Manga anime, robot cafes, and really fast trains. These are just a few things that have popularized Japan as a global destination for travelers seeking unique cultural differences. Although these modern creations may temporarily entertain a curious sightseer, the reality is that these activities have only been a part of Japan for a fraction of its history. A real enthusiast of Japanese culture understands that Japan’s beauty comes from its deep preservation of historical traditions and values which are still recognized, utilized, and celebrated by the people of Japan today. One can learn about these traditions and values by researching them on japantravel.com, becoming a practitioner of a specific field of Japanese culture, or by visiting locations of cultural preservation such as world heritage sites and museums. But what if you don’t have the time to travel to a bunch of museums and you actually want to witness and participate in Japan’s historic traditions rather than just learn about them? Furthermore, what if you can experience the traditions of Japan with complete luxury, privacy, and customization? This is the experience that Neold offers.
Neold is a Japanese villa which is located in the rural town of Yoshino, Nara. It generally takes over two hours when traveling from Osaka to Yoshino by train. As seen on their website, the people of Neold offer a unique experience by combining the luxurious components of a villa while providing a selection of traditional high-end Japanese activities on-site. Additionally, guests are accompanied by service staff 24 hours a day to ensure that the Neold standard is met. The service staff can accommodate in many languages such as English, French, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese, and also include a private chef. The villa itself contains many classic Japanese amenities such as a kotatsu, an outdoor bath, an irori hearth, and a ninja pole. Not only can you participate in personalized activities which emulate life in ancient Japan, but you can also enjoy luxurious Japanese practices which still serve as a focal point in many Japanese lives today.
Upon arrival, one can quickly tell why Yoshino is the best location for Neold. Unlike Osaka and Tokyo, Yoshino is much less populated and offers amazing natural scenery. Visitors can have a luxurious Japanese experience without interacting with a big city's fast pace. Yoshino is located in the beautiful Kii Mountains and has a spectacular view of the jagged mountain range and dense greenery, which can be enjoyed when staying at Neold. Yoshino is also home to thousands of cherry trees which are famous for their pink blossoms known as “sakura” in the spring. In the fall, the many trees surrounding Neold, including Japanese Maples, make for a prime location to view autumn foliage.
Neold offers many one-of-a-kind experiences, but the main option is known as “The Shogun Experience.” In this event, a guest is treated as if they were a samurai warrior during the Edo period for two days. Another feature exclusive to Neold is that they are home to their own traditional Japanese stage which serves many purposes including hosting private shows such as noh and kyogen performances. Neold also offers guests the opportunity to enjoy tea ceremonies, practice calligraphy, and participate in ninja training routines. The full list of each activity and specific pricing can be found on the Neold website.
The Neold experience would not be possible without the meticulous planning and perfect execution by their stellar staff, led by General Manager and Head Chef, Kimihiro Ogino. A Nara native, Chef Ogino has been mastering his culinary craft for over 25 years. Despite his lead role, Chef Ogino’s in-house contributions see no limits. At times, he will be live-preparing a 9-course meal at the sushi bar, while other times he may be serving you a cold beverage as you soak in the outdoor bath. It is important for guests to understand the effort dedicated to the quality of ingredients used to prepare a dinner hosted by Chef Ogino at Neold. He uses a “market menu” which means he hand-picks local and seasonal items. This combined with skillful cooking techniques and the staff’s impeccable service makes for a high-end dining experience. The versatility of following a market menu also allows for customizations such as vegetarian accommodations.