In the home of the Japanese guesthouse, Nagano’s Hakubamura, there is what you can call a new type of guesthouse that is simple and naturally comfortable.
One of these so-called new type guesthouses is “Higashiwakata”, is famous for its exemplary and extravagant food. Not only do they have food that is amazing they also have a beautifying onsen, and an organic farming experience. A night’s stay is only 8750 JPY with two meals! This time we take a look at the allure of Higashiwakata and its food, onsen and its amazing cost performance.
Hakubagozen, the dinner that you can't believe is served at a guesthouse
The most appealing aspect of Higashiwakata is their food.
You almost can’t believe it is a guesthouse because of the variety. This food is all hand made here by Maruyama-san, the Mom of the inn. Every dish speaks volumes of the originality and taste she puts into them!
The table full of dishes here is the dinner called Hakubagozen. Starting with Shinshu Salmon, there are 7 dishes and a Hakubabuta pork dish, paired with seasonal vegetable tempura, and ending with handmade dessert. It is an impressive lineup indeed.
With the meal being served on a Kiso Hinoki Gozen, and Masuko porcelain dishes it is tasty to both the mouth and eyes. All the vegetables used are organically grown with no chemicals. They serve rare fruits and veggies such as Korinkii, a pumpkin that you don’t have to peel the skin and can eat raw, and blackberry.
What is going to be served is not known until that day in the Hakubagozen, because they only use the tastiest in season vegetables. This makes for a dinner that frequent guests will never tire of.
An organic farming experience!
At Higashiwakata the food isn’t just delicious.
You can even enjoy picking these organic crops for free if you are a staying guest! The crops grow next to and behind the guesthouse.
At the field you will find broccoli, green beans, petit tomato, pumpkin, okra and many other crops filling the space. The owner doesn’t even know exactly how many different crops are growing it is almost a wild field now.
This writer tried her hand at picking some green beans. After a brief lessons of watching Maruyama-san do it I start. All you have to do is pull them out from the jungle like growth of leaves. It is almost like a treasure hunt and you soon lose yourself in the simple yet rewarding work.
Because there are no chemicals used you can even eat the crop right then and there. The moist vegetables exceed all expectations. The best was the mini tomato with the firm skin that breaks when bit with a snap releasing sweet goodness! It is almost criminal how good these are. You can even take home your bounty if you want to.
You don’t just eat the safe vegetables you get the satisfaction of picking them yourself.
• If you want to take part in this organic farming experience you have to let them know ahead of time.
The clean and tidy room includes free high speed wifi
On the first floor where the lobby is, there is a room where you can just take a break. Here you will find the local attractions of Hakubamura in the pamphlets, which come in handy when you are exploring the locale. If you arrive early at Higashiwakata you should rest up at this space.
In total there are 10 guest rooms here at Higashiwakata. All the rooms have been recently renovated with the comfort of the guests in mind. When you first enter the room you are greeted by towels, yukatas, and toothbrushes covering all the basic amenities so you can come without all kinds of excess baggage. The futons are frequently aired out and bathed in sunlight so they are ultra-soft and fluffy. The sheets are crisp and clean so you can rest easy with a good night’s sleep. The toilet is shared but this is also brand new and has a washlet seat attached to it. Everything is new and clean here satisfying for any hotel guest.
On top of all that every room has high speed wifi for free. (You have to bring your own laptop). Don’t underestimate this guesthouse! With this fast of a connection you can breeze through any work you may have to do.
The bath is just as spectacular as everything else! A beautifying onsen from Happo Onsen
At the new style guest house Higashiwakata, the bath is an onsen using fresh Shinshu hot spring water from Happo Onsen! The bath has been renovated as well to a spacious and well lit space, that is brand new and clean. It is spacious enough for the whole family.
At Hakubamura there are 4 different types of onsen, but out of the 4 Happo Onsen has the most flow.
The PH of Happo Onsen is relatively high, and making it one of the top 3 alkaline baths in Japan! An alkaline bath helps break down the very outer layer of skin, so just bathing in this makes your skin smooth and silky. Happo Onsen is said to be a beautifying bath, so if you bathe it is just like you went to a esthetician for a peeling treatment. You definitely should try this.
An extravagant breakfast too! Home grown Koshihikari and miso soup all you can eat!
One part of travelling that is important is breakfast.
At Higashiwakata, breakfast is opulent. First off is miso soup and rice, then there is the vegetable dish, and grilled fish, as well as a pickle salad.
The rice is surprisingly home grown! Most of the rice in the Hakubamura area is Akita Komachi, but at Higashikawata they grow Koshihikari. It is sticky and has texture and the sweetness and aroma are very strong. What’s welcoming here is rice and miso soup are all you can eat. Even if you usually don’t eat breakfast this you should definitely wake up for.
The price and access to Higashiwakata
Higashiwakata stays the same price year round.
One night stay including two meals is 8750 JPY per adult, and 7000 JPY for children, and babies are 4350 JPY. If you are staying alone add another 500 JPY. To get here you take the Joetsu road and take the Nagano IC for an hour. By train take the JR Oito line and get off at Hakuba station, it is only a 5 minute taxi ride from there.
Being one of Japan’s few high altitude resort areas; Hakubamura is the perfect place for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. If you are visiting the area definitely check out this “new” type of guesthouse.
*every year in November they are closed to prepare for the ski season.
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