Travelling to Japan is a game of give and take between you and the country. The more you open yourself to new, previously unconsidered experiences, the more those experiences will reward you. Head beyond the well-trodden tracks, but don’t worry. You don’t have to look much further than Tokyo to find them. Our one-day Farm and Dining adventure through Koga is one such example of the country’s endless gifts and potential.
No matter where you look in Japan, there’s an abundance of things to see and explore no matter the celebrity of the city’s name, you just need to know where to look. But if you look Koga up online, you might not find a lot in terms of online travel guides, but that’s not because it doesn’t have anything to offer. Let us show you!
Family recipeOur Koga adventure begins at Aoki Sake Brewery, a proudly family-run brewery and an example of Koga’s local appeal. Aoki Sake Brewery, which was founded in 1831, is located on the west side of Ibaraki, right by the rushing water of the Watarase River and not far from the neighboring Tone River. Meet the family behind the sake label, who also happens to live behind the brewery, and sample the delicious brews offered by Aoki.
The brewery is also home to Koga’s only entirely local brewed sake. Known as ‘Gokeiji’, it’s slightly sweet, light tasting, and perfectly balanced. This sake is subtle but deliciously enthralling. The brewery has collected awards for this blend, including the IWC Sake Grand Prix (2016). For guests who are in the area, Aoki runs guided tours and tastings throughout the year, including in winter when sake production is at its peak.
Akiba Farm, farm to table eleganceThe tour then continues on to Akiba Farm, a compact but vibrant farm run by a couple (husband) Satoru and (wife) Hiroko Akiba. Satoru’s hometown is Koga, and the pair relocated from Tokyo to enjoy a more laid-back life and showcase the regional side of Japan. The pair are now the 17th generation of the Akiba family, and they’re doing their family legacy proud.
The pair grow many of their own vegetables and occasionally offer boutique farm-to-table style dining in their charming repurposed greenhouses, working in collaboration with local breweries, chefs, and producers to craft a multi-sensory, multi-course seasonal lunch, featuring a variety of cooking styles, from Japanese-inspired bento (lunch box) style dishes to European flavors like rich, smooth beetroot soup with yuzu (a little taste of Japan).
Food educationOne of the motivating forces for Akiba is food education, and as part of the dining experience, you’ll have the pleasure of learning about the region’s food scene. After the dining experience, guests are invited to join Hiroko Akiba for an intimate tea class. Before relocating to Ibaraki, Hiroko was an expert herb blender based in Ginza; it’s a skill she’s brought to the farm, where she currently grows a variety of herbs, including ten varieties of Japanese mint alone.
She also makes cocoa tea, a tea that tastes almost freakishly like a rich, delicious hot chocolate (sans all the milk and sugar). Hiroko’s tea-brewing workshops are ideal for those wanting to learn more about herbs’ healing and health powers.
Optional extrasGuests are welcome to extend their trip with a visit to one of Koga’s many other attractions, curated specifically for the guests’ interests. Some potential locations include Koga Kubo Park, (home to 1,500 plum blossoms in March), a local market or pub visit, a local festival, or something else entirely! Just let us know what you’re interested in, and we’re sure we can find something special.
- 10:30 - Pick up at Koga Station. Covid safety check (temperature check, health check, etc).
- 11:30 - Travel (by taxi) to Aoki Sake Brewery, welcome aperitif and orientation at Aoki sake brewery. Sake tasting and brewery tour included.
- 12:30 - Travel to and arrive at the boutique farm, Akiba Noen. Run by couple Satoru and Hiroko, Akiba farm is where we’ll learn about the culinary culture of Koga, and spend time cooking and enjoying the farm’s incredible food.
- 14:30 (appx) - Tea blending class at Akiba Noen. Hiroko grows a wide variety of herbs, come of which are produced only at three farms in Japan. Make your own tea and learn about its benefits in "herb tea sessions".
15:30 - Head to Sakacho and Sane Cafe for afternoon tea. Have afternoon pick me up and check out the souvenirs at Sakacho and Sane Cafe, both of which have lovely stone storehouses from the Edo period.
For a more detailed copy of the itinerary, visit this link.
We will make your original itinerary and a quote.
Sashima tea farm visit is a new option for Koga Farm & Dining. Please see Farm & Picnic for more information about Yoshida tea garden.
- Private tour with a national licensed professional guide (10:30 - 17:00)
- Welcome aperitif and orientation at Aoki sake brewery guest room
- Private guided Sake Brewery tour by 蔵人 brewer
- Seasonal Lunch at "Unique venue" of Farm green house, Culinary Experience, Herb Tea Session (Japanese Mint “Wahakka”)
- Transport during the tour
This tour is designed to include transport and a guide to meet you at Koga station.
If you wish to start a private car journey from your hotel in Tokyo, we can arrange a private car and a guide to meet you from your hotel lobby. Please contact us for more information.