Pampered in Hokkaido: ryokan & Japanese hospitality

Black bird singing in the dead of night… I hear the lyrics in my head merging with the sounds of the guitar I am strumming in the warm and homey lounge of the Nutapukaushipe lodge. I am surrounded by wood carved furniture and musical instruments. After travelling through Japan for five weeks and not playing a single chord, I just couldn’t resist the temptation of grabbing one of them, kindly invited by the owner of the place.

Strong and serene, this man has been building his ryokan for decades, from the solid outside structure to the smaller beams decorating the inside. In our spacious traditional Japanese room, a hollowed trunk serves as a lamp above the tatami mats showing a great attention to details conveying a very cosy feeling. Located at the foot of the active Asahi-dake volcano, the waters of the natural hot spring fill a hand-made onsen and rotenburo over-looking the river. Not being able to withstand the temperature of the main bath, I am seated on volcanic stones in the slightly colder lower basin surrounded by a dense variety of plants and flowers. The wilderness of Hokkaido impersonates itself as a two-meter long green snake which decides to enjoy the warmth of the stones. I respectfully retreat and dress in the provided yukata, feeling completely clean and relaxed, and ready for a delicious meal.

The owner’s wife is busy in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to their home-made dinner, while he is carefully arranging six different dishes in various ceramic bowls at my table. When the small bowl of miso soup is served, it is time to start.

Geared up with instant ramens for the 5-day Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse, I thoroughly enjoy the fresh vegetables just lightly seasoned. Particularly tasteful, most of them are home-grown or hand-picked in the mountains by the owner. The meal is a feast for the eyes and the palate, finishing on fresh fruits that are a luxury in Japan.

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After a good night sleep, the traditional morning breakfast is composed of a miso soup, white rice, fresh fruits, pieces of pickled vegetables and a main dish of fish.

This delicious and healthy food provides me with the energy I need to start my next adventure: the Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse, although I am a bit sad to leave such a beautiful and serene place.

Claire & Marcella

Travel tips:

  • Ryokan: Lodge Nutapukaushipe, Asahi-dake, Hokkaido (no website, +81 (0)167 972 150 (enough English is spoken to book a room)). Wireless.
  • Check out this interactive map (quick tutorial) for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!
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