800 people in south Japan, 500 at Tokyo University, 600 in north Japan and back to Toyko and a further 500 delegates, attracting much media attention along the way, Juliet’s talk topics included discussion on DEFRA grants, Business training, Green Tourism, Farmstay B&Bs and farm diversification.
Its quite an amazing story & we know that Juliet is committed to an excellent service – because she has looked after some of our cycling holiday customers too. At a celebration meal to celebrate the 10 year anniversary we met up over japanese & local food (sushi & hereford beef & strawberries!) to learn more about Japanese culture. As well as a cooking demonstration, origami, Japanese folk songs and much pantomime in trying to communicate without a common language we had a great time.
The tsunami might have receded in our memory – but its very much at the front of this group’s thoughts – they were selling crafts to help raise funds for tsunami homeless, their ideas about green tourism were aimed at encouraging Japanese rural youth to stay & run businesses rather than move to the city.
It made me immediately go & find out about cycling in Japan & once again, my image of urban Japan, was shattered… Here are 7 reasons to Cycle in Japan (from the podium cafe) – all of which surprised me….
Cycling culture -“Think cycling culture and I think of the Netherlands or Denmark. Countries where the bike is a deeply engrained in day-to-day life to go to the shops, to go to work, to get around. Japan is pretty similar. Almost anywhere you go you’ll find kids, workers and grannies tottering around on bikes as part of their everyday life. Not in the ordered way of northern Europe. Cyclists ride without helmets or lights.”
The convenience -“Everywhere you go in Japan you will see vending machines and convenience stores. Some might view these as blots on the landscape but for cyclists they are life-savers”
Hot Springs -Japan is a volcanic place. Alongside the molten rock, hot springs burst out of the ground across the country. The Japanese like nothing more than bathing in these onsen so across the country you’ll find bathhouses and hotels where you can soak and relax
The Scenery -Mountains, rugged coastlines and cherry blossoms. Japan has an awfully large amount of natural beauty. Doing a ride like my fourth day over the shoulders of Fuji-san was as spectacular as any day I’ve ridden in the Alps or Pyrenees
The Food -“A cyclist rides on his stomach”. Or something like that. A cyclist can also stuff himself silly in the knowledge he’ll burn the calories – this is one of the pleasures of riding. In Japan it is particularly amazing as the food is outstanding.
The roads -“From 1991 to 2000 (and arguably longer) Japan plunged into a lost decade of economic output. Spurred on by the construction lobby the country undertook a vast programme of public works in an attempt to rekindle growth. Some of this was deeply harmful such as the canalisation of rivers and the billions spent on pointless coastal defence schemes. But it has also left a network of brilliant roads criss-crossing the country.
The trains – “Jump on a train to the countryside ride to another station and cruise home. If only it were so simple in the UK…” to see the whole article
So Herefordshire cycling is missing out on a few of these (the trains, convenience, hot springs, cycle routes). But like Japan, Herefordshire excels at the Food & Scenery (we also have cherry orchards & blossom)…So what is it that draws the Japanese to Herefordshire? – It is the farming community, the hospitality and the architecture… come on our Black & White Villages Cycle Tour and find out for yourself.