RURAL TOURISM IN TONO
A SPECIAL BLEND OF HISTORY,
CULTURE, NATURE AND PEOPLE
ABOUT The Tono Natural Life Network (TNL) is a Not for Profit Organisation founded in 2003 with the objective of supporting and promoting the lifestyle and traditions of Tono’s inhabitants and, more specifically, of its farmers.
FARM STAY TNL has been a pioneer in introducing to Japan the concept of farm stay, broadly designed on the British rural tourism and Italian agrotourism models. In the 15 years since our establishment, we have developed a network of about 150 collaborating farming families that offer a range of experiences and services to over 3000 guests annually.
CONSULTING & TRAINING TNL also acts as a consultant for other institutions that wish to implement our successful model in other regions. We also provide training courses (Tohoku Tourism University) for operators of the rural tourism sector and educational experience for national and international University students.
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT A part from expertise in rural tourism, TNL provides business development support to family-size firms along the Sanriku coast and emotional backup to individuals affected by the tsunami of 2011.
In Tono, rather than increasing the number of visitors, TNL aims at the fidelisation of repeaters and long term committed followers, by providing a service of the utmost quality, coupled with an unforgettable human experience to our visitors.
INTRODUCING SOME OF OUR SPECIAL HOSTS
Why Rural Tourism, why Tono?
Tono is a lovely town located about 500 Km North East from Tokyo and connected by bullet trains and direct flights into nearby Hanamaki (see map).
Whether you are a first time traveller or a frequent visitor to Japan, if experiencing real rural Japan is what you are looking for, here are some good reasons why you should include Tono in your travel plans.
Tono has four clearly defined seasons which create a varied landscape and allow guests to enjoy very different experiences throughout the year. Whether you visit in summer or winter you will find something interesting to do!
Tono is acknowledged, nationally and internationally as the cradle of Japanese folktales, stories orally transmitted for centuries until they were collected and edited by the father of Japanese ethnology Kunio Yanagita under the title of “Legends of Tono” (1910). From the special atmosphere that pervades this town and the stories about tricky spirits, wise Gods and smart human beings that the city inhabitants will be happy to tell you, you will feel right away how unique this place is!
With a population of just twenty-eight thousand inhabitants, Tono counts nevertheless on over 50 local performing groups, specialised in shishiodori, kagura, sansa or nanbubayashi folk ritual dances, some of them acknowledged as UNESCO’s intangible world heritage.
Just at a one day horse ride between the Sanriku coast and various inland towns of the Nanbu domain, for centuries Tono was a rich marketplace and until the end of the XIX century Tono was called the “city of a thousand men and a thousand horses”. Even today Tono is renowned for its horse breeding, horse therapy and traditional horseback archery yabusame performances.
An extremely cold valley in winter, historically Tono suffered from long lasting famines, an hardship that has left a positive print in the local gastronomy. Rich in fermented products, including a special type of unfiltered sake called doburoku, as well as in a variety of sansai wild vegetables, assorted grains, soba and original kind of pasta called hitsumi, Tono’s cuisine won’t disappoint even the most demanding of foodies!
Its location between Japan’s inland area and the coast, has also made of Tono a hub for disaster relief to the populations of the sanriku coast, an area often hit by devastating tsunami. Tono receives annually national and international experts who wish to learn from Tono’s NPO’s experience. Visitors interested in disaster prevention and relief will find in Tono a very knowledgeable place.
Above all, meeting Tono’s people is a good enough reason to visit. Whether they were born here, moved back after few years spent elsewhere, or moved in from Tokyo or from abroad, Tono’s inhabitants love their town. Their friendly and welcoming attitude will make you feel at home!