How do you choose which inn to stay at before you go on a trip? Most likely by 1 of either the local food, the onsen, or its proximity to tourist attractions.
Occasionally though, wouldn’t you like to leave the bustling places and head to a place where time seems to stand still? When you are close to “nothingness” it almost feels like your 5 senses are sharpened. Once in a while wouldn’t it be nice to go to a place where there is nothing but to sharpen them?
The hall is picturesque
A 30 minute bus ride from Tsuruoka Station, there is a quiet little onsen town in the moutains, Yudonoan.
When you walk through the doors, in front of you is an interior that is opposite from the rustic exterior. There are chairs here and there, to view the scenery. You feel the wind and the smells. It seems to be different when you are in another part of the inn.
First checking in. A welcome herb tea is served which you are thankful for.
Slow moving time against the backdrop of a garden
When you are watching the garden from the living area, you forget how busy everyday life is, and you understand the luxury of doing nothing. The flowers show different faces for each of the four seasons. It is almost like a painting.
Cool water is provided and these little hospitalities make you thankful for creating a comforting space. It is easy to find your own private space here.
A walk to enjoy after a bath
The impression of the many inns which are part of the Japan Association of Hot Spring Inns, are usually in far-away places and lone standing, and are more focused on the hot springs and pay little attention to the rooms. But here at Yudonoan, it’s not just the onsen they focus on, but various parts of the facilities setting it apart from other member inns. The onsen consists of a sulfate spring which is slightly tepid allowing you to ease muscle aches and joint pains at your own pace.
Nearby is Hotarunosato which is a place where you can watch fireflies dance around in early summer, and only a 10 minute walk away. At a different nearby location you can even see the rare Genji Hotaru firefly. A walk down the narrow foot path leads to the temple Choufukuji which has lots of character. Walking around in nature in a yukata after a bath is a different experience out here.
Right in front of the inn is also the foot bath Shirasaginoyu and the mixed bath Shyomenyu, so onsen hopping is also an option.
Look forward to food that you can feel the seasons in
Of course the most anticipated thing about a stay at an inn is the dinner. What moved me the most this time was the sashimi. It was fresh and the soy sauce to go with it was spectacular! I had to ask who makes it and found that they blend it themselves here. Normally a sashimi plate has tuna on it but here they only provide local fish.
The anticipation for what comes next is heightened from the soy sauces deliciousness. A tall order from someone who makes their own soy sauce from scratch like me.
A hamburg steak with bamboo shoot!
Yudonoan is surrounded by delicious seasonal foods. This meal was no exception to their copious use of these ingredients.
This was a soup of bamboo shoots and shrimp fritter. The porcelain made the dish look even more appetizing. The main dish was a hamburg steak! This was a radical bamboo shoot hamburg steak!
There are many types of bamboo shoots. Whem Moso bamboo shoots are in season they serve bamboo shoot rice, Moso soup, and Moso buns. Apparently they only serve it for a limited time, but many seem to try to make reservations for just this menu.
Because there is nothing around you can enjoy the four seasons fully, or feel things you normally wouldn’t here. A trip to sharpen the senses is an experience to try.
Yudonoan 3-8 Yudagawa, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture 0235-35-2200